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Houston couple's Braes Heights home feels roomier after redesign

Author: Alyson Ward
Publish Date: 
Enter Houston interior designer Marie Flanigan and her staffer Kelsey Grant. Their first order of business was to rethink the way the rooms were arranged.

"There wasn't a good use of space," Flanigan says.

They started by replacing that table in the breakfast nook. The old table was beautiful, says Flanigan, but its trestle legs were set in too far from each end: "All four people sat every night, crammed within those two legs, and with 3 feet of table around them on either side."

The new Belgian Oak table from Bernhardt is actually a bit longer, but the Stankowskis are able to spread out more and really use the space. Leather end chairs were custom-made with arms that slide beneath the table, which means they can be tucked in, out of the way.

"We just didn't have the eye to think there was going to be room for anything more," Susie Stankowski says. "But there's plenty of room."

In the living room, the Stankowskis had a white rug with a geometric pattern woven into its texture. They wanted to keep the rug, but it was too small for the cluster of furniture arranged on top of it. To expand the space to the edges of the room, Flanigan layered a larger natural-fiber rug beneath the white one.

"It helped the room breathe a little bit," Flanigan says.

It also adds visual interest and another texture to the room, which is full of warm neutrals and smooth fabrics. Flanigan had two spool chairs reupholstered in a Kravet textile by Creative Style Furniture and brought in a Bliss Studio bench and a couple of barrelback chairs to create a bigger conversation area. The room contains more furniture, but it feels more open and spacious.

One of the home's most appealing spaces is a small office the Stankowskis call the workroom. Tucked away at the end of a first-floor hallway, the room previously was dark and "had no direction," Stankowski said.

"We wanted to make it a space that was light, bright and really fun for the kids, but also a space they could grow into," Flanigan says. "We just kind of wanted to liven it up, bring in some color."

She replaced the ceiling fan with a contemporary starburst light fixture from Arteriors and added to the midcentury vibe with a white Womb chair. Below a neatly arranged wall display of the Stankowski daughters' artwork, a low banquette topped with a turquoise cushion adds more seating.

The workroom has become a place to hang out, even though it's hidden away from the home's main traffic paths. "This is where the girls will now do their homework because they love it so much," Stankowski says.

Down the hall, the powder room got a surprising new look. The windowless half-bath - which had been cool and light, with steel-gray walls - is now a study in deep browns and brass. Flanigan covered the walls with seagrass Phillip Jeffries wallpaper, rich brown with a metallic thread that catches the light.

"The metallic kind of glows like it's the jewel box in the home," Flanigan says. "We kept all the other rooms so light and bright, we wanted there to be a surprise and a cocoon-type feeling when you go into the powder room, like it's a special, tucked-away space."

The small room has the same high ceilings as the rest of the first floor, so Flanigan made use of the vertical space by installing a large antique brass light fixture.

"Overscale items," says the designer, "done correctly in small spaces, help the space feel larger, believe it or not."

"There's so much more room here," Stankowski says. "We have more (furniture) in here now than before, but it still feels open."

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