Tucked into the woods, this modern dwelling exudes a tree house ambience
Frank and Pamela enjoy the outdoors. If it’s a nice day, chances are they’re peddling about on their bikes. Unbeknownst to them, one of these excursions led them straight to their dream home.
They rounded a corner and there it was, a beautifully modern home nestled in the woods among ivy and ferns on a cul-de-sac in Panther Creek. It spoke to their minimalist heartstrings immediately.
“I knocked on the door to ask if he wanted to sell it,” recalls Frank. “He wasn’t there, so I left a business card and said ‘I really like your house. If you want to sell, give me a call.’”
The homeowner called, indicating he wanted to do a few things to the house before putting it on the market. This didn’t deter Frank and Pamela. “I said ‘I don’t care! I just want to buy the house and if things need repaired, we’ll repair them,’” Frank says. “He wasn’t living there at the time so we asked if we could go by and just peek in the windows.”
As they peered in the back windows, someone peered back. It was the homeowner, ushering them in to take a look. “I was in love with that house!” Pamela says. “I couldn’t wait to see inside!”
A few months later, Frank and Pamela were the happy owners of this 3,300- square-foot home, an architectural gem that boasts amazing views from every room.
“We just love it here. We really like a contemporary style and the exterior lines on the house just drew us in. We’re very lucky that we found this place,” says Frank, a manufacturer’s representative with Professional Audio & Video. Wife Pamela is a teacher at Sally K. Ride Elementary.
The home’s location was a big plus. Pamela is mere minutes from work. Frank has a downstairs home office that overlooks a lovely rustic front yard and “Miss Doe”, a deer topiary that was negotiated into the sale of the house. “She’s our only pet,” Pamela says, laughing. “But we pamper her! A little peat moss does the trick.”
While they loved many of the home’s features from the start, they did tweak the aesthetics a bit, consulting with an architect firm to achieve the desired effect. They were intrigued by the work of M+A Architecture Studio on Houston’s AIA home tour. They paid the architects an hourly consultant fee for advice.
“It was the best thing we ever did. Their input was invaluable,” says Frank. By taking out a bank of French doors that swept through the back of the house and replacing them with large commercial grade windows and doors (RAM Industries), the connection to the outdoors is even more prominent. It provided extra room space as well. “When you have French doors, they have to open into the room and that makes for less space,” Frank explains. “With these wonderful windows, you get the views and the extra room.”
The industrial element meshes well with this house, awash in pristine white walls and original oak hardwood and saltillo tile flooring.
In the living room, sultry black leather furniture from Cantoni mixes with custom accent tables by metal artist Mark Bradford of Houston (Scrap Daddy). A large fish sculpture on the wall is also a Bradford contribution. Twin travertine fireplaces, original to the home, take up opposite ends of the home in the living room and den. “They were beautiful from the start. Not one thing had to be done to the fireplaces,” Pamela says.
And not much had to be done to the kitchen either, a streamlined Danish style space with clean-lined cabinets. The couple replaced countertops with sleek Black Galaxy granite.
They opted to keep some of the original appliances. Take for instance, a wonderful oven sporting a clock with large numbers. “I love it! It’s almost retro. It’s coming back in style!” says Pamela. “I love it because it pays homage to the house.”
No one can say this is a cookie-cutter house. It’s one of the few original modern houses in The Woodlands and it was built to offer that aesthetic proudly and in good taste. Soft arches and angles carry the theme, all connecting spaces one to another. Bare western red cedar plank ceilings slant overhead in the living and dining rooms. The couple carried this look to the porch ceiling outside.
Indeed, the house’s mix of natural materials complements its rustic placement in the woods. Its location on a private cul-de-sac adds to its serene ambience.
“The guy who designed this house really knew what he was doing,” says Pamela, pointing out two half-moon windows on opposite ends of the upstairs hallway that are oriented for full view of the moon. “Being up there in that hallway at night is magicical,” she says. “At times, the moonlight just floods the floor up there.”
There were a few things that the couple tackled from the start. “We moved in during the month of October and that Thanksgiving we spent the entire weekend tearing out mirrors,” she says of a bank of beveled glass mirrors that lined the walls under the front staircase.
“If you put a disco ball in there, you could have had a mini-disco!” says Frank. “Uh, not our style.”
The couple also updated guest bathrooms off of two bedrooms upstairs, streamlining them in glass tile and simple, yet elegant sinks and faucet hardware. Casement windows were added to upstairs rooms as well as the living room and Frank’s office.
The master bedroom, once loft-style with an interior wall window that looked into the den downstairs, was made into a private retreat with a solid wall. “Having a solid wall there makes all the difference,” says Frank. A balcony off of this space grants wonderful views of the yard, pool and beyond.
A big selling point for Pamela was the upstairs laundry room, situated across from the master bedroom. And it’s fitting that this minimalist, outdoorsy, clutter-free couple is organized to the hilt with a designated closet for backpacking gear. “If we need our gear, we just grab it and go!” says Pamela.
They even have an upstairs closet designated for Goodwill contributions. “When we’re done with something, it just goes in there and we forget about it till we make the donation,” she says. “We’re always getting rid of things.”
Indeed, this home reflects a one-with-nature environment that is so important to these homeowners who live for biking, running and just about any other activity that can take them outdoors. Their choice of art reflects this with pictures of their mountain biking excursions front and center on the wall in the den. Pamela completed her sixth Houston marathon earlier this year.
Entertaining in this home is magical with the dining area taking in terrific views of the private backyard. Whimsical blown-glass pendants that Frank modified into track lighting in this space put on a colorful show for anyone sitting outside.
“We love this home, inside and out,” Pamela says of its connection to the outdoors. “We are very lucky to have a home we love so much.”
TOP photo:Pristine white walls and beautiful oak floors provide a clean, crisp background so art and furnishings can shine. Sofa and chairs from Cantoni; custom metal tables and fish sculpture by artist Mark Bradford of Scrap Daddy in Houston. The travertine fireplace is original to the home and mirrors an identical one in the den. The painting above the fireplace is by artist Mark Lawrence.
TEXT BY CATHY GORDON | PICTURES BY BOOKWALTER PHOTOGRAPHY | WINDOWS AND DOORS BY RAM INDUSTRIES