A Transitional Houston Manse with Charming French Style

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Transitional White Bedroom with

Carpet from M&M Carpet Showroom grounds the master bedroom, where cornices by Heine’s Custom Draperies feature Ghent fabric from Pindler. Tommi Parzinger for Stiffel lamps from Lynn Goode Vintage and a bench from Vieux Interiors surround a custom bed by The Joseph Company showcasing Bella Notte bedding from Olivine. Lavender hues appear in an antique screen from Judith McClellan’s Antiques & Linens and on fabric by John Saladino on a pair of chairs.

Transitional Pink Office with Vintage Purple Chairs

In the office, a custom desk from The Joseph Company blends with an antique desk chair from Edit, covered in Link Outdoor fabric from George Cameron Nash, and twin vintage chairs from Memorial Antiques & Interiors. The light fixture, also from Memorial Antiques & Interiors, is reflected in a mirror from Skelton - St. John Antiques and Interiors.

Transitional White Family Room with Pink Furnishings

For the family room, The Joseph Company fabricated an ottoman in Kerry Joyce fabric from George Cameron Nash and a sofa in Holly Hunt fabric; a David Iatesta cocktail table from Culp Associates complements the Stark rug, and the floor lamp is from Area. In the breakfast area, the hutch is from Joyce Horn Antiques, and the Tony Duquette fixture is from Remains Lighting.

Transitional White Kitchen with Wire-Like Barstools

Phase Design barstools from Twentieth in Los Angeles accentuate the kitchen island featuring an American Standard faucet from Fixtures & Fittings, cabinetry antiqued by Segreto Finishes and countertops from Omni Surfaces. Niermann Weeks chairs join skirted seating clad in Link Outdoor fabric from George Cameron Nash around a Zentique table in the breakfast area; draperies by Heine’s Custom Draperies feature Kravet fabric.

Transitional Cream Dining Room Vignette with Flamingo Statues

Flamingos from Back Row Home serve a dual purpose of not only complementing the dining room’s pink tones but also greeting guests entering the space. They are happily perched next to a hand-knotted wool rug in an antique Agra design from Carol Piper Rugs.

Transitional Cream Dining Room with Bright Pink Painting

Dodson evoked a Parisian circus in the dining room by upholstering the walls and ceiling in textiles by Lady Fabrics and Schumacher, respectively. Fabric on the custom chairs from The Joseph Company includes Classic Cloth seat cushions and fronts, Holly Hunt trim and Schumacher applique. A painting by Mallory Page from Dimmitt Contemporary Art overlooks a console from Joyce Horn Antiques; the lamps are from Area.

Transitional White Sitting Area with Sheepskin Pouf

An intimate sitting area in the formal living room showcases Dodson’s flair for whimsy. Here, a sheepskin pouf from Vieux Interiors mixes with klismos-style chairs reupholstered in Link Outdoor fabric from George Cameron Nash. The glass-topped console is from Edit; the artwork is from Memorial Antiques & Interiors.

Traditional Cream Front Elevation with Semicircular Drive

This sophisticated home in Houston greets guests with its gracious lot, majestic trees and semicircular drive. Designer Julie Dodson honored the home’s elegant exterior with fun and fresh French-style interiors.

Transitional Cream Foyer with Deer Print Stool

Dodson set the stage in the foyer with a console from Cuff Home in Los Angeles, a B Kelley Antiques mirror from the Marburger Farm Antique Show and stools from Edit.

Transitional White Living Room with Coral Carpet

A rug from Carol Piper Rugs anchors the formal living room’s Gabby chairs and a custom sofa from The Joseph Company, which sports more Link Outdoor fabric from George Cameron Nash; pillows—two by Holly Hunt, one by B. Viz Design from Watkins-Culver Antiques—accessorize the sofa. Arteriors lamps top side tables from Back Row Home. Hunt Slonem artworks from Gremillion & Co. flank a mirror from Area.

