Carter and Jana Erwin are the proud owners of this charming 1920s bungalow in the Upper Kirby area of Houston, Texas. Jana is the Co-Founder of NEST Jewelry and NEST Design Group, and Carter is an executive in the oil and gas industry. They bought this home after returning from a two-year stint in Aberdeen, Scotland. Living overseas gave them a new love for a more minimalistic lifestyle. Instead of returning to their 4500 sq. ft. home on 5 acres in the country, they decided to downsize, move into town, and experience the convenience of city life.
When they moved back, Jana was newly pregnant and she knew a remodel was out of the question. She had to find a home that was move-in ready; a task she assumed impossible for any interior designer. However, when she walked in the front door of this charming bungalow she instantly knew it was the one. The architecture boasts the original old wood windows and floors. All it needed was a fresh coat of white paint!
Jana has traveled all around the world and it is important to her that the pieces in her home tell a story. She has been collecting artifacts her entire life and she loves furnishings that have a soul and a meaning. Even her work desk is made from an old table that her Great-Grandfather crafted for her Grandmother.
Her artwork has been carried from Europe as mementos of family vacations. Even the pottery used around her home is from Germany, Israel, Mexico, Scotland, Poland and Greece. The accent pillow on her bed is made from an old chenille bedspread that belonged to her Grandmother.
When you step inside this home you can feel the love that each carefully-selected treasure carries with it. To say this home has great energy is an understatement!
Jana loves finding one-of-a-kind pieces from local artists. She has more art than she can fit on the walls so her environment is constantly changing to accommodate her collection.
She also loves to cook and mix-up one of her famous cocktails while looking out over the pool.
Owning both a jewelry and interior design company comes in handy when it’s time to decorate. The large-scale necklaces and all-natural bead strands make perfect accessories!
You can see the same philosophy for the jewelry and interior business used throughout her home; everything is natural. She believes the energy that is put into an object is important and has placed crystals in nearly every room. Her space is a reflection of who she is and that is how she approaches her design projects with her clients.
When I’m driving from one client’s house to another, I pass so many homes that are in a state of disrepair. Lot values are increasing in the sought after neighborhoods of the inner loop of Houston and many of these old homes are being demolished. I love the character these old structures have collected over the years so I decided I was going to rescue one! When I posted on social media that I had purchased this one-hundred-year-old bungalow my friends thought I had lost my mind. I admit, it was pretty rough but I could see the potential right from the start.
I didn’t want to lose any charm so I kept all of the original wood siding, awnings, window boxes, and even brought the front porch back to its original state. Let’s face it; the best part of this era was the porches so that was a no brainer. I also added a fabulous tile, just to have a little fun.
When you’re doing a flip you continually have to decide what is worth restoring and what needs to be laid to rest. The detached garage easily went into the “ditch” category and I replaced it with a fun “party-coche.” This dual-purpose space allows for parking while also being the perfect party spot.
When I walked through the front door for the first time I was thrilled to see original hardwood floors. They were in pretty good shape so I refinished them in dark ebony to make it more modern. Everything else in the house is light and bright. There is not a single spot that isn’t touched by natural light.
Other than the gorgeous hardwood floors, the rest of the house was basically a gut. It still had all the old knob an tube wiring and the original plumbing. I can tell you that old plumbing does NOT have charm. It had fire hazard written all over it.
The kitchen was large but outdated and had a poor layout. Plus, I wanted to close off the entrance to the master bedroom and add and en suite, walk-in-closet, and bring the washer and dryer inside instead of being out in the garage. The new layout is a major improvement and much more functional for how we live today.
When we began tearing down the walls we discovered…shiplap! I had my heart set on a modern design so I couldn’t leave it throughout the house but I still honored it by creating the vent hood and finishing it with a grey stain. I LOVE this feature.
I wanted the kitchen to be on the cutting edge of design so I added sconce lighting, open shelving, and charcoal grey cabinets. By keeping the countertops a classic white marble this kitchen will stand the test of time.
