Reese & Sarah's Warm & Welcoming Home

House Tour

Name: Reese and Sarah Hazel (and dog Tilly)
Location: Rice University Area, Houston, Texas
Size: 2300 square feet
Years lived in: 14 years

People often tell Sarah Hazel that her home reminds them of their grandmother's house. Sarah says it's because she loves estate sales — "it's actually quite possible that I've bought some of their grandmother's stuff somewhere along the way." I think it's more than just that — the Hazels' house is lively, warm and welcoming, just like the best places from your childhood.

Their style is an amalgamation of pieces they created themselves (Sarah's a painter) and furniture inherited from relatives, purchased at estate sales and thrift shops, and rescued from the garbage. Everything is well loved, and everything has its own story.

Visiting the Hazels' house was a little like going to a museum with an especially knowledgeable curator. I could've stayed there for hours while Sarah told me the story of each piece. The mosaic tables in the living room and den were created from bits of broken dishes the family had saved — Sarah told me she loves the idea of taking something broken and making it useful again. The beautiful candelabra in Sarah's studio was 'rescued' from an estate sale — it was a bit of a splurge, but when Sarah overheard another customer saying he planned to purchase it and paint it gold, she knew she had to buy it. I imagine that the candelabra, relieved at its narrow escape, is very happy on the light blue wall. It hangs there as if it was always meant to be in this particular room.

I think that's my favorite thing about the house — the way all these treasured pieces come together so serendipitously, as if they were always meant to be together. As a finishing touch, all throughout the house are Sarah's paintings. The four behind the TV in the wood-paneled den are portraits of the couple's four daughters. I was excited to spot pictures of a few friends in the blue bedroom upstairs. And, of course, what really sets the house apart is something you won't even notice until you get to the backyard. Over the course of a few months, Reese, Sarah and their daughters labored to turn the back of the house into a giant mural. Art enthusiasts will recognize Van Gogh, Monet, and Cezanne, all larger than life. It's a final, lovely surprise in a house that is full of surprises.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Casually traditional with a twist.

Inspiration: Great Aunt Mary.

Favorite Element: The archway, all the natural light from the big windows, the wood paneling in the den, and the mural on the back of the house.

Biggest Challenge: In order for the house to not get overstuffed, the house rule is if something "new" comes in, something old has to go.

What Friends Say: The house is warm and inviting. Sometimes they say that it reminds them of their grandmother's house. It's actually quite possible that I've bought some of their grandmother's stuff somewhere along the way.

Biggest Embarrassment: When we first bought the house it needed extensive work — foundation repair, termite damage, electrical, and plumbing. Even though we worked on the house for a year, with four daughters approaching young womanhood, we decided the three bathrooms outweighed the unfinished detail work. In the interim years, we lived. A lot of that work is still undone, so don't look too closely.

Proudest DIY: Sarah: I built a room all by myself by enclosing the side porch — even passed city inspection. Of course, having all of our daughters participate in creating the mural is pretty up there. Reese: I turned the cave-like kitchen into an open space by widening both doorways, opening a wall, and adding a bar counter top into the den.

Biggest Indulgence: Re-upholstering furniture.

Best Advice: I think that furniture gets bored staying in the same place all the time. Rearrange often.

Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

DINING ROOM

BEDROOM

OTHER

Thanks, Reese and Sarah!

(Images: Nancy Mitchell)

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