Spring has Sprung

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At my daughter's school, they raise money for their senior prom by selling spring flowers.  Even though she's only a sophomore, they've already begun the fund raising.  It must be one hell of a prom to need three years to raise money for, but whatever.   This year I was shamed into buying my spring flowers from her school.  When I picked them up a few weeks ago they were itty bitty things in itty bitty pots.  Today, I noticed that - boy! they have really gotten huge!  And so pretty!   Spring is definitely here in Houston.  Sunday it was 80 degrees outside and such a gorgeous day that I just had to show you pictures of my garden: 

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Pots of spring flowers courtesy of the prom fund raiser. 

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My back yard patio.  Our house is in a neighborhood in flux.  Half of the houses are newer and half were built for WWII veterans.  The lots are tiny -  50 x 100 is standard.  That doesn't leave much left out back for anything other than a courtyard.  Which is fine, I guess, as long as your neighbors are friendly and you don't like to sunbathe in the nude. (I don't, don't worry.)

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Pottery Barn pillows, Pier I chairs, Urban Outfitters rug, Wisteria blue and white garden seat (one of three that I own.)

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In case you are wondering what's with all the concrete bunnies and squirrels, etc.   -  I don't know either.  Ask my husband.   For a few years every Mother's Day he went to the Garden Gate and bought me some animal.  I would probably have hundreds by now if I hadn't of threatened to throw the next one he gave me through the window.       My sister (you remember her house, right?) gave me this garden bench and the pedestals and antique urns (hard to see the urns through the luscious plants)  when she moved to a high rise a few years ago.  Now that she's back on the ground, I've offered to return this vignette to her (half-heartedly really - I very lamely offered to give it back.)  So far, thankfully, she has refused my most generous offer. 

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Come to think of it, she gave me this too when she moved (God, I'm such a mooch! And Cathy - I am not giving this back!) - an antique wire plant stand.   Last year I decided to try all green plants on the stand, no more flowers.  Not a great look - I need to freshen these pots up.  Blue and white pot from Wisteria, not Cathy.

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Last year I planted caladiums (well the garden man planted them - I ordered them - he even got that wrong since I ordered  green and white caladiums and got pink and green instead.)   Surprisingly, the caladiums are back this spring!  So exciting to get something for nothing!   Do you see a theme here?    And, for added fun, you can play a  game:  "find the poop" - I just noticed that little Sammie Jo has left a package on the gravel.    First one to find the poop - wins it!!!!  Shipping included, free.


Oh Sammie Jo - you're such a bad girl! 

And psst. you need to go on a diet, too!   

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Looking towards the right of the courtyard.   

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Same angle, just a wider shot of the patio to the right.  You can see the columns on the right side - those used to have evergreen wisteria growing on them - which we trained patiently for 14 years.  This spring we removed all the vines after we noticed that the only thing nesting in them were rodents.  Yes.  Lovely,  I know.  But true.  And don't judge me until you've gone out in your back yard late at night.  Trust me, you have them too.

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And a view to the left.  Here you can see the beautiful antique urns next to the bench.

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This cute planter with the fleur de lis was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law, Michelle.  Not sure if I ever thanked you - but thanks, Michelle!  I love it,  as you can see.  Michelle has a new blog here.  Check it out - it's great! 

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My office!  And that Starbucks is NOT a styling prop!  Table and chairs from Wisteria.

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The hydrangeas in the front yard are starting to come to life.  You can just see the buds of the flowers in the center.    Can't wait for those.

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Just underneath our address plaque, you can make out the Star of Texas brass plate that my other sister-in-law Shannon (remember her house?) gave me for Christmas one year.   Ben and I like to pretend it's actually a State of Texas Historical Marker, such jokesters.

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My window box in the front yard.   This actually looks pretty good for once.  I've contemplated just putting fake ivy and flowers in here - it's so hard to keep this box looking pretty all year long.

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Our front yard tree.  It's just now getting it's leaves back after winter.  That's the top of my two story roof on the left.  The tree is an old water oak and it's the reason we bought this particular lot to begin with.   It's a huge responsibility to have a tree this old and large.    Each spring we have a tree professional come trim it and feed it.    We have another, smaller water oak on our lot that grew from an acorn dropped off  from the older tree.  And when we tore down the house on this lot to build our home, my mother-in-law salvaged a lot of the plants.  One thing she took was a tiny plant that grew from an acorn from this tree.  She planted it in her back yard and 17 years later, her water oak is quite tall.  The tree is called "Elisabeth's Tree" after my daughter who just turned 17 the other day.  Happy Birthday to Lizzy and her tree!

Houston Bloggers Have the Most Fun!!


