An Old Garage Apartment Is Given a Fresh New Feel

published May 18, 2018

An Old Garage Apartment Is Given a Fresh New Feel

published May 18, 2018
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Maria Branco, Bruno Sabino, and their puppy Kilo
Location: Lindale Park — Houston, Texas
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting

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Maria Branco is an interior designer, jewelry maker, and artist living in Houston, Texas with her husband Bruno. After moving to the U.S. from their native home of Lisbon, Portugal, they are renting an 800-square-foot garage apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood just miles north of downtown Houston. For three years, Maria has seen the space go from a busy and bustling apartment full of roommates to a quiet home for her and her family. The bonus of this apartment is the downstairs room that allows Maria room to work on one of her many talents—including designing and making jewelry.

In the case of minimalism vs. maximalism, Maria and Bruno have managed to find a middle ground. Their style derives from their travels all over the world and from their European roots, serving as a sort of map of artifacts that decorate their home. The perfect blend of textures, patterns, modern, and vintage, Maria’s home is a perfectly cohesive window into the life of a multi-talented artist.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, bold, and well-traveled.

Inspiration: Our home is a true reflection of our lifestyle; it’s where we live and work, so naturally it’s shaped that way. My passion for rich textiles, rugs, and pillows isn’t purely for aesthetics—I spend many hours producing goods for BRANCO so I need to sit comfortably. We’re especially inspired by color, patterns, and texture. This is what prompted Bruno to create PRAY FOR RAIN. Our style is also a result of our upbringing. Growing up in Lisbon, at the intersection of two opposite worlds, the coast and the city, we had our youth filled with culture, subcultures, beach, and skateboard. As a consequence, we bring the outdoors inside more often than not. Traveling is another major source of inspiration—every time we get a chance, we go somewhere new.

Favorite Element: The assortment of objects collected on trips and all the scattered art. We love pieces that tell stories and bring back memories.

Biggest Challenge: Giving an old garage apartment a fresh feel.

What Friends Say: “Love the European vibe!” and “Can I stay the night?”

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet. This is actually one of the first things I tell our clients at Boulevard Realty to get rid of.

Proudest DIY: Painting the whole apartment, removing doors from kitchen cabinets, and building copper pipe clothing racks in bedroom.

Biggest Indulgence: Plants. For sure!

Best Advice: Be real. Decorate with your heart and not with preconceived rules. I feel people aren’t told to be true to themselves enough. Take it from an interior designer who does it for a living: you can do whatever you want as long as it’s authentic.

Dream Sources: Modernica, Vitra, Medina of Marrakech in Morocco, and Maputo’s craft markets in Mozambique.


White Walls: Sherwin-Williams – Snowbound (color)
Dining Room: Restoration Hardware – Stone (color)

Calissa Block Printed Rug – Urban Outfitters
Vintage Chairs – 1924 US
Skateboard Decks – Fucking Awesome and Krooked
Wall Planters – Umbra
Wall Art – J. Bilhan and Maria Branco
Terracotta Planters – Lowe’s
Faux Bull Skull – DIY Prop for A-1 Array
Shelf Paraphernalia – Unique finds from all around the world.
Coffee Table Reads – Apartamento, Surf Shacks, Spaces (frankie magazine)
Vintage Textiles – Front General Store
Candles – Manready Mercantile
Ceramics – The Perish Trust
Plants – Buchanan’s Native Plants
Accessories – Anthropologie, General Store, The Hunt NYC

Mint Bar Stools – Wayfair
Rug – Moroccan Rug (bought in Essaouira)
Dog Bowl – Bartholomeow
Furniture – Vintage grocery store display sourced by Cris Marusiak at Round Top
Record Player – Crosley
Antique Planters – Native Citizen
Art Print – Nick Tallent
Wall Poster – Mouthfeel Magazine
Triangles Indigo Tea Towel – Jenny Pennywood
Checkered Tea Towel – Area
Tableware – Target
Portuguese Tableware – Bordalo Pinheiro and Vista Alegre
Cook Book – flour + water
Accessories – Myth & Symbol, Needles & Pens, La Tresorerie

Heritage Sleeper Sofa – Wayfair
Coffee Table Reads – Mark Gonzales book, Desillusion, What Youth
Phoebe Coffee Table – Wayfair
Magazine Rack – The Guild Shop
Wall Shelves – Home Depot
Frida Kahlo Poster – Frida Kahlo Museum
Camel Print – Jardin Majorelle
Courage Print – 1924 US x Knickerbocker Mfg. Co.
Undressing Print – Kaye Blegvad
Finger Print – Maria Ines Gul
Wise Palm Tea Towel – Native Bear
Wooden Print Dowel Hanger – Urban Outfitters
Print on Dowel Hanger – Hannah Anderson
Speaker – Marshall
Succulents and Pots – Joshua’s Native Plants & Garden Antiques

Wonky Grid Duvet Cover – Urban Outfitters
Pillow Caste Set – Dusen Dusen
Decorative Pillows – BFGF and BRANCO
Vintage Step Stools – Adkins Architectural Antiques and August Antiques
VITTSJO Laptop Table – IKEA
Black Side Chair – Houzz
Wall Poster – Kid Cudi
Ride Life Print – PAM
Copper Pipe Clothing Racks – DIY (learn more here)
Hats – Front General Store and Brixton
Accessories – Myth & Symbol, Zara Home

Wall Art – Regards Coupables
Planters – Native Citizen
Apothecary — Aesop, Aster & Bay, Manready Mercantile

Safavieh Handwoven Casual Thick Jute Area Rug — Overstock
Peace Sign Wall Hook – Urban Outfitters
Black Rope Dog Leash – Found My Animal
Backdrop Supplies – Texas Art Supplies
Table Cloth — Etsy
Mudcloth – From Senegal (bought in Nigeria)
Bicycles – Critical Cycles and Brooks England

Thanks, Maria and Bruno!

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