Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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Virginia Mary Brown has a thing for home tours, shelter magazines, and design blogs–and she’s put her habit to good use. When the former corporate lawyer and her husband Ray decided to build a new house on the site of her late grandmother’s ranch-style Houston house (too small to accommodate the family of four boys and LuLu, the dog) Virginia Mary reviewed all the decorating ideas she’d saved, picked out the best, and rallied her finds from flea markets, online resources, antique stores, and artisans.

She also studied up on her favorite architect, the late John Staub. Staub’s heyday was the thirties and some of his houses can still be seen in River Oaks. His pre-air conditioning strategy: rooms with windows on three sides to allow maximum ventilation and to admit maximum light. Staub was also the master of clear sight lines, which allow a view all the way through a house. Virginia Mary incorporated his ideas into her wish list, and some of the architect’s ideas can now be seen in her new house.

The Browns also worked with Houston architect Dillon Kyle over a period of two years to refine and perfect Virginia Mary’s ideas for a family house where normal people really live and where nothing is so precious that four boys and a dog can’t have access to every room and every piece of furniture whenever they want.

The antique Cedar Bayou brick was salvaged from the pre-existing house. Plaster finish on fireplace by Segreto Finishes. Chandelier from The Fabulous Flea. Coffee table from Thompson+Hansen. Brown purchased the chairs flanking the fireplace at an auction in New Orleans. The sofa belonged to Brown’s grandmother; both the sofa and club chairs are upholstered in Great Plains “Back to Basics” in Ash.

Pillow fabrics: Lavender pillow covered in “Petal” by Malabar. Silver pillow covered in “Venetian Glass” by Great Plains in Black Pearl. Gray pillow covered in “Confection” by Rogers & Goffigon. Lavender pillow covered in Rogers & Goffigon “18 oz Linen Crystal.” Print pillow covered in “Elsa” by Brentano. Silver pillow covered in “Linen Shimmer” by Schumacher. Lavender pillows on chairs by fireplace covered in “Windfall Amethyst” by Cowtan and Tout.

French botanicals are part of Brown’s collection she’s gathered over the years.

The console is custom from Installations Antiques. Blue urns and baskets from Thompson+Hansen. Glass lamps are by Pizitz Home & Cottage.

The table is custom through Rose Tarlow. Dining chairs belonged to Brown’s mother. Chandelier from Joyce Horn Antiques. The Venetian plaster on the wall between kitchen and dining room by Segreto Finishes. The mirrors were purchased at the Roundtop Antiques Fair. “Pueblo” rug from Manchester Carpets, 7026 Old Katy Rd., 713-880-9699, Houston.

Chandelier from Joyce Horn Antiques.

LuLu’s favorite club chairs covered in “Monarch Stone” by Rose Tarlow. Lucite Tables from Area, 5600 Kirby Dr.; 713-668-1668.

A good example of a sight line.

You need a mud room when you have four boys.

Chairs: Design Within Reach. Lights from Circa Lighting. Viking stove and SubZero refrigerator from Kiva Kitchen & Bath.

The late architect John Staub would approve of this sight line. Wall paint is “Cooking Apple Green” by Farrow & Ball. Paint color on the barn door is Benjamin Moore‘s “Dolphin.” Chandelier by Paul Ferrante 32099 Eternity through George Cameron Nash. Rug from Williams-Sonoma Home. Coffee table from Thompson + Hansen. Sofa is upholstered in “Tyrone Natural” by Pindler & Pindler.

Club chair upholstered in “Capri Blue Mint” by Rose Tarlow with Rose Tarlow “Glazed Cotton” trim in Sea Glass. French bergere is covered in antique linen.

Console is custom through James Dawson Design. Sconces from Circa Lighting. French bergere is covered in antique linen.

Picture Hanging by DCM Art Services, 1831 Arlington, Houston; 713-807-7099.

Walls painted in Benjamin Moore‘s “Nightingale.” Leontine bed linens. Bed by Reid Reproduction Company, 3600 Old Shell Rd., 251-342-1414, Mobile, Ala. Painting over bed by Sarah Lamb; Meredith Long Gallery. Mirror from Thompson + Hansen. Curtains are “833 Vapor” by Pindler & Pindler. Bench at end of bed covered in Rogers & Goffigon “Confection” in Spa. Lamps from Thompson + Hansen. Chests from Wisteria.

Desk Chair from The Fabulous Flea. Chandelier from Alcon Lightcraft Co., 1424 W. Alabama, Houston, Texas; 713-526-0680.

Rocking chair is a family heirloom, painted by Heidi Butler Prince with the names of every child rocked in the chair.

Walls painted in “Storm” by Benjamin Moore. Bed curtains: LuLuDK. Desk chair from the Sundance catalog.

Walls painted in “Storm” by Benjamin Moore. Blanket from Williams-Sonoma Home; large bed rollpillow from Pizitz Home & Cottage; gray shams from West Elm. Leather chair from Restoration Hardware.





WOOD FLOORS: Antique pine from R. W. Taylor & Co.

ALL CURTAINS: Horton Draperies of Texas; 6029 Jessamine St., Houston; 713-774-7477.

ALL PAINT, UNLESS NOTED: Wall paint, Benjamin Moore “Dove White.” Doors and trimBenjamin Moore “Dolphin.”

ALL HARDWARE: Rocky Mountain, from Hollywood Builders Hardware in Houston.

This house first appeared in Traditional Home magazine. Produced by moi.



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