Set amid the mid-20th-century ranch houses of Houston’s The Villages, there’s a new home whose freeform style, weathered bricks, slate roof, dormers and columns speak with a charming Louisiana accent that hints of France. “I wanted to try a style that had a different look, and I wanted the house to feel as though it had been there a hundred years,” says Brian Thompson, of Houston-based Thompson Custom Homes. “This was the right opportunity for me to do the Louisiana vernacular style of architecture, what’s referred to as French Acadian.”
The ¾-acre corner lot allowed residential designer Robert Dame, of Robert Dame Designs in Houston, to site the two-story house, complete with a garage and a loggia with a fully equipped kitchen, back from the street and create a large side yard that takes advantage of the southeast breezes that assuage the brutal summer heat. “What’s fun about this kind of architecture is that every house is different,” Dame says. “There’s not a rigid stylistic form. There is a variety of elements in a single composition. Getting the perfect mix of materials was the real challenge.”
In this case, Dame blended reclaimed red brick, cypress siding, a main slate roof, a copper roof over the bay window, wooden and classical-style PermaCast columns and batten-board shutters. Some of the same materials, including the brick, were repeated in the interior, where the first floor is made up of the great room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, game room/bar and family studio. The second floor, which houses another game room and a utility room, is reserved for the five bedrooms. To create a cozy feeling in the expansive house, Dame made the ceilings only 11- and 12-feet high throughout and designed a floor plan that divides the space into intimate settings. On the first floor, a long, wide corridor of arches travels along the side of the house to take advantage of views of the 16-by-32-foot saltwater pool that defines the yard.
Houston interior designer Kalista White added warmth with a soft, neutral color scheme and hardware, including polished nickel faucets, that blends old and new styles. “We continued the exterior’s distressed look,” she says. “But we also wanted a crisp and clean modern vibe.” A prime example of this balancing act is in the kitchen, where the wooden flooring is cut to look like brick and a copper hood presides over the stove. The washed gray color of the central island, which resembles a piece of furniture, stands in contrast to the weathered, warm-brown cabinetry in the rest of the room.
Maria Tracy, an interior designer based in Houston, arranged antique and period-style furnishings into “lifestyle vignettes” that have French country flair. “I used the furniture to draw the eye down the long first-floor corridor,” she says. “I placed the seating in small groupings, and I mixed in a pop of contemporary to give a modern edge to the French generational pieces, many of which are painted.” In the great room, for instance, Tracy followed Dame’s lead and broke the space into two seating sections defined by area rugs that leave a path on the reclaimed, wide-plank pine floor leading to the corridor and the dining room. A pair of contemporary abstract paintings nudges the antiques into the 21st century.
“I don’t have a favorite room per se,” Dame says. “The composition as a whole is my favorite. That’s how I know it’s a successful design, because, if there’s a space I’m more comfortable in, then I haven’t balanced it out properly.” The new owners—a family with three college-age children—couldn’t agree more. They snapped up the house and made it their own as soon as it went on the market. “The house is unique and special,” Thompson says. “When people walk in, they go, ‘Wow!’”