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Before and After: Remodeled Houston Home
A home is remodeled to better accommodate a growing family
There are moments in life when you realize that the one thing you’ve been looking for has been right in front of you all along. For Mary Lynn and Dave Mannon, that something happened to be a spacious 1930s home in an idyllic neighborhood of Houston.
They’d lived across the street from the house for years and were in dire need of more space for their family of four, but the thought of purchasing the house didn’t even occur to Mary Lynn when she found out her neighbors were moving. “I came home and told Dave how sad I was to hear they were leaving,” says Mary Lynn. “He said, ‘We’re moving!’?”
Months later, they were happily ensconced in their new home. And though Mary Lynn loved the home’s interiors and initially changed little, with two more children (Bo, now 13, and Mary Louise, 9, who joined Seth and Connor, now 20 and 19, respectively) came the realization that a renovation was in order.
“The house was decorated beautifully—painted in these wonderful dark colors,” says Mary Lynn. “In the beginning, I really didn’t want to change a thing, but once the kids got older we decided we needed to rethink things. This is a large house—5,200 square feet—and we live in every bit of it! With two teenagers and two young children, we simply needed to change the way the house flowed.”
They enlisted architect Kirby Mears and interior designer Eleanor Cummings to lead the renovation. Most all the improvements and additions were kid-oriented, Mears says. “The Mannons were most interested in making this a great house for kids,” the architect explains. The existing small sunroom on one end of the house gave way to a new two-story addition, with an enlarged sunroom-family room on the first level and children’s bedrooms and baths above.
Another addition on the back of the house links the former family room (now a casual dining area Mary Lynn simply calls the “round-table” room) with a new outdoor grill area, TV/game room, and garage on the first level. Above is a new master suite that gives Mary Lynn and Dave a quiet place to call their own.
Mears incorporated French doors and tall windows throughout, capturing natural light and opening the house to the outdoor landscape, including a renovated swimming pool in back.
As for the decor—elegant yet welcoming was Cummings’s charge. “Mary Lynn and Dave didn’t want anything over the top,” she says. “The palette is muted; the rooms are balanced and uncluttered. Nothing is too precious or fancy. They don’t live that way.”
The living room sets the home’s rustic-yet-refined tone. Long and lean, it is left uninterrupted by area rugs for the sake of simplicity. Cummings introduced a mix of materials to provide balance. Clean-lined linen sofas and reclaimed oak floors lend a provocative contrast to the fanciful silk curtains. A weathered mirror and a patinated console offset the room’s otherwise sleek characteristics.
In the adjoining sunroom-family room, the needlepoint palette comes to life—its greiges and blues evolving into a comfortable space for gatherings. A mix of upholstered pieces in leather and linen dance around the room’s jewel-toned centerpiece—a tufted ottoman covered in cut velvet. Proof that furniture can, indeed, age gracefully.
Large enough to house an entire varsity wrestling team, the round-table room is what Mary Lynn terms “a home run.” The room evolved after Cummings dropped by and found the three boys and their sister crammed around a small breakfast room banquette they’d obviously outgrown.
Taking on multiple personalities depending on the job at hand, the space serves as library, dining room, study hall, and art studio.
“We spend a lot of time here,” says Mary Lynn. “You’ll find gift wrap, study guides, books, a violin, hockey sticks, cards. It’s just a great place to gather, and it can be many different things. And our dinners here last for hours. I guess there’s just something about a round table.”
It could also be the room’s serene palette and open furniture plan. Anchored by a large Belgian bluestone table, the room is otherwise sparsely furnished. Accentuating the less-is-more design philosophy is a palette dominated by simple bleached pine used on the floors and ceilings, as well as on cabinets surrounding the fireplace. The result is a Belgian-inspired Zen zone.
Having had its heart-of-the-house status usurped, the kitchen is free to concentrate on its culinary duties. While it’s pint-sized compared to other rooms in the house, Mary Lynn wouldn’t have it any other way.
