A Houston Abode Marries Classic and Modern Design


There’s no fairy-tale beginning here: When the owners of this Houston home first laid eyes on it, they were not charmed. An unfinished house in The Woodlands, the Southern Colonial’s most redeeming quality was its location—close to the kids’ schools and to town. Its style felt traditional and earnest, a far cry from the bright modern space the owners desired.

Then fate—or rather, their longtime designer and builder Kevin Spearman—stepped in with an enchanting vision for the space. “I talked them through a new direction,” Spearman says. “We had to strip things down, edit them out. We’d get rid of the heaviness and let the materials and construction speak for themselves.” Inspired by their trust in Spearman (this home would be their fourth project together) and the ideas he described, the owners bought the home mid-project and turned it over to the builders at Windstone Partners, the sister company to Spearman’s design firm.

Without moving walls, the team transformed the home’s style into a striking marriage of classic and contemporary design. Spearman reworked the main interior architectural features—cabinetry, trim and fireplaces—giving them simple forms and clean lines. “Those elements set the tone for the rest of the house,” he says. The designer clad the foyer and living room in large-scale paneling, and the dining room in similar wainscoting, to give the spaces a crisp, warm look without the trappings of traditionalism. Gone is the elaborate grand staircase’s wooden handrail, a delicate iron version taking its place.

The kitchen is its own Cinderella story, rescued from plans for highly wrought cabinetry and moldings. Spearman skipped the upper cabinets, opting instead for some open shelves, and added large windows to infuse the expansive room with natural light. A painted brick wall offers texture without ornamentation. “I love adding elements of the exterior to the interior,” Spearman says. Minimalist custom iron doors on tracks are functional art, closing off the food and butler’s pantries. Spearman even talked the owners into an aqua Viking range, which took a little convincing. “I was skeptical of a blue appliance at first,” the wife says. “But the moral of the story is, ‘Trust your designer.’ I love everything about the kitchen. It has this lovely contemporary feel, and we spend most of our time in the space.”

As Spearman selected furnishings for the revamped home, he aimed for “a collected feel, as if the home evolved over time,” he says. Each room is an assemblage of pieces that share sleek silhouettes, fine details and high-quality materials. “In every room, we have metal, glass, maybe a hand-painted piece, really fine upholstery, and an antique or vintage item,” he says. “But room to room, you get consistency because the collections feel similar. That’s a key component to the contemporary edge in a classic home: a pared-down feel so you don’t find a new material or new design era in every room.” Spearman points to the matching brass Jean de Merry chandeliers in the living and dining rooms, both visible from the entry. The pair gives balance and symmetry—and a hint of midcentury appeal. Similarly, the designer chose fabrics that have a fine hand, such as the Great Plains line from Holly Hunt. Spearman relied on textural quality rather than pattern to convey style.

The result is a home “that’s perfect for us,” the wife says. For his part, Spearman relishes the process of watching his longtime clients’ tastes evolve. “Time and people change,” he says. “This home fits their family at this time in their lives. It’s the place everyone they love gathers together in a pretty setting,”—happily ever after.