Take a tour of Houston’s most beautiful homes of 2021

Judith Zeng

As the coronavirus dragged into a second year, our homes mattered more than ever. They shifted from be places where we hunkered down to avoid a virus and stared into video cameras and at computer screens to work and attend school, to being places where we found our new normal.

We built wine rooms and cocktail lounges to relax and gather in small groups. We installed color and pattern to fight boredom. We started growing plants — indoors and outdoors — to stay connected to nature, and improved our patios, too.

The 2021 list of the city’s most beautiful homes, compiled from homes I’ve visited and written about, shows all of these trends and more. They might just inspire you to try something new in your own home in 2022.

Creating eclectic style

Design team: interior designer Genna Weidner and building designer Deborah Hasou of Weidner Hasou & Co., architect Travis Mattingly of Architectural Solutions and builder Andy Abercrombie of Abercrombie Builders

Design team: interior designer Genna Weidner and building designer Deborah Hasou of Weidner Hasou & Co., architect Travis Mattingly of Architectural Solutions and builder Andy Abercrombie of Abercrombie Builders

Kerry Kirk

As Bill Swenson approached retirement, he liked the idea of starting from scratch and building a house that was exactly what he wanted, down to every last detail. He and wife Sandy use this front room as their TV room; it’s paneled with planks of bleached mahogany wood on two walls and the ceiling.

Bill Swenson became an excellent shopper. He found the dining room’s French midcentury buffet on a trip to Austin and the vintage Murano lamps online. Read the original story here. 

Grand build

Design team: interior designer Talbot Cooley Interiors, architect Ryan Gordon of Gordon Partners Design and builder Brian Thompson of Thompson Custom Homes.

Design team: interior designer Talbot Cooley Interiors, architect Ryan Gordon of Gordon Partners Design and builder Brian Thompson of Thompson Custom Homes.

Kerry Kirk

When James and Michelle Mouton built their Memorial home, they wanted a dining room that could host big dinner parties that still could feel intimate. Designer Talbot Cooley designed a square table that can seat 12, then added custom-made chairs, a stunning chandelier, colorful art and a grand piano.

The Moutons also built a bar on one side of the living room, clad in slabs of marble with great lighting and stylish barstools. Read the original story here. 

Health-focused construction

Design team: Laura Britt of Britt Design Group, Austin, and studioMET Architects

Design team: Laura Britt of Britt Design Group, Austin, and studioMET Architects

Jack Thompson

Dr. Maria Cabanillas focuses on thyroid cancer in her job as an oncologist-endocrinologist in the Texas Medical Center. Her partner Kris Griffith is a health administrator there, too. So when their house near the med center was falling apart, it was an opportunity to build new, and with materials that are better for them and for the environment. They created a modern home with eco-friendly finishes and solar panels, plus a large backyard for gardening and entertaining. Read the original story here. 

Modern man

Design team: He did it himself

Design team: He did it himself

Boca do Lobo

Houston tech entrepreneur Fiyyaz Pirani went all out for his new penthouse at The Mond high-rise in the Museum District. His dining room is filled with ultra-modern luxury furnishings by Boca do Lobo and contemporary art that he purchased all over the world. Read the original story here. 

Ultimate luxury

Design team: Josh Weisman’s Construction Concepts, architect Isaac Levy and interior designer LeTricia Wilbanks of The WM

Design team: Josh Weisman’s Construction Concepts, architect Isaac Levy and interior designer LeTricia Wilbanks of The WM

Michael Hunter

With baby No. 2 on the way, builder Josh Weisman and his wife Trisha built this very contemporary home on an elevated lot in Braes Heights. Their primary bathroom evokes a luxury hotel experience. Read the original story here.

Embracing art

Design team: Jana Erwin and Audrey Tejauno of Nest Design Group and Garrett Custom Homes

Design team: Jana Erwin and Audrey Tejauno of Nest Design Group and Garrett Custom Homes

Julie Soefer

More homeowners are purchasing original art to express their taste and style and to enhance their surroundings. When Amy Rozell purchased an existing house in River Oaks, she set out on an extensive renovation project that included an art-driven mural for her dining room. Read the original story here. 