An extra-wide travertine-topped counter separates the kitchen from the updated breakfast room. Anchored with a tufted banquette upholstered in spill-proof plastic linen, it’s a room meant for the hands of children. A pale gray palette paired with bleached pine-paneled ceilings proves that kid-friendly and refined design don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Separated from the breakfast room by antique sliding doors, the dining room is arguably the home’s most formal space. Italian with silver gilding, the doors were a savvy space-saving solution, replacing a swinging door that monopolized floor space needed for the farm table and dining chairs. But while the room may be stately, comfort is still king in this home.
“The room is sophisticated but cozy,” says Cummings. “The dining chairs are generous and comfortable. They’re covered in hemp on the back and cotton on the front. The fabrics and the clean lines of the farm table balance the more stately antiques in the room. And the doors are quite fancy but beat up a bit. It all balances out.”
“It’s simple,” says Mary Lynn. “Uncluttered. It’s light and airy and not filled with lots of little things. It sums up what I love about this house. It’s casual but elegant and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It reflects who we are and what we like. It’s the perfect backdrop for our life.”
Photography: Fran Brennan
Produced by Helen Thompson
Architect: Kirby Mears, Murphy Mears Architects, 1973 W. Gray, Suite 13, Houston, TX 77019; 713/529-9933, murphymears.com.
Interior designer: Eleanor Cummings, Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 2726 Bissonnet, #240-215, Houston, TX 77005; 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
BEFORE Living Room
The original living room.
AFTER Living Room
In the living room, clean-lined custom linen sofas balance fanciful silk curtains from Rogers & Goffigon. Original to the house, the broad fireplace mantel commands attention.
Sofas (custom); coffee table (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Sofa fabric (“Basket Linen”/Flax): Peter Fasano Ltd., 413/528-6872, peterfasano.com.
Pillows (antique, Fortuny): B. Viz Design, 318/766-4950, bviz.com.
Mantel: original to house.
Art over mantel (Pairs flea market): owner’s collection.
Sconces (antique): Kay O’Toole Antiques, 713/523-1921, kayotooleantiques.com. Wall paint (custom): ceiling and trim paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Drapery (“Panache”/Crest #92917-08): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068.
Needlepoint chairs (flea-market find); table between chairs; ottoman: owner’s collection.
By the windows, two small-scale needlepoint chairs discovered at a Paris flea market may not be physically imposing, but they certainly pack a punch—and were the impetus for the home’s palette. “These chairs just called to us,” says Mary Lynn. “When we found them, we didn’t know where they were going to go, but we knew we had to have them. The colors are so beautiful and easy on the eyes. They set the tone for the house.”
Living Room Details
One of the needlepoint chairs plucked from a Paris flea market that inspired the home’s soothing palette.
Living Room Details
A beautiful olive leather chair blends harmoniously beside a grand wooden cabinet housing mint-colored vases.
Tall cabinet: Brian Stringer Antiques, 713/524-7872.
Vases in cabinet: Brown, 713/522-2151.
French leather chair by cabinet: Kay O’Toole Antiques, 713/523-1921, kayotooleantiques.com.
To create a more formal dining room, designer Eleanor Cummings incorporated antiques and vintage pieces throughout the space. The French mirror above the console is from Tara Shaw Antiques. Fabric on dining chairs is from Fabricut.
Drapery (“Byzantine”/Manuel #92922-04): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068.
Table (antique): Neal & Co., 713/956-7100.
Dining chairs: Kay O’Toole Antiques, 713/523-1921, kayotooleantiques.com.
Chair fabric (“Avalanche” #3514502): Fabricut, 800/999-8200, fabricut.com.
Chandelier (antique): Area, 713/668-1668.
Sconces (Paris flea market): owner’s collection.
Console (French): Watkins Culver Antiques & Design, 713/529-0597, watkinsculver.com.
Mirror (antique, French): Tara Shaw, 713/533-9744, tarashaw.com.
Wall paint (custom); ceiling and trim paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Flooring (reclaimed white oak/custom color): Murphy Mears Architects, 713/529-9933, murphymears.com.
Dining Room Entryway
To save space, old painted doors from Watkins Culver Antiques were installed on rollers.
Antique doors on roller: Watkins Culver Antiques & Design, 713/529-0597, watkinsculver.com.