Courtney, Ronda, Moi, Paloma, and Carolina

Dinner at the new Armando's on Westheimer at Kirby

It's becoming something of a tradition that the girls from Houston who write design blogs get together to share a meal and some laughs.  It was my fourth time being with different Houston bloggers, and the first time we've all been together as a group.  This Thursday night, we hosted Ronda of All the Best blog.  Ronda, originally from Houston, now lives with her husband and son in Scotland, but she still makes a few trips a year home to visit family.  We're a pretty motley crew - aged from 25 to 53 (guess who?) But, oddly enough, age doesn't define us.  Our commonality is, of course, our blogs, and all the trials and tribulations that come from blogging. 

Ronda, is the go getter of the bunch, anxious to take blogging to the next level - she's succeeding at making her dreams a reality.  The rest of us are in awe of Ronda.   

Carolina, of the Carolina Eclectic blog, is an interior designer with a mid-century-modern bent.  She is calm by nature and very interesting to talk to.  She belongs to Houston Mod and as such is very knowledgeable about mid-century design in Houston. 

Paloma, well, Paloma what can I say? - So pretty, absolutely beautiful,  she's certainly the jewelry at any dinner table.  Writer of the La Dolce Vita blog, she teaches pre AP Spanish at a public high school but excitedly announced she is leaving teaching for real estate.  Good luck Paloma! 

And then there's Courtney of Inside the Loop. Courtney is  the Energizer Bunny of the lot.  Full of joie de vie, she recently hosted an outdoor movie party in her back yard for her neighbors. For her trek to Round Top, she borrowed an RV and took another blogger from Florida, along with their husbands, for a weekend of fun.  Fun?  Sleeping in an RV with perfect strangers?  OH YES!!!! Courtney assured me it was a blast.

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Ronda and Courtney

Meeting up with other bloggers isn't something I had planned on doing when I started my blog last year, but it's been one of the more fun rewards that's come with my blog.   Paloma has named us The Mutual Admiration Society - and what a great name it is!  We do have a certain respect for each other, perfect strangers with truly only one thing in common - our blogs.  But that's enough for us!    See y'all this summer!!

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Paloma, Ronda and Carolina

Stalking the Wheats

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As most of my friends know, I have a slight (well, ok - it's not so slight) addiction to Starbucks coffee.  Two or three (sometimes four or five -  I can't lie) times a day I go to the drive-through Starbucks in my neighborhood, West University.  Instead of driving there on the main streets, I drive down the side streets, admiring the homes on my way.    I have a few favorite houses on my route and one,  in particular, caught my attention as it was being built.   At first it was the white stucco exterior with its stone foundation that I noticed.   As time went on and the building progressed, each detail the owners added made it seem like a special home, one that I would love:   they added gray, french wood shutters to the  windows, and then they added a most charming wooden gate for the driveway.   Next - the owners put in French styled landscaping - all green - with box woods.   After they had moved in, whenever I drove by the house, I would slow my car to a crawl, craning my neck to try to see inside the white stuccoed home that had so captured my imagination.  Through their windows, I could make out some of their furnishings -  first, there was a screen in the living room, and then I could see an oversized mirror.  Next - I noticed the dining room's antique light fixture which furthered my suspicions that this was a house I would love - inside and out.  By the time the sheer, linen curtains were hung - the deal was sealed - I was an official stalker and somehow, I had to finagle my way into the home to see it first hand.

As luck would have it, Anthea, my sister-in-law's sister (Cote de Texas readers may remember her house featured here) lived almost across the street from my stalk-ees.  One day, Anthea casually mentioned to me that her new neighbor read my blog and wanted to meet me.  Emails were exchanged and we set a date - finally,  after stalking these poor people and their house for over a year, they were actually going to invite me inside.  I'm sure had they known of my obsession with their white stuccoed home, the invitation would have been rescinded.

And so this is how I came to be in Sally Wheat's home:  me - a total weirdo taking pictures of a stranger's house.  I can't imagine what her husband thought when he came home and walked into the scene.   Sally was delightful and claimed to be excited that I was going to put her in my blog;  but truthfully, I'm not convinced she meant it.     Her 7 year old daughter couldn't have been more friendly, even offering to show me the toilets.  As pathetic as it must sound, I was actually interested in seeing those, too.     Sally, an interior designer, furnished her own house, of course.   After such a build up on my part, the house could have been a disappointment, but it wasn't.   In fact, it was more charming than I had imagined.  Bathed in grays and creams and taupes, with gleaming white walls, and antique painted furniture - the interiors lean towards the ever-growing-in-popularity Belgian style of design.   The Wheats also own a beach house on Boliver Island which Sally admitted was "really cute."  Unfortunately, Boliver Island is a little out of the way for drive-by stalking, but Sally promised me we would get together this summer so that I could bring you pictures from their beach house.  Below, I hope you enjoy the Wheat's home in West University:


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The Object of My Obsession:  The stucco exterior of the Wheat's house which first caught my attention.  I love the stacked stone foundation, the stone walkway, the boxwoods, the wisteria, the paneled wood door, and the gas lanterns. - all details which make the exterior special.

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  When these french styled shutters were installed, I knew the house was going to be unique - not your typical, everyday, West University stucco house.

