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house& home | June 2019 |


JUNE 2019



CONTENTS 8 14 20 26 30 72 76 78

Editor’s Note Calendar: Independence Day Events Project: Rainwater Harvesting Product: Going Solar Recipe: 44 Farms Editor’s Picks: Grilling and Gifting Gardening: Touring a Magical Garden Pet of the Month: Sean

35 FEATURES 35 Special Section: Comfort Showcase 46 Adams Architects’ The Lighthouse 56 Savvy Style by Katie Davis Design 64 Home Staging Experts Share Tips ON THE COVER

46 6

house& home | June 2019 |

Houston’s first and foremost LEED Platinum residence features aesthetic aspirations as elevated as its environmental goals. The result is “The New Beautiful,” an architecture for our time. Photo by Gary Zvonkovic. See page 46.


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uring Houston summers, our survival strategy calls for moving from one air-conditioned space to another, though that means electricity bills that can sometimes stop us in our tracks. This month’s special section explores the balance between living well and saving more, with a focus on new technologies and products that can help lower energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing comfort. We’re also featuring Houston’s first LEED Platinum house, designed by Adams Architects more than ten years ago. This stunning residence is totally self-sufficient and requires zero maintenance. Going green is an attractive prospect, and we delve into the how and when by covering rainwater harvesting and solar energy. The good news is that you can still call on the power of the sun, even when installing solar panels doesn’t work for your own circumstances. Interior design can cause a house to sink or swim, and you’ll find proof in our feature about home staging. Learn about the seven sins that sink a sale, and see how home staging experts Shelley and Pratt Barndollar are turning stale listings into successful sales. The team at Katie Davis Design have shared a project they developed for a young family, showing us how a baby- and pet-proof house can still

look great. From cool grays and serene blues to creative strategies throughout, this savvy design will grow along with the family. Good design isn’t relegated just to the indoors, either. Art collectors Jay Wehnert and Victoria Harrison invited us to explore their art-filled back yard that has been magically transformed with sculpture, rock lyrics, creative plantings and even a pair of free range chickens. It’s definitely grilling season, and you’ll want to experiment with our mouth-watering recipe for 44 Farms New York strip. One bite and you’ll soon be making reservations everywhere else these choice meats are served, we’ve got that list too. ‘Tis the season for grilling and gifting when it comes to Dads and grads. Our curated collection in Editor’s Picks is sure to please and perfect for any occasion. On the subject of “sure to please,” don’t overlook Pet of the Month Sean, a nicely-mannered young shepherd mix who just wants to play tug-of-war. Last but not least, mark your calendars for important events this month and next, including the Texas Home & Garden Show, top acts at Galveston’s The Grand, and patriotic Independence Day events all over the Lone Star State. From our home to yours, Susie Tommaney

PUBLISHER ............................Mike Harrison, Ph.D. EDITOR ........................................Susie Tommaney CONTRIBUTING WRITERS ........................................ Shirley Barr, Anne Breux, Sam Byrd, Barbara Canetti, Marsha Canright, Mar y Chavoustie, Natalie de la Garza, Susan Fox, Joshua Kornegay, Katricia Lang, Barbara Kuntz, Paris Permenter & John Bigley, Whitney Radley, Robin Barr Sussman CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS........................ Brad Coleman, Miro Dvorscak, Kohanowski Studio, Dragana Harris, Ben Hill, Katya Horner, Illumine Photographic Services, Joshua Kornegay, Morris Malakoff, Paula Murphy, Julie Soefer, Becca Wright ART DIRECTOR ................................Robert Coplin SALES DIRECTOR ..............................Gia Montalto ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE ....................Christina Garza PRINTING ............................................RR Donnelly

Blue Thumb Inc., dba Houston House & Home ("HH&H"), is a news magazine with emphasis on interior design and remodeling. HH&H does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertising or editorial content, nor does HH&H or its staff assume responsibility should such advertising or editorial content appear in any publication. HH&H has not independently tested any services or products advertised herein and has not verified claims made by its advertisers regarding those services or products. HH&H makes no warranties or representations and assumes no liability for any claims regarding those services or products or claims made by advertisers. Readers are advised to consult with the advertiser and/or other home repair and renovation professionals regarding the suitability of an advertiser’s products. No reproduction is permitted without the written consent of the Publisher. Copyright 2018, all rights reserved. HH&H is distributed at most Houston area Randalls and HEB stores.

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JUNE 2019

(LEFT) On view in “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Model Margaret Horan in a Black Dress by Jay Thorpe. Photo by Edward Steichen, © Condé Nast; and (RIGHT) The new Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands serves as sanctuary for whooping cranes, the American alligator and more. Photos by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

CALENDAR DESIGN/INTERIORS JUNE 9: 20th Century Main Street Architecture Walk Join Preservation Houston on this 90-minute docent-led walking tour and learn about Houston’s business development, its history and its changing architectural tastes. 929 Texas Avenue, 713-5103990, JUNE 23-SEPTEMBER 22: “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography” Explore the rich and varied history of fashion photography through more than 200 photographs by famous practitioners (Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton) as well as lesser-known artists, tracing the genre’s trajectory from niche industry to its gradual

recognition as an art form. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300, JUNE 25: AIA Houston Design Awards The awards program recognizes excellence in architecture, as well as restoration, renovation and urban design, with a focus on quality, sustainable responsibility, innovation, thoughtfulness and technique. Emancipation Park Cultural Center, 3018 Emancipation Avenue, 713-520-0155,

EVENTS NOW OPEN: Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands Three native Texas species

14 house& home | June 2019 |

once close to extinction — the bald eagles, whooping cranes and American alligators — are brought together in a lush wetland habitat. A boardwalk gives guests an upclose look at this dynamic ecosystem that also serves as home for gar, snapping turtles, insects and fish. Houston Zoo, 1513 Cambridge, 713-533-6500, JUNE 1-JULY 2: “Ink&Image 2019, Red ... or not” PrintHouston 2019 ramps up all over town, including at Archway Gallery with demonstrations, lectures, studio tours and prints by Kevin Cromwell, Mary Lee Gray, donna e perkins, Shirl Riccetti, John Slaby and Liz Conces Spencer. Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy, 713-522-2409,

JUNE 1-29: Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival The popular Texas Music Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary season. Enjoy festival orchestras with guest conductors Franz Anton Krager (June 7-8), Rossen Milanov (June 15), Carl St. Clair (June 22) and Josep Caballé-Domenech (June 29). Houston and The Woodlands, 713743-3167, JUNE 8: 2019 Houston/Galveston Extreme Weather Ready Expo Hurricane season begins in June and this free family event presents panels with experts, CPR training, forecasts for this season, and a chance to meet with exhibitors. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas,


