March 28, 2023

McKenzielee Blog

Wicked Clever House Experts

What to look for in this weekend’s AIA Houston Home Tour

5 min read

There’s something about a potential client who wants a modest-size house that makes an architect’s imagination light up.

Sure, Houston is filled with mansions and “McMansions,” but plenty of people are embracing the not-so-big-house movement, too.

Some great examples of such homes will be on this weekend’s AIA Houston Home Tour. In 2020, the group conducted a virtual “At Home With Architects” event instead of an in-person home tour.

Architect James Evans of Collaborative Designworks will have two projects on the tour, including one he designed for a friend he’s known since their days as students at Rice University. Another is a guesthouse that Natalye Appel and Stephanie Millet, partners at Natalye Appel + Associates Architects, designed for a longtime client in Vassar Place near Broadacres.

Other architects with projects on the tour include McIntyre + Robinowitz Architects, CONTENT Architecture, studioMET architects and Inflection Architecture. The projects featured were chosen by a jury of architects outside of Houston.

When: Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 23-24

Homes and architects: 1323 Vassar, by Natalye Appel + Associates Architects; 2344 Sunset, by Collaborative Designworks; 4411/4415 Woodhead, by Collaborative Designworks; 3007 Lawrence, by McIntyre + Robinowitz Architects; 1427 Allston, by CONTENT Architecture; 1116 Jackson, by studioMET architects; 2325 Tangley, by studioMET architects; and 2343 Sheridan, by Inflection Architecture

Tickets: $25 in advance ($35 day of tour), $15 for children and $10 for single-house tickets;

The home Evans designed for Theo and Michelle Mallinson on Sunset Boulevard in Southampton Place is filled with elements inspired by the Mallinsons’ overseas posts in Singapore and Malaysia, plus materials he used in other homes he has designed for them. Their home has inwardly sloping butterfly-style roofs and an unusual floor plan with bedrooms on the first floor and main living areas on the second floor — all inspired by their prior townhomes.

Theo Mallinson’s love of gardening is evident on every side of the house. A natural wildflower garden sits out front, with edible gardens behind a fence in the side yard. Since the kitchen is on the second floor, there’s a container herb garden on a balcony that’s easily accessed from a side door.

For Katherine Kohlmeyer, the new guesthouse next door to her main house on Vassar Street is an escape where she can relax. Also, absorbing the lot next door allowed her to take down the fence between the two properties and have a backyard pool, potting shed and lush gardens.

Kohlmeyer, who retired in March from her job as CFO at The CapStreet Group private equity firm, has lived in her home since 1989 and in 2013 bought the bungalow next door to have as a guesthouse and to prevent anyone else from cutting down the sprawling oak tree in the backyard.

With help from Appel and her team, Kohlmeyer did a few smaller projects to improve the front and back porches and to create more livable spaces on the second floor of her main home. It was finally time to address the aging bungalow next door, so she called on them again.

It wasn’t that the house was bad or even that it was falling apart. Kohlmeyer simply wanted something that could function as a guesthouse and even as an entertaining space when the time comes for her to have parties again.

Her 1,100-square-foot guesthouse isn’t connected to the main house and is considerably more modern, but the two structures play off each other so well that there’s no question they have a single owner. The guesthouse has flagstone steps to the front porch, which is covered and leads to a greenhouse located at the front of the property. There, Kohlmeyer keeps her collection of orchids and big potted plants, such as bird of paradise and stephanotis.

She also hung a net of crystals — a “tears of a fisherman net” first designed by Ingo Maurer — from the ceiling, and a spotlight flicks on at night and puts on a light show for anyone passing by after dark.

Inside, the house has just one bedroom, and its full bath is full of simple charm. Instead of the wall-mount vanity with sink common in many modern homes, Kohlmeyer’s interior designer, Courtney Blair of Tokerud+Co Interior Design, found an easel, tray and sink combination by Kreoo.

The main living area is a big open space with the kitchen amenities spread out along an L-shape, with a James Dawson concrete table and a roomy indoor-outdoor sectional. The best part of the room is the big glass corner doors that open to make the space feel like an outdoor pavilion.

The soft glow of paint on the walls is actually a more affordable form of plaster called Permatone, Appel said.

“I like to come over with a latte and a book. I’m a person who naturally feels like I need to be doing something all of the time. In (the main house) I feel like I always have to be doing something. When I come over here, I can just relax,” said Kohlmeyer, 66.

The Mallinsons’ 4,100-square-foot home has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and two powder bathrooms to accommodate their family of four — 15-year-old Otto and 11-year-old Collette — plus a foreign exchange student, 16-year-old Maria Gisladottir, who is from Iceland.

Theo Mallinson, 48, has always favored modern design, but Michelle, 47, grew up in Maryland in a home filled with Ethan Allen furniture and a traditional Williamsburg influence. After an introduction to modern design, and watching what Evans was building, the Mallinsons lived in two different townhomes that he built before moving into their current home in October 2017. It was in the final month or so of construction when Hurricane Harvey hit, and though nearby streets filled with water, their home was spared.

Evans joked that the first-floor flooring is “poor-man’s Terrazzo; it’s actually the concrete slab with recycled glass bits thrown across the top and worked in. The first floor has modest-size bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a TV space with a couple of desks for the kids to do homework or for Michelle to work from home. Theo has his own office in a small space behind the kitchen.

Evans placed the step-down living room over the garage at the front of the home, so the dining area and kitchen are in the middle, with their own unique configuration. An island runs along the back side of the dining area for serving food buffet style, with another island — a work space — in the kitchen.

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