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The clincher:  the driveway gate.  Most West University homes have iron gates on their driveways.  This wooden gate is utterly charming.   A matching gate on the opposite side of the house leads to the back yard.

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The stalker is actually allowed inside!  The front room - instead of a sofa, Sally has four chairs.  The rug (probably seagrass) is on hold until the puppy is housetrained.  The drapes throughout the house are unlined Belgian linen which were purchased at Indulge Decor in Houston.

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The antique screen which is visible from the front window.  I would drive by and see the screen and know that I would love the interiors!  This screen was purchased at Thompson + Hanson in Houston.   I actually remember this screen from when it was for sale there.

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An iron table sits between two white chairs.  A trendy crown shares space with pottery.

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The French lantern in the entry hall was purchased from Chateau Domingue.  The dining room is to the right of the front door when you walk in.

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A vignette in the entry hall - antique bench, pottery, and mirror.

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The dining table was custom made, copied from a picture found in The World of Interiors.  French mouton leg chairs are slipcovered.

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The large mirror that caught my eye as I did my drive-bys.  The darling puppy looks out the front window - maybe guarding against other stalkers driving by with craned necks?  

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The beautiful antique chandelier is the focal point of the dining room.

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A wall of framed botanicals in the dining room.

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Two vintage starburst mirrors are layered over the larger mirror.

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The kitchen:  honed, statuary marble counter tops with white subway tiles for the backsplash.  The two pendant lights are from Belgium, via Brown, a fabulous Houston shop that specializes in light fixtures.  

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The kitchen shelves are without doors. 

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I love this faucet and the farm sink with it's single bowl.

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The breakfast room has another light fixture from Brown.

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Painted furniture and horns in this vignette.

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The iron staircase was fauxed to resemble pewter.

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Another vignette:  this one features a wall of portraits of strangers, not family!

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A view of the family room overlooking the back yard.  The two slipcovered sofas are extra long, again reminiscent of the popular Belgian style.

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The family room:  the two sets of doors are antique shutters from Bill Gardner of Houston.  The cross on the coffee table was designed by Sally Wheat using driftwood she collects on Boliver Island.

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View of the family room looking towards the staircase.

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The TV is hidden behind the antique shutters.  Also housed there is Sally's butterfly collection.

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The backyard is mostly a patio.

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The powder room is tiny, but there's room for a Louis Phillipe antique mirror, a chandelier, and antique tiles from Chateau Domingue.

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The charming powder room sink is made of stone.  The faucets are installed in the wall instead of the counter.

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The upstairs guest room, all in greens and reds.  All bedrooms upstairs have wall to wall seagrass in the basket weave pattern.

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Sally's darling daughter's bedroom.  The chest was painted by James Farmer, from Houston.

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The master bedroom is, like the rest of the house, all in cream, mushroom and taupe.  The headboard is tufted and upholstered.   Curtains here, as in the rest of the house, are from Indulge Decor of Houston.

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Sally's painted white desk and Ghost chair.

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The bathroom is all white carrara marble and mirrors.  I love how the doors are mirrored in this built in chest.

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The cabinet doors in the vanities are screened.

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The children's playroom over the garage connects through the master bedroom closet.  A work in progress, the carpet is the trendy antelope print.


I hope you enjoyed Sally's house as much as I did!  Besides being an interior designer (and if you are interested in contacting Sally, email me and I'll forward it on to Sally)  she has recently opened a booth selling antiques and decorative items at Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy.  Below, are a few items from her booth:

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A pair of beautiful antique, gilt arm chairs, upholstered in while muslin.

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A Wheat designed cross, make from Boliver Island driftwood.

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Painted white chest, assorted statutes and artwork.

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Gilt bench, covered in linen.

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A pair of vintage chairs newly upholstered in a trendy trellis fabric.

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One of a pair of driftwood lamps, designed by Sally Wheat.

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Finally, a standing lamp, made of driftwood, designed by Sally Wheat.

Looking around at other booths at Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy, I spotted several items that reminded me of Sally's home:

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Antique shutters - these are similar to the shutters found in Sally's family room.

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A pair of candlesticks similar to those found on Sally's dining room table.

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One of Houston's favorite antique dealers, Annette Schatte also recently opened a booth here.    Here, Schatte sells mirrors that are similar to the antique mirrors found in Sally's home.   The iron candelabra is similar to the one found in the Wheats' family room.

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Schatte is selling this French lantern, similar to the one hanging in Sally's entry hall.

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A dark wood dining room table with a hand planed table top is reminiscent of the one in Sally's dining room.

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And lastly, one more lantern from Annette Schatte.

To learn more about Belgian style interior design, the web site www.beta-plus.com has a large library of coffee table  books for sale.  Published in Belgium, the books are gorgeous with page after page of interiors in the Belgian style that is rapidly gaining in popularity, giving rise to the saying "Belgian is the new Sweden."