Chappell Hill, Texas and the KW Ranch

This is the downtown area of a little town about an hour southwest of Houston called Chappell Hill. Five years ago my husband's brother Kirk and his wife Shannon left the big city to become country folks. Now, keep in mind that Shannon was a city person to the core, someone who knows everybody who is somebody in Houston's social circles. Kirk on the other hand was a faux cowboy who liked to fish, hunt, and listen to country music. The family thought they'd last a year at most in their new country home. Now, they are so entrenched in the small town life, we'd be surprised if they moved back to the big city. Big entertainers, they host Christmas for the Webb family and a multitude of parties throughout the year. Their ranch is perfect for the throngs of people they love to have. Recently, I came to spend some time with my country family. Here's a glimpse of how they live, a combination of Kirk's love of everything western, and Shannon's love of everything French.

The entrance gate to the KW Ranch. You can almost make out their brand at the top of the gate. The Lone Star flag of Texas hangs proudly on the right.

The gravel drive, looking back towards the front gate. Live oaks overhang the sides of the drive. In the spring, the front lawn is a mass of bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.

The first glimpse of the house. Shannon and Kirk took the home down to its studs last year. Everything in it is new: windows, doors, moldings, floor, roof, kitchen, bathrooms, and more.

The front doors are old, huge and heavy. Little windows open through iron grills. It's almost Halloween, so that's a witch hanging from the door.

The address and KW Ranch spelled out in Mexican tile.

The flagstoned front patio is a perfect place for coffee in the morning.

A fountain splashes water on the patio by the front door.

Tin mariachi men provide whimsy on the porch. Shannon and Kirk both have a great joie de vie and their ranch is a perfect example of it.

The big red barn is home to 3 horses, 3 donkeys, throngs of rabbits, and masses of chickens who aren't eaten, but are treasured for the pastel colored eggs they lay.

The stately Captain, my daughter's horse. We surprised her one Christmas with him.

Three of the friendliest donkeys you'll ever meet. They love the camera! Aren't they the cutest?

The proud roosters! So loud in the morning and mean too!

More of the Webb's sense of whimsy. Three antique outhouses lined up in the vegetable garden. If you miss a shower, they force you to use these.

My favorite spot to hide away at the KW ranch. A red swing and two chairs under a huge live oak. The dogs love to sit here with me, waiting for a bite of my morning biscotti.

This table and chair is set up by the shooting range where Kirk and the kids have target practice.

The back pasture where the horses and donkeys roam.

Of course there's a swimming pool and fountain. It gets hot during the day, but the nights are much cooler than Houston's.

A statue in a secret garden.

Kirk's hunting truck, a must for Texas hunters. They also have golf carts to ride around the property and go down to the lake and fish. My daughter Elisabeth learned to drive on their carts.

The guest house with the red door. Shannon's mother has claimed her stake here, the sign read's Dottie's Casista.

The foyer to the KW ranch house. The Spanish door and Spanish floors contrast with the gorgeous antique display case that houses a monumental collection of Rose Medallion.

The Great Room includes a living area and a dining area. This picture isn't too styled! There's a Halloween toy hiding behind the sofa and a red paper cup.

The dining area with the large table that holds throngs of Webb and Wills family members.

At every turn, there's an antique French commode with a tablescape of accessories. Antique French convex mirror above.

Another antique commode with matching convex mirror - the pair sit on each side of the large fireplace mantel.

A large antique buffet. The pair of antique rose oil paintings are my personal favorites. Antique French clock and pair of table sconces complete the vignette.

The upholstery is matching linen slipcovers. A zebra skin covers the ottoman.

Down filled cushions make this sofa a perfect place for a nap.

Antique oriental buffet juxtaposed with western chair, horns, and hide lampshades.

The linen press hides the plasma tv.

My favorite book!

Another antique French buffet with oil painting above.

The new kitchen, a little messy from breakfast. Mexican tiles line the backsplash.

Shannon and Kirk both love to cook on the large stove. Some of my best meals have been eaten here.

The kitchen window overlooks the pool and the back pasture.

The bar, an essential part of a house built for entertaining. This bar was built around the antique painted buffet.

The family room doubles as a library. It sits off the breakfast area and overlooks the backyard.

The mud room. In the country, a mud room is essential because shoes quickly get dirty outdoors. All three of the Webb brothers have English springer spaniels from the same litter. Shannon and Kirk have four in all: Quila, Cuero, Sarita, and Quatro. Will there be a Cinco one day? Each dog has its own monogrammed bed. Quila (short for Tequila) is waiting for permission to come inside with me. Behind the dogs, you can just see the cubbies, one for each member of the human family.

OK: the actress on the left is Sarita, the grinning dog. She actually smiles like this when she greets you. The night before this picture was taken, Sarita, the grinning dog, was sprayed by a skunk. We weren't too happy about that.

Shannon's bedroom is all white linen.

Shannon's vanity area, yes another antique French buffet, antique mirror and sconces.

Shannon and Kirk's new bathroom. One half is pure Shannon: French and feminine. The other half is all Kirk: western. A crystal chandelier lights the bath area. Oriental rugs on the floor, no bathmats, of course.

The shelves over the tub. All the towels have the KW brand monogrammed on them.

The sink is inset into, yes, an anitque French buffet.

Instead of built ins or a linen closet, Shannon bought these tall cabinets to house their towels and bath essentials.

Kirk's side: the sinks were inset into this piece of Mexican style buffet.

Kirk's large shower is lined in tile from the ceiling to the floor. There are two showerheads, one is an overhead rain faucet. On the niche to the right, you can just make out the University of Texas longhorn tiles.

The guests sleep here.

Wills Webb has his pick of beds in the bunkroom.

Caroline Webb's room is all girly pink.

And lastly, Shannon's father's self portrait. J. Anthony Wills was an important portrait painter. His portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower hangs in the White House.

Shannon, as a young girl, painted by her father. This painting, and a matching one of her sister, was a surprise gift from her father to her mother. For those who know her, it's amazing Shannon could sit still long enough for her father to paint her in such life like detail.

Prints of four of J. Anthony Wills' portraits hang in the library: Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger. Yes, it is safe to say, unfortunately, - these Webbs are Republicans!

Thanks for taking the tour of my brother and sister in law's ranch. I hope you enjoyed it!

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