Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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In Houston, the Cullinan name resonates with philanthropy as well as forward-thinking architecture. Nina Cullinan gave millions to Houston’s parks, arts, and civic causes and Cullinan Hall—designed by Mies van der Rohe—is named after her. Her house, designed by the great Houston architect Hugo V. Neuhaus in 1953, caused a stir because it was built around a central courtyard and didn’t focus on the street. So, it is not surprising that a Cullinan relative (Nina’s great nephew Greg) has carried on the tradition of architectural adventuresomeness in a new house designed for him and his wife Zuzette by architect Michael Landrum and located in a Houston suburb near the IKEA. There, amidst an ocean of 1960’s-era ranch houses, the two-story, mostly windowless, black-painted house sits unapologetically, not trying to blend in with its setting at all.

The interiors are by Garrett Hunter and owe much to his use of color and skill at pairing precious objects with mundane. The Cullinans’ extensive art collection includes Old Masters as well as a dynamic array of Latin American artists, many of whom are friends of Zuzette’s whose parents were early investors in Houston’s Sicardi Gallery, nationally recognized for representing modern art of the Spanish-speaking Americas.


In the living room: a sectional covered in grey linen and accessorized with white denim pillows trimmed with brass zippers. The white lacquer coffee table is from CB2; a sculpture by Faith Gay sits on top. Side tables are glazed Chinese garden stools. Floor lamp is by Serge Mouille. Black suede shag rug is from Safavieh. The painting on the left is by Franco Mondini-Ruiz; Transfiguration TV-video installation by Matt Pyke; photo to the left of TV is by Mario Cravo; triptych by Arturo Cuenca. The walls are painted in Pratt & Lambert “Seed Pearl;” the ceiling is Pratt & Lambert “Mithras,” a subtle lavender color that’s always lovely for ceilings.


A dividing wall separates the entrance gallery from the living room. The 17th-centural painting is from the family’s collection. The vintage hooked rug is from Carol Piper Rugs.


In the dining room an antique Ming scholar’s table, bench, and armchairs are all from Balinskas Architectural Imports. The pendant is from Chandelier, a consignment store in Los Angeles (no website). The vintage 1970’s lamp with tie-dye shade is from Anthropologie. Lucite bar cart belonged to Zuzette’s parents. The painting on the left is by Moico Yaker; painting on the right is by Franco Mondini-Ruiz.


The 1970’s-era chrome-and-glass table in the kitchen’s breakfast area is from Reeves Antiques. The zinc wire chairs are from CB2. The large-scale painting is by Emily Noel Lambert; the wall grouping on the right features Latin American artists. The antique Ming table is from Balinskas Architectural Imports. The kitchen cabinets are lacquered in Pratt & Lambert “Moor.” The backsplash and vent hood are covered in mirrored glass. Countertops are a Brazilian stone called Blue Turtle. The open shelves showcase Zuzette’s collection of rustic porcelain. The floor is concrete.


From the top: works by Pablo Soria, Julio Grinblatt, Pablo Siquier, Leon Ferrari, and Ricardo Lanzarini.


Spanish Colonial doors from Balinskas Architectural Imports open onto the master bedroom. The mixed-media collage is by Kelly O’Connor. Floors are white-washed pine decking.


A patchwork hide bedspread in the master bedroom. The Chinese end tables are from Balinskas Architectural Imports. Bauhaus-style lamps by Robert Dudley Best. Photos by Misha Hollenbach.


The vintage settee in the master bedroom belonged to Greg Cullinan’s mother. Missoni pillow from Internum. The piece above is by Shane Tolbert. Floor is white-washed pine decking. Walls are painted in Pratt & Lambert “Rubidoux.”


The master bath is lined with white glass walls; the floors are Turkish marble. The 1960’s-era Bjorn Wiinblad ceiling installation was originally displayed at Neiman Marcus. North African rug is vintage.


The exterior siding of the house resembles shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique for charring wood. To accommodate the strict budget, architect Landrum created the same look using textured painted Hardie siding for the house’s otherwise austere profile. The concrete board fencing and pivot gate separate public and private garden spaces by landscape architect Sarah Lake (no website).



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