Maximalism is back

Design team: Cindy Witmer Designs

Design team: Cindy Witmer Designs

Kerry Kirk

Todd and Brenda Huskin wanted their home to be “an experience” for visitors. Brenda’s an avowed maximalist who loves the style of renowned designer Miles Redd. When she contacted Houston interior designer Cindy Witmer, she challenged even her love of pattern and color. The renovated their entire home, including this family room that also serves as a work-from-home space for Todd.

The Huskinsons turned one unused bedroom into a pool room, with lively wallpaper, rattan furniture and art with a tropical theme. Read the original story here. 

Reinventing rooms

Design team: Lindsey Herod Interiors

Design team: Lindsey Herod Interiors

Michael Hunter

As more of us worked from home more and went out for fun less, we created our own places to relax. Nick and Claire Petree didn’t use their breakfast nook for eating, so they made it a place where they could enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, iced tea in the afternoon or a craft cocktail or glass of wine in the evening. Their designer, Lindsey Herod, created cabinets along an outside wall, including a wallpaper treatment with shelves for a barlike look. Read the original story here. 

Something for everyone

Design team: Rainey Richardson Interiors and Bruce Winfrey of Winfrey Design Build

Design team: Rainey Richardson Interiors and Bruce Winfrey of Winfrey Design Build

Kenny Braun

April and Victor Palafox’s blended family includes six children — with two sets of twins — of high school and college age. After they married they built a home in Tanglewood with plenty of room for the kids and their friends, but with some things for them, too. For example, the beautiful dining room that shows off April’s sense of style and Victor’s love of art. The bar and wine wall are nice, too. Read the original story here. 

Getting away

Design team: Stacee Lynn Bell of Our Barndominium Life

Design team: Stacee Lynn Bell of Our Barndominium Life

Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

In the past couple of years, plenty of Houston area residents have either left the city for country life, or built a second home in a rural area where they could escape from the rat race once in a while. Stacee Lynn and Oliver Bell did just that while building a business creating and selling plans for “barndominium” homes. This branch of the alternative housing craze creates housing with less time and less cost using steel frame buildings and metal siding. Read the original story here. 

From glum to glam

Design team: Missy Stewart Designs

Design team: Missy Stewart Designs

Gracie Henley

Boring kitchens from the 1980s and ’90s were reinvented all over the area — including in the Seabrook home of Jessica and Brett Callier — taking dark cabinets, ho-hum islands and overhead lighting to a new level. What’s hot right now is dazzling chandeliers and pendants over marble or quartzite-covered islands, white cabinets and a more minimalist aesthetic. Island seating is important, as it has become a key place for families to dine. What used to be the Calliers’ little used dining room was reinvented as a whiskey bar. too. Read the original story here. 

Historic preservation

Design team: interior designer Anne Breux

Design team: interior designer Anne Breux

Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

When Linda and John Thomas’ historic house in River Oaks suffered significant damage in a fire, they could have used it as an opportunity to demolish and start over. Designed by architect Hermon Lloyd — one of the designers of the Astrodome — and built in 1936, the structure was only the second modern home in Houston and at 2,600-square-feet is modest by River Oaks standards. The Thomases wanted to restore it, and went the extra mile to keep it the way it was when it was built decades ago. Read the original story here. 

The ‘big enough’ home

Design team: Lauren Ramirez Interiors

Design team: Lauren Ramirez Interiors

Molly Culver Photography

Carolyn and Greg Calhoun were an East Coast couple used to brownstones and Craftsman style homes, so what felt comfortable and familiar to them when they moved to the Houston Heights was a house with just enough space and outdoor patios for al fresco dining and healthy outdoor play for their daughters. Read the original story here.

Updating the dated

Design team: Karen Davis of Marker Girl

Design team: Karen Davis of Marker Girl

Richard Davis Photography, Photographer

Erin and Aaron Sorrell moved their family here from Alaska, purchasing a home they saw online and navigating renovations with the help of a local contractor and interior designer. They shifted to a mix of standard cabinets with some floating shelves and lightened up everything with paint. Their island got a little bit of a makeover, too, giving the whole space a fresh, updated look. Read the original story here.

