A pal­ette of cheery neu­trals in­fuses a clas­sic 1930s home with so­phis­ti­cated vi­brancy.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY HAN­NAH ROBERTS

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.


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.


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.”


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

tra­di­tional dé­cor.”


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...

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