Home in Houston’s Memorial Villages has a pickleball court

Jennifer and Derek Angel had outgrown their home in Briargrove Park when they found another home in nearby Memorial Villages that met all their expectations.

The three-acre site had enough room for a busy growing family, outdoor space for play, low traffic for safety, and was so well cared for that it needed only cosmetic updates to suit their own tastes.

The Angels, now married for 16 years, hired interior designer Shannon Crain of Shannon Crain Design, whom they met through a mutual friend. She came up with ideas as they walked through the house before the Angels bought it in early 2020, and in mid-March of that year, she proposed flooring, wallpaper, paint, lighting, and furniture for every room in the house.

Both Jennifer and Derek grew up in the Houston area — he in Baytown and she in Katy — and they met while attending Texas A&M University. After college, they returned to Houston, where Derek went to work for his family business, Angel Brothers Enterprises, a road and bridge construction company that was sold to CRH last year. He is now the president of the local operating company, Gulf Coast.

A geologist, Jennifer worked in the oil and gas industry for ten years before switching to math in high school. She is now a stay-at-home mom.

The day after Crain’s draft presentation, it was announced that Harris County would close to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Angels and Crain switched to Zoom calls and porch drop-offs for fabric samples, and kept busy with remodeling crews updating the kitchen and bathrooms along with the rest of the house.

Construction began in March 2020 and ended in the fall, with the family moving in October 2020. They were early enough in the pandemic to avoid supply chain issues that cropped up a little later.

A surprise came when Jennifer learned she was pregnant with their fourth child, Hughes, now 1 year old, the younger brother of Harrison, 9, and Hollis, 7, and daughter Henley, who is 3. turning the boys’ bedrooms into a kids’ room and turning the largest of the kids’ rooms into a room for two instead of one.

Work at the Angels’ home included the exterior, painting the once-butter-yellow home white and adding more patio space to the backyard. There they also added a lighted sports field – now mainly used for family games of Pickleball – plus a putting green for Derek and a trampoline and two-story tree house for the kids. The house already had a covered pavilion with a summer kitchen and sitting area and a swimming pool with spa, built by previous owners.

Much of the home’s first floor is covered in hardwood, but Jennifer wanted the foyer to feel more formal, so they installed squares of gray and beige marble and replaced a wood door with a glass and steel door. The entry is rounded off with an installation of butterflies by Dallas artist Claire Crowe, installed to appear as if they are flying up a wall in the home’s interior.

Two other front-of-house rooms are the dining room and a piano room, where Harrison and Hollis practice music. The piano room, where they set up their Christmas tree each year, has a Segreto gray plaster finish, soft velvet gray sofa and chair covered in deep eggplant.

Across the foyer is the dining room, with putty-colored grasscloth wallpaper, a new built-in buffet, and a new Visual Comfort contemporary chandelier.

The kitchen got a partial makeover that increased the size of the island and placed a large Wolf range on the wall between the kitchen and living room, where a huge fish tank had been installed by a previous owner. The island is now twice the size of its original size and without a hob, the surface becomes a more functional workspace.

Crain ordered their Wolf range early enough that they had no trouble getting it, but then it took them two years to get new buds to replace the red ones it came with. Segreto has given a new finish to the hood and fireplace in the nearby breakfast room, the area where they eat most of their meals.

Their large living room has two sitting areas and a round table that doubles as a game table, where the family can play cards or games.

In the seating areas, sofas and chairs in light neutrals are enhanced with blue and green cushions and a large piece of bold color artwork. A center wall has both a TV and a fireplace, so one of the sitting areas can be the perfect place to watch a ball game and the other side is perfect for a cozy chat with friends.

The surround of the fireplace is made of SegretoStone, a product of the local decorative finishing company Segreto. It is a natural lime-based material that cures to make surfaces suitable for kitchen and bath worktops, table tops and fireplaces.

Their media room, which almost doubles as a family room, got a hands-on makeover that involved removing the French doors leading to a motor court—something that seemed like a safety hazard in a home with young children. Instead, they installed built-in closets with room for a huge TV to watch movies. The shelves are full of large glass jars of candy and baskets for snacks, and in one corner is a large popcorn machine.

Movie posters adorn the walls and the large sofa and chairs in the room are almost indestructible.

This fun room—not to mention all its snacks—guarantees that their kids’ friends will want to come, and the Angels recognize that the doorbell starts ringing after school at about 3:30 a.m., when everyone comes to play.

Another room revolves around the children and their playtime: former attic/storage space that they finished off to serve as a bunk bed and playroom. Four beds with blue and white bedding are ready for guests, and the ceiling wallpaper represents the night sky, with a deep blue backdrop and twinkling stars.

When Crain saw this attic space, she immediately envisioned a bunk room, and Jennifer agreed.

The house has two powder bathrooms. Formerly a laundry room, the upstairs was finished with black cabinets and wallpaper with clouds on the walls and ceiling – a nod to the night sky in the nearby bunk room.

The downstairs powder bath is as pretty as a picture, with Thibaut metallic silver wallpaper topped with white blossoms and a pair of lotus-shaped sconces (Visual Comfort’s Alberto wall sconces) on each side of a gold-framed mirror.

Upstairs space that had been a study was split between creating a closet for the room the older two boys now share and creating a new laundry room with two washers and dryers and plenty of space for folding clothes.

The room with the least change is the downstairs den, where they decided to keep the green wall color and add automated blinds. They’ve also dropped baseboard-level outlets, a move that hints at major rewiring done throughout the house.

The easy-going Derek uses this study almost every day, even though he still goes to Baytown every day for work. He didn’t have too many requests for this office, other than it being his favorite things. There are photos of golf and a large photo of basketball greats Larry Bird and Magic Johnson on an easel, and plenty of family photos.

Here he works at a leather-covered desk and a couple of brown leather chairs fill the room. Shelves behind the desk emphasize his affinity for cigars, though he is quick to point out that he never smokes in the house.

While they were working on the house, Jennifer Crain learned to trust and rely on her to keep the house’s original charm while keeping the entire property up-to-date.

The Angels’ previous home was new construction, and that was something Jennifer didn’t want to go through again. This time they found a new home and made it their dream home inside and out.

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