Friday, June 26, 2009

When Decorators Go Bad

My good friend Christina sent me a link to the real estate listing for this home here in Houston earlier this week and I couldn't resist sharing it with you all. If you'd like to take a look at the full listing, see HERE. Located on one of the nicest streets in town just minutes away from downtown, right near Rice University campus, this lovely 5,000sf. home is on the market for just under $2M and would be a dream home for just about every Houstonian I know.

That is until you go inside and get a load of the decor. There's a lot here in this house that's "on trend" (the gray and blue color palette, dark hardwood floors, limed furniture) and yet somehow I think most of these rooms miss the mark -- and some by quite a lot. It's a bit hard for me to put my finger on exactly why I think this house is so "off", but I think it just looks over designed, overwrought and, well, just a bit over. In light of the obvious time and money that went into decorating this house, I'd consider that a real tragedy.

In the living room, I actually quite like the sofa and chairs, though I wish the chairs were upholstered in a different fabric (a print would have been nice or even just a nice chocolate brown leather for some contrast to the light gray sofa, light gray walls, light gray curtains...). The zebra pelt draped across the coffee table really irks me though. I'll admit that I'm just not a fan of animal prints -- especially ones that look so freshly separated from the animal. But draping it across the coffee table? Ick. Generally though, this room just needs some more color (and I'm not talking anything too bold either -- just some deeper tones and/or patterns). I'd also swap out the white deer on the fireplace with a beautiful piece of art (with some color!) or a mirror over the fireplace.

Both Christina and I agreed that this dining room bordered on the bizarre. While I am reluctant to criticize the large painting (love the scale and the fact that it has some color), it just seems out of place in this very minimal room. The sky mural in the ceiling reminds me an awful lot of the Cheesecake Factory. I suspect a lot of pieces may actually have been removed from this room (and the house generally) to get it ready to show and I think this is a lesson in how decorating and selling your house don't always mix. By taking away the layers of accessories, lighting, rugs, etc. that would make these pieces work in this room, the end result looks like you ended up stopping midway through the design process. But then again, maybe this was the intended end result, in which case I can only say (in my sweetest Southern drawl) -- oh honey no!

The breakfast room looks like it got a fresh coat of white-wash just in time for the open house. Yawn. Shabby chic at its worst, in my book.

The layout of this kitchen looks great actually -- and it's got all the modern bells and whistles from the double oven to an island sink (and the copper farmhouse sink!) to a pot-filler over the stove. These modern conveniences also suggest this kitchen was recently redone. Too bad the limed cabinets make it look like a throwback to the '90s. Ah well, nothing a little white paint couldn't fix. ...Actually, now that I think about it, how great would this kitchen look if the only thing you did was repaint the cabinets white (well and redecorate the adjourning breakfast nook)?

This room is actually my favorite. The blue-gray walls are a lot deeper here than elsewhere, the furniture looks comfortable and the art on the walls is gorgeous. My only concern here is the furniture arrangement -- what precisely does one do in this room other than sit around and stare at other people? It's been labeled a library/study by the realtor but I don't see any bookshelves and that desk at the far end looks entirely too tiny to get any real work done. This room may be a victim of form over function. Also, and this is me nitpicking here, but I think the rug is too large for this space. I prefer 12-18" of exposed floor on all sides and this looks like less than 6".

This house has 5 bedrooms, four of which all look roughly the same, though the picture on top is of the master bedroom. I think the headboard in the master bedroom is spot-on, but I detest the animal hide on the floor (which reappears in just about every bedroom). The chandelier in the master also looks like it would be better suited to a dining room and I think I would've gone for something lighter and airier here, maybe clear or smoked glass. Generally though, like the public spaces in the house, the bedrooms just look far too cold and monochromatic for my taste. I think if you're going to stick with neutrals, warmer tones work better.

This must be the coldest, saddest nursery ever. I just hope the owners moved a lot out of here for the photographs because it's positively spartan.

The house also comes with a fully decked out "carriage house" -- presumably for your in-laws or your live-in nanny. All in all, I think it's really cute and it comes off a lot cozier (probably due to its smaller scale and lower, more intimate ceilings) than the main house, despite employing the same cool color palette and traditional-meets-shabby chic style.

So what do you think? Do you agree with me or do you like the look here?


Miss Eve said...

LOL, I would love to have a "real tragedy" like this...No doubt about that, this home design is a little bit too serious for me but I think it's gorgeous in it's on way...Thanks for sharing much love: Evi

Sanity Fair said...