After the birth of their first child, a young Houston couple knew the time had come for them to move. Living in a smaller garden home, they felt the need to look for something a bit more substantial to accommodate their growing family. “We needed a more adult home and began to think about practical things like school systems, a yard and more space for entertaining,” says the wife. An element of sentimentality also factored into the push for a change, with the husband wanting to return to the lush part of Houston that reminded him of his happy childhood. The couple’s search ended with a French-style residence fronted by a semicircular drive and majestic magnolia trees. Built in the late 1990s and originally designed by Sullivan, Henry, Oggero & Associates, the two-story house with flanking one-story wings perfectly suited the couple’s needs. 

To help create an interior that lived up to the home’s elegant architecture, the couple enlisted designer Julie Dodson, whose imaginative interpretations of European flair have generated a fan base of admirers. “I love to design in the French style, but in fun and fresh ways,” says Dodson of her signature style and chic portfolio of work that attracted the couple’s attention. Adds the wife: “It’s very dramatic but in a quiet way.” In the beginning, the couple expressed their goal of simply just wanting to replace the floors, although a new paint job would also be in order. Dodson went to work swapping out the scored-concrete flooring downstairs with smoked-French-oak planks that “lend a sense of history and old-world French charm to the house,” she says. Turning her attention to the paint, Dodson concocted a plan to “use white throughout but to inject it with pops of blue, coral and lilac, using black as an accent,” she says. The result is a breezy, up-to-date vibe that reflects the couple’s aesthetic. “They’re really cool people,” Dodson says, referring to the music-loving pair who are big Led Zeppelin buffs. 

These updates, however, had the unexpected effect of the couple reassessing their original goal. “That’s when things started to snowball,” says the wife. Dodson adds: “They saw how fresh the house was starting to look, but were also seeing how things like the older oiled-brass doorknobs weren’t matching the crisp white walls and new floors.” The homeowners realized that if they wanted to make significant changes, now was the time. Dodson was ready for the challenge, assuming the role of project manager in addition to designer. “Ultimately, nothing in this house was untouched,” she says. Even the clients’ furniture had to go. “We decided to get rid of everything and start over,” says the wife.

Dodson set the stage in the foyer with a console from Cuff Home in Los Angeles, a B Kelley Antiques mirror from the Marburger Farm Antique Show and stools from Edit. In the kitchen, the design overhaul included installing custom antiqued cabinetry and granite countertops and punching out a niche in a wall, where Dodson nudged in a blue-painted cabinet from Joyce Horn Antiques. She also took the necessary steps to make the eating and living spaces at the back of the house family-friendly for everyone, dogs included. The designer selected an off-white indoor-outdoor fabric for the skirted benches at the breakfast table, for example, and covered a white sofa in the family room in indoor-outdoor fabric, as well—in the event one of the family’s two Labrador retrievers chooses to use it as a napping spot.

Accommodating the homeowners’ request for a more adult home, Dodson rose to the occasion in the formal living and dining rooms. “I envisioned the living room as a place where my clients can entertain and sit with friends for an after-dinner cocktail,” Dodson says. She anchored the area with a hand-knotted antique rug and accessorized the space with pink and lilac pillows to reflect the dreamy hues in a painting just opposite; light emanates from silver lamps on white-lacquered side tables. “I think of lighting as jewelry for a home,” says Dodson, who also added gold lamps to the dining room, which she visualized as a Parisian circus. “I upholstered the walls in linen to create a tent-like feeling,” she explains. Overhead, the designer swathed the ceiling in a shimmery striped-silk fabric.

Color also invigorates the master bedroom, which Dodson made plush with lavender cotton-velvet upholstery on the chairs and a white tufted-twill headboard. She then hung antique pink-and-lavender screens on the wall and cushioned the floor with wall-to-wall white carpet to create a serene space that serves as a quintessential retreat, but with a little extra oomph.

Throughout their home, this Houston couple has indeed come a long way from their original goal, and they are enjoying a colorful transformation that enhances their lives and matches their playful personality. “We were willing to try new things,” the wife says. “Now, our home feels very light and clean and has a more sophisticated look, which is exactly what we needed now that we have a family.”

—Helen Thompson

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