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More from “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography” on view at MFAH: James Harden, GQ, © Photo by Erik Madigan Heck / Trunk Archive, courtesy of Staley-Wise Gallery

JUNE 8: Tomato Contest Growers will compete in several categories to see who has the largest fruit, best tasting fruit or the highly coveted “prettiest single tomato.” Stay after for a tomato and salsa tasting. The Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball, 281-351-8851, JUNE 8: Houston Bridal Flea Shop, get married, sell and repeat at this intimate pop-up shopping event. From mason jars to bridesmaid gifts, and from stationery to pre-loved gowns, it’s a fun way to get ready for walking down the aisle. Czech Center Museum Houston, 4920 San Jacinto, JUNE 12: DIY Downtown: Terrarium Building Join Pop Shop America and the Downtown District to make mini container gardens from plants, vessels, rocks, sand, soil and cute embellishments. Nosh on yummies

from Local Foods and Phoenicia. Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons, diydowntown JUNE 13: Kinky Boots With original songs by Cyndi Lauper and book by the legendary Harvey Fierstein, don’t miss this stiletto-studded story about friendship and see why it was named Best Musical in the Tony®, Grammy® and Olivier® awards. Seating is limited. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, 1800-821-1894, JUNE 19: Juneteenth in Galveston The last slaves in the South were freed on June 19, 1865 after the Emancipation Proclamation was read on a harbor pier in Galveston. The island celebrates the day with parades, festivals, picnics, African-American heritage exhibits and concerts.

16 house& home | June 2019 |

JUNE 21-22, 28-29: ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights The Houston Symphony is inviting everybody to enjoy these free concerts on the hill: Sibelius & Rachmaninoff (June 21), Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet (June 22), Dvořák’s New World (June 28), and Beethoven 5 (June 29). Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park,

JUNE 22-23: Texas Home & Garden Show For almost 40 years we’ve been counting on the THG series for expert advice, money saving tips, remodeling ideas, landscape features and more — from windows and doors to ceilings and floors. Come learn about new products, participate in workshops and comparison shop with local vendors. NRG Center, 1 NRG Park,

JUNE 22: Holocaust Museum Houston Comes Home We’ve seen the new “Coexistence” exhibit at Hermann Park and noticed that the HMH website is now bilingual to include Spanish. The $34 million expansion is complete and the nation’s fourth largest Holocaust museum is set to reopen its doors this month, continuing its mission to educate and serve as a voice for human rights and social justice. Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline, 713-942-8000,

JUNE 28-29: Jeanne Robertson – The Rocking Humor Tour At six feet, two inches tall, former Miss North Carolina Jeanne Robertson certainly commands attention. But it’s her funny stories about “Don’t bungee jump naked” and “Don’t send a man to the grocery store” that will leave you LOLing. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, 1800-821-1894,


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, CITGO Freedom Over Texas has partnered with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to bring an exclusive Space City Experience to this year’s Independence Day festivities. Photo by Richard Carson

INDEPENDENCE DAY JUNE 28-JULY 6: 50th Annual Kingsland AquaBoom Llano County comes alive with this multi-day, Hill Country festival celebrating its Golden Jubilee with something for everyone: Miss AquaBoom, water activities at the 2900 River Bridge, a Sea-Doo raffle, BBQ cook-off and more. Kingsland, Texas, 325-388-6211,

JULY 6: Freedom Fest 2019 Time shift Independence Day and celebrate with a parade, BBQ cook-off, baking contest, kid’s zone and awards. Historic District, Montgomery,

JULY 4: Star-Spangled Salute — Summer Symphony Nights The Fourth of July wouldn’t be the same without the 1812 Overture, The Stars and Strives Forever, and a spectacular fireworks display. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park,

JULY 2 Patriotic Abendkonzert, Boerne,

JULY 4: CITGO Freedom Over Texas The City of Houston has lined up new live music acts for this annual celebration along Buffalo Bayou. Don’t miss the evening’s finale with a spectacular blast of fireworks. Eleanor Tinsley and Sam Houston Parks, 500 Allen Parkway and 1000 Bagby, JULY 4: 180th City of Galveston Celebration Independence Day Parade and Fireworks Nothing says summer on Galveston Island better than the 4th of July. Catch the glittering parade followed by dazzling fireworks over the Gulf. Rain date is July 5. 37th Street and Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, July 4th Celebration and Street Festival presented by Allied Siding & Windows Tomball has booked Texas Country Music Hall of Fame legends The Posse for an evening of country and southern rock. The patriotic tribute to America and its veterans includes food vendors and fireworks display. Business 249 North of Four Corners, Tomball,

18 house& home | June 2019 |


Fourth of July Fireworks, Boerne, Freedom Fest, Aubrey,

JULY 3 20th Anniversary Southlake Stars & Stripes, Southlake,

Freedom Fest 2019, Nacogdoches,

JULY 4 Robert Earl Keen Fourth on the River, Kerrville,

4th of July Community Parade & Fireworks, Fredericksburg,

4th of July Celebration, Stephenville,

JULY 4-6 Coolest 4th of July, Fort Davis,

4th of July American Legion Post 410 Parade, Lakehills,

JULY 6 Tye Independence Day Celebration, Tye,

Annual Fourth of July Fireworks Display, Jacksonville,

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Notice how beautifully the rainwater collection cistern blends with the architecture of this Galveston Island home. Photo courtesy of Galveston County Master Gardeners

Harvesting H2O Water, Water Everywhere … Until It’s Not


he concept of harvesting rainwater hits all the buzz words: reuse, recycle, repurpose and reduce. It’s an easy way to lower your water bill while helping to conserve a precious natural resource. Harvesting means accumulating and storing water that normally cascades off the roof during a rain storm. It is one of the oldest methods for self-supplying non-potable water, to be used for lawns, plants, car washes and irrigation. The earliest collections were done in underground cisterns like the one at Buffalo Bayou Park. That facility, built in 1926 and the size of one and a half football fields, was capable of holding 15 million gallons of water.

20 house& home | June 2019 |

On a smaller level home harvesting is a way to supplement water usage while conserving resources. Ted Driscoll, community engagement coordinator with the Galveston Bay Foundation, says 40 percent of all summertime water consumption is for lawns and gardens. “But by capturing rainwater and reusing it, it helps to save water and money,” says Driscoll. “One 35-gallon rain barrel can conserve up to 1,000 gallons a year.” The Galveston Bay Foundation started a rain barrel program in 2013, teaching homeowners how to set up a simple system. He estimates more than 2,000 people have gone through the program, saving about seven million gallons – enough to fill the Astrodome three times.

