In 2012, Laura and Patrick Schneidau purchased a spacious lot with big plans in mind. They had a solid vision for the nearly 5,000-square-foot home that would one day inhabit that space, and with their early plans sketched onto notebook paper, this vibrant family embarked on the 14-month journey that would lead to their custom dream home.
Laura and Patrick loved the 1960s ranch style home where they began their life together. “We brought all three of our children home from the hospital there,” said Laura, a loving mom who traded long days in the office for days spent at home with her adorable children, Cate, Julie and Michael. However, the couple realized that they were quickly outgrowing their beloved “starter home.” In addition to needing more space for their growing family, Patrick was also looking for a shorter commute. He serves as Chief Marketing Officer for PROS, a Houston-based big data software company, and cutting down on drive time meant more time for Patrick to share with Laura and their children.
They considered moving into West University, where a number of Patrick’s extended family lives, but they soon determined that finding a lot big enough for their needs in that neighborhood would not be possible. “Having a large outdoor space was very important to us, and we weren’t finding that in the homes we visited in West U,” said Laura. They soon found exactly what they were looking for in a neighborhood known for its spacious lots and family-friendly atmosphere. They also determined that designing and building a home from the ground up made the most sense for their family. Patrick said, “When we started weighing the options of either remodeling a preexisting home or building something new, we discovered that there wasn’t a significant cost difference, and we liked the fact that building new allowed us to get exactly what we wanted.”
At the time the Schneidaus purchased their lot, they were actually a family of four, but shortly after breaking ground, they received some very exciting news: a third little one was on the way! This joyful development played an important role as they began thoughtfully outlining objectives for their new home. “When we set out to build, we looked to our daily lives for direction, but we also looked into the far future. We envisioned a home where we could raise our children comfortably, a special place where we can create and grow memories, and we wanted it to be a place where our children could visit on weekends when they’re home from college and eventually, a special place where they can return with their own families to visit,” says Laura.
Putting together a team of professionals to help execute their ideas was the first step the Schneidaus took in their building process. The couple describes their architect, Brad Hollenbeck, as an artist who truly listened to them and understood exactly what they desired to see in their new home. “He took what we envisioned and translated it onto actual plans on paper, depicting a beautiful home that feels like us.”
When the time came to decide on a builder, it was important to Laura and Patrick that they work with someone who is in business for himself. They were looking for a craftsman who only builds a select number of homes each year and they found that in Cronin Builders. “With Brian Cronin, we knew we would receive individual attention. He is skilled, meticulous and down-to-earth,” said Laura.
Being the organized, hands-on woman that Laura is, she fully intended to manage the construction process on her own, but after discovering that she was pregnant with their third child, Laura began to flirt with the idea of hiring a professional designer. After interviewing a few well-known Houston firms, it was clear that Marie Flanigan was the right woman for the job.
“For someone who is so young, Marie is incredibly business savvy and very professional. She is thoughtful and attentive, and working with her team was a joy. When we wanted to be involved, she welcomed our input, and when we needed to step out of the process, she handled things beautifully on her own. We trust her and, to us, that means everything,” said Patrick. Laura added, “We broke ground in fall 2012 and I delivered our third child halfway through construction, so for much of the building process, I was pregnant and there were times when I wasn’t able to contribute as much as I would have liked. Marie made the process so much less stressful. I tell everyone that Brad and Brian built me a house, but Marie gave me a home.”
Laura often shares that growing up she loved flipping through issues of Southern Living and credits much of her design inspiration to the homes featured on those glossy pages. From the screened-in porch to the traditional Georgian façade, the Schneidaus wanted their new home to radiate with Southern charm. “I was very specific about my porch,” said Laura. “I drew inspiration from the memories I have of the screened-in porches that belonged to my family. I wanted to recreate that ambiance.” To do that, the couple included a functional fireplace on the porch and painted the porch ceiling blue in true Southern style. The yard, too, reflects those Southern roots with massive trees offering up plenty of shade for hours of play and picnic lunches.
“Inside, Patrick and Laura wanted a clean, traditional look,” said Marie, “but they are also very young, so we decided to have the bones of the home remain more traditional while mixing in décor that was fresh and vibrant. We had fun with texture, pattern and color, and many of the family’s largest furniture pieces, such as the sofa, were selected in neutral tones, while accents were used to bring in bright pops of color. You can see this in the deep navy oversized ottoman in the living room as well as the hot pink geometric wallpaper in the powder bath. The dining room boasts a sisal wallcovering in peacock and drapery in Schumacher’s Hot House floral pattern which, Laura states, “wasn’t what I was initially imagining for that space, but once Marie proposed the mock up, I was sold.”
