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Houston Home with Country French Appeal
Houston homeowners turn a builder’s spec house into a comfortable old-world sanctuary that beautifully accommodates guests of all ages.
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Family means everything to Linda and Brad Brock. Their love for their four grown children and their families prompted the couple to leave their Normandy-inspired house in Beaumont, Texas, and move to Houston to be near a soon-to-arrive grandchild. Less than four years later, the forging of family connections continues to inform the way the couple lives, entertains, and decorates.
“We love the warmth of country French designs and the historic value French homes hold,” Linda says of the look she’s cultivated in her new house. “I love that homes stay in one family, that they’re passed down through generations. This is the style that always draws us in and always feels right.”
The Brocks replaced a conventional concrete driveway with beds of gravel and added clipped boxwoods to frame the front walkway. “We like the sound of gravel crunching under our tires as we turn into the driveway,” Linda says. “The sound tells us we’re home.”
Photography: Ryann Ford
Produced by Susan Fox
Architectural deisgner: Robert Dame, Robert Dame Designs, 7322 SW Frwy., Suite 1550, Houston, TX 77074; 713/270-8225; robertdamedesign.com.
Interior designer: Kara Childress, Kara Childress, Inc., 5773 Woodway Dr., Suite 401, Houston, TX 77057; 713/626-7948; karachildress.com.
Builder: Dan Parker, Parker House, Inc., 5252 Westchester, Suite 116, Houston, TX 77005; 713/661-2685; parkerhousehouston.com.
Architectural consultant: Sarah West, Sarah West & Associates, Houston; 713/417-6714.
Lovely Living Room
The Brocks’ affinity for French design was inspired by multiple trips to Europe and countless hours spent flipping through books and magazines. Though their newly constructed Houston house provided style-apt bones, it lacked the weathered warmth they appreciate in French homes. “So we layered in French details,” Linda says. “We plastered walls, antiqued beams, added stone to walls—and all of a sudden, our new house began to look old and very French. Once we switched the lights with vintage fixtures, we were in business!”
The diamond-plastered walls, faded Oushak rug, and neutral upholstery fabrics in Brad and Linda Brock’s living room allow gilded accents—the Louis Philippe-style mirrors, demilune tables, and a mirror-capped coffee table—to shine.
Lovely Living Room
Interior designer Kara Childress worked with Linda on selecting antiques, fabrics, and a color palette to complete the home. “When it came to furniture, it was always about looks and feel,” Childress says. “Linda chose things with beautiful patinas, so the look is very collected. Those antiques created a French look and brought authenticity. Often a special piece became a starting point for a room’s design.”
Childress points to French relics—such as a century-old painting displayed on the living room mantel, canvas screen panels framing a dining room bay, and a distressed chest in the breakfast room—as inspirational antiques. These central characters are supported by a wealth of French accessories, including antique mirrors and accent tables, as well as modern window and upholstery fabrics that carry the home’s neutral scheme.
Kitchen with Character
A mix of cabinet finishes, granite countertops, stone-tile floors, and a stone backsplash and range hood give the kitchen unfitted Continental character.
“I pulled the slate blue, flax, and caramel from the family room drapery fabric and used leathers, mohair, linens, and velvets to introduce interesting textural shifts,” Childress says. “When decorating around antiques, I like to use textures as opposed to patterns; this puts the focus on the beautiful pieces.”
The breakfast room’s new dining chairs, which are modeled after French farm chairs, were custom designed with extra-wide rush seats and sturdy frames so they’d be safe for rambunctious grandchildren.
Friendly Family Room
It’s the elegant, easygoing mix of kid-sturdy textiles and patinas that Linda loves best—the distressed finishes on furniture and cabinetry, the casual fabrics on contoured silhouettes, the durable stone and wood floors, and her finely tuned displays suit her assembled-through-the-ages taste and her ever-growing extended family (grandchild No. 10 is soon to arrive!). “For me, it’s not about being authentic,” Linda says. “It’s about taking French elements I love, like the colors and fabrics, and then mixing them with inherited treasures. Country French style is very receptive to personalizing.”
An elk-horn chandelier in the family room shines down on a coffee table crafted from iron and antique French oak.
Formal Dining Area
The melding of old and new is also conducive to entertaining, which was uppermost in the couple’s minds as they planned the home’s interiors. “We have people over all the time, and we wanted them to feel that this chair is just for you to sit in, that this table is for you to rest your drink,” Linda says. “At the holidays, friends and family pile in. No room is off-limits to our grandkids or our big dog that is free to plop on every piece of furniture. People feel like they can put their feet up, and that’s just what we wanted.”
Custom-designed chairs upholstered in icy blue velvet pull up to distressed walnut dining table. Eighteenth-century painted canvas screen panels serve as period-perfect artwork in the dining room.
Country French Master Bedroom
The master bedroom features a headboard made from a pair of old iron gates. Lamp bases are crafted from old wall panels; the antique French commode set bedside was used as a music cabinet at the Brocks' previous home.
Slipcovered swivel chairs in the master bedroom have proven perfectly suited for reading with grandkids. A mirror, showcased in a frame crafted from salvaged 19th-century elements, and antique vellum books set on the limestone mantel underscore the room's collected flavor.
A modern tub and chandelier balance rustic tile and cabinetry finishes in the master bath.
"It's warm, intimate, like a secret getaway," Linda says of her favorite guest room. Clad in its original black and green finish, a 19th-century French bedside chest performs as a nightstand. A French mumaw-style chandelier and lamps crafted from reclaimed balustrades provide modern utility in old-timey forms.