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Reclaimed water is put to good use in this hydroponic greenhouse. Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

“One 35-gallon rain barrel can conserve up to 1,000 gallons a year.” — Ted Driscoll, Galveston Bay Foundation The retrieved rainwater is not drinkable without treatment. Chemicals on the roof, bird poop and other undesirable bacterium could be washed into the barrel because there is no filtration system. Adding chlorine is not an option and won’t rid the water of many of those substances. The Galveston Bay Foundation uses 35-gallon plastic barrels that have been donated to them by the Coca-Cola Corporation. The company has partnered with the foundation to recycle these former syrup receptacles. The barrels are translucent, so Driscoll suggests priming and painting the barrel to eliminate sun exposure and the development of algae. We found all sorts of helpful products at Baytec Containers: rain collection systems, tanks, water bags and rainwater barrels. Baytec’s Pamala Hook says their barrels and tanks come in a variety of colors to match the house. Hook says customers also use Baytec products for storing fresh water in preparation for hurricane season, when roadways become impassible or the store shelves are bare. “Many of us were trapped in our homes during [Tropical Storm Harvey], so having a new water barrel with purified water ready to use is the number one thing to have on hand in the 22 house& home | June 2019 |

event of an occurrence.” Hook recommends Purogene to treat the water and remove oxygen, prohibiting the growth of bacteria. She suggests adding a pump to the barrel and supplementing those emergency reserves with jugs and buckets. Tim Janke has been harvesting rainwater at his Santa Fe home since 2012. He has three 50-gallon barrels, which allow him to easily water his lawn and plants all summer. For every inch of rain that falls over one square foot, a bit more than a half gallon of water is collected. “It’s not hard at all with a gutter system,” says Janke, explaining that the water can be directed into the barrel with pipes and downspouts. “But the simplest is collecting from houses where there are valleys in the roof and the streams of water just fill up the barrels.” Janke, a Galveston County Master Gardener who has lectured on this subject, tells us that, as the population grows so does the demand for water. Harvesting rainwater is one solution to the problem of finite water sources. “We just need to find a way to recycle and slow down the usage. Having good quality water is a concern of mine,” he adds.

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Harvested rainwater can be used on the lawn and garden, as well as for washing the car. Photo courtesy of Galveston County Master Gardeners

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A gutter system makes harvesting rainwater easy. Photo courtesy of Galveston County Master Gardeners

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The federal solar tax credit allows homeowners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from federal taxes if completed during 2019. For those who can’t install, electricity providers have programs that use power generated at Texas solar parks. Photo by Lance Cheung/Flickr via CC

GOING SOLAR Energy Wave of the Future Reaches Rooftops in Houston By Marsha Canright


oustonians know the bone-chilling anxiety of opening the first electric bill of the summer. As temperatures climbed last year, the price of wholesale electricity spiked, which meant locals saw some of the highest bills in recent history. There were also 1,500 new solar installations in Houston last year, according to a new report by the Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. Solar panels are a solid investment with clear benefits, says Robert Noel, program director for the Texas branch of Solar United Neighbors, a non-profit that advocates for energy rights. “Going solar enables homeowners to lower their energy bills and stabilize their monthly energy costs,” he says. It’s no surprise that interest is intensifying; the prospect of charging a phone, ironing a shirt or powering your refrigerator with electricity from a solar system instead of buying it from the grid sounds like a great idea, but there is a lot more to it than installing a few panels. “Before adopting solar, Houston homeowners need to understand what they are getting and if it makes sense for their family,” says Dori Wolfe, Houston manager for Solar United Neighbors.

26 house& home | June 2019 |

“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer when it comes to rooftop solar, so homeowners should focus on understanding their options before making a decision.” Consider these tips before jumping on the solar bandwagon.

CHECK WITH YOUR HOA In 2011 the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill limiting the power of homeowners associations to restrict solar systems. However, there are still hurdles to know about. Residents must follow normal procedures for seeking improvements, as outlined by their HOA, which often means submitting a request in writing or presenting your case to a review board. Even if you follow the letter of the law, the association can deny your request for several reasons: if the solar energy devices are illegal or violate public health and safety, if they are located on common property within the subdivision, or if they have an element that is not in a silver, bronze, or black tone. Other reasons could be if they extend higher than the roofline or do not conform to the slope of the roof, are not parallel to the roofline, if they are ground-mounted and extend above the homeowner’s fence, or if they are installed in a way that voids the warranties.


To produce more energy, it helps if solar panels face south. However, some homeowners fare better with panels facing west to better catch sunlight during electricity peak demand. (LEFT) Photo by mjmonty/Flickr via CC and (RIGHT) photo by Marufish_2/Flickr via CC

DO A HOME ENERGY AUDIT Inefficiencies mean you’ll need more solar panels to power your home, so before you go solar fix those energy drains. Update your windows or fit existing windows with low-emissive film, and address and repair any insulation issues. If you’re not doing so already, start using LED light bulbs and consider replacing older appliances with new Energy Star® models. If you don’t feel comfortable going it alone, enlist a home energy auditing service. They charge about $300 for a session and can help identify your home’s problem areas.

DO THE NUMBERS The average cost of solar panels in Houston is $3.20 per watt — 72 cents cheaper than the national average. This means a standard 6000-watt solar system would come to $19,210 and around $13,500 after claiming the federal solar tax credit for 2019; the credit is reduced in subsequent years. On average, a solar system in Houston will pay for itself in about ten years, Wolfe says. A decade may seem like a long payoff period to many, but there is a solid return on investment, even if you decide to sell your home. Solar energy systems have been found to increase home values and those homes tend to sell faster, according to Department of Energy research.

SHOP AROUND Once you’ve decided to join team solar, shop around. “Going solar comes with many of the same concerns as with any home construction project. That’s why it’s important to work with a trusted installer,” Noel says. He suggests getting bids from at least three companies and recommends joining a solar co-op. “The solar co-op educates participants about all aspects of going 28 house& home | June 2019 |

solar, from how solar technology works, how it gets installed onto your home, and how you can pay for it. The group has already solicited bids from installers and selects the one that best serves the needs of the group,” Noel says. In Houston, Solar United Neighbors has launched two co-ops, with plans for one or two more this year. The Greater Woodlands Co-op has 33 qualified participants and the Houston Central Co-op has 31. The deadline to join The Woodlands co-op is June 15 and, for Houston Central, is June 30. To find out more, visit

KNOW YOUR OPTIONS Investing in panels isn’t the only way to go solar. Solar farms are experiencing a boom in Texas and several Houston companies have created new plans for customers interested in powering their homes with alternative energy. “While the demand for solar energy in Texas continues to grow, many residents do not have the option or interest in installing solar panels on their rooftop,” says Megan Talley, senior communications advisor for NRG Energy. The Local Solar plan offered by Reliant connects homeowners and renters with energy generated at two Texas solar farms, including Bovine near Houston, Talley says. A similar plan was rolled out by Green Mountain Energy earlier this year. The Go Local Solar program powers homes using electricity generated at Texas solar parks. There are no rooftop installations or upfront costs required. “Green Mountain Energy is proud of our Texas roots and, with this plan, we can offer our customers a way to protect our environment and power their homes with renewable energy,” says Mark Parsons, vice president. “We want solar adoption to be easy and accessible to even more Texans who share our passion for conservation and sustainability.”

