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French Connection

French Country Home Overlooks A Rolling Green Fairway
By Marsha Canright

The cream colored, two-story French Country-style stone house sits on a quiet green landscape framed in Loblolly and Longleaf pines. A split stone retaining wall accentuates the front entry.

The four-bedroom, five-bath house is situated on a one-acre lot, which opens onto the north side of the High Meadow Ranch Golf Course.

The homeowners originally moved into the house a few years ago, after falling in love with the serene beauty of the golf and equestrian neighborhood. High Meadow sits between Tomball and Magnolia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Houston.

It’s a luxurious home, comfortable, with open, free-flowing spaces,” says custom builder Ted Cummins, who owns Morning Star Builders with wife Yvonne.

Completed in 2012, the 5,000 square-foot house was designed with architect Mark Todd working in close cooperation with one of the homeowners, who said she started the process by sketching the first-floor on a piece of paper. The architect took it from there.

The owners have grown children and one grandchild, and they wanted this home to have sufficient room to comfortably host family members.

“The house has a modern rustic feel,” Cummins says, who chose engineered stone for the exterior and selected European-style shutters to accent the windows.

“The house exterior is a nice complement of brick, stucco and manufactured stone, which doesn’t mildew or collect pollution,” Cummins explains. “Engineered stone also offers greater flexibility.”

There is a lot of interplay between interior and exterior spaces – with a broad, covered patio in the rear housing a full outdoor kitchen and dining area, which overlooks the pool and Jacuzzi.

When you first enter the soaring foyer, you see a chandelier. The fixture is actually attached to an electric wench in the attic so it can be raised or lowered to be cleaned or change bulbs.

Beyond the foyer and open staircase is the expansive first floor living area with exposed beams. A wall of rear windows overlooks the golf course fairway.

Cummins’ favorite space is the dining room, with its dramatic double groin ceiling and where French doors open to a side courtyard with a fountain.

There’s a hidden spotlight, and at night, when you dim the chandelier, the fountain is perfectly lighted, and the dining area is truly warm and inviting, he says.

Other favorite features are the study’s handsome arched brick boveda ceiling – a signature feature of Morning Star, along with the double-sided, cast stone fireplace with a mantel in both the breakfast room and family living area.

The kitchen is a simple, efficient design opening onto a breakfast room. It has professional grade stainless appliances, double ovens, and honed granite counters. The island is topped with an elegant walnut slab.

Upstairs, a large game room opens onto a rear balcony with a sweeping view of the pine-dotted countryside.

The house has two bedrooms on the first floor and two on second floor, all part of a larger master plan.

One of our strategies as a custom builder is to talk with our customers about how this house will fit their needs now and 10 years from now, Cummins says.

It’s not something people always want to think about, but it’s an important conversation when you are planning a home, he explains. How will the house meet the residents’ needs as they age or have an elder come live there with them, or deal with a temporary injury?

Not only does Cummins initiate a conversation about the growing trend of aging in place, Morning Star kickstarts the process by building wider hallways, 36-inch doorways, pocket doors, and stacking closets that can be transformed into an elevator at a later time.

Now in their 15th year of home building, the Cummins family has completed between 50 and 60 custom homes. They focus on building in Magnolia, Spring, Montgomery, Cypress and The Woodlands areas.

For people who are considering building a home, Cummins recommend that they follow the recommendations and list of questions suggested by the National Association of Home Builders, called “How to Select A Contractor,” at their Web site:


Morning Star Builders

Mark Todd

Carol’s Lighting

Sundance Custom Pools

Kitchen Cabinets
Kent Moore

Magnolia Shutters

Pro Build

Ferguson Supply

Stone Work