Meyerland couple streamlines with move into retirement and city living
Eddie and Dianne Cousins lived all over the world in the early part of their 36 years of marriage as a result of Eddie’s job as a deep-water drilling engineer and consultant in the oil and gas business. While living and working abroad, they acquired a number of mementos from exotic places that reflected their interesting history. Showcasing the Persian carpets, art and sculptures, lamps, furniture and more in their home always seemed the natural thing to do. For three decades, these collections comprised the bulk of the Cousins’ interior design.
For 22 years, they lived in Richmond on five acres that was formerly a horse farm, which the couple bought for the larger property and privacy. They reconfigured it to reflect their own interests and aspirations. Eddie had a workshop where he restored vintage British sports cars and motorcycles; it housed “every tool known to man times 10,” according to his wife. Dianne started a business growing specialty cut flowers on the property as well.
After their three children grew up and moved away, maintaining the property and the business became exhausting and too much work for the new empty-nesters. They knew it was time to downsize and simplify, so the couple decided to execute a drastic and courageous life change: sell everything and start over fresh.
“Our home was overflowing with stuff,” said Dianne, “and even the attic was chock-full. We let our kids go through everything first, and we kept our photo albums, of course, and our china, crystal, our piano, luggage and some clothes. But we literally sold 90 percent of everything we owned — even Eddie’s cars and tools!”
Eddie said it was liberating to let go of those belongings and start with a clean slate. “We got rid of it all in four days and what didn’t sell, we donated to charity.”
Then came the question of what to do next. They considered moving to Panama or Costa Rica, but realized that their happiest times are when they are with their family. They began looking for a small, one-story, three-bedroom home close to their kids. “This choice allows us to travel to a variety of places whenever we want and still enjoy family,” said Dianne
The couple drove around the area, looked online and visited open houses for about six months before they found the home they wanted: a classic mid-century ranch-style home on a corner lot in the heart of Meyerland. Though they admired the basic architecture of the home and its bones, they wanted to renovate. They interviewed several architectural firms, including RD Architecture that Dianne found on Houzz.com.
Eddie and Dianne were impressed with the business plan the firm presented at the very first meeting and felt the personalities of the principals clicked with their own. Eddie, an engineer, spent time with Kathleen Reardon, the architect, discussing structural issues, while Dianne and the designer, Susannah Devine, enjoyed shopping and installing interiors.
The couple wanted an open concept living space where they could entertain in style and bring the outdoors inside. And after years of living amid an eclectic collection of traditional design elements and a variety of mementos, the couple desired a clean, simple contemporary aesthetic with textures and colors adding interest and warmth.
Renovation began after Eddie and Diane chose between the three layout choices presented by the architectural team. Due to the home’s location in a floodplain, the remodel was completed in phases. The first phase was the common living areas; the second, the bedrooms and bathrooms; and the third phase was the outdoor kitchen and garage apartment.
The common areas of the home, including the living and dining rooms, the lounge and the kitchen, were renovated with the open concept design in mind. Walls were removed, a screened-in sunroom was enclosed, floors were leveled and a room divider was even repurposed as an architectural element/floating sculpture.
The entire wall between the backyard pool area and outdoor kitchen was eliminated and replaced with glass bi-fold doors on rollers so the entire wall can be moved out of the way; now the dining and living areas can be seamless with the outdoors.
The kitchen is all about functionality but within the parameters of clean lines and spaces. Every appliance and kitchen tool is out of sight, and no cords or wall plugs are visible — each has a built-in space behind a smooth, sleek cabinet or in a perfectly-positioned drawer. Even the pantry is a pull-out. Organization is the principle both here and in the adjacent laundry room, where everything is well-placed and tucked away. The expansive and multi-leveled, multi-material island is a contemporary statement piece, with massive storage space included underneath.
“We were blown away with the work of our cabinet guy,” said Eddie. “Kenneth Rychlik of KD Cabinets constructed these efficient, inclusive storage spaces with tons of room that are simply beautiful to look at. We both love being in the kitchen now.”
The lounge affords the couple a space to display not only a portion of their art collection, most of which is commissioned, but also their wine collection, their piano and the only remnant from their pre-estate sale — a sculpture that was a cherished gift. Notably, too, in the lounge is the repurposed room divider floating from the ceiling, “The Cloud” that serves as a conversation piece.
The dining room and living room, though stark white with geometric lines and dramatic lighting, are made surprisingly comfortable and inviting with pops of orange and turquoise, comfortable couches and rustic wooden tables. The exposure to the outdoor space, too, lends an invitation to relax and kick back. From any place in the common areas, the pool and manicured landscape beckon enticingly.
The bedrooms and bathrooms are consistent with the contemporary vibe created in phase one. The master bedroom, with its modern, minimalist furnishings and wall of windows overlooking the backyard, provides an easy transition from the common areas into privacy. The wavy Pangu panel, a three-dimensional Chinese wall finish, is the design star of this space. The master bath is impeccably contemporary, too, with floating bamboo cabinets, modern tile selections and luxurious fusion marble.
The color scheme and clean lines from the indoors are replicated in the outdoor kitchen and pool area, allowing a feel of coalescence. Lounge furniture beside the pool, barstools in the outdoor kitchen and comfortable seating around a fire pit invite guests to make themselves at home or allow this couple to relax and enjoy their time alone in their backyard. Conservation grass was installed to provide green space without the aggravation of mowing and the subsequent debris that would inevitably end up in the pool.
This couple decided to maintain the authenticity of the original architectural design found in the home’s mid-century ranch exteriors. The architects replicated the textural lines and accent slots in the exterior brick design into the base color lines and textures of the interior. As well, the exposed rafters of the exterior are duplicated indoors in the raised ceilings. The garage doors were replaced with a more contemporary model, and “The Cloud” does double duty as the exterior gate connecting the driveway to the breezeway.
Eddie and Dianne absolutely love everything about their new style and new home. The result of casting off the old and embracing something completely new and contemporary offered them a new kind of freedom. Now, rather than disjointed and disconnected pieces of former places and things, their home is a symphony of color, line and texture where every element — both indoors and out — is connected in a balanced, pleasing and suitable arrangement.
TOP IMAGE: The floating planes of glass and marble meet the waterfall edge of white quartz and a stainless steel wrapped column.
Text by Cheryl Alexander | Photography by Juliana Franco
Architecture and interiors by RD Architecture, Kathleen Reardon and Susannah Devine Construction by Sky Builders, Henrik Madsen
Category: Featured Homes