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Located in Texas, 44 Farms prides itself on providing high-quality, all-natural steaks from high performing cattle. Photo courtesy of 44 Farms

LIVING AND LOVING LOCAL: 44 Farms All Natural Local Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.


Who knows America’s premier provider of prime and choice American grown beef and the largest producer of quality Black Angus in Texas? A: Locavore-beloved 44 Farms in Cameron founded in 1909 by the great grandparents of current owner Bob McClaren. You’ll spot the tender USDA choice filet mignon, New York strip, sirloin, bone-in rib eye, T-bone, and other mouth-watering 44 Farms cuts on Houston restaurant menus and all across Texas. Read on for the inspiring ways chefs are cooking with 44 Farms beef and check out the Father’s Day-approved 44 Farms steak recipe on page 32. GEORGIA JAMES Meat maven restaurateur-chef Chris Shepherd is sourcing high quality local beef in many cuts at his new steakhouse. Look for 44 Farms’ long bone dry aged rib eye, a wet-aged cast-iron seared porterhouse, bone-in strip loin, and a 100-day wood fire grilled hangar steak. There’s a lot more decadence besides steak on the menu including Gulf seafood, luxe salads and gussied up comfort food sides. 1100 Westheimer, 832-241-5088, 30 house& home | June 2019 |

NIGHT HERON This breezy, neighborhood Montrose spot offers globally inspired dishes with a modern presentation. For a little hot, cold, protein and veggies, order the pan-roasted 44 Farms sirloin sliced over cold somen noodles laced with scallions, serrano and cucumber. From burgers to vegetarian fare and happy hour finds, the eclectic menu is worth exploring. 1601 West Main, 713-527-8010, INDIANOLA Expect a little of everything on this creative menu that starts with snacks like hummus and ends with several types of impressive steaks. In between, find a 44 Farms Texas Wagyu burger on a cheddar-jalapeno bun topped with provolone, charred tomato relish, pickles, lettuce, onion and served with sour cream and onion potatoes. Miss Carousel, in the same complex by the same owners, has a replica of this 44 Farms burger on the menu. 1201 Saint Emanuel, 832-582-7202, indianola

BUFFBURGER The small, still new, family-owned business insists on local and “the country’s best beef from Texas’s finest 44 Farms,” says owner Paul Burden. Expect deliciously stacked burgers with a few fancy combos like goat cheese, truffle, and The Brit with cheddar, bacon, arugula and curry mayo (nice twist!). They even bake their own Chris Shepherd opened Georgia James to burger buns daily. Find be the steakhouse that cares — about sourcing quality product, technique, executhem in neighborhoods tion and the highest level of service, like including Memorial, this bone-in strip loin. Photo by Julie Soefer Montrose and Briar Forest. 1014 Wirt, 281-501-9773; 1540 West Alabama, 713-821-2747; 10550 Westheimer, 281-869-3303, GOODNIGHT CHARLIE’S This modern honky-tonk pays homage to legendary cattle rancher Charles Goodnight, the father of the Texas panhandle. No surprise that local comes into play on the menu and that chef Felipe Riccio uses 44 Farms beef exclusively. Tacos are the main event here — try the cheesesteak tacos with 44 Farms beef, queso Oaxaca, and house-pickled vegetables. Note the new steak night: A lot of food for a little dough. 2531 Kuester, 832-986-5151,

Goodnight Charlie’s is big on tacos, but their new steak night is something to celebrate. Photo courtesy of Goodnight Charlie’s

Indianola’s Texas Wagyu burger gets dressed with provolone and charred tomato relish on a cheddar-jalapeno bun. Photo by Carla Gomez

UB PRESERV Snug and more casual than shuttered Underbelly, UB Preserv is all about Houston’s melting pot of cuisine with a heavy emphasis on Asian fusion fare. Try the Vietnamese fajitas: Rich, slow-cooked 44 Farms short-rib meat presented on a sizzling platter. Wrap the meat in the accompanying lettuce and herbs, add fish sauce, and you have heaven on a plate. 1609 Westheimer, 346-406-5923, 44 FARMS For steaks, beef jerky, franks, ground beef and gifts, visit the retail and fulfillment center Monday through Saturday or order online. 1509 TX-36, Cameron, 254-605-6444, Night Heron pairs 44 Farms beef with cold somen noodles, while serrano preserves the heat. Photo by Julie Soefer 31

ABOVE: Our recipe for 44 Farms Simply Seared New York Strip yields a medium rare steak. Adjust the cooking time to taste: rare (1.5 minutes each side), medium (4 minutes each), or medium well (five minutes each). Photo courtesy of 44 Farms BELOW: In the world of quality beef cattle and beef production there is no greater name than Angus. Photo courtesy of 44 Farms



ere’s a quick recipe from 44 Farms that is simply bovine. Perfect for a Father’s Day dinner!

INGREDIENTS 4 New York Strip steaks from 44 Farms (14-ounces each) 4 teaspoons 44 Farms Salt & Pepper Blend 1 tablespoon canola oil 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 sprigs fresh thyme 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled


Season each steak with one teaspoon of 44 Farms Salt & Pepper

Blend on both sides. Heat cast iron pan over medium-high heat for about three to five minutes or until hot. Add the canola oil. Place

steaks in hot pan and cook for three minutes on one side. Flip and sear for an additional three minutes on the other side.

Add in thyme, garlic cloves and butter. Baste steaks with the butter

on both sides. Remove steaks from the pan and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Yield: Four servings 32 house& home | June 2019 |

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he debate between living comfortably or choosing to be energy efficient ends here. You want it all and, thanks to new technologies on the market, it looks like that’s finally possible.

