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15 HOUSTONIANS WHO MAKE OUR HOMES A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE n honor of Houston House & Home’s 15th anniversary this month, we salute 15 Houstonians who make our homes a better place to live. Since 1994, we’ve covered architects, designers, historic preservationists, contractors, painters, carpenters, stonemasons, upholsterers—people who work with their minds and hands, know exactly what they’re doing and excel in their profession or craft. Not only are they good at what they do, they’re “into” it. They love their work, and it shows in the level of service they provide and in the final product. They’re exactly the kind of people you want to work on the most important investment you have—your home. Often their businesses are small, family-owned concerns. Many are unsung heroes.

Some have won national and international awards. Famous or not, they’re there for us, helping us make our homes and neighborhoods places we love to be. They realize that the concept of “home” isn’t just four walls, but our neighborhoods and public spaces in Houston where we live. At House & Home, they make our jobs easier because they inspire us with their new ideas, energy and expertise. While we’ve chosen to honor these 15 Houstonians on our 15th anniversary, we know the list is much too short. We could easily have listed hundreds of folks, so stay with us for the next 15 years. For now, let’s applaud these 15 we’re fortunate to have living and working in Houston.

John Puffer, a.k.a. “Big John” at Montalbano Lumber 1309 Houston Avenue

them the latest, most dazzling offerings from American and European designers.


This big, tall Montana native began his career as a museum preparator painting old stagecoaches at a Western museum in Montana. After 35 years as a geologist, he returned to his passion for paint and for the last nine years has managed the paint department at Montalbano’s on Houston Ave. Awkward do-it-yourselfers and master contractors alike get the same level of respect and attention from John, who favors Pratt & Lambert brand paints. He can mix and match colors like nobody’s business, has a cult following, and is the Rembrandt of house paint in Houston.

comes into our store, we want them to choose floors they love. And five years from now, we want them to still really love it.” With wife Valerie as his partner in the business, the company has grown to eight locations. No longer on the sales floor, Sam closely manages the company hands-on to make sure service and installation of his flooring are first rate. Former president of the National Flooring Alliance, a group of the top 36 flooring retailers in the U.S., he’s a national expert in his field. He’s maintained a wicked sense of humor through it all and plays a mean ‘60s rock guitar.

Anne Breux, architecte d’interieur Every time we see a gorgeous modern house in Houston that someone doesn’t quite know how to furnish, we think, “Where’s Anne Breux when you need her?” Her cool, cerebral interiors enhance modern architecture, rather than compromise it or apologize for it. This Paris native turned Houstonian is the ultimate modernist, crossing the Atlantic at the drop of a beret to visit the latest Paris ateliers and Milan salons and bring fresh ideas back from astonishing designers like Zaha Hadid, the Bouroullec brothers or Piero Lissoni. Her clients range from rap stars to industry titans to ordinary Joes and Janes who love her cool, clean aesthetic. With her infectious joie de vivre, Anne leads them like a pied piper toward her optimistic vision for the future. Yesterday’s gone, Anne is now, and she’s always thinking about tomorrow.

Don’t let that intimidate you. His shop is warm and welcoming, his manners are impeccable, and if you’re lucky enough to find him in the shop and ask him about a particular piece of furniture, you’re in for a treat. His passion for the romance, history and mystery of antiques will keep you spellbound. And suddenly you’ll understand why those Cabriole legs on that mid-18th-century French chair are more lyrical and preferable to those of the early 18th century. When you buy from Carl Moore Antiques, you are buying a fine piece of furniture more thoroughly researched than you can possibly imagine, thanks to Geoffrey’s intellectual rigor and love for antiques and their history.


