From Vision to Reality
Creating a Family Home with Flow
By Marsha Canright • Photography by Anthony Rathbun
Laura Lopez and Lewis Marks met 15 years ago at a block party in the Houston Heights.
They only lived five houses apart but with busy lives, their paths had never crossed.
When they did meet, their common interests and similar lifestyles sparked an instant connection.
Marks was born in Houston but raised in Southeast Asia; Lopez is a native New Yorker who had lived in France and Atlanta, Georgia, before settling in Houston. He is an oil company consultant, and she is in corporate marketing. They travel frequently, collect art, and they share an unusual passion: they love to look at real estate and imagine a property’s potential.
“On our first official date, we went to a place called King Biscuit and after dinner, we toured a few new houses that were developing right in the neighborhood,” Lopez says.
They bought their first house together in 2002.
Fast forward to 2015, where you’ll find Laura and Lewis – still in the Heights and now a trio with daughter Leila – putting the finishing touches on their dream home, a 1912-era craftsman bungalow at 2023 Arlington.
This month the house is one of the stars on the Houston Heights Association Spring Home & Garden Tour, April 11&12.
How do you turn a century-old bungalow into a contemporary Asian-inspired abode with an open concept and exceptional flow while preserving the character of the original?
That’s been the happy challenge for Lopez, Marks and 10-year-old Leila, and it’s taken more than two years to complete. They credit architect Daniel Kornberg, who helped translate their artful, organic vision to a lush and livable reality.
“We wanted a balance between interior and outdoor living space and room to display our art,” Lopez says.
They also wanted to entertain dozens of guests in large common areas and still reserve private space for the family’s exclusive use. As good stewards, they chose to be sensitive to the existing neighborhood and for their house to fit into it without overpowering other close-by structures.
“Daniel was able to understand what we wanted and help us bring contemporary elements to the bungalow while honoring its past,” she adds.
“It was a perfect match. He’s lived in the Heights for years; he understands the Heights; we knew instantly that we wanted to work with him.”
Lopez and Marks first saw the bungalow in 2011, when they were thinking about buying a new place with a swimming pool for Leila. Initially they passed on the house.
The floor plan was somewhat disconcerting. The house had been cobbled together with a couple of additions, one estimated to be in the 1930s and another in the 1980s.
“It was choppy and it had no focus,” says Marks .
The last renovation added a camelback second story and a large master suite.
The planning and design took about one year and the construction took another 12 months. During that time, they all lived in the garage apartment in order to be close to the action and guide the process.
“We've been able to accomplish our vision for the house with few compromises, although we did go over our original budget,” Lopez says.
With 3,300 square feet, the house has four separate bedroom suites with bedrooms, baths and spacious closets. One of these rooms doubles as a music room with Leila's piano and as a guest room. Another is a media room for the family. New construction created Laura and Lewis' secluded master suite, and Leila has the second story suite with her bedroom, bath, sitting area, and a reading loft at the top of the stairs.
The front part of the house, the original bungalow, opens onto a seating area by the fireplace with a carved Indian table. The mantel was rebuilt around the original fireplace with squares that mirror the designs on the carved Indian doors on the opposite wall.
The homeowners chose a pallet of grays and greens to showcase their art, including favorite pieces by Houston artists Ibsen Espada, Terrell James, and Joe Mancuso. Lopez, who is also a painter, has some of her acrylics on display.
A defining feature is the pass through, which is lined in pristine shiplap that was discovered in the walls of the original bungalow. The pass-through has a nook, which holds a three-foot Buddha from Vietnam, and a hidden door that opens into a refrigerated wine room.
Leila and Lewis removed the reclaimed wood together, and Lewis planed it.
Walking through the passage, you enter a Great Room with two open wings – to the left, a large sitting area centered around the basalt table on a teak base and to the right, the kitchen.
This room wraps around the garden and pool area on two sides with a wall of glass, including an 18-foot retracting wall that literally opens the inside to the exterior living space.
Harrison Kornberg Architects
3131 Eastside Street, Suite 100
(recycled cardboard and paper)
Linda Eyles Design Inc.
736 Arlington St.
paint color selection
David Miller Dungan Miller Design
Fine concrete finishes
James Dawson Design
1802 Utah St.
4218 Richmond Ave.
Houston Heights Association Spring Home and Garden Tour, April 11-12
Be ready for an eyeful when six private homes are open for public viewing for the 2015 Houston Heights Spring Home and Garden Tour.
Houses will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 11 and 12.
“Embracing Change” is the theme for this year's tour, and the featured homes range from historic to recently constructed properties.
Homes on Tour:
Roche Home, 1414 Ashland, also called The Heron House, a modern craftsman. Built 2014.
Gilbert Home, 1638 Havard. A renovated, expanded bungalow. Features three unique stained-glass windows. Built in 1920.
Lopez-Marks Home, 2023 Arlington. Bungalow is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Renovated in 2012. Doubles inside when a retractable wall is opened. Built in 1921.
Nelson Home, 1615 Columbia. A blending of old and new, the bungalow was expanded from 1,400 to its current 3,400 square feet. Built in 1920.
McIngvale-Cegelski Home, 713 E. 13th. Two story Craftsman home has exposed rafter tails, decorative gables, and nine-light patterned windows. Built in 2014.
Johnson Home, 1011 Heights Boulevard, widely known as the Webber House. It served the community as a bed-and- breakfast for many years before it was restored as a family home. Built in 1907.
Advance tickets for $20 are available online at www.houstonheights.org, and at Buchanan's Native Plants, 611 E. 11th St.; Jubilee, 325 W. 19th St; and Another Place in Time, 421 W. 11th St.
Tickets may be purchased on the days of the tour for $25 at the Houston Heights Fire Station, 12th and Yale Streets, and at all pre-sale ticket locations. No tickets will be sold at homes on the tour.For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or if interested in volunteering, email email@example.com