Sometimes even a few upgrades can help reduce your carbon footprint. Schedule an HVAC tune-up with a trusted contractor to make sure your system and ducts are working efficiently, then make a decision

38 house& home | June 2019 |

about the best time to buy new. Evaluate your water heater and the appliances in the kitchen and laundry rooms, as well as all of the lighting systems throughout the home. Investing in new windows, doors and insulation can keep the house cooler in the summer and toasty warm in the winter. Every time we install or upgrade an appliance or system, we’re given the opportunity to select Energy Star® products that save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. Improving a home's energy efficiency can help lower high energy bills, improve comfort and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MINI DUCTS Preservationists, like those of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Florida, know there is only one heating and cooling solution for a house with little to no space for ducting. The Unico System® boasts flexible ducts one-third the size of traditional heating and air-conditioning systems, making them small enough to fit in attic crawl spaces, closets, basements, and even wall and ceiling cavities. Despite their size, the small-duct HVAC is capable of delivering even temperatures throughout every room of the house, while the


Sometimes all it takes is a mini split to fulfill the heating and cooling needs of a home. Look for Energy Star® products when making your next purchase. Photo by Getty Images

sound-dampening insulation keeps it quiet and reduces air leakage. Gulf Coast residents should also take note: Purchasing a Unico System from a company like Air-Mart of Texas is the ideal solution for humid conditions, as its cooling coils remove up to 30 percent more moisture than standard systems. — NG

GEOTHERMAL In the past year, Houstonians’ electricity costs rose by 18 percent. If you’re still reeling from the increase, it might be time to make the switch to a geothermal heating and air conditioning system. Like an air conditioner, it uses a refrigerant, but unlike traditional heating and cooling solutions, these systems use a heat pump to capitalize on the constant temperatures underground. Once installed, a geothermal unit is nearly maintenance free. The geothermal experts at Airtron Heating and Air Conditioning say a geothermal system is four to five times more efficient than your typical heating and cooling system. It has a 500 percent efficiency rating, so your energy bill can decrease by 65 percent. Even with electricity prices skyrocketing, that’s a net gain. — KL

40 house& home | June 2019 |

WINDOW FILM Instead of impact glass or shutters, homeowners looking for protection against hurricanes, security from burglars, or just a little relief for their wallet can now “armor up” their existing windows with Armor Glass®, a breach-proof polycarbonate film. This NASA-approved plastic barrier can not only withstand everything from errant golf balls to wind-borne debris, Armor Glass reduces up to 79 percent of the solar heat that seeps in through windows, earning it the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star seal. It’s also carbon negative, meaning it saves more energy than it takes to manufacture, and even the installation process is green, requiring only baby shampoo and water. But don’t think you have to sacrifice aesthetics for the environment — Armor Glass makes a clear product that is invisible when applied. Various tints, however, are available to cut down even more solar energy and increase savings on your electric bill. — NG

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energy saving opportunities. The government-backed program partners with dealers like Cambridge Doors & Windows to cut costs and increase energy efficiency. Cambridge orders its window systems from energy-conscious suppliers and manufacturers like Showcase Windows and Doors, a specialist in climatebased products. This includes windows that can withstand a Gulf Coast hurricane and hot Houston summers. Ditch the clear glass too. Cambridge offers EnviroShield's® Low-E Glass, an insulated glass unit that can reduce your energy bills by up to 15 percent as well as give you lifelong bragging rights: The unit battles air pollution, smog and global warming. — KL

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system, you too can recline like a feline. Daylighting systems employ the power of the sun to light your home. A traditional skylight allows for plenty of sun gazing, but if it has any weak spot in the insulation, it will undermine your heating and cooling system. And it makes the hotter months even hotter. But through the magic of domes, tubes and technology, the Solatube system stays steady in any season or climatic condition. And instead of adding heat to your attic as a traditional skylight might, Solatube offers a solar powered attic fan to cool it down. Houston Daylighting, a company that exclusively installs Solatube systems, says in two hours you can turn your day in the sun into a lifetime in the sunlight. — KL

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POWER PLAY Discover Tranquil Sustainability in LEEDcertified Residence, The Lighthouse Story by SuSie tommaney | PhotoS by Gary Zvonkovic


ost of us know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. But surely that’s not true about the prestigious, historically significant mansions in River Oaks? Everybody dreams of living in one of those ivy-covered swankiendas designed by storied architects, with manicured gardens that seem to go on forever. Other than the inevitable traffic problems in the weeks leading up to Christmas when all the lookieloos want to see the holiday lights, surely there’s no down side. Not true say Joseph H. Adams, A.I.A. and Gail H. Adams, principals of Houston-based Adams Architects. When the partners first met with their new clients more than ten years ago — he an attorney and she a chief justice — the husband said he was tired of living in River Oaks and the never ending cycle of replacing broken air conditioning systems, dealing with rotten wood, and keeping the paint looking fresh. “He was looking for something that was zero maintenance,” say the Adamses, who delivered a concept that not only fit the bill, but was also

The residence is naturally lit through north-facing clerestory windows, while the interior aesthetic embraces the bones of the structure’s architecture.

46 house& home | June 2019 |


years ahead of its time in terms of energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and cutting-edge technologies. The result was The Lighthouse, a 3,500-square-foot home on Colquitt that became Houston’s first LEED Platinum house, meaning the design incorporates best practices in areas such as innovation and design, sustainability, materials and energy. “It’s totally self-sufficient, but beautiful, with its command of natural light,” says Joseph, who applied principles he learned studying under Louis I. Kahn, the acclaimed architect who infused light as a theme for Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum. The house is naturally lit by north-facing clerestory windows, leaving a feeling of living in light, while steel beams and air-conditioning ducts remain exposed for a more open space. Sustainable bamboo was used for the cabinetry and floors, lending a warm, honey-colored glow to the home, while other sustainable materials include paper composite counters. Screened porches take advantage of southerly winds year round and permeable decking off the dining and master allow the homeowners to extend their living spaces to the outdoors. RIGHT: Sustainability is built into the kitchen with bamboo cabinetry and floors, low voltage lighting, and paper composite counters. BELOW: With 140 panels of photovoltaic solar arrays, the residence has become a net exporter of electricity.

48 house& home | June 2019 |


The house is sheathed in steel siding that not only blocks moisture, sunlight and heat, it will never need to be painted — so mission accomplished. Joseph tells us it’s the same material used in airplane manufacturing, though the elements of design were not sacrificed. Look closely at the exterior and notice that the corrugations of the panels are in three different widths, creating an atmosphere of progressive diminishment and with a nod to the columns of early Greek architecture.

RIGHT: The bamboo lends a honey-colored glow to the home’s interior, while exposed air-conditioning ducts give an airy, open feel to the space. LEFT: Architect Joe Adams says the home’s design makes it look like it is “slicing the sky.”

50 house& home | June 2019 |


ABOVE: The house literally helps power its neighbors. RIGHT: The Lighthouse on Colquitt is entirely self-sufficient and was the first residence in Houston to be certified as LEED Platinum.