Sam Roberts Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors 8 locations

When Sam started a small one-man storefront carpet business on Fondren in Houston in 1984, he discovered he had a knack for selling. As business grew and he added staff, he always had the highest sales figures, and no wonder. His high-energy enthusiasm coupled with in-depth knowledge of his product meant you couldn’t not buy a carpet from him. What keeps him fired up? “The creative process,” he says. “Flooring makes an enormous difference in the way your house looks and feels. When someone 16

Pam Kuhl-Linscomb Kuhl-Linscomb 2424 W. Alabama

Since 1984 Pam has worked as an interior designer in Houston, winning countless awards and accolades. In 2001, she started a retail shop, then merged her Dec Center design showroom with the shop in 2003. The resulting store on W. Alabama, with 70,000 square feet of retail space cozily nestled amid four 1930s duplexes is a tour de force of American retailing. She carries both modern and traditional furnishings for the home, and while every piece is carefully curated, nothing feels precious. Pam’s warm Texas personality pervades the store. Snobbery is not condoned, and you can always find cool stuff there for under $10. This is where design-savvy Houstonians bring out-of-town guests to show

Geoffrey Westergaard, Carl Moore Antiques 1610 Bissonnet

With a background in art history and years of travel to Europe and Asia in search of rare finds, Geoffrey Westergaard of Carl Moore Antiques is one of the most knowledgeable sources in America about antiques.

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Carrie Glassman Shoemake, architect A native of Houston, Carrie captures sense of place in the homes she designs for Houstonians. She “gets” Houston—its humidity, its lush greenness, the subtle change of seasons and the quality of light here. The houses she designs with architectpartner Ernest Maldonado are nothing if not local, and they are beautiful and touching in their acknowledgment of our terroir. Windows embrace exterior views and bring in natural light. Views of landscape are essential, and oak trees are celebrated. She even thinks about winter and summer solstice in Houston and how sunlight strikes houses during the

solstice. She orients dwellings to accept the sun’s light so those who live there get a sense not only of the day, but also the year. “You get the sense you are part of a solar system, of something bigger than you are,” she says. She’s a LEED-accredited professional and a green-building advocate, too.

Ivan Martinez, ICM Marble & Granite “Perfectionist” is the first word people usually utter when asked to describe Ivan. A master of stone countertops and table tops, he is a stickler for measuring counters accurately so the granite and marble he fabricates fits perfectly. Architects and builders admire the way he works the stones’ natural color and patterns, gets the grain flowing in the right direction and minimizes and use of seams. For more than 26 years, Ivan and his wife, Dollie, have operated ICM Marble & Granite. Thanks to the Houston Ship Channel, our city has become one of our country’s largest importers of granite and marble, and Ivan and Dollie stay aware of the stone slabs coming into port, what’s available and where to direct their customers to find the best stones for their countertops.

The Stratton Family C & D Hardware 314 E. 11th St. C&D Hardware was founded in 1951 in the Houston Heights. Jim and Kathy Stratton bought it in 1999, and their friendly customer service and gift department are what lure people from The Woodlands, Galveston, Cypress and Sugar Land to their charming store in the Heights. Tired of wandering around an impersonal giant box store for hours trying to find the right sized lag bolt? Walk into C&D Hardware, show them what you need, and you can be out in a jiffy. “A convenience store for hardware is what we really are,” says Jim. That, and a shop with great gifts and Christmas lights of every shape and color imaginable. Lights in the Heights couldn’t happen without C&D’s enormous inventory of holiday lights and decorations and electrical cords and connections to make it all work together.

Wayne Clark Clark’s Hardwood Lumber 700 E. 5 1/2 St.

The Lam Family Hien Lam Upholstery 819 W. Drew St.

Lynn Edmundson, founding director, Historic Houston

Since 1946, Clark’s has supplied lumber to homebuilders, remodelers and diy-ers in Houston. Wayne’s father bought the business in 1968, and he runs it now. Their specialty is custom milling, interior molding and exterior siding. They can match your existing molding or siding, or create it new. They make knives to cut the molding, and save the knives, so you may be able to get your wood milled without having a knife made to cut it. Clark’s also carries more than 100 varieties of hardwoods and exotic woods and is known for its inventory of stair parts and ballisters as well.

