River Oaks International: Out with the Old English, In with the Old Swedish

Avalon Place House, Old English Version, Family Room, River Oaks, Houston

Avalon Place House, Old Swedish Version, Family Room, River Oaks, Houston

Houston interior designer Joni Webb takes time out from her usual focus on French design to tell the story of a home in Avalon Place that was done up first in an English country style (top photo), and then — some years later — completely redone by the same owners to something more . . . 18th century Swedish (second from top).

The English incarnation, which was captured in a Country Living magazine feature in the 1990s, had taken years to perfect, Webb reports:

. . . the finished project was perfect: a cozy English, country-style home, filled with authentic antiques, Italian oil paintings, wall to wall seagrass, faux painted yellow and red walls, toile wallpapers, Bennison fabrics and Kenneth Turner candles. It was an open, fun house – the site of many parties where people gathered around a roaring fire and lounged in the deep George Smith sofa, all the while remarking on how warm and inviting the home was.

So, it was a great surprise to many, including [Houston interior designer Carol] Glasser herself, when the wife declared she had changed. She no longer loved her home’s decor, she wanted a new look – a Swedish look – and not just a Swedish antique here and there, but a total, complete Swedish home. And so, for the second time, everything in the house was either sold or was stored and they started the process of decorating their home, completely from scratch, again.

Who best to complete this European migration? Carol Glasser, the same designer who had created the house’s first look. (This time, she enlisted help from Swedish Style expert Katrin Cargill.) After the jump, more before-and-after photos, plus nitty-gritty details of international style-travel.


The newly transformed River Oaks home was featured in last April’s issue of House Beautiful. Some comparison shots from the two magazine photo spreads:

Avalon Place House, Old English Version, River Oaks, Houston

Avalon Place House, Old Swedish Version, River Oaks, Houston

More from Joni Webb:

It was so exciting to watch – trips made to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana to visit an obscure, yet fabulous antique dealer from whom they purchased, amongst other things, antique portraits of unknown, serious Swedish citizens. Piece after piece of beautiful peeling, gray painted Swedish antiques were procured from the ends of the earth. The owners were ahead of the current Swedish trend and it worked to their advantage.

Before and after: the dining room . . .

Avalon Place House, Old English and Old Swedish Versions, Dining Rooms, River Oaks, Houston

. . . and the kitchen:

Avalon Place House, Old English and Old Swedish Versions, Kitchens, River Oaks, Houston

The house was taken down to it’s studs and every single inch was changed – from the roof to the floors to the windows to the walls. Nothing was usual or common, it was all custom and proved almost too difficult a job for the Houston builder who worked on the project. Cargill held to her guns and insisted on a certain degree of authenticity. Their house is, without a doubt, the only house in Houston with limed, Canadian pine wood floors.

Webb reports she made out well in the transformation herself, snatching up several rejected English-country furnishings for her own “French, Houston style” home.

Photos: Country Living, via Cote de Texas (1, 3, 5, 7); Katrin Cargill (2, 6, 8); and Joni Webb (3)