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Creative Solutions

Architects Spotlight Award-Winning Works In Home Tour Scheduled For This Month
By Barbara Canetti • Photography by Ben Hill

This year’s AIA Houston Home Tour covers a wide range of houses – both renovations and new construction. But the underlying theme for the tour centers around the participating architects’ creativity, harnessed to showcase each home’s uniqueness – accomplished, more often than not, on a limited budget.

Architect Walter Murphy of Murphy Mears Architects has created a new home for a couple in an established neighborhood, which is undergoing big changes in architecture. The design and materials used on the house at 2235 Goldsmith combines the brick, stucco and horizontal Hardie planks that are repeated in other nearby homes.

“We didn’t want to be too bold or domineering in the neighborhood, so we made the skin of the building to complement the area,” says Murphy. The owners, who have lived on the property for a decade, tore down their old traditional cottage to rebuild because they love their neighborhood and wanted to stay there.

Murphy says the design of the house relied a lot on the sun: situating windows and doors to capture as much natural light as possible. To minimize the effects of the sun, however, steel trellises were cantilevered over the large glass areas, and vines encouraged to grow through them, cutting down on the harsh sun. Additionally, electronically controlled shades hidden in the ceiling provide more shielding from the heat and light.

The two-story, 3,300-square-foot house with four bedrooms, a family room, second level, and the combination living room/dining room/kitchen and a study downstairs, covers almost every inch of the inner city lot. A large parking area adjoins the front of the house adjacent to the garage. And Murphy incorporated a large green space on the property — a courtyard with a 20-foot-long gurgling water reflection pond.

“The pond seems to fuse the living spaces with the garden, and the soft noise of the water is very soothing,” he says. Facing the courtyard is a summer kitchen and grilling space, along with an outdoor shower and covered lounge area.

The interior color is off-white in every room. Murphy explains the homeowner’s art and book collection adds the colorful punches to the rooms.

And, he says, he used a variety of teal blues to line the

back of the large bookcases, which add a spot of personality

to the rooms. The floors are all stained concrete in shades of blue and gray.

The room divider is a wood box with an open center. The massive object, which serves as a storage area as well as buffet in the dining room, is made of the same wood as the kitchen cabinets but with a black steel countertop in the center that is durable and adds texture to the room.

“This piece was a bit controversial because of its size, but once the owners saw a mock-up of it, they changed their mind. It serves to separate the living room from the dining room, but still allows for a good flow from room to room,” he says.

Murphy noted “the design of the house is lean and crisp” and combines the owners desire for comfortable living and outdoor space in a limited space.

Several miles away and also part of the home tour, Michael Morrow, partner in KinneyMorrow Architecture, not only renovated a 1880s bungalow, but he also moved it from one location in the Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District neighborhood to its present spot at 2219 Kane Street. The little white house, encompassing a mere 750 square feet not including the two porches, now serves as Morrow’s office. It easily could be transformed back to residential with the removal of the four desks.

“This location on Kane Street is actually the principal entrance to this neighborhood,” says Morrow, who has lived in the Sixth Ward for 10 years and rehabilitated several award-winning houses in the area. This home tour house received the 2015 Houston AIA Design Award for Renovation/Restoration and 2015 Houston AIA Design Award for Interior Architecture.

The house — consisting of two rooms, a “grand” foyer, a full bath and a small kitchenette with a Murphy bed – is decorated all in white and espresso/black. The walls are the original 9-inch shiplap wood, painted although nail heads and other neat characteristics are still evident. The floors are original to the house — red pine but stained a rich, dark color, keeping with the neutral two-tone decorations. Color inside the building comes from the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the middle room, filled with interesting looking books and reading materials.

All the woodwork and the front door are original to the house, just cleaned up and reclaimed. The window panes and door frames are painted white, the same as the walls. The high ceiling makes for good acoustics, and a pleasant work environment.

But the windows are single-paned and not energy efficient; the wavy glass is reminiscent of the house’s history. To increase the building’s efficiency, however, the exterior walls were removed to install insulation and a vapor barrier.

In the center of the house — the darkest area — Morrow carved out a huge skylight, giving the building a glow of natural light. In fact, because of all the windows and the skylight, he rarely turns on the seven gigantic IKEA light fixtures hanging over the desks.

The exterior of the house, sporting a decent front porch and a side nook, is all white, except for the front door (natural wood). The front garden is low maintenance with high purple fountain grasses and purple hearts, along with an olive tree and some sycamores planted on the busy Sawyer Street. The roof is new — a five V crimp metal roof that helps keep the house energy efficient.

The Home Tour runs from October 24-25, from noon to 6 pm.

It includes nine houses scattered across the city.


For 2235 Goldsmith

Walter D. Murphy
Murphy Mears Architects

Interior Design
Tokerud & Co.

General Contractor
Keeland Associates, Inc.

Structrual Engineer
Insight Structures, LLC

Landscape Design
Alisa Dawson

Landscape Contractor
Moss Landscaping

ACME, Upchurch Kimbrough Company

Milgard, The Detering Co.

Sliding Glass Doors
Fleetwood, RAM Industries

Reflecting Pond and Fountain
Houston Pool Service

Stained Concrete Floors
Dungan Miller Design, Ltd.

Custom Metal Work
Merge Studios

Kitchen Cabinets
Brookhaven, K&N Sales

Creative Flooring

Plumbing Fixtures and Hardware

Elegant Additions

For 2219 Kane St.

Vintage Window Restoration

The Sash Guy


Sherwin Williams

Conference Table
Blu Dot,

Pendant Lamps & Kitchen Faucet


Thermostat and Smoke Detector

Floor Stain

Glitsa Gold Seal

Wall Bed

Murphy Wall-Beds

Kitchen Sink

Home Depot


Summit Appliance

Bathroom Pendant and Back Porch Light
Schoolhouse Electric

HVAC Registers



Michael Morrow
kinneymorrow LLC,