As seen in Houston Design Resources, Spring 2013
Just beyond the city lights sits a country estate on the rolling landscape of Magnolia, Texas. This estate styled home is witness to a long– term dream realized. The acreage was purchased years prior before a job transfer took the owners to London for several years. The longing for home became even stronger when they learned they would soon be grandparents for the first time! A real family home where generations gather was the heart’s desire of this undertaking.
Designing a home is challenging enough. There are millions of decisions and minute details that go into the building process, but designing and building a home from across an ocean offers additional challenges beyond differing time zones. This takes a momentous amount of trust in the builder, architect, and interior designer.
Planning on the front end was time well spent with architect, David Patterson, DWP Architects; builder, Ted Cummins, Morning Star Custom Homes; and interior designer, Cindy Aplanalp-Yates, By Design Interiors; along with homeowners Michael and Tammy Gibbs – Much of the team’s focus was how this home would really live and serve the intentions of this family. Due to the distance, most of the real design work, scouring the plans, space planning, and building details were done via teleconferencing, email, and Skype. The Gibbs made only about six trips to the US as the home was being built.
With a smile, Aplanalp-Yates muses, “I had a whole lot to work with, and I must share the success of this design with the numerous professionals, including my fabulous assistant, Amber Reddoch, whose talents added immensely to this project and most especially to the Gibbs themselves!” Tammy Gibbs is an accomplished fine artist with a Masters in art history and an art history professor at lone star college. The Gibbs have traveled the globe, collecting the most wonderful finds which were frequently incorporated into this design. For example, the tile inset in the laundry room is from an anniversary trip to Italy and the laundry window treatment was made from antique linen procured on a trip to Belgium. The entry plays host to an ancient console which was almost discarded, but after receiving a fresh coat of paint and a little tlc, it offers a touch of time-worn elegance that no new piece could approach! In the kitchen above the pro-styled range, antique transfer-ware tiles collected from time spent in London add a bit of gentle color and meld nicely with this modern day kitchen. The kitchen and master bath window treatments are embellished antique lace from the Paris flea market. Fuse this with the owner’s free- spirited passion for art, whether it be an over scale museum poster irreverently hung in a prominent spot, one of her own pieces, or the work of another, and you create a very fascinating place to live. The home is warmed by family photographs, heirloom style antiques, simple modern day finds which lean ‘contemporary’collections, and shared memories from a long and loving marriage. The home exemplifies the couples’ adventuresome nature, exposure to the world, their gift for hospitality, and great passion for family and friends. “This was honestly a no-chance of failure project!” laughs Aplanalp-Yates.
Another challenge was the size of the gathering room. Aplanalp-Yates explains, “Soaring ceiling heights and very open spaces can stump homeowners.” A trick of the trade is to use textured walls and ceilings. In this home the builder wisely implemented beams that were fauxed to appear old. This took up vertical space and added instant charm and the sense of completeness. Of all the things that have been said of this home, to me, the nicest of all was Tammy’s mother’s comment when she walked in for the first time and exclaimed, “Tammy, this home looks exactly like you!”