06/12/2020

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Home & Commercial Expert

This Houston Home Has Some of the Warmest, Most Welcoming Rooms Around

Photo credit: Julie Soefer

From ELLE Decor

A young Houston family, torn between traditional and modern approaches to interior design, recently found their perfect match in Marie Flanigan and Melanie Hamel, the principal and design director, respectively, of Houston-based Marie Flanigan Interiors, each of whom has a knack for marrying the new and the old.

“My style embodies the new traditional, which celebrates a modern take on classic style,” Flanigan says. “I love to layer different textures and styles to make a home feel collected and curated.”

Photo credit: Julie Soefer
Photo credit: Julie Soefer

The designers put an emphasis on filling the home with intimate spaces while also making sure that it could accommodate entertaining large groups of people. Those spaces were built by the architect Reagan Miller of Reagan & André, who died tragically in a plane crash in 2019 after having started this project.

“We really leaned into the architectural design and wanted to create details that accented what the architect had started,” Flanigan says. “As you enter the home, you travel through the entertaining spaces, and each space has multiple vignettes to accommodate large groups.”

The Houston home is featured in Flanigan’s new book The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors, published last month. Here, Flanigan and Hamel discuss the project and where they developed their sense of style.

ELLE Decor: When did you first become interested in design?

Marie Flanigan: Growing up, I took frequent trips to local galleries with my father, which sparked and cultivated my love for art. I grew up knowing that I wanted to be an artist, and my dream materialized in an unexpected way when I began studying architecture. After working for several years at various firms, I took a journey into interior design because of my desire to work holistically on projects. I wanted to continue the vision after the architectural envelope was complete, all the way down to the finest details.

ED: What were the clients looking for in this house?

Melanie Hamel: The clients had been dreaming of this home as a respite for their family, as well as an expansive entertaining space. We wanted to give them intimacy, but also allow them to transform the home into an open and welcoming gathering place. We aimed to create moments of delight and interest for guests to discover—we did this through textures and fabrics, like interesting applications of suede on the walls, intricate plasterwork, and sleek wood paneling.

MF: I love Houston because it’s a melting pot of different cultures, and the same holds true for our clients. These clients are a multicultural family who have different points of view stylistically—one member leans more traditional, while another leans more contemporary. We married these two styles in every element of the home through special architectural details and furnishings. My personal favorite is the fixture that hangs in the living room—we connected two living areas under one single continuous custom chandelier.

Photo credit: Julie Soefer
Photo credit: Julie Soefer

ED: How did you decide which colors to use and where to use them?

MH: The home has such expansive windows that the greens of nature are on full display everywhere. Incorporating blue and white captured the tones of water and the sky.

MF: I have always been drawn to hues found in nature, so those colors naturally infuse their way into my designs. The balance of softer, more subdued colors with pops of jewel tones leads to a timeless, soothing palette.

ED: The home does have gorgeous light.

MF: Light influences the experience in this home, so I was careful to treat the windows like art—not blocking them with curtains but instead using window treatments as a frame. We also hung the curtains in a really unique way, where it looks as if they’re coming out of the ceiling to blend seamlessly with the interior.

MH: Using velvet and textured fabrics allows the colors to retain their richness, even in full sunlight. These materials, as well as the plaster walls, interact with the natural light to make the space come alive. We wanted to maintain the views by keeping the pieces in front of the windows sculptural and open.

Photo credit: Julie Soefer
Photo credit: Julie Soefer

ED: Marie, you’ve just published a new book—what do you want the reader to take away from it?

MF: This book is my master class on how I design. It reveals how I approach my projects and covers the nine elements that define my work, including architecture, illumination, composition—and “surprise.” The reader will learn about my creative process and how to blend finishes and furniture to construct an approachable elegance. At the end of the day, I want everyone who reads it to walk away with a tactile understanding of how to create a beautiful home.

ED: What’s next for you?

MF: I am so excited to debut my lighting collection with Circa Lighting and Visual Comfort, available to order in January! The collection celebrates timeworn and organic materials juxtaposed with contemporary, refined details. The fixtures have traditional silhouettes that are reinvented in a refreshing new context.

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