With three young children and friends, family, and clients to entertain, Laura and Patrick were very concerned with the flow of their new home. It wasn’t enough that it be beautiful, it needed to be comfortable and well-connected to boot. They wanted to be sure there were no dead spots which led to the development of an open concept floor plan. The layout works perfectly for their busy family of five while also allowing for another detail near and dear to Laura’s heart: a spacious, gourmet kitchen. As mom and food lover, Laura was looking for a roomy island where she could prep meals while her little ones played, colored and did homework, and that’s exactly what she got. Although she can’t stop raving about the 48-inch range with convection steam oven, it’s the kitchen’s unique details like glass-front cabinets, green textile accents and hand molded subway tile backsplash that make this space such an extraordinary place for her to spend time in.
Although a great deal of attention was paid to the downstairs spaces that were built for entertaining, the master suite, which is located upstairs, also received some thoughtful consideration. Laura and Patrick, like many homeowners, wanted the space to be designed from floor to ceiling with serenity in mind. “Marie helped us choose the paint color in the master suite, and we actually designed our entire suite around the color on the walls. When I first saw it on the sample card, I wasn’t sure, but once it was up on the walls, it made the bedroom feel intimate and special.” The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling which is painted the same color as the walls, and that simple touch creates a master bedroom that is impressive while managing to remain warm. The master bed is custom with a luxurious padded fabric headboard and that, combined with the room’s soothing wall color and natural light, successfully creates a spa-like master suite.
In the master bath, a barrel-vaulted ceiling and basket weave tiled floors lend an elegant sense of style. Calacatta Luccicoso marble counters serve as a beautiful accent to the Schumacher wallpaper and polished nickel fixtures. Custom Roman shades and a leather stool embellished with nailheads pull the entire space together, creating a master bath where the couple can take a deep breath and unwind. “Our bedroom is on the same floor as our children’s bedrooms, which we love, but we wanted our suite to feel as though it was set apart in some way. We wanted it to have a more sophisticated presence and the special selections we made with Marie for those spaces definitely give them that stylish touch,” says Laura.
Throughout the rest of the home, upgrades and accents were chosen to ensure that their house would express their family’s unique character. Laura specifically pointed out the mirrored tile behind the bar, stating “that little upgrade gives the bar the perfect touch for entertaining. When the lights are dimmed down, that tile is incredibly glamorous.”
Laura and Patrick credit Marie for the remarkable lighting found throughout the home. Laura found selecting fixtures a touch overwhelming and she was so glad she had Marie to walk her through the process. “I handed it over to Marie,” said Laura, “and she did a perfect job. Every room has its own individual character by way of light, which is just brilliant.”
Laura shared one final detail about their new home that perfectly embodies how unique the house is to their family. “My husband is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a huge fan of the Fighting Irish.” A well-known, longstanding tradition at Sorin, the dormitory where he lived on campus, is for every senior to go up and write their name in the rafters of the dorm. When Patrick wrote his name, he also took one of the loose bricks and he’s held onto it for all of these years.” Today, that brick lives comfortably among the other bricks in the Schneidau’s screened-in porch as a sentimental reminder of the days past that brought them to their happy present.
In the end, Laura and Patrick feel that although the construction process was new to them, they didn’t face many serious challenges. They agree that this is due to sharing similar design tastes, keeping lines of communication open and that they placed trust in each other’s decisions. They also expressed overwhelming gratitude for the skills of their construction team.
“Everyone was so excited and full of life about this project. We feel so incredibly blessed. We love this house, and we loved the process of making it a reality. We worked with an excellent group of people and, to this day, we enjoy strong relationships with our builder, designer and architect. I’ll never forget turning to Patrick the first night we spent in our new home, declaring that I felt like a kid in a candy store! The reality of our new home has topped anything I could have ever imagined,” says Laura.
TOP IMAGE: Furniture pieces in neutral tones help maintain a sense of timelessness evident throughout the home.The custom tufted ottoman and throw pillows add a beloved dose of color. The Belgian classic roll arm slipcovered chaise lounge sectional is custom made in a muslin fabric.
Text by Cheryl Alexander and Megan Hotze of Marie Flanigan Interiors |
Photography by Julie Soefer Photography |
Interiors by Marie Flanigan interiors, Marie Flanigan |
Construction by Cronin Builders,Brian Cronin |
Architecture by Hollenbeck Architects, Brad Hollenbeck