An Exquisite Houston Home Perfects The Recipe For Mixing Contemporary With Fine Antiques


A formal living room's eclectic...

Casement arches and plaster walls provide a quiet yet character-rich backdrop for the formal living room’s eclectic mix of furnishings, including a custom Belgian-style sofa and velvet-upholstered slipper chair, a Lucite coffee table from Allan Knight and Associates and 1930s French mahogany armchairs from Galerie Novella covered in Holland & Sherry silk.

Vignette featuring an arrangement of...

A simple yet striking arrangement of sculptural furnishings in the raised portion of the formal living room includes a vintage Italian travertine table from M Naeve holding a sculpture from Found, a sheepskin-upholstered Guillerme et Chambron dining chair and an iconic midcentury Pierre Jeanneret Easy chair, also from M Naeve, done in cowhide.

Light-filled dining room seating area...

A Carol Piper Rugs floorcovering defines the dining room seating area. Here, the custom sofa, vintage Pierre Paulin chair and 19th-century French bibliothèque are from M Naeve. Beyond, a Gary Komarin painting and a sculpture from Tienda X flank the BDDW dining room table with Cab armchairs by Cassina from Sunset Settings.

Furnishings mingle in a gathering...

Antique French faux-bois seats, a 19th-century French metal garden table and antique French urns, all from M Naeve, mingle in a gathering spot just off the back garden’s central path.

Romantic, European-style gardens

Romantic, European-style gardens with wide gravel pathways are punctuated by an allée of crepe myrtles, an antique stone fountain and a 17th-century marble urn and pedestal—from Chateau Domingue—that once adorned the courtyard of a villa on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Kitchen with a salon-style art...

The breakfast room’s salon-style art wall features a piece from Gary Komarin’s “The French Wig” series. Seating includes Densen side chairs by Egg Collective from M Naeve and original prototypes for a rope-wrapped dining chair by Christian Astuguevieille from W. Gardner Antiques. The pendant is Lindsey Adelman Studio.

Houston kitchen with dark cabinetry...

Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe covers the kitchen cabinetry, contrasting with the Calacatta Gold marble countertops and backsplash from Pomogranit Stones, plaster vent hood and sink from Elegant Additions. The Natalie Page pendant is from BDDW. Ruth Shouval art above the stove is from Barbara Davis Gallery.

Master bedroom seating area featuring...

An antique Gustavian bench from M Naeve and 1950s French rope stools from Galerie Novella form a master bedroom seating area. Custom draperies in a Muriel Brandolini pattern for Holland & Sherry soften the space.

Master bedroom featuring textural furnishings...

The master bedroom’s BDDW nightstands, holding lamps from W. Gardner Antiques, flank a bed clad in de Le Cuona linen. A vintage Danish chair in sheepskin tops a rug from Retorra. Wall art includes a small bronze sculpture by Lisa Ludwig from Moody Gallery, and Magnolia, a 1966 lithograph by Ellsworth Kelly from Hiram Butler Gallery, hung in an unexpected spot.

So much for first impressions. When a Houston real estate agent first previewed this home some 30 years ago, she immediately dismissed the neglected structure. “I said, ‘Tear it down; it can’t be saved,’ ” she recalls. But saved it was—by a couple who carefully restored and expanded the 1920 house, which was originally designed by acclaimed local architect William Ward Watkin—and when it was sold again many years later, it was the real estate agent’s name on the new deed.

At first, the owner filled the rooms with a collection of white slipcovered furnishings, hallmarks of a style she describes as “more traditional and shabby chic”—until another chance encounter quite literally changed everything. While browsing local home furnishings store M Naeve, she met its proprietor, designer Margaret Naeve Parker. “I fell in love with these chairs in her shop window and wondered if they might work in my breakfast room,” the homeowner recalls. “She offered to bring them over to the house and take a look.” From there, Naeve Parker made suggestions for the master bedroom, and one thing led to another. “We’ve been collaborating ever since,” the owner says, “and we’re always doing something.”

Over time, the home’s evolving interiors have come to reflect the duo’s shared style, currently a worldly mix of contemporary furnishings and artwork with fine antiques sourced from France, Belgium and Sweden. “Our tastes definitely developed together,” Naeve Parker says. “I would push my client a little bit on things, like pairing an 18th-century chair with a very contemporary table, and it all worked.”

The home’s unusually tall living spaces, which maintain their original plaster walls and wood floors and windows, provide ample opportunities to showcase such daring juxtapositions. The first is a formal living room anchored by 1930s French armchairs and a Belgian-style sofa upholstered in a linen that complements the muted tones of a timeworn tapestry from the homeowner’s collection. This room leads up a single step to a space displaying a 1970s Italian travertine table and an iconic armchair by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret. Above a nearby credenza, Naeve Parker hung two seemingly contradictory pieces from the homeowner’s impressive collection of contemporary artwork: a jet-black leather piece by Cheryl Donegan and a delicate cast-bronze bird’s nest by Lisa Ludwig.

For the more casual family room, Naeve Parker mixed new contemporary pieces—such as BDDW’s Abel sofa and a three-legged bronze brazier side table by Rick Owens—with iconic designs, including a midcentury Danish modern Pragh armchair and a Serge Mouille floor lamp. And for a seating area at the back of the house, she paired a tall, 19th-century French bibliothèque with a custom low-slung sofa where the petite homeowner can perch, cocktail in hand, before a meal. From this space, guests proceed back to the dining area, featuring classic leather Cassina Cab armchairs lining a sleek bronze-and-bleached maple dining table. Here, a large, abstract painting by Gary Komarin and a quartet of black artworks by Alison Hall catch the eye, but the real view is of the home’s classical gardens, which Naeve Parker was careful to highlight.

“One of the beautiful things about this home is that when you’re sitting in the dining room, you’re staring back at an allée of crepe myrtles,” she says, “so we purchased a 6-foot-tall, 17th-century marble urn and pedestal from Chateau Domingue to serve as the centerpoint of that view of the garden.”

Though the large garden’s basic forms and ivy walls existed when the homeowner purchased the property, landscape designer Herbert Pickworth was hired to refine the space and tie everything together, which he did by simplifying the plant palette to a tonal mix comprising boxwood hedges, jasmine groundcover and variegated pittosporum, punctuated by the property’s existing mature azaleas in the front yard and crepe myrtles in the back. “The goal was to make the form of the garden read better and the landscape somewhat subordinate to the architecture, and that meant simplification,” Pickworth explains.

Naeve Parker’s approach to interior design is strikingly similar. Not one to vary paint colors from room to room, she prefers all the spaces speak to one another. “I don’t really approach it as simply a home but more as a collected, comfortable and livable art installation,” she explains, “and as with a great piece of art, you’ll always be looking to discover something new.” After all, first impressions are often just the beginning.