Dining Room Details
A collection of glasses sits on top of a French console in the dining room.
BEFORE Kitchen & Breakfast Room
The kitchen before the Mannons’ renovation.
AFTER Breakfast Room
A tufted banquette adds a sleek silhouette in the kitchen. Plastic-linen upholstery is from Great Plains. The table is from Crate & Barrel.
Table (discontinued): Crate & Barrel, 800/996-9960, crateandbarrel.com.
Banquette (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Banquette fabric (“Marrakesh”/Blue Smoke, by Great Plains): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
Stool: Found For the Home, 713/522-9191, foundforthehome.com.
Chandelier: owner’s collection.
Drapery fabric (“Peasant Cloth”/Dove #AA4): de Le Cuona, 212/702-0800, delecuona.co.uk.
Art: owner’s collection.
Homeowner Mary Lynn Mannon loves the kitchen’s cozy floor plan. “I don’t want to be running circles around a big island,” she laughs.
Hardware: Rocky Mountain Hardware, 888/788-2013, rockymountainhardware.com.
Drapery (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Silhouette above window shade: owner’s collection.
Sink (by Shaw); faucet (Rohl): Rohl, 800/777-9762, rohlhome.com.
Chair (Empire Collection): Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836, restorationhardware.com.
Range: Viking, 888/845-4641, vikingrange.com.
Oven hood: custom.
Rug runner: owner’s collection.
Light over kitchen sink (antique): Brown, 713/522-2151.
BEFORE Round-table Room
The space before there was reason to call it by its current name.
AFTER Round-table Room
This versatile space multitasks as study hall, crafts area, dining room, and all-around hub for the family. The Belgian bluestone table is from Watkins Culver Antiques. Dining chairs are covered in contrasting upholstery from Edelman Leather and Peter Fasano through George Cameron Nash.
Table (Belgian bluestone): Watkins Culver Antiques & Design, 713/529-0597, watkinsculver.com.
Chairs (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Chair fabric (“Brulee”/Wheat #BR06): Edelman Leather, 800/886-8339, edelmanleather.com.
Antique chair: W. Gardner Ltd., 713/521-1027.
Chair fabric (“Artisan Linen”/Bison): Peter Fasano Ltd., 413/528-6872, peterfasano.com.
Belgian wicker chair and ottoman: Thompson & Hanson, 713/622-6973, thompsonhanson.com.
Pillow on wicker chair (remnant from rug); rug by wicker chair (Oushak): Carol Piper Rugs, 713/524-2442, carolpiperrugs.com.
Antique doors: Chateau Domingue, 713/961-3444, chateaudomingue.com.
Chandelier (antique): Brown, 713/522-2151.
Mantel and cupboards: original to house.
Basket for firewood: Area, 713/668-1668.
Art over mantel: Round Top (Texas) Antique Show.
Wall paint (custom): ceiling paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Comfort is key in the family room. A plush French leather chair is inviting after a big dinner. A velvet ottoman doubles as a coffee table.
Sofa (custom); ottoman (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Sofa fabric (“Liaigre Linen”): David Sutherland Showroom, 713/961-7886, davidsutherlandshowroom.com.
Pillows on sofa (“Flair”/Cielo #6011-43): Dedar, 800/493-2209, dedar.com.
Ottoman fabric (“Lido”/Mallard #2020/4): Rose Tarlow-Melrose House, 323/651-2202, rosetarlow.com.
Leather chairs (French): owner’s collection.
Chair fabric (“Supple Suede”/Moss): GH Leather, 713/670-9800.
Small table: Mecox Gardens, 713/355-2100, mecoxgardens.com.
French buffet: Joyce Horn Antiques, 713/688-0507, joycehornantiques.com.
Art photography (by Charles Grogg): John Cleary Gallery, 713/524-5070, johnclearygallery.com.
Wall paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Poster bed: owner’s collection.
Painted (“French Lilac” #1403): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Sheets; lavender duvet and pillow shams: John Robshaw Textiles, 212/594-6006, johonrobshaw.com. Available through Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Purple-patterned pillow: Area, 713/668-1668.
