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By Jessica Elliott | Photo: by Julie Soefer | October 2, 2018
Houston designer Marie Flanigan creates an effortlessly elegant abode fitting for a young family.
If there were ever a place you’d expect to find a serene respite that reads West Coast, it might not be in the heart of Houston’s inner loop. Yet an unmistakably laid-back serenity takes hold when you step into the Spanish colonial-inspired two-story home belonging to Ally, who owns a graphic design firm, and her husband, Randy, who is the founder of a sustainable energy company.
A visual artist by trade, Ally has a well-trained eye and a modern aesthetic; her husband prizes comfort and livability. Ally knew instantly when she saw the work of Houston interior designer Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors that the designer could seamlessly strike the right balance—and the right mood—in the new home they were looking to build. “We are not modernists,” Ally says. “There are warm, modern touches to our home, but it’s about tranquility and comfort, and ease of life and raising a family, and that’s what we saw in Marie’s work. We saw her ability to flex a lot of different aesthetics and to blend them in a way that didn’t feel eclectic, but authentically us.”
Flanigan honed her skills in commercial architectural firms before launching her interiors company nearly nine years ago. She has since acquired a substantial following (including more than 140,000 Instagram followers) for her style, which blends classic elements with clean-lined furnishings and heavy doses of white. Bright and refreshing, Flanigan’s aesthetic evokes a sense of elevated casualness.
Despite her sophisticated bent, the designer manages to make homes appropriate—and durable enough—for children. Ally and Randy have an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, so they needed interiors that could withstand a tricycle ride or a drink spill or two. “They are a family who truly wanted to experience their home and not worry about being able to enjoy it,” Flanigan says. Yet the intention was for it to feel like a refuge. “That feeling of creating your weekend getaway house as your main house—that’s really what we were after,” Ally says.
They found an expansive, lush lot with mature trees, a rarity in the area. “The lot is one in a million, in the heart of Houston, and looks like it goes forever,” Flanigan says. “It feels like you’re in an oasis in the heart of the city.”
In tribute to the surrounding property, Flanigan focused on indoor-outdoor living. “We were really inspired by the whole California-chic vibe,” she says. “We wanted it to feel effortlessly elegant and for simplicity to reign, but for everything to be focused on the textures, the authentic materials, the beautiful details discovered within the architecture.”
It was Flanigan who suggested the first floor’s honed concrete floors, handcrafted iron cabinetry in the kitchen and the mostly pure-white walls. For the furnishings and art, she blended a few of the couple’s previous pieces with tailored seating in soft hues, and she kept accessories to a minimum. In the formal living room, Mies van der Rohe Exhibition chairs from Modern Classics—re-covered in GH Leather—sit opposite traditional tufted armchairs Ally previously owned, which were re-covered in Robert Allen fabric. The more intimate sunroom, which holds a vibrant indigo Belgian linen Restoration Hardware sectional, also remains uncluttered. “They were very thoughtful in how they wanted each space to live,” Flanigan says.
The deliberate approach culminated in a place where guests want to gather—and stay awhile. “It feels refreshing, full of sunlight and peaceful,” Flanigan says. “It’s so calming because you feel connected to the outdoors. I love that there are wide open spaces that are full of volume, and then there are more compressed, cozy spaces that feel like you can tuck away.”
Ally says collaborating with Flanigan and her team was a dream experience. “They helped define a style for us,” she says. “Their approach was so immersive. They are amazing listeners, amazing collaborators—and they are fun. We laughed a lot. They are people I want in my life for a long time.”
Bentley Custom Homes
Marie Flanigan Interiors
White Oak Studio
Stools in master bedroom
Parker chandeliers in dining room
CURREY & COMPANY
Saxon chandelier in formal living room
DESIGN WITHIN REACH
Bacco chairs in breakfast room
JAMES CRAIG FURNISHINGS
Lee Industries settee in master bedroom
LADCO DESIGN CENTER
Vanguard Furniture Manning side table in master bedroom
Gravel rug in Sand in formal living room
MITCHELL GOLD + BOB WILLIAMS
Drake sofa in formal living room
Petite Cloud modular sectional in indigo brushed Belgian linen in sunroom, Graydon shagreen coffee table in formal living room, Aegean teak dining table and chairs on patio