Home in Houston’s Memorial Villages has a pickleball court

Jennifer and Derek Angel had outgrown their Briargrove Park home when they found another in nearby Memorial Villages that ticked off all of their boxes. 

Its 1.2-acre lot had enough room for a busy, growing family, outdoor space for play time, low traffic for safety and it had been so well cared for that it only needed cosmetic updates to suit their own taste.

The Angels, now married 16 years, hired interior designer Shannon Crain of Shannon Crain Design, whom they met through a mutual friend. She offered ideas as they walked through the home before the Angels bought it in early 2020, then in mid-March of that year, gave them a proposal for flooring, wallpaper, paint, lighting and furnishings for every room in the home.

Both Jennifer and Derek grew up in the Houston area — he in Baytown and she in Katy — and they met while students at Texas A&M University. They returned to Houston after college, with Derek going to work for his family’s business, Angel Brothers Enterprises, a road and bridge-building company that last year sold to CRH. He’s now the president of its local operating company, Gulf Coast.

Jennifer, a geologist, worked for a decade in the oil and gas business before shifting to teach middle school math. She’s now a stay-home mom.  

The day after Crain’s design presentation, it was announced that Harris County was shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Angels and Crain shifted to Zoom calls and front-porch drop-offs for fabric samples, staying on task with remodeling crews who updated the kitchen and bathrooms along with the rest of the house.

Construction started in March 2020 and finished 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.

One surprise came when Jennifer learned she was pregnant with their fourth child, Hughes, now 1-year-old, the younger brother to Harrison, 9, and Hollis, 7, and daughter Henley, who is 3. That discovery prompted turning one of the boy’s bedrooms into a nursery and making the larger of the kids’ bedrooms into a room for two instead of one.

Work at the Angels’ home included the exterior, painting the once buttery yellow home white, and adding more patio space to the backyard. Back there, they also added a lighted sports court — now primarily used for family games of Pickleball — plus a putting green for Derek and a trampoline and two-story treehouse for the kids. The home already had a covered pavilion with a summer kitchen and seating area and a swimming pool with a spa, installed by prior 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 one made of glass and steel. The entry is finished off with an installation of butterflies by Dallas artist Claire Crowe, installed in a way that makes them look as if they’re flying up a wall into 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 put their Christmas tree each year, has a Segreto gray plaster finish, plush velvet gray sofa and a chair covered in deep eggplant.

On the other side of the foyer is the dining room, with putty-colored grasscloth wallpaper, a new built-in buffet and a new contemporary-style chandelier from Visual Comfort.

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

Crain ordered their Wolf range early enough that they didn’t have trouble getting it, but then it took two years to get new knobs to replace the red ones it came with. Segreto put a new finish on the range hood and on the fireplace in the nearby breakfast room — the space where they eat most of their meals. 

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

In the seating areas, sofas and chairs in light neutrals are amplified with pillows with blue and green and a large piece of art with bold colors. A center wall has both a TV and a fireplace, so one of the seating areas can feel like the perfect spot to watch a ball game and the other side is perfect for a nice chat with friends.

The fireplace surround is made of SegretoStone, a product of the local Segreto decorative finish company. It’s a natural lime-based material that hardens to make surfaces suitable for kitchen and bath counters, tabletops and fireplaces.

Their media room, which almost serves as a family room, got a practical makeover that removed the French doors leading to a motor court — something that seemed like a safety hazard in a house with young children. In its place, they installed built-in cabinets with room for a huge TV for watching movies. Its shelves are stuffed with big glass jars of candy and baskets for snacks and a large popcorn machine in one corner.

Movie posters decorate the walls, and the room’s large sofa and chairs are nearly indestructible.

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

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

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

The home has two powder bathrooms. The upstairs one used to be a laundry room and 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 covered in 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 room for folding clothes. 

The room with the least amount of change is the downstairs study, where they decided to keep the green wall color and add automated window shades. They also dropped electrical outlets to baseboard height, a move that points out the major rewiring job done throughout the house.

Easy-going Derek uses this study nearly every day, even though he still goes to Baytown daily for work. He didn’t have too many requests for this office, other than that it include his favorite things. There are photos of golf and a big picture of basketball greats Larry Bird and Magic Johnson displayed on an easel, and plenty of family photos. 

He works here from a leather-covered desk, and a pair of brown leather chairs fill out the room. Shelves behind the desk highlight his affinity for cigars, though he’s quick to point out that he never smokes in the house.

While they were working on the home, Jennifer learned to trust Crain, leaning on her to maintain the home’s original charm while bringing the whole place up to date.

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

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