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Tailored Warmth

A striking piece from South Africa sits atop an eclectic tabletop in the upstairs foyer.

On a corner lot in The Woodlands, not far from the hustle and bustle of Market Street, is a house that’s very comfortable in its skin. A lot of thought went into its design and purpose.

“We wanted to make sure its inside matched its outside, something very important to me,” says the homeowner. “It was a massive collaboration and we’re very pleased with the result.”

The two-story dwelling with large wrap-around front porch, balcony, striking courtyard and alley access to the garage is home to an empty-nester couple who craved a smaller home with less maintenance. Their dream was realized through working with custom homebuilder Mary Ross.

“Some people see this as New Orleans style, some people from the East Coast see the design as being from that part of the country. Me? I see it as simply an American traditional home,” explains Ross. “We worked with the homeowners to get the features they wanted. And they were totally involved in the process. This home reflects them.”

Their three college sons may be away, but they certainly enjoy coming home to this house. Its easy-flow floorplan invites family unity, yet allows for privacy when needed. It is elegant, yet casual in comfort.  It exudes coziness yet is spacious for entertaining.

Natural light invades the home, keeping it light and bright. And crisp, white blocked paneling is a unique backdrop in the front living spaces, setting a tone for tailored sophistication.

“That paneling hides all sorts of things!” says the homeowner of the paneled living room fireplace wall. Ross’s trim carpenter, Luis Martinez, made the magic happen, crafting doors within these paneled spaces to conceal a host of household necessities.

The paneling adds a unique architectural element to the home, contrasting nicely with dark hickory floors.  It also serves as a clean backdrop for a mix of warm, upholstered pieces and antiques, many of which belonged to the homeowner’s great-grandmother. The result is a streamlined, clutter-free look.

“There really is a good feeling to this house,” says the homeowner, giving a tour of the downstairs rooms. From the front door, the eye can follow from living and dining area straight through to the den and kitchen. A long foyer invites this clear-shot.

To the right of the entrance, four chairs from William Sonoma Home surround a custom ottoman by Cyndi Hight Interiors (also responsible for the home’s draperies), inviting a circle of conversation in the living room.

The dining room is a mix of textures with a glass-top table surrounded by plush velvet chairs. A chandelier from Circa Lighting hovers overhead while a stately buffet that her parents brought back from England acts as anchor in this space.

Continuing to the back of the house, a spacious kitchen in white has all the bells and whistles with a Wolf range, Sub-Zero refrigerator and other modern features surrounding a large island. Countertops in Carrera marble contrast well with the dark wood floors. A large Butler’s pantry sits off of this space.

The adjacent family room is most striking with a fireplace wall composed of ledgestone and entertainment bureaus to either side of it that hide “all the stuff with wires,” says the homeowner. “It’s so nice to not have to look at all that stuff and have a pleasant way to conceal it!”

Antiques mix with sumptuous upholstered pieces here, including a large custom ottoman that centers the room. To the left of the family room is a charming breakfast nook outfitted with two bamboo Dynasty chairs, a settee from Laurie’s Antiques and a marble-top table from High Fashion Home.

“I love sitting there with my coffee. I really use that space,” says the homeowner. “I had those two little bamboo chairs in my first house. My mom gave them to me.”

Perhaps one of the most unique areas in the home is the wine room where bottles settle on racks that are mounted onto walls of crosscut travertine. The ceiling is covered in wood-veneered wallpaper for an eclectic look.

“I just love my wine room!” says the homeowner. “I didn’t want a dark space. It turned out great!”

Rounding out the downstairs is a hallway leading to a small office in white where the homeowner tends to her accounting job. “We have a couple of restaurants in Austin and I’m the accountant for them. It helps to have this space to work in,” she explains. A powder bath and mudroom are conveniently located near the door to the courtyard.

