Conroe Builder Makes Big Dreams Come True
By Katricia Lang | Photos by Kyle Mrosko
Monte Smith thought he was designing and building a magnificent, but run-of-the-mill, Lake Conroe waterfront home. Boy, was he in for a surprise.
When the architectural designer and builder began the project, his clients had a typical budget and house plan in mind. Several upgrades later, the scale and budget had grown and the possibilities were unlimited. Smith was like a kid in a candy store (or a builder in a hardware store). He surveyed the space and location, conferred with his clients, and then he went for the moonshot.
The resulting house is a modern European and Mediterranean-style home, with more in common with the Italian Riviera than other neighboring homes on Lake Conroe. Much of the house’s architecture was inspired by the owner’s travels. The family has spent time in Europe, including Greece and Italy, so the house features European and Italian influences. It’s an oddity in Texas, says Smith, where house designs are more eclectic and mix and match.
The exterior of the house is made of stone and stucco instead of bricks, and sports the trademark arches and red roof tiles of Mediterranean villas. But, instead of vinyl window frames, the homeowners chose aluminum windows, lending a contemporary feel that blends with the classic elements to create a transitional style for the exterior.
The interior capitalizes on the home’s location. Thanks to the U-shaped house plan, the master bedroom, family room, kitchen and dining area, the game room, and the upstairs balcony all feature lakefront views of Lake Conroe.
In most homes, the living room is for sitting pretty. Smith wanted to make the family room a place where the owners and their loved ones could truly live, so he designed an open concept space that blends the kitchen, dining and family rooms. Smith also turned the breakfast nook into an additional dining room, creating another intimate space for meals.
One of the central features of the house is the flooring from Color Interiors, the company responsible for the countertops, floors, showers and patio, as well as the installed limestone plank floor tiles in the entryway, kitchen and dining area. Those in the know will appreciate how labor intensive, and fragile, these limestone tiles can be; generally only about 20 feet can be installed in a single day.
Luke Anglin of Color Interiors says the master bathroom is his favorite room in the house. He describes it as cool, contemporary and clean. The winter frost marble that makes up the floor creeps up the side of the bathtub and provides a seamless design from bathroom door to shower door. "It’s unbelievable. It really is. It's definitely a showpiece," says Anglin.
Another subtle, yet distinctive, design element is the stairwell by Ross Metal Works that flows smoothly up to the second floor. The interlocking ovals of the handrails and design are also forged into the wrought iron front door.
Similar to its architecture, the interior design is made to complement Lake Conroe. Furniture was essential to keeping the flow and unifying the theme for the house, says Smith. So even when designing the plans for the house, he considered furniture placement, relying on the expertise and eye of interior designer and frequent collaborator Sherry Smith of Interiors by Sherry. The result: a unique, luxury home.
Restoration Hardware selected most of the furnishings from the RH modern collection, using graphite, pewter, bronze, and vanilla — traditional hues of transitional style — to balance the Old World Italian exterior and contemporary interior.
Suji Parikh of Restoration Hardware feels an affinity for the family room. "It’s family-centric, very conversational, and really creates the vibe of the home."
But designing and furnishing the home wasn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Unlimited budget does not mean unlimited space. The owners wanted as many bathrooms as bedrooms; in the end fitting seven bedrooms, nine full bathrooms and a housekeeper’s suite into the home.
And they also had big plans for the downstairs game room: a pool table, a card table that seats six, a sectional sofa, and the correct distance for TV watching. Finding circulation space and pathways for family and guests to move around freely was a challenge.
While the interior looks out over the pool and Lake Conroe, the outdoor living area has all the trappings one could hope for in a home this luxurious, including an outdoor kitchen and dining area.
As the old saying goes, Money can’t buy happiness, but it can bring a luxury home to life.
26415 I-45 North, Spring
Interiors by Sherry
6265 Highway 105 West, Conroe
Monte Smith Designs
(House plan design)
Offices in Conroe and Hawaii
Triple-S Steel Suppliers