Have you ever walked into someone else’s home and somehow felt as comfortable as if you were in your own? Houston-based Interior designer Marie Flanigan knows just how to channel that feeling in the classic-meets-contemporary homes she designs for her clients. When we heard that Marie and her husband were renovating and designing a bungalow of their own, we knew it would be the kind of space that would make us want to kick off our shoes and curl right up on her couch. Keep reading for the light and airy details of Marie’s charming home.
How long have you lived here?
We purchased the home in 2012 and spent two years remodeling its structure and designing the spaces within.
Marie with her husband and son at their Houston home.
Renovations are no small feat. What have been some design challenges you’ve faced?
The Houston Heights neighborhood is passionate about the protection of its cultural and architectural history, which is vital to its charm and one of the reasons we fell so in love with our home. That same passion leads to strict zoning ordinances and HOA requirements which had a direct impact on the structural changes we were able to make. In the end, we lifted and moved the home over by 20 feet and raised the entire roofline, which were both massive undertakings, but it was well worth the effort to preserve this home’s charming history.
Hit us with the specs, Marie.
It’s a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom bungalow with a home office. When we purchased the home it was 1300 square feet, but we were able to increase that to 2300 through a selection of structural updates.
How would you describe your interior design style?
I am drawn to the integration of interior and structure and celebrate that union through the use of rich textures, colors, and light. I unite contemporary, traditional, and classic design elements, creating spaces that feel thoughtfully collected over time.
What was the overall direction when designing your space?
We wanted to mix the historic character and details of the home with a fresh and modern style, so we reinvigorated the space with a clean, refreshing color palette. We created family-friendly spaces through the use of highly durable, livable fabrics.
Our overall goal was to marry luxury with livability so that the space feels elegant but cozy and durable. We had to maximize space and functionality (like an ottoman with a huge drawer for toy storage) since we picked a historic home that boasts a smaller footprint.
Do you have a favorite detail or memory of your home?
We discovered that we were expecting our first child during the renovation process, so the transformation of this home is filled with very special memories. I love that the experience entered our lives at such an exciting time for our family and that we were able to transform the spaces within while maintaining a powerful respect for the home’s original structure and charm. Now that our son is a busy 3-year-old, we are constantly thanking our stars that we opted for family-friendly selections, including durable fabrics and pieces that offer up loads of hidden storage for the race cars, blocks, and fire engines that seem to fill our living spaces!
And do you have least favorite element?
Oh gosh, there’s no such thing! I sometimes wish we had more kitchen space, but then again, I’m no Julia Child so what we’ve got is more than likely all we need!
We love all the unexpected vintage pieces in your home. Do you have any tips for shopping vintage?
I love well-crafted pieces that tell an interesting story so we pulled in quite a few antiques, including Oushak rugs, a sculptural folding bamboo and leather campaign chair in our study, and lamps made from 19th-century French water jugs in the master bedroom. The first thing I look for when shopping for all furniture, antiques included, is quality craftsmanship. Regardless of how beautiful a piece might be, if it’s poorly constructed, it’s time to walk away. Inspect the hinges, bolts, and other joints to be sure they’re secure, and check the quality and weight of the materials used.
What about vintage rugs?
When I’m on the hunt for rugs, I look for pieces that are crafted by hand out of wool, silk, jute, or other natural materials that can stand the test of time, and I inspect the weaving and knotting details on the back of the rug. In this case, imperfections are actually a good thing because it’s the fastest way to determine whether the rug was handcrafted or machine made. If the weaving is slightly uneven or not perfectly uniform, you’ve likely found a keeper!
With that being said, finding the right antique is about so much more than knowing how or when it was made. It’s about the memories the piece evokes and the precision details that speak to you. It could be the beauty of a hand carved corbel that reminds you of summers spent at your grandmother’s home, or the texture of handspun pottery that brings a smile to your face; those sensations are what make any antique valuable. Never shy away from investing in pieces that speak to you because that’s how you build a home that tells your story.
Do you have tips for pulling off a mostly neutral palette?
Once you’ve committed to a neutral color palette, get playful with patterns and textures that will bring in depth and dimension. Then focus on a balanced mix of design styles like layering rustic elements with those that are sleek and more refined to create a space that feels refreshing and unexpected.
Are there any more home changes or additions on the horizon?
We’re actually in the middle of finalizing design selections for our garage apartment which will serve as a studio for my team and guest space for visiting family and friends.
If you could describe your home in one word, what would it be?