Name: Lori and Jeromy Murphy, accesibility consultant with ACI, plus their two daughters
Location: Heights Area; Houston, Texas
Size: 2,480 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Owned
Lori and her husband Jeromy are both architects. These days, she looks after the kids and he's an accessibility consultant, but the house they built together has every bit of the ingenuity and style you would expect from the home of two designers. They've managed to fit a lot of living (and even a tiny pool!) into an unusual lot just north of downtown Houston.
When Lori and Jeromy bought the property, it had a rather undesirable feature: a big hole. The City of Houston had done some earth-moving on the site and failed to fill it back in. Lori and Jeromy adopted this unusual lot, bringing in 30 truckloads' worth of dirt to level the site out and make a place for their new home. They built a retaining wall on the lot's south side, which separates the home from a ravine that also provides drainage for the area. This little valley makes the site a lot more interesting than most in pancake-flat Houston, and also provides a nice natural buffer between the home and its neighbors — like a little urban woodland.
On the rest of the lot, Lori and Jeromy have definitely made the most of the space available. The public areas of the home are all one big, family-friendly space — the living room flows right into the spacious eat-in kitchen, which looks into the craft room and computer room. A big patio (with a Big Ass Fan, for hot Houston summer days) overlooks the ravine and the girls' playhouse, and on the other side of the house there's a surprise — a little pool, tucked in between the garage and the master bedroom. Throughout the house there are little splashes of color, and also quite a few flamingos, if you look closely enough. It's stylish, welcoming, and fun — the perfect family home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Mod Contemporary/Arts&Crafts.
Favorite Element: The Kitchen/Dining room.
Biggest Challenge: The economy! It took several tries to get construction financing, and once the house was built it was impossible to get a permanent mortgage because it would not appraise. Fortunately, the good folks at the bank were understanding and gave us the extensions we needed until the market improved and we could secure a mortgage.
What Friends Say: Our friends say that this house fits the two of us. I think that is intended as a compliment.
Biggest Embarrassment: We were a bit disappointed in the appearance of the diamond polish floors. I would still recommend diamond polish concrete, but would also caution that results will vary and you will not have a perfect floor.
Proudest DIY: The living room curtain was a huge undertaking, but it looks great and has helped to control sound. It took many evenings of cutting, pinning and sewing to finish, but it was worth it.
Biggest Indulgence: The Big Ass Fan. When we were designing, we each had some must haves that were non-negotiable. For Lori, it was the farmhouse table in the kitchen. For me it was the Big Ass Fan on the patio. Of the two, the table is more practical and more essential. Oh yeah, the swimming pool is definitely the biggest indulgence.
Best Advice: When taking on a design venture with your spouse, set a short list of non-negotiable items and stick with it. Don't compromise on your vision of a perfect house. With that said, each person must listen to the other person's opinion, and definitely listen to the opinion of your contractor if your options are greatly affecting the construction budget.
Dream Sources: The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka and Kira Obolensky.
Good House Cheap House: Adventures in Creating an Extraordinary Home at an Everyday Price by Kira Obolensky.
And lots of magazine clippings.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- Sofas by Build-a-Sofa
- White marble coffee and side tables by West Elm
- Louis Poulsen Collage Pendant lighting, provided by Lescoonline.com
- Natural cherry wood cabinets by Debut Cabinetry
- Glass tile by DalTile, Color Wave – combo of Blue Lagoon and Whisper Green
- Honed black granite counter tops
- Custom made natural cherry table designed by Lori and made by El Viejo Mexico Furniture in Houston, TX
- Carpet — Flor -Fedora line in Flannel
- Dal Tile – Veranda line with Veranda Tones accents
- Dal tile – Natural cut river pebble mosaics
- Big Ass Fans
- Martha Stewart Living Craft Space
- Allegiance Bank Construction Loan
- General contractor: Thin Man Construction, Brian Owens
- Pool contractor: Precision Pools
- Landscaping: AJ's Landscaping
- Fencing: Texas Fence Co.
Thanks, Lori and Jeromy!
(Images: Nancy Mitchell)
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