The living and dining rooms, kitchen and bedrooms have all been situated on the second floor, giving a treehouse feel to those living spaces, while the first floor houses a guest room, garden room, garage, mechanical room and covered breezeway. Geothermal air-conditioning and 140 panels of photovoltaic solar arrays facing south and west ensure that The Lighthouse has enough power to give back into the electrical grid. Joseph tells us that, for the air-

52 house& home | June 2019 |


conditioning system, wells were drilled into the ground because water acts as a coolant. “You get down to a certain depth and it gets to 65 degrees. It’s all done naturally.” Rainwater is harvested and collected in a 7,000-gallon cistern that is stored underground. The water is then treated for household use: The homeowners don’t need to draw from the City of Houston water system and they also don’t contribute to runoff during heavy storms. “I like to say that it’s coupled to the earth for cooling, coupled to the sun for electricity, and coupled to the sky for drinking water,” says Joseph. Due to life events, the house has since been sold, but not before the previous homeowners added charging stations for their electric cars. The current owners have “extended the techie-ness” and can now turn things on and off remotely from their office in The Woodlands. “It’s all about conservation,” adds Joseph.

RESOURCES Adams Architects Gail Hood Adams Joseph Houston Adams, A.I.A. 281-529-2592 717 Rochow Dovetail Builders, Inc. (General contractor) 713-665-0200 11302 Craighead Drive

Harvest Solar (Solar) 918-521-6223 Geothermal Advantage, Inc. (HVAC) Charles Smith SparkleTap Water Company (Rainwater collection)

Gessner Engineering (Structural engineer)

54 house& home | June 2019 |

Designed by Adams Architects, this stunning, zero-maintenance home is covered in the same galvanized steel that is used in airplane manufacturing. 55

GOOD VIBES As the Family Grows, Savvy Design Can Grow With It By Sam Byrd | PhotoS By meliSSa Fitzgerald WeSt


djusting a home for living with children usually requires some flexibility to suit both the needs of the parents and the kids. Children will grow through phases where they outgrow the home’s design, whereas parents want something durable that still feels well-planned. That challenge is what designer Katie Davis kept in mind as she was working on a project for two friends in their Heights home. The couple was preparing to welcome baby number two to join their two-year-old son. Davis helped layer the home in different spots – mainly the living room, dining area and children’s rooms. “The artwork, side tables and pillows give the rooms more comfort. They’ll still be able to enjoy and lounge on their pillows, but you can spruce them when guests come over. It’s a real-life layer, and then there’s an elevated sense too,” says Davis. The living room art — work by Jane Johnson sourced at the Bayou City Art Festival — made for a great fit for the lamps, pillows and rugs the team had suggested. The lighting, including a lantern, ceiling fixture and the dining room fixtures, were sourced at M&M Lighting.

56 house& home | June 2019 |

Artist Jane Johnson’s acrylics are inspired by nature and play; the piece above the sofa was found at the Bayou City Art Festival and pairs beautifully with the lamps, pillows and rugs suggested by Katie Davis Design. 57

For now, the tepee will keep the children entertained in the living room; in years to come it can be replaced with a nice piece of furniture.

“It’s a young family, and they wanted to feel comfortable in their space.” — Katie Davis Moving into the children’s rooms, Davis says, “We were transitioning one to his big boy room and transitioning a nursery for the upcoming baby. We already had a crib and glider to work with, but it had the same color pattern of the rest of the house with blue and gray.” Davis mentions one of the standout pieces is the vintage dresser from Dallas-based THE CEH. The company does bespoke pieces, but they also restore vintage pieces. For the older son’s room, she added a blue Henredon dresser that he will be able to use into adulthood. She also added a cus-

58 house& home | June 2019 |

tom headboard and artwork from Leslee Mitchell. She supplied rugs from Dash & Albert and Pottery Barn. “They still wanted the space to have that finished elevated look, but still be kid-friendly. A lot of doing that is choosing fabrics that are durable,” she says. “There are also patterns that aren’t the scratchy outdoor furniture fabric that we’re used to. The headboard is stain-resistant. I keep the bedding kind of simple: I have two kids myself, so I make it easy for the kids to make the bed one day and for mom and dad too. They can throw that white quilt in the washing

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machine when the kid has Cheeto fingers.” Knowing the new baby was also a boy, and that the clients were a fan of blue, Davis used that as a theme to create a flow between the rooms. “I like to have each space connect somehow so that every room flows and has a similar feeling but is also unique,” says Davis. She used similar fabrics as well: There’s a ticking stripe in the nursery, a pattern that is repeated on the drapes, pillows, couch and living room pillows. “It’s keeping that pattern to flow from space to space with a spin, like different colors, that ties them together. And it’s a great transitional pattern that works for little kids, big kids and adults,” she adds. Davis says her approach is to design for real life needs, but she says there’s a reason people hire a designer: to provide a finished, tailored look. For this, Davis used elements like brass throughout the spaces to refine the look yet keep its warmth. “It’s a young family, and they wanted to feel comfortable in their space. We gave them that look that they could lounge around with their kids, but also throw the toys in the closet when friends come over,” Davis says. Davis also kept a slight enhancement plan for the The family’s love of the colors blue and gray is carried through from room to room. 60 house& home | June 2019 |

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home. In the nursery, a chair was strategically placed to block an attic door. In the living room, a play teepee keeps the children entertained. Yet, as the young ones grow up, both elements can be replaced with nicer furniture more appropriate for the maturing family. “No one needs to live in bubble wrap.

A chair in the nursery creatively blocks access to the attic.

You can have designer pillows and custom pillows, but you don’t have to worry about putting them on a shelf,” she says. “Sometimes people get caught up in kids or pets ruining things, but there are so many options and solutions to using different fabrics that are kid and pet proof.” At the end of the day, the client feels satisfied to have a home that fits the family’s needs but also has that cozy-yettailored look that appeals to the eye and the lifestyle.

RESOURCES Katie Davis Design 832-743-5449 Annie Selke, Dash & Albert Houston and Tomball The new big boy room comes with an easy to wash comforter.

Bayou City Art Festival 713-521-0133 Leslee Mitchell M&M Lighting 346-360-1344, 5620 South Rice Pottery Barn 713-627-8901, 4011 Westheimer 713-461-4057, 12850 Memorial 281-325-0200, 16535 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land THE CEH Durable fabrics are designed to survive both pets and children. 62 house& home | June 2019 |

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Although this home in Briar Forest had been newly remodeled, it still felt cold and undefined without furnishings. Showhomes Houston selected pieces to anchor the room and show purpose, creating an environment where potential buyers could envision living in the space.