Starting over

Design team: Rainey Richardson Interiors

Design team: Rainey Richardson Interiors

French Blue Photography

Paula Hale’s husband knew he was dying of cancer, so before he passed, he insisted on some new furnishings and remodeling that would help his wife and three daughters feel like their dad had a hand in helping them move forward without him. His selfless effort included several rooms in the home, including the primary bedroom suite and this very glam bathroom. Read the original story here. 

Dramatic transformation

Design team: Michele Merz of MMI Design

Design team: Michele Merz of MMI Design

Kerry Kirk

Liz and Mo Alis’ Memorial Park home didn’t suit their style. They wanted to reinvent it with a fresher, younger take on interior design — a little traditional and a little contemporary, a little rustic and a little refined all at the same time. When it was finished, it felt like one of the most beautiful homes remodeled in the city this year. Read the original story here. 

Modern, country style

Design team: Heritage Construction Services and Lauren Grumbles Interior Design

Design team: Heritage Construction Services and Lauren Grumbles Interior Design

Laurie Perez

Mishann Childers was grieving the loss of her husband and trying to hold their older home together. Every time she turned around, something was broken. One day she decided to start over and built a new home — a touch of modern out in the country — with plenty of room for her grown children to visit with their friends. Read the original story here. 

Full-home renovation

Design team: Talena Gulash of Interior Design by Talena

Design team: Talena Gulash of Interior Design by Talena

Shan Cathey / Catty Visions Photography

In a prior home, Sharon Fritts Zeller and Rob Zeller tried to remodel piecemeal, never quite getting all of the way through. So when they relocated to Seabrook Island to be near children and grandchildren they wanted to get it all done at once. They updated everything in transitional style with new cabinets, counters, tile and lighting in the kitchen and four bathrooms. Read the original story here. 

Room with a view

Design team: Lynne T. Jones Interior Design

Design team: Lynne T. Jones Interior Design

SpaceCrafting, Spacecrafting Photography

Sugar Land residents Jeff and Jeanne Megna were getting ready for retirement so they bought a vacation home in their home state of Minnesota. It needed to be completely redone and expanded and they did it with lakeside flair with light neutrals and bold strokes of blue and green. Read the original story here. 

Work and play at home

Design team: Brooks Construction and Amy Vonderau Interiors

Design team: Brooks Construction and Amy Vonderau Interiors

Nick Cade Productions

Kristy and Ron Crabtree couldn’t find a new home they liked and lots for sale would have taken them too far out of town. So a massive remodeling project made their Katy home unrecognizable in before-and-after photos. Gone are walls that gave it a choppy footprint and now their kitchen is super functional with a double island. And there’s a whole new pavilion in their outdoor with a full kitchen and dining and seating areas that look out to their pool, garden and basketball court. Read the original story here. 

Adding personality, style

Design team: Lauren Haskett Fine Design

Design team: Lauren Haskett Fine Design

Jack Thompson

It was time for dentist Rita Cammarata to bring her mother into the home she shared with longtime partner Dottie Maggio. They looked around their Southgate neighborhood and were wowed by a new spec home. They asked interior designer Lauren Haskett to help them take it from a big white box to something with more color, personality and style. In this office, black walls make the orange artwork pop. Read the original story here. 

Kitchen perfection

Design team: Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

Design team: Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

Michael Hart

Tina Arias Peterman and Mitja Peterman were tired of their cramped West University kitchen with no place to prep their meals. Interior designer Pamela O’Brien helped them reinvent the kitchen, a small breakfast area and pantry in a way that completely changed the way they live. Read the original story here. 

Over the top

Design team: Staci Henderson did it herself

Design team: Staci Henderson did it herself

Luis Urdaneta / Next Listing

There’s nothing understated about influencer Staci Henderson or her wardrobe and home. It’s full of leopard print, bold wallpaper, strong colors and vibrant art that match her full-tilt personality. In the past she’s always decorated her home the way she thought others expected. As she approached her 50th birthday, the Houston woman wanted to cut loose and have fun. Read the original story.

