HOW THAT NEW HOUSTON LOOK KEPT MAKING ITS WAY FROM OLD EUROPE “I have always felt that this North Boulevard house was the one that changed the way Houston looked at decor and antiques,” writes West U design blogger Joni Webb about a stucco mansion in Broadacres by Rice University architect William Ward Watkin, who designed it in 1923 for a drug-company executive after a 4-month inspirational European tour. The property at 1318 North Blvd. later served for more than a decade as the home of Tootsie’s founder Micky Rosmarin, who died after a heart attack last month; it’s now up for sale for $4.75 million. “Back in 1995,” Webb writes, “it was featured on the cover of Veranda and I think it was this house that marked the true beginning of the Houston Look — the white slipcover, seagrass, antique filled aesthetic whose origins I attribute to designer Babs Cooper Watkins . . . it launched Watkins into prominence.” Watkins, Webb explains, “used antiques in a casual way, her interiors were never about a hands-off approach. She mixed in religious relics and priceless antiques with vintage chairs slipcovered in inexpensive plain linen. She repurposed outside garden elements to be used inside the house. And Babs was one of the first ones who favored dramatic paint treatments that turned ordinary sheetrock into centuries old grottos.” Watkins passed away in February of last year. But Webb recalls how the home launched a store — and a whole new Old World orientation for Houston interiors: “The Veranda photoshoot not only created a new aesthetic, it also created a new partnership and the Watkins Schatte antique shop on Bissonnet was born.” The shop (still at 2308 Bissonnet, but now known as Watkins-Culver Antiques) “was an instant hit and during those days, lines would form when a new shipment was unveiled. Everyone wanted to see what Babs and Bill [Gardner] and Annette [Schatte] had bought in Europe.” [Cote de Texas; previously on Swamplot]
STILL NO WAY TO DECORATE WITH BACK ISSUES High Gloss, Houston’s entry in the online-only-but-still-magazine-style shelter mag craze, is folding after its third issue, published just last month. Founder, editor in chief, and former Houston high-school Spanish teacher Paloma Contreras calls shutting the publication “a difficult decision” in her announcement but notes only “a few lifestyle changes” within the magazine’s production team. [La Dolce Vita]
Sure, it’s a big break when local architects and designers get their work published in Dwell, but who knew that an appearance in the modern design magazine might ultimately be seen as just a stepping stone on the path to even greater fame? That’s right: With the recent appearance of the Unhappy Hipsters blog, Dwell‘s design stars will at last be able to reach a much wider circle.
Most photos on Unhappy Hipsters are taken from the magazine. But yes, the captions are changed — just a little bit — so that the work shown can reach a larger and perhaps more appreciative audience.
Already, two teams of Houston designers have been featured on the blog. A reader writes in to report that the photo above, showing the owners of Numen Development’s shipping-container house on Cordell St. in Brookesmith, was featured in a recent Unhappy Hipsters post. Except instead of the original caption from Dwell, which described the front porch, the species of grass on the lawn, and the bent-steel shade above, we have this:
Not on the grass, Sweetie. Never. On. The. Grass. See how much fun Daddy is having?
Who else is appearing on Unhappy Hipsters?
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Ubiquitous design blogger Joni Webb hyperventilates over the March issue of Veranda magazine, which features actual interior pics of the house Kay O’Toole had built behind her Kay O’Toole Antiques & Eccentricities shop. The shop is in the building with the rounded corners next to the Firkin & Phoenix Pub parking lot at 1921 Westheimer:
I had heard the blogosphere mumbling about this Veranda showing Kay O’Toole’s new house and that was what had my mouth watering like Edward’s whenever Bella is around. Honestly, I’ve been waiting over two years for this issue!
O’Toole owns a French antique shop housed in a 1920s brick building that was once home to several different businesses. Through the years, she eventually acquired the entire building and tore down the dividing walls – creating a long and narrow haven for the best of what France, and now Belgium, Sweden, and Italy have to offer.
O’Toole’s single-story, one-bedroom stucco home — designed by Murphy Mears Architects — is another long and narrow haven, modeled after something O’Toole saw in New Orleans’s French Quarter: It’s one room deep, and backs up to the property’s back fence.
Couldn’t Webb have just charmed her way inside, camera in hand? Oh, she’d tried that:
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SEE YA OUT ON THE VERANDA, Y’ALL Time Inc. says it will be shutting down Southern Accents — the magazine, not the drawl — with its September-October issue. Now wherever will we find photo spreads of those delightful Curtis & Windham pool houses? Maybe on the SouthernAccents.com website, which will hang around for a spell. [Media Decoder, via Cote de Texas]