“We love the way this house sits on the corner. It’s a great little space for gardening and we love hanging out in this area,” she says of the courtyard that has summer kitchen, firepit and a fireplace. Long walkways lead to the front and back areas of the house.

The upstairs is every bit as striking as the downstairs with a roomy foyer leading to the master bedroom. This room is especially large, with a sitting area to one end with a fireplace. A lovely settee in original fabric that she inherited from family sits pretty with two chairs by Baker. Other antiques mix with a bed by Kreiss Furniture.

Marble defines the master bathroom with a large wall of it outfitting a spacious walk-through shower. “A lot of muscle went into getting that done,” says the homeowner. “Do you know how heavy that stuff is? They really worked hard!” A beautiful cabinet that belonged to her great- grandmother is the perfect storage for towels. A mosaic marble rug adds accent next to the bathtub.

To the other side of the master bathroom, an entrance leads to a large closet that, in turn, leads to the utility room. “It just makes so much sense to have the utility room here,” says the homeowner of the space, awash in light.

A media room and two other bedrooms make up the upstairs, as well as her husband’s study, outfitted in two striking antique leather chairs that belonged to her great-grandparents. “They look new but they’re really old,” she says. “I remember these chairs well! They’re like 400 pounds a piece, super solid and hard, and my sister broke her arm on one of them when we were little!”

Weather permitting, this family enjoys the rockers on the front porch where they can view the neighborhood and beyond. And they frequently follow a path just down from their house that links to The Woodlands Waterway and Market Street.

“You just can’t beat this location,” she says. “Pretty convenient I’d say.”

Text by Cathy Gordon | Pictures by Brian Bookwalter

The home by Mary Ross Custom Homes LLC has massive curb appeal from its corner lot.

This front porch doesn’t lack rocking chairs. It’s the perfect spot for relaxing and taking in a cool breeze.

A beautiful courtyard includes many features in brick, including a fireplace that the couple enjoys this time of year. In the forefront, a firepit. Hardscape by Omar Navarro, Houston.

Soothing white and natural features in the living area create a relaxed, sophisticated feel. Doors are built into the block paneling, cleverly concealing a television and other household necessities. Trim carpenter Luis Martinez was “the craftsman genius” behind many of the home’s custom wood features, says the homeowner.

This house is great for cooking and entertaining, with a light and bright, spacious kitchen that connects freely with the family room, front foyer and formal living spaces. Pendants by Circa Lighting.

An eye-catching fireplace wall in ledgestone anchors this room, outfitted in an elegant grouping of warmly upholstered pieces and antiques. Paul Davis Interiors designed the entertainment bureaus on either side of the fireplace to conceal stereo equipment, etc.

A carved wood buffet that belonged to the homeowner’s parents takes up residence in the couple’s dining room, mixing with a glass-top table and sumptuous velvet chairs. Chandelier and sconces by Circa Lighting.

A study in white is the perfect spot for the homeowner to tend to work. The homeowner’s parents brought back the chair from England.

The upstairs study is striking with two red leather antique chairs that belonged to the homeowner’s great-grandparents. A closet near this space was cleverly pre-plumbed for a bathroom so this area can be used as a fourth bedroom should that need arise.

Sleek best describes this streamlined wine room with bottles well displayed on racks, mounted on walls of crosscut travertine. Wood veneered wallpaper covers the ceiling. Design by Paul Davis Interiors.

Massive marble walls define a walk-through shower, a unique element in this master bathroom. A marble mosaic rug adds interest alongside the bathtub.

An antique cabinet from the homeowner’s great-grandmother is the perfect storage for plush white towels. The piece adds warmth to this master bathroom in beautiful marble.

The master bedroom is a vision with a mix of antiques and elegant furnishings. In the forefront, chairs by Baker. The settee in original upholstery was inherited from family. The ceiling of beams adds an interesting architectural element. Chandelier by Circa Lighting. Not shown in this picture, an inviting fireplace in a wall of white-painted brick.

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