Bring on the blue

Design team: Carla Aston of Aston Design Studio and Shaun Bain of CA Design Build

Design team: Carla Aston of Aston Design Studio and Shaun Bain of CA Design Build

Colleen Scott Photography

There’s nothing sad about the blues in the kitchen of Lorena and Terry Kubera. Blue had a banner year in 2021, appearing throughout homes, and especially in kitchens, where it showed up on islands — paired with white cabinets on the perimeter — and sometimes in backsplash tile. Read the original story here. 

Closer to home

Design team: Laura Manchee Designs

Design team: Laura Manchee Designs

French Blue Photography

The coronavirus pandemic put a new twist on getaways, prompting many Houstonians to pick a place for a vacation home an hour or so away — close enough that the kids won’t complain about the car ride. John and Katherine Palmer bought a place in the Palisade Palm high-rise and asked their interior designer, Laura Manchee, to help give it comfortable, beachy decor. Read the original story here.

A fresh facelift

Design team: Yesely Love of Canaima Design

Design team: Yesely Love of Canaima Design

Samantha Sanchez

When Beth and Raymond Walker found themselves at home all day during the pandemic, they knew they’d overlooked home updates for too long. It was time for a kitchen facelift, and interior designer Yesely Love helped them stay on budget. Read the original story here.

After flooding, a fresh start (pictured above as main display)

Design team: Claudia Soroka of CBS Designs and On Point Custom Homes

Design team: Claudia Soroka of CBS Designs and On Point Custom Homes

Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

The Meyerland home of Shelly and Steve Strauss flooded in Hurricane Harvey and the couple decided to start over — from scratch. They designed a very modern home to go along with the modern interiors they already loved. Read the original story here. 

Blended style

Design team: Julie Shannon Designs

Design team: Julie Shannon Designs

Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Dr. Mike and Bethany McCann met because both of their families were avid sailors, spending summers in Kemah for years. Eventually they married and blended their family, and Mike’s waterfront vacation home got a major makeover and became theirs. Read the original story here. 

One busy house

Design team: Marie Flanigan Interiors, architect Kelly Cusimano and Stetzer Builders

Design team: Marie Flanigan Interiors, architect Kelly Cusimano and Stetzer Builders

Julie Soefer

Scott and Renee Rice were ready for a bigger house for their busy family of six. Their request was that it should be nice and comfortable, but able to take the wear and tear of four young children. They shifted into transitional style, an increasingly popular choice. Their living room has a coffered ceiling and large windows with a view to the backyard. Read the original story here.

Suburban style

Design team: April Littmann of Neighbor Interiors and Perry Homes

Design team: April Littmann of Neighbor Interiors and Perry Homes

Colleen Scott Photography

Teresa Welch moved from Maryland to the Houston area for a fresh start and to launch a new business, an Amazon delivery-service partner. She came with her two children and in time, her ex-husband came to be near his children, then her mother and sister moved here, too. She moved into a new-build home in Fulshear, hiring April Littmann to help her with choices and upgrade her furniture and lighting. One of her favorite things is her dining room, with deep purple accents, including velvet chairs. Read the original story here. 

Rural Texas-style

Design team: Sarah Eilers of Lucas Eilers Design Associates

Design team: Sarah Eilers of Lucas Eilers Design Associates

Stephen Karlisch

The trip to Tom and Candy Knudsons’ vacation home in Santa Fe, N.M., had become too much. So they bought a house in the closer-to-home Boot Ranch golf community in Fredericksburg. Sarah Eilers, who’d helped them with their River Oaks home, helped with selections, and worked in existing pieces, too. Read the original story here. 

The garage palace

Design team: Victoria Sheffield Interior & Exterior Design and Farrell’s ReCraft Construction Services

Design team: Victoria Sheffield Interior & Exterior Design and Farrell’s ReCraft Construction Services

Sonya Sellers

Contractor Brent Farrell finally started a big renovation of his own home in West U and has plenty of cool rooms inside, but he finished out what might have been the best garage project of the year. He turned his two-car garage into a two-tiered building with three stalls across for his classic car collection. Read the original story here. 

