In early January, interior designer Marie Flanigan and her team, including associate designer Ashlee Garner, finished a 15-month renovation on an 8,000-square-foot home in Flanigan’s native Houston, Texas. Just a few weeks later, around Valentine’s Day, historic snow and cold temperatures hit the area, and frozen pipes flooded part of the newly completed home. “Luckily, we caught it in time and only had to redo a few things,” says Flanigan.
That wasn’t the only hiccup through the design process, though. Pre-renovation, Flanigan describes the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home as “Mediterranean” with an abundance of dark moldings, heavy finishes, and moody shades of deep brown. The clients—a couple with four children—had lived with and loved the home for years but were ready for a lighter and brighter outlook post-COVID. “The kids were getting older, and it felt like time to embrace something fresher,” Flanigan says. “Little did they know, a global pandemic would hit the minute we started.”
Lockdown led to layout changes, like revamping a previously unused space into a cozy sitting room for the family to gather and recharge and expanding the butler’s pantry to add storage for snacks and essentials. Unlike with new construction, the family already knew how they lived in the home, so they were able to make thoughtful upgrades suited to fit their needs.
“The pandemic put everything into perspective, and this home is truly all about family,” says Garner. “We wanted it to feel beautiful but not formal. We preserved the original features but simplified them, adding rich and authentic materials to make each room feel special. The overall aesthetic is one that’s layered and transitional with an underbelly of tradition.”
Flanigan and her team used a mix of deep blues and greens to ground each space, then peppered in European influences, including fluted moldings, French-inspired fireplaces, plaster details, exposed brick, vintage accessories, and patinaed hardware and fixtures.
“Form was equally as important as function,” says Flanigan. “Ultimately, we gave the already beautiful home a modern facelift that helped set the reset button for the family in 2021.”
“The clients are such happy people,” says Flanigan. “We didn’t want anything too stuffy or serious.” Instead, she and her team used a fun pop of robin’s egg blue on the Lacanche range, which “the client loved the moment she saw,” adds the designer. They contrasted the hue with Benjamin Moore White Dove-painted cabinetry, Circa Lighting Honore lanterns, unlacquered brass fixtures, an artisan Clé Tileweathered white backsplash, white oak flooring, and a concrete-topped island mixed with Calacatta Sponda perimeter countertops for “layers and richness,” explains Garner.
A standout Phillip Jeffries seagrass wall covering (Manila Hemp in Serenity) in a similar shade to the kitchen range set the tone for the connected dining room. “It was the same color as the bridesmaid dresses from the client’s wedding,” says Garner. “It brought back those happy memories.” Flanigan added unique details to make the space feel inviting for family gatherings: Think painted flooring, reclaimed beams, and a lattice-front cabinet to house passed-down china.
A previously unused space, Flanigan and her team elevated this sitting room with a custom Gracie Studio wallcovering in New World, featuring birds with initials for each of the client’s four children and hydrangeas instead of the original floral pattern. “They’re her favorite,” explains Garner. They lacquered the floor-to-ceiling built-ins in Benjamin Moore Greyhound and used lush textiles, like Colefax and Fowler Keats Aqua, on The Joseph Company sofa and accents chairs for contrast. A Paul Ferrante Large La Mer hanging fixture draws the eye. “We played with the levels of saturation in a monochromatic palette to make this room work,” says Flanigan.
Thanks to an imperfect attic shape and wonky roof lines, Flanigan had to use her imagination in the European-inspired primary bedroom. “That recessed headboard wall and the shape of the ceiling were the result of creative problem solving,” says Flanigan, “but now it is so beautiful and thoughtful.” Similar to the sitting room, Flanigan used a soothing color palette but mixed in a variety of textures, like a velvet The Joseph Company bed, Fox Linton inset upholstery, and linen drapery, all against a backdrop of Benjamin Moore White Dove paint.
Layers of custom upholstery help make this primary closet feel warm and cozy. Flanigan used a leafy floral pattern—Otis Textiles Loyola Oatmeal—on the cabinet fronts and lampshades, then upholstered the island in a coordinating solid color. “It adds richness thanks to the texture versus just using paint,” explains Flanigan. Garner notes: “It became a space you want to spend time in.”
As a surprise for his flower-loving wife, the client paneled the primary bathroom’s walls with a custom floral plaster appliqué by Segreto Finishes that had to be installed “one branch at a time,” says Garner. For additional depth, Flanigan used Jorge Saba Calacatta Borghini countertops and Ann Sacks Calacatta Borghini flooring, then replicated the same pairing in the oversize shower. A striking tub by Hollywood Hardware and a vintage French chandelier complete the glamorous bathroom makeover.
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