Karen and Edd Blackwood’s home in Houston has a special sentimental value. It is the house where Karen grew up. But the couple has made their house their own, with changes in both architecture and decorating. The Blackwoods started the transformation when they bought the house from Karen’s parents. They like the location because it is convenient to downtown where they both work. But they wanted to change the house’s details.
“I had been cutting out pictures for eight years,” recalled Karen. “And we put the house together out of this wish book. I cut out appliances and windows that I liked. I cut out pictures of tile and flooring, color, ceiling moldings-all the things I always liked in a house. Houses in the 1950’s never had ceiling molding, and I really wanted that in a house.”
With the help of architect Daniel Barnum, AIA, of Environment Associates, Architects and Consultants, and Wayne Ball of Lone Star Building and Construction Services Inc. the couple removed a small den from the back of the house and added a new family room that is twice as big. “You couldn’t really see mother and dad’s yard because the windows were on the side,” remembers Karen. So a wall of French doors was added across the back.
Above the family room the Blackwoods built a new master bedroom. They redesigned the kitchen, adding European cabinets. The breakfast room and part of the old kitchen were combined to make a formal dining room. Before the renovation, the dining area, was simply one end of the living room. Now it is the center of the house, serving as a transition from old to new. A stairway along one side leads to the master bedroom, and antique Mexican doors open to the family room.
The design makes the house ideal for entertaining. The Blackwoods, in fact, had 13 parties the first year after they completed the renovation. But it is inviting for day-today living, too.
“This is where all my friends come,” says Karen. “We can just send the kids out in the backyard, and the mothers sit here and talk.”
The house’s warm and friendly atmosphere is a result of Karen’s resourcefulness and imagination with furnishings. One family piece – a sofa with canned seat and back was bought by her grandparents in 1920. But Karen purchased many other pieces second hand and had them reupholstered or slipcovered. She found two antique, Texas pine benches at a garage sale.
Karen then filled in with accessories. Inexpensive braided rugs were added, continuing the informal theme. Above an antique bench in the family room hangs a new quilt made by Amish craftswoman in Gonzales, Texas. Anna Karen of Houston stenciled the chair rail in the dining room.
Melanie Denning of Austin made a set of plates and bowls on the dining room sideboard. Featuring cartoonlike designs of animals, the plates are casual and cheerful – like the house. To complete the look, the Blackwoods also commissioned Denning to make a set of tiles for the family room hearth and surround.