The powder bath is a throw back to how I imagine it should have looked; classic white subway tile, old pedestal sink from a historical salvage yard, and marble accents. I also removed the closet and opted for open shelving to make the space feel larger.
The master bedroom received an adorable old louvered door on sliding hardware to make good use of space and keep the character going throughout the house.
I kept the finishes in the master bath simple. We needed to add a window to the bath so I found an old window matching the style of the home. The little details give it authenticity. If there was a mixture of “some old” and “some new” it would feel like a remodel. Instead, this home looks freshly updated but you can’t tell where I’ve added or made changes because the bones are still the same.
The final room of the home is a front bedroom/office/sitting room. I installed reclaimed windows in place of the door to bring in more light.
Last but definitely not least, I added French doors going from the breakfast area off the kitchen to the new deck overlooking the huge back yard. Every home needs French doors somewhere. Period.
Now all that is left is for them to pry it out of my fingers so it can go on the market. I have to remind myself that I restored this amazing home to be lived in and loved by someone else. I just can’t keep all of them…but I kind of want to!
We hear from most of our clients that they just don’t know what to do with their bookshelves. To start from scratch can be quite overwhelming so I am going to break it down into three easy steps to make the task manageable and fun!
1. Clear the shelves off completely. The biggest mistake I see is trying to “tweak” shelves that are already finished. People try to just “freshen them up” and it turns out to be a mess. It is a bit time consuming up front but will save time in the long run and give you a much better end result.
2. Gather all books and accessories. It is SO much easier to have more than what you need so that you can be picky. Assess what you already have. It gives a nice personal touch to have items you have collected while traveling, or objects that hold a special memory. Gather all your books and make a quick calculation to see if there are enough to complete the job. It’s no fun to run out of books mid-project. I know this from experience. Now you must be realistic with what you have versus the look you are trying to achieve. If you have gathered inspiration pictures of very sleek and minimally accessorized shelves with shiny white books and gold accessories, but all you have are stacks of paperbacks and some chachkies… you need to get shopping!
3. Place books and accessories in the shelves. Okay friends, this is what we have been training for…YOU CAN DO IT! Here’s some fool proof ideas to get you started:
- A run of books flanked by bookends.
- A stack of books with accessories on top.
- A run of books pushed to one side with a decorative bowl or object to replace the bookend.
- Use family heirlooms and photographs.
Now take your shoes off, get a drink, turn up the music and get to decorating! You’ll have gorgeous, professional looking shelves before you know it.
NEST Designs – Interior Design Firm
Co-founder, Jana Erwin, has been designing interiors her entire life and prior to launching NEST Jewelry she ran a large high end design firm in Houston, Texas. Now she is getting back to her roots. She has teamed up with her former employee and partner-in-crime, Audrey Tehauno, to bring all the things we love about NEST jewelry into your homes and businesses. The philosophy of Nest Designs is to beautifully allow an interior to reflect the client. They never do the same look twice because each job is completely unique and customized for the individual.
NEST Designs offers full service architectural and interior design for projects large and small, near and far, commercial and residential. The design packages are as customized as the interiors they design. Want to do the work and orders yourself and just need a design scheme laid out for you? Perfect! We love to put packages together that include space planning, furniture selections and imagery sheets for overall aesthetics. Maybe the hands off approach is more your style and you need someone who can oversee every detail. We can do that too!
Find our portfolio under the INTERIORS tab.
DESIGN: Cycladic Architecture
One of my favorite things to admire is architecture. Having an interior design background I can’t help but to observe the shapes, colors and textures of a space. The home we stayed in while visiting Mykonos, Greece took my breath away! Cycladic architecture is famous for simple whitewashed adobe with rounded corners and flat roofs.
As with all good design, form follows function. The small window openings and flat roofs are to help protect the homes from the wind. Even the beautiful foliage that grows up the walls serves as an insulation from the hot sun.
Many times development infiltrates these natural paradises and takes away from the overall beauty of the area. That is not the case in Mykonos. The contrast of the bright white buildings against the brown rock and blue Aegean Sea is nothing less than a work of art.
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