Penthouse chic

Design team: Julie Dodson of Dodson Interiors

Design team: Julie Dodson of Dodson Interiors

Julie Soefer

After her divorce, Dr. Christi Pramudji, one of the city’s top urologists and urogynecologists, left behind a house in Memorial and now calls a Post Oak high rise home. She leases the two-story penthouse and asked interior designer Julie Dodson to fill it with comfortable luxury. Read the original story here. 

Grown-up entertaining

Design team: Mary Patton Design and Scott Schindler of SRS Contracting

Design team: Mary Patton Design and Scott Schindler of SRS Contracting

Molly Culver

Blaire and Scott Hocking liked their Spring Valley home, but they wanted a place where they could entertain friends. In this sitting room, they can enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail with friends. Leather swivels and lacquered blue walls join draperies in black cactus toile for a style that’s distinctly Texan. Read the original story here.

Location, location, location

Design team: Nancy Charbonneau of Charbonneau Interiors and Bill Hughes Inc.

Design team: Nancy Charbonneau of Charbonneau Interiors and Bill Hughes Inc.

French Blue Photography

Nancy and Al Wagner already lived in Carlton Woods in The Woodlands but they longed to be in a home on the golf course. They got their wish, then spent time updating the Mediterranean-style home to their own taste. Read the original story here.

A guest house and a garden

Design team: Natalye Appel and Stephanie Millet of Natalye Appel + Associates Architects and Courtney Blair of Tokerud+Co Interior Design

Design team: Natalye Appel and Stephanie Millet of Natalye Appel + Associates Architects and Courtney Blair of Tokerud+Co Interior Design

Claudia Casbarian / Julie Soefer Photography

Katherine Kohlmeyer loved her house but wanted more outdoor space, so she bought the home next door and replaced it with a guest house, then using both backyards for a swimming pool and great gardens. Kohlmeyer retired in March and in recent years took up gardening. Part of the complex includes a front-of-the-lot greenhouse. Read the original story here.

Barndominium bonanza

Design team: Cindy Aplanalp and Valerie Mikel of Chairma Design and Morningstar Builders

Design team: Cindy Aplanalp and Valerie Mikel of Chairma Design and Morningstar Builders

Analicia Hermann

Kathy and David Ambrose headed for Hockley and created a barndominium complex includes a main house and two guest houses with 13 beds between them. They also have a pickleball court, fishing pond and shed and a zipline for their many grandchildren. On Sundays the host house-church services and have been known to loan their home for parties and weddings. Here’s a photo of the playroom for their 10 grands, each of whom is featured in a bear-cub rendering — the Ambroses are Baylor grads! — on a back wall.

For the Ambroses’ dining room, the Chairma team came up with an ingenious idea: make a chandelier out of a canoe and crab traps. Read the original story here.

Hello, sunshine

Design team: Katie Davis Design, Cate Black of RISE Architecture and Design and Seaside Construction

Design team: Katie Davis Design, Cate Black of RISE Architecture and Design and Seaside Construction

Kerry Kirk Photography

Trisha and Eric English built a second home on Galveston Island, almost as far west as the San Luis Pass. This open concept great room has space for living, dining and prep work in the kitchen and it’s the room Eric calls “the grownup place” because they love to take friends down for relaxing weekends. Read the original story here.

It’s their turn

Design team: They did it themselves.

Design team: They did it themselves.

Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

For their newest home, Chuck and Cindy Bider didn’t have to think about accommodating their kids or kids’ friends. This house was meant just for them. They built it during the pandemic in what might be record time, and found supply-chain work-arounds in having furniture custom made locally. Read the original story here.

A dream fulfilled

Design team: They did it themselves.

Design team: They did it themselves.

Michael Wyke / Contributor

Houston real estate broker Bill Baldwin dreamed that someday he’d be back on Sunset Lake in Huntsville, a place filled with childhood memories. He found a home for sale and bought it last year, then set out on a massive remodeling project. He and partner Fady Armanious recently finished it. Read the original story here.

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