Averill, I actually like the gray headboard bedroom, but agree on the rest. There's a complete lack of harmony between the rooms - I actually wonder if some of these spaces contain the original furniture. It looks very much staged. Especially the dining areas - those leather chairs are the kind you rent for houses on the market. However, there's too much detail/personalized stuff around for the entire house to be staged. Weird.

Gosh, I can't get over that dining room. The ceiling IS cheesecake factory.

Christy said...

I agree with everything you said. Such a weird house!! That is the saddest nursery ever! I have to post photos of Ms. Foo's - it's bright, eclectic and just makes me happy walking in it! You made me bust out laughing with your cheesecake factory comment!

Also, do I have your email address? I don't think so. Mine is linked to my comments, and is on my page - email me so I can send you London info, and info on giveaways!

Maple said...

Great commentary! When I saw it on HAR I knew I had to send it over ;) Your commentary about the dining room is spot-on; the ceiling is totally reminiscent of Cheesecake Factory!

Quotidian Grace said...

I can't get past the zebra pelt on the coffee table. What in the cornbread H*** were they thinking? Gross.

The nursery IS sad. Looks almost institutional.

I can't really imagine eating in the dining room. I'd add bookshelves and books to the nice blue-grey sitting room and make it a cozy library.

Style Redux 2 said...

Really depressing. Style and money are not the same thing. Really really ugly things and nothing goes with anything else. On top of that, really bad staging.

Alicia said...

Hey I stage for a living & this is not staged, this is a tragedy!!! No continuity, personality nothing!! I would have painted the cabinets first off. God this makes me ill. I actually believe it was an empty house & they filled it with the perpetrators warehouse stuff or they were broke from buying the home & couldn't afford to decorate it.

Averill said...

He he. I knew you all would have TONS of opinions on this house! And you're all absolutely right -- it's a beautiful (or not-so-beautiful) illustration of how money doesn't guarantee style.

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

You are spot on. My ? for you is; why are you not a interior designer?
Beautiful home but pitiful inside. I too was wondering if it was staged & therefor staged poorly. I'm hoping that's the case because if it's not that nursery is criminal. Oh, the hide on the coffee table is super yuck. This homes interior is definitely on "hide overload". I could go on & on.... Have a great weekend, stay cool as possible.

Rev Kim said...

If we ever buy our dream home, I'm definitely going to want to consult with you before I do anything! :)

I too loathe the animal hides. Of course, we get lots of that in Wyoming, along with mounted animal heads. Yech.

A very sad home indeed, and I too wonder if much was taken out for selling purposes. It would definitely take a careful eye as your own to make this home all it could be.

Kellie ~ Ada and Darcy said...

Hmmm this is a perfect selection of images for Mogg Blog!!

I really am not loving that animal rug on the coffee table and with hydrangeas!!?? What are they thinking!?

Kellie x

Sarah Klassen said...

When I read the title of this post, I started to laugh. I had a feeling I would be saying a lot of "oh dears".

Don't get me wrong, I truly love innovation and creativity and creating something in your home just because you love it...however, this house is for sale and has to be made presentable and "Sale-able" (I know this is not a real word :\) Not loving the rug draped over the coffee table at all. Some pieces in the home are definitely beautiful, but perhaps not positioned and coordinated in the very best way. For certain, the dining room does not offer a very appetizing feel. (cold look and feel and that ceiling) With a little work and love...and getting the house to coordinate, I think it would sell~

Cristin said...

What is that zebra run doing over the coffee table? yikes! I agree, the nursey is sad too.


Things That Inspire said...

The good news is, someone with vision can hopefully look beyond the decor - I think the home has good bones, and love the location (although, I prefer the part of South Blvd that is closer to the end). I am a Rice alum so it is great to see real estate pictures from an area that I know and love!

The Cheesecake Factory comparison was priceless! Also, about the rug being so close to the edge, Joni from Cote de Texas has told me that it is very 'in' right now to have area rugs about 6" from the wall. I am like you, though, I prefer a bit more space between the wall and the rug.

Patch said...


annechovie said...

Very nouveau-riche and lacking warmth for the most part. Loved your commentary, esp. the Cheesecake Factory comment - very astute and witty. I actually was digging the carriage house the most. Thanks for your kind words and support and I hope you have a wonderful trip!

Kara said...

You can't buy taste can you? It's just sad all the way around.

BTW - you might have to call me Mrs. Robinson afterall. :)

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