Husband and wife Hien and Hong Lam dramatically escaped war-torn Vietnam in the late 1970s. They made their way to Houston in 1983 and opened their upholstery business in 1990. Hien, a carpenter, and Hong, a tailor, complement each other’s talents well, and they’ve managed to build a business where everyone who works there is a member of the extended Lam clan. No one is better at matching fabric pattern to a chair or sofa than Hong. She has a great eye and her stitches hold strong. In addition to upholstery, the company does slipcovers, drapery and bedding. Their high quality work has made their business grow and grow. They now have a 32,000 square foot workshop in the Montrose.

When developers or builders win, and a historic structure is slated for the wrecking ball, Lynn Edmundson and her organization, Historic Houston, are often there to save pieces of the house before it goes down—a newel post here, a mantel there, ornate doorknobs everywhere and maybe even a houseful of oldgrowth pine flooring that can be recycled. Since 2003, Historic Houston has managed the Historic Houston Salvage Warehouse which sells salvaged building materials at low prices. Lynn’s salvage operations are great for the environment, too. When historic houses can’t be saved, she moves them to other sites and converts them to affordable housing. Clearly, she’d rather old houses stay intact. We’ve seen her testify at public hearings to save old buildings— she’s tall, elegant, fierce, formidable.

Nancy O’Connor Adkins Architectural Antiques 3515 Fannin Housed in a vintage Midtown mansion, Adkins Architectural Antiques is not only a distinctive store, it’s a fun getaway. Wander the grounds and rooms for hours to see all the unusual artifacts and curiosities Nancy O’Connor and her business partner Herve de Salve have amassed. Need a cupola, corbel or pediment? This is your place, and the prices are great. Relax in the knowledge you’re recycling salvaged architectural treasures and helping the environment, as well. We never fail to find something we can’t live without here. This Old House magazine selected Adkins as one of the top architectural salvage dealers in the country.

Steve Ista, Ista Construction Known as the This Old House man of Houston, Ista is an expert at remodeling old houses in Houston, especially in the Houston Heights. He won’t let homeowners make changes to their houses that are not in keeping with the spirit of the house or the neighborhood. He’s a true connoisseur of old houses and practically channels William W. Wilson, he’s redone so many of the houses Wilson built here at the turn of the century. When you call to ask one of his clients if they like him and his work, they always say no, they don’t just like him, they love him and his work.

David Bush programs and information director for Greater Houston Preservation Alliance Historic preservation is a thankless job in Houston, which has one of the weakest historic preservation ordinances in the country. Nevertheless, David Bush perseveres, writing and speaking in behalf of the legions of Houstonians who treasure the city’s historic homes and buildings for their economic value as well as for their emotional pull. When trying to prevent demolition and testifying at public hearings, David is polite yet forceful, always well-spoken and armed with the facts. If you love historic homes and neighborhoods, he’s your worthy advocate. He and GHPA win some battles and lose some (they’d win a lot more with stronger preservation laws), but he never gives up. A native of New Orleans, where the economic value of historic preservation has been proven time and again, David worked nine years for the Galveston Historical Foundation before joining GHPA in 2003.

Kevin Shanley SWA Group Instead of thinking of bayous as drainage ditches, why not make them beautiful natural waterways surrounded by parks? Harvard-educated landscape architect Kevin Shanley, president of SWA Group in Houston has been thinking and planning how to improve Houston’s bayous for more than 20 years. Paving our bayous with cement is not the best solution for flood control, but how else to control floodwaters? Kevin’s flood control proposal for Sims Bayou, now being implemented by The Sims Bayou Federal Flood Project, is one good model to follow. It allows Sims Bayou to meander widely so more stormwater can be collected and have more opportunity to permeate the ground. And parks can be built around the stream. Kevin has participated in numerous other bayou improvement plans and projects and is president of the Bayou Preservation Association. He’s got the vision to make Houston’s waterways and green spaces a true civic treasure.



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15 Houstonians Who Make Our Homes A Better Place To Live  

House & Home's 15th Anniversary Salute to 15 of Our Favorite Home Improvement Professionals

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