This Houston Home is Full of History and Impeccable Style
Every time Elizabeth and Peter Wareing walk into the foyer of their 1927 Houston home, they can't help thinking of Peter's late grandfather, who not only designed the house as a young man but also lived in it until his death. He was John F. Staub, one of Houston's earliest and most illustrious residential architects, and he left behind numerous refined and elegant neo-Georgian houses built from the 1920s through the 1960s. In 1981, when Peter got the opportunity to purchase the house from his grandfather's estate, he and Elizabeth happily took the leap. In a house laden with generations of family memories and architectural importance, the Wareings knew that redecorating would require not only good taste and a nearly extinct skill set but also an old soul. Intriguingly, they turned to the young design duo of Catherine Olasky and Max Sinsteden of Olasky & Sinsteden.
Building a Home
Staub designed his own 1927 house with an eclectic facade that's evocative of the New England saltbox style. He wanted to make his Massachusetts-raised wife feel comfortable.
Staub designed the front door's traditional yet boldly overscale moldings to give the facade a memorable flourish.
The tiny, dark foyer paneled in beaded pine is characteristic of Staub, who took pains to keep even his most elegant houses understated. "It's almost humble, yet so stylish and original for that time and place," says Olasky. He wanted you to walk in and instantly feel at home." She and Sinsteden used a well-proportioned English chest to suit the scale of the room.
Intentionally Tinged Walls
Olasky & Sinsteden deepened the den's paneling to make the room feel warmer.
Added to the house 15 years ago, the mahogany-paneled den was brought to life with a boldly figured bijar carpet that fits the dimensions of the room to within an inch. Designers Catherine Olasky and Max Sinsteden cut a blue-and-white striped band from the Robert Kime curtain fabric's repeat and applied it as trim.
Cowtan & Tout's Botanique Spectaculaire depicts gorgeous lilies, sunflowers, and fritillarias.
Keeping with Custom
Not much changed in here, where the glorious silk floral wall fabric picked by a previous decorator is still in good condition and the mirror candelabra purchased by Staub for $165 still hangs. Olasky & Sinsteden re-covered the chair seats in navy leather but otherwise left the room untouched.
A Light Hand
"You walk in the living room and feel the history," says Olasky. "You know there have been a hundred fabulous parties in it." For the sake of continuity, Olasky & Sinsteden kept antiques, the original furniture plan, and green-stained walls but re-covered every chair and settee.
Designing a Retreat
The designers overhauled a sunporch where the Staubs once ate and played canasta and gin rummy to be a "porch-y" alternative to the other clubby rooms.
Relaxing, Not Slouchy
"This room is very much open to the whole second floor, so it had to have sophistication," Olasky says. Two tailored chaises make a surprising and comfortable seating arrangement.
"They've been there 30 years," says Olasky of the Sheraton-style beds. The designers sharpened them up with fresh canopies, duvets, and shams by Leontine Linens.
A large window is framed with floral curtains and a rounded header in the most classic of Colefax and Fowler chintzes, Bowood.
A new pedestal sink and fresh Adelphi wallpaper are period appropriate in this powder room.
Michael S Smith's Jasper wallpaper in Grace covers the walls and ceiling in the grandchildren's bath. "There's something about this pattern that feels just right for a grandmother's house. Children will remember it," says Olasky.