Wallpaper (“Peony” #BP 2309): Farrow & Ball, 888/511-1121. farrow-ball.com.
Carpet (seagrass): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Bedside table (“Parsons Table”): West Elm, 866/428-6468, westelm.com.
Table lamps (by Philippe Starck): through Sunset Settings, 713/522-7661.
Chandelier: owner’s collection.
Settee: Round Top (Texas) Antique Show.
Settee fabric (Ninove”/Flax #1652): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090, pindler.com. Fuchsia pillows (“Caribe”/Azalea #51690): Schumacher, 800/523-1200, fschumacher.com.
Oval-backed chair (“Vintage French Round Upholstered Side Chair”/Sand): Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836, restoration hardware.com.
Plantation shutters: Shade Shoppe, 713/623-0750.
Ceiling and trim paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Photograph (by Mary Lynn Mannon): owner’s collection.
BEFORE Master Bedroom
Prior to renovation.
AFTER Master Bedroom
Designer Cummings incorporated clever architectural details and a quiet color scheme to create the Mannons’ tranquil master bedroom.
Headboard (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Headboard fabric (“Texture”/Beige #0980): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, calvinfabrics.com.
Bedskirt fabric (by Sferra); duvet (“Francesca,” by Sferra); quilted coverlet (discontinued); sheets (“Francesca,” by Sferra): Indulge Décor, 713/888-0181, indulgedecor.com.
Tufted chair (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Chair fabric (“Delphinia”/Papaw #910045-06): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068. French iron table with marble top: Skelton St. John, 713/524-1990.
Zinc lamps: W. Gardner Ltd., 713/521-1027.
Zinc bedside table: Peck & Co., 866/217-5200, peckandcompany.com.
Swing-arm lamps (“Hudson” #TOB2204, by Thomas O’Brien): Circa Lighting, 877/762-2323, circalighting.com.
Wall paint (custom); ceiling paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Carpet (custom): Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries, 713/528-2666.
Art: Round Top (Texas) Antique Show.
Chandelier (Paris flea market): owner’s collection.
Master Bedroom Details
The antique door surround between the bedroom and bath is from Kay O’Toole Antiques.
Door surround (antique): Kay O’Toole Antiques, 713/523-1921, kayotooleantiques.com.
Charming shuttered windows set high up in the rafters illuminate the serene space. The vintage chandelier was found in a Parisian flea market.
A clean color palette invites natural sunlight in the master bath. An impressive antique lantern hangs from the lofty ceiling. Marble subway tile is from Walker Zanger.
Lantern (antique): Kay O’Toole Antiques, 713/523-1921, kayotooleantiques.com. Tub: Waterworks, 800/899-6757, waterworks.com.
Tub faucets (discontinued): Waterworks, 800/899-6757, waterworks.com.
Sconces (“Vendome Single Sconce” #TOB2007, by Thomas O’Brien): Circa Lighting, 877/762-2323, circalighting.com.
Vanity sink; vanity faucet: Kohler, 800/456-4537, kohler.com.
Mirrors (custom): Eleanor Cummings Interior Design, 281/924-3787, eleanorcummings.com.
Paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Vanity countertop (Carrara marble): Sweeney Marble, 713/227-4069.
Subway tile (“Small Brick marble”): Walker Zanger, 713/880-8999, walkerzanger.com.
Photograph (by Mary Lynn Mannon): owner’s collection.
BEFORE Pool Area
Prior to renovation.
AFTER Pool Area
Mary Lynn and daughter Mary Louise read by the pool outside the sunroom-family room. The old sunroom was replaced with a two-level addition that includes a larger sunroom plus a covered porch. Architect Kirby Mears included French doors in several rooms facing the renovated pool, vastly improving the home’s indoor-outdoor connections and taking advantage of pool views. The redesigned swimming pool includes a hot tub and a bubbling fountain at one end. Chairs are from Thompson+Hanson.
The entire house was addressed in the renovation.
The brick was painted a subtle “chameleon” (green-brown-gray) hue that complements the new slate roof in a blend of color tones.
For more remodeling ideas, take a look at this Chicago residence that used to be a stable. Really. It’s a Stunning Remodel.