SETTING THE STAGE Seven Sins That Sink a Sale By Marsha Canright | Photos Courtesy of shelley and Pratt Barndollar


avvy home sellers know that seven deadly sins can undercut a home’s value and keep it on the market indefinitely. If you are selling your home, beware of the following pitfalls: lackluster listing photos, dirt and clutter, an unkempt exterior, poor lighting, personal items, maintenance issues, and brightly painted wall treatments. One way to avoid these hurdles is to enlist the help of a staging professional. In a 2018 survey by the National Association of Realtors, 62 percent of agents reported that staged homes spent less time on the market and about half said staged homes drew a higher selling price. “There’s a misconception that staging means arranging nice furniture and a few accessories to make your home look desirable. That’s part of it, but there’s a lot more to the overall process,” says Pratt Barndollar, a local home staging expert. “Staging is everything you do to sell your house.” Over the past four years, Barndollar and his wife Shelley have prepped hundreds of local homes for sale via their cus64 house& home | June 2019 |

tom staging company, Showhomes Houston. They still take delight in scoring a quick sale. While their focus is on luxury homes, the Barndollars do consult with a variety of customers and price points. Recently they staged a vacant home that had been on the market for almost a year. “The house felt cold; it was starting to get a little dirty. It took a day or two to assess the problems and get it properly cleaned and staged but it was fun to bring that house back to life. It went from no activity to ten showings the next week,” says Pratt. The Barndollars have their own inventory of furnishings and accessories. This gives Shelley, who is a certified interior designer and home stager, all the tools she needs to dress a house. “We stay with creams and grays and white and we add color with pillows, rugs and accessories. Also, we try not to be specific on furniture: By keeping it more open and generic, it appeals to the greatest number of buyers,” she says.


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The seller’s décor pulled focus from the features at this Lake Houston waterfront manse; Showhomes Houston removed distracting red drapes, edited the furniture and opened up the space to showcase the stone fireplace.



This luxury home in Missouri City went from dungeon drab to oh-so-fab by removing the dated curtains, freshening the paint and allowing buyers to imagine how their own dining room table would work in the room.

RIGHTING THOSE WRONGS 1. Real estate photos need to be absolutely stunning to get potential buyers into your home. Most buyers who are browsing online will look at the first three to five photos and that’s as far as they go, unless the photos are outstanding and focus on the home’s best features. “Today’s buyers look at 11 listings before they pick a house to visit,” Shelley says. Photos are the first step in putting your best foot forward. 2. Declutter by packing up half of your possessions, including extra lamps and tables, and send them to storage. This makes it possible for buyers to see the bones of the house and all of its best features. Tidy the closets. “Last year we staged a home that was owned by a prominent Houston family that were big game hunters,” Shelley says. The residence had a dedicated addition to show their 66 house& home | June 2019 |

collection of big game trophies, including a giant elephant head. “When we went in to help them, these trophies were literally the elephant in the room,” she says. The sellers knew they had to get rid of the taxidermy and focus on the nice, airy space, which they did. However, the elephant was too large to move so the Barndollars worked with lighting to draw the focus away from the animal. The final makeover is one of their favorite projects. 3. House colors should be in a neutral tone like cream or gray or white. You can accessorize with color, just not red. “Red is a love or hate color and if your eye is drawn to the color, you don’t see other aspects of the home,” warns Shelley. Painting a room is relatively inexpensive and it improves the feel of a home. “We worked on a beautiful townhome in Southside that had been on the market three times longer

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It took a trained eye to spot the flaws in this entry way. New carpet on the stairs, expanding the hardwood flooring and rearranging the homeowner’s furnishings made the space brighter and more unified.



This busy kitchen had too many patterns and shapes. Showhomes Houston removed some chairs and repositioned others, allowing the island and its features to take center stage in this open, airy kitchen.

than expected,” says Pratt. “The first two rooms had very bold, distinctive colors, which was limiting the buyers’ pool. Once the rooms were painted a neutral cream color, the house sold quickly.” Neutralizing includes taking down all the family photos, diplomas or awards. Anything that is specific in terms of cultural, political or religious views should also be removed. 4. Update and repair all the systems including electrical, HVAC and plumbing. If a cupboard is missing a knob, fix it. If a door sticks or a window frame is chipped, a buyer will notice. Your bathrooms and kitchen should be updated, even if that only involves paint and new fixtures. Try to eliminate any item that a buyer could negotiate on. You want to take all that off the table. Buyers will always overestimate the costs of needed repairs and updates. 5. If you cannot keep the home squeaky clean, have professional cleaners come in every couple of weeks. Most potential 68 house& home | June 2019 |

buyers equate a dirty home with poor maintenance. They see a dirty air vent and think, “Am I going to have to worry about mold in this house or what else has not been done?” 6. Make sure your rooms are well lit and have the same tone of lighting. Check to be sure that all light bulbs are working. Also, take down heavy drapes and get those windows clean. Shutters and blinds are fine, but nothing heavy; you want as much natural light as possible. It’s important to update lighting fixtures, especially in the dining room and kitchen. Old fixtures will date the home and make it seem like grandma’s house. 7. Curb appeal is important. Plant flowers and trim trees and shrubs. A patio and pool may be one of your home’s best features, so make sure these are cleaned, power washed, and free of clutter. If your fence is old and shabby, replace it before you put the house on the market.

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Another view of the living room in the newly remodeled Briar Forest home. Cold and cavernous becomes warm and inviting with the addition of neutral furnishings that are tasteful and generic.

“By keeping it more open and generic, it appeals to the greatest number of buyers.” — Shelley Barndollar


BEFORE ABOVE: This new luxury home in Southampton Place had been on the market for almost a year. Showhomes Houston addressed the wide open and intimidating spaces. BELOW: Valued at more than two million dollars, an offer was made within six weeks of staging.

AFTER 70 house& home | June 2019 |

Vacant house staging requires more time because more needs to be done. Some home staging businesses offer packages but Showhomes Central Houston only does custom work specific to the property, says Pratt Barndollar. “If a home is vacant, it’s hard for most buyers to visualize how the space will work for them. That’s why vacant staging is so important.” In a higher end home that’s empty, viewers will stay ten to 15 minutes. However, if it’s staged, they spend closer to 40 minutes. The longer someone is looking at the house, the better, he says. The Barndollars do professional consultations and makeovers but they also offer a home manager service for people who have already moved from their home and are living outside the city or state. “Having someone live in the home to make sure it’s secure and clean and always available to show is great for homeowners who don’t live in town,” says Shelley Barndollar. “The home manager also pays the utilities. It’s a good option for those who need an onsite caretaker.” When selecting a home staging consultant, do your homework: Review the portfolio, verify recommendations from previous customers, check certifications, and make sure they are insured for workers compensation so you won’t be on the hook if someone falls down the stairs. “There’s a lot that goes into staging so your contract should be more than one page. If you RESOURCE are working with someone who Showhomes Houston is qualified, it will probably 832-289-7513 cost a bit more, but a lesser price may correlate to lesser houston quality,” adds Shelley.


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Compiled by SuSie Tommaney

is the season for grilling and gifting when it comes to Dads and grads. Our curated collection is sure to please and perfect for any occasion.

