COMING TO LIGHT
A palette of cheery neutrals infuses a classic 1930s home with sophisticated vibrancy.
Create a timeless interior for your home with a palette of cheery neutrals that brings together different styles for a sophisticated, vibrant look.
Inheriting a home with history can sometimes be intimidating. How do you honor tradition, add to the story and infuse the house with your personal style? Set in the exclusive River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, Texas, considered by designer Marie Flanigan to be “one of the most prestigious neighborhoods” in the city, the home was built in 1930 and designed by well-known local architect Hermon Lloyd. The prolific Lloyd designed well over 80 homes in the River Oaks neighborhood, as well as Houston landmarks such as Rice Chapel and The Astrodome.
The home’s owners, Colleen and Scott Nichols, are “a young married couple who wanted something fresh and modern, while paying respect to the traditional,” Marie says. Upon purchasing this Lloyd gem, the couple had to update most of the electrical work and plumbing, as it was very outdated. Luckily, the previous owner had made structural changes and paint selections that helped to modernize the home, so, with the help of Marie Flanigan Interiors, the Nicholses were able to focus on transforming their traditional house into a sophisticated and vibrant home.
“For a timeless interior, start with saturated neutrals and
layer in different colors,” Marie says. “You can change the
décor in five years, but your interior will remain timeless.” COMBINATION STATION. The dining room plays host to an eclectic mix of accessories, brought together by the muted tones of the wood floor and the complementary light fixture. Rattan-backed chairs around an elegant wooden dining table evoke an effortless blend of sophisticated and casual.
BLENDING OLD AND NEW
Colleen’s style leans towards French traditional, while Scott prefers a tailored, more masculine vibe; the team was tasked with bringing those two styles together. “We aimed to achieve a hybrid mix of traditional undertones with contemporary accents,” Marie says. Her primary focus was maintaining the home’s original sense of style, and she was inspired by unique elements such as the exposed brick, the original stove in the den and the front door that has been greeting guests since the ’30s.
FRENCH CONNECTION. In the elegant dining room, Marie took her palette inspiration from the couple’s wedding color scheme. The floral wallpaper—a hand-painted chinoiserie from New
York City-based Gracie Studio—adds a distinctly French flair to the space, as do the traditional armchairs.
ARCHITECTURE IS IN THE DETAILS
Marie wanted to create a pure background on which to layer the different looks, so she began by lightening the wall color to a more neutral tone. “I really wanted to emphasize the home’s architectural detailing,” Marie says. “I painted the trim a similar color to the walls, but just barely off.”This understated approach allowed the home to accommodate the different, distinct pieces that best defined the Nicholses’ varied tastes—and even left the space open for future updates. “For a timeless interior, start with saturated neutrals and layer in different colors,” Marie says. “You can change the décor in five years, but your interior will remain timeless.”
DESIGN THAT MEETS YOUR NEEDS
Since the project called for only minor remodeling and repainting, it allowed the team to spend most of their creativity on selecting and placing the perfect combination of furniture and accents. The Nicholses plan to start a family, so Marie intentionally created highly livable spaces throughout the house, with stain-resistant fabrics, ample storage and rustic elements that will not show wear and tear. “It’s important to pay attention to the different aspects of how a client will experience a space,” she explains. “Once the general layout is established, we start working on the furniture setup and determine how the room will function.”
For this space, Marie chose furniture with traditional undertones, indulging Colleen’s penchant for French style with elegant armchairs in the main living areas and tufted pieces in the living room and master bedroom. Carefully chosen darker pieces, from indigo curtains and soft hide rugs to a sturdy leather armchair, add the complementary masculine quality that most suits Scott’s taste. Contemporary accents, including artful side tables and daringly modern chandeliers, round out the home’s personality and keep everything feeling fresh and up to date.
“Don’t be afraid to mix styles,
and don’t feel like a traditional home needs
HONORING PAST AND PRESENT
For people looking to infuse their personal style into a home without losing its distinct character, Marie recommends letting the space speak to you before making any additions or alterations. “Embrace the architecture first, and consider the trim details,” she says. On this project, the team took special care not only to preserve the home’s architectural details, but also to enhance them through the strategically chosen neutral palette, rather than risk drowning them out with bright color.
After achieving a muted foundation for your décor, begin to layer in the distinctive look—or looks—that feels most like home. “Don’t be afraid to mix styles,” Marie says, “and don’t feel like a traditional home needs traditional décor.” Creating a more layered look over time, with distinct yet harmonized pieces in the mix, will give your spaces a depth of character that a cookie-cutter design scheme never could. You never know where inspiration will strike, either: After seeing an artist’s framed photograph that the Nicholses already had on hand, Marie decided to design the entire living room around it.
“The most important aspect of design to me is to make sure your home is a true reflection of you and your family, and aesthetically an expression of your style,” Marie says. “Designers always have a ‘look’ to some extent, but we strive to let each project be an expression of the homeowner.” By serving as an expression of its owners’ personalities, this home design radiates authenticity—the most priceless décor element of all.
INDIGO MOOD. The master bedroom’s blue undertones give it a distinctly relaxing vibe, with dramatic dark curtains adding a punch of color to the otherwise neutral look. A variety of textures, from the tufted headboard to the thick, soft rug, keeps the eye busy in the relaxing space.
NEAT NOOK. A masculine, upscale armchair commands attention in a corner of the living room, brought down to earth with an expertly mismatched ottoman. The room’s predominantly light-colored furnishings allow bright accents like the gold mirror and the...
|ABOVE| STATELY SIGHT. This Herman Lloyd home, built in 1930, features exposed brick walls and classic two-story columns that reflect the charm of Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood. The front door is just one of the many original features from which...