Growing up on a property outside London with fabulous gardens and fruit orchards had a lasting effect on interior designer Sheri Bailey, who intuitively sought a similar feel for the home she and her husband, Camp, built for their family in Houston. “I love nature and being outside, and our house reflects that,” says Bailey. Their new residence, brought to life in collaboration with architect Ken Newberry, features an idyllic backyard setting where the couple and their children enjoy a pool, fire pit area and expansive loggia for both dining and gathering. “We maintained the largest portion of the lot possible for outdoor living,” recalls Newberry, “and wrapped the architecture around it.” Meanwhile, Bailey also tasked Newberry with giving the structure a timeless look—“as if it had been there forever,” the architect notes. “We went with an old-world style but on the fresher, more modern side.”
The materials palette proved critical to achieving the timelessness Bailey envisioned. “These selections were most important—even more so than the furnishings—because they created the overall feel,” she explains. Headlining the mix are century-old antique white oak planks sourced from Massachusetts, used as beams in spaces like the kitchen and main bedroom as well as for the flooring throughout. “Their natural finish was perfect—we didn’t even need to stain them,” says Bailey, noting the distressed surfaces feel lived-in, yet still stand up to her active family and dogs. On the exterior, classical elements such as reclaimed slate roof shingles, copper gutters and mortared brick, all implemented by builder Steve Goodchild, who worked with project manager Brad Burns and project coordinator Christie Fisher, help soften the façade. “The slate roof isn’t the typical black, but rather shades of weathered blue and gray,” says Bailey.
Inside, Newberry turned his attention to circulation and utilized techniques like varying the ceiling heights and treatments. “This house unfolds with surprises experienced through not just the ceilings but also the circulation, views, centerlines and the sizes or shapes of rooms and how they relate to human scale,” he explains. The foyer’s plaster barrel-vaulted ceiling gives way to the antique white oak beams overhead in the living room, for example, where a wall of windows capturing picturesque backyard vistas ushers in a flood of natural light. All the while, Newberry says, “there are no ‘dead-end’ rooms.” Instead, the architect created what he describes as a circulation “loop” allowing foot traffic to flow from the foyer, through each main area, and all the way back around for easy everyday living and entertaining.
Within these spaces, “some furnishings and details are European while others are modern,” explains Bailey, “and texture was important.” To that end, the interior designer scouted London’s Pimlico Road for statement lighting, namely the minimal Rose Uniacke kitchen plaster cone pendants and the elaborate Cox London bronzed iron oak tree dining room chandelier. She also mixed traditional and contemporary pieces like the architectural Roja marble sculpture set atop an antique black-marble-top iron center table in the foyer and custom modern Belgian-style sofas flanking a round antique walnut table in the living room. As with the home’s materials palette, layers of contrasting textures—including the Calacatta marble backsplash, brass cabinetry hardware and woven English bridle leather seat counter stools in the kitchen—help keep the aesthetic relaxed and interesting.
These interiors flow seamlessly outside thanks to a combination of archways, reclaimed beams and wall-mounted gas lanterns. And Newberry devised multiple poolside “destinations” for the family to use both together and with guests. “It’s what I looked forward to having most,” says Bailey, noting the men often retreat to the limestone-top fire pit, while the ladies gather with wine and cheese on sofas near the loggia fireplace. “In the warmer months we’ve dined outdoors almost every night,” she adds. All the while, landscape designer Serena Gibson helped imagine a landscape that “didn’t look too manicured,” Bailey says. Hence, wisteria cascades over a pergola in the grill and bar area, Boston Ivy climbs the mortared brick and clusters of Peggy Martin roses burst with pink blooms on a gable wall over the loggia—creating a tranquil scene hearkening back to the English gardens of Bailey’s childhood. “Every Saturday morning you’ll find me outside reading my design books,” she says. “I love the sense of comfort and calmness this home provides.”