Hot Pepper Bacon Jam by Terrapin Ridge Farms Miam!, Triple fire grill by höfats Texas pepper griller, $38 Duke Cannon Handsome Man travel kit (TSA-friendly), $32.99 C&D Hardware & Gifts, 713-861-3551, 314 East 11th, Heritage Printed Tee, $34.50

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We install peace of mind. We install more TANKLESS WATER HEATERS in one week than most plumbers do in an entire year. Please check our references:


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Wood furniture by Tom Wells Archway Gallery, 713-522-2409, 2305 Dunlavy, One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon, $29.99 Book signing with Charles Fishman on June 17 Assorted toffee, $19 to $110 Bongรณ cabinet by Green Apple 8-in-1 Multi-Tool with screwdrivers and flashlight, $10.99 C&D Hardware & Gifts, 713-861-3551, 314 East 11th, Hand-crafted Tula hats for men and women, UPF50+, $36.99 C&D Hardware & Gifts,

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R U B I N ’ S Custom Rugs and Fine Carpet

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est. 1991

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Near a tree of blue bottles is a wall with a kaleidoscope of fonts; the song lyrics are borrowed from “Slip Inside This House” by Austin psychedelic rock band the 13th Floor Elevators.

WILD AT HEART Curated Works of Art Make This Garden Magical


he large garden at Jay Wehnert and Victoria Harrison’s historic home in the Heights is more than just a yard. It is a part of their 1897 Victorian farmhouse and its vast collection of visionary art, artifacts, relics, found objects and vestiges of sustainable icons they have carefully selected. “The yard is an extension of the house and our collections,” says Wehnert, author of the book Outsider Art in Texas: Lone Stars, which highlights many of the folk artists they collect. “We have added on and updated, but our overreaching principle is to maintain the original.” The house was featured on the 2017 Weird Homes Tour® Houston, but Wehnert and Harrison are quick to note that their home and yard are not weird: They artfully and tastefully created a magical home and garden and a place to showcase serious artists and their crafts. The couple’s three-lot plot – unusual for the Heights – is filled with towering oaks and pebbled pathways through flowers, citrus, vegetables, fruits and greenery. The first large artform visitors see is a tall metal sculpture by Polly Smart, a modern contemporary artist from Champaign–Urbana, Illinois. In the back corner, where the original owner Sam Blackman’s blacksmith shop was located, is now a chicken coop for Mamie and Eleanor, two free range chickens who patrol the yard. The chickens ignore the dozen or so con76 house& home | June 2019 |

crete chickens, though sometimes peck away in that area of the yard. Likewise, visiting squirrels don’t think much of the concrete squirrels lining one of the flower beds, with cascading red flowers encircling them. A large faux wood birdcage in the center looks like it would be a great home for a parrot or cockatoo, but no one resides in this birdhouse. A small pond had been Blackman’s watering hole in the early 20th century, but today is home to a handful of goldfish, some small snakes, frogs and lots of lily pads. Much of the greenery has been “rescued” from elsewhere and transplanted into the yard, giving it an untamed yet natural feel. Purple spiderworts line the path along with rocks and concrete bits to create perimeters for the beds, while Dancing Ladies await their red blooms in the summer. And the prolific four O’clock [Mirabilis jalapa] blooms vibrantly in the afternoons – at 4 o’clock. In one garden a clump of sunflowers grows alongside curly leaf kale. Nearby is a grotto with a metal crucifix embedded in a wall of greenery, which Harrison described as the “power corner of the yard.” And against the fence are potatoes, avocado, squash, basil, jalapeno and mustard spinach growing adjacent to a trellis made from mattress springs, now a support for a sweet pea vine. A tall eucalyptus tree hovers overhead.

The late artist Sam Mirelez used scrap aluminum to create lasting bird houses. Not shown here, but homeowner Jay Wehnert channeled his Baltimore roots to paint the screens on the enclosed porch with red roofed houses, ponds, trees and mountains.

Perhaps the most interesting focal point of the yard is the collection of bird houses, most created in scrap aluminum by San Antonio artist Sam Mirelez. In his retirement Mirelez first built bird houses from wood and then metal, but neither withstood the outdoor elements. He turned to using scrap aluminum from house siding that local contractors gave him. He supplemented his creations – which all resemble architecturally interesting buildings or structures – with stone and tile and mounted the large bird houses on aluminum poles. “Some are fantasy [buildings] and some are recreations [of buildings],” says Wehnert, pointing to the Eiffel Tower, and the more than dozen other constructions they have purchased. Perhaps one of the most favored icons in the garden is a scarecrow, handcrafted by the blind African-American artist Hawkins Bolden of Memphis, who created totem pole scarecrows from discarded pots, pans, hubcaps, belts and rubber hoses. Harrison says her goal for this garden was food, color and scent, and she planted night blooming jasmine, Ligustrum, pittosporum and olive trees to create a “natural wilderness with some order.” “It is a thicket and the beds are not defined,” says Wehnert. “We organized the yard and over ten years we have made a slow and steady progress to make it sustainable for us and the chickens.”

RESOURCES Both Sam Mirelez and Hawkins Bolden have since died, but below are local resources for starting your own magical garden. The Arbor Gate 281-351-8851 15635 FM 2920, Tomball Brazos Bookstore Outsider Art In Texas: Lone Stars 713-523-0701 (arrives in 1-5 days) 2421 Bissonnet Fountains and Statuary 713-957-3672 11804 Hempstead Frazier’s Ornamental & Architectural Concrete, Inc. 979-921-2906 23200 Highway 6, Hempstead

Houston Llew 404-975-4317 Houston Pond Society JJ Potts Handcrafted Ceramics Joshua's Native Plants & Garden Antiques, Inc. 713-862-7444 502 West 18th Lone Star Koi Lorenzo’s Woodworks 713-922-9100 orks Weird Homes Tour® Houston 512-308-6215 77



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ne look at those soulful eyes and you’ll be hooked, too. Sean is a one year-old shepherd mix with a gentle, yet energetic personality! One of his favorite activities is playing tug-of-war, so if you are game for a little bit of rough play, then he’s all in. Sean has really nice manners, especially for a 60 pound dog: he will sit and lay down on command and he certainly doesn’t mind being groomed. To learn more about Sean, please visit

ID #368959 1 year old Shepherd mix The Houston SPCA, 7007 Old Katy Road, is open seven days a week, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to make choosing the adoption option as easy as possible.






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ME M O R IA L C IT Y /S P R I N G B R A N C H 1557 W Sam Houston Pkwy N Ste 110 713-465-6747

CY PR E SS 24150 Highway 290 Ste 270 281-758-2980

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Profile for Houston House & Home Magazine

Houston House & Home Magazine June 2019 Issue  


Houston House & Home Magazine June 2019 Issue