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Organic Modernism

Husband-Wife Team’s Hybrid Home is on Tour April 11 & 12
By Susan Fox • Photos by Paul Hester

What do a couple of design-build professionals – one-time stewards of a 1905-era Heights home – do to carve out a niche for themselves in the modern home market?

While their architectural preferences have shifted, the principles they value and practice – many of those important to both old and new styles -- have propelled Tina and Matt Ford forward.

The Fords, owners of Shade House Development, have staked out a coveted spot in the modern home industry.

Publicity –- including a spread in Dwell, the national magazine devoted to spotlighting high quality modern design – surrounded them after they compled a nine-home project in the Houston Heights a couple years ago.

And, this year, The Rice Design Alliance selected the Fords’ own home to be part of its annual modern home tour this month.

Both are designers and builders who jointly embrace an appreciation for reclaimed materials, repurposing old items into new uses, living large within smaller footprints, and keeping quality construction at the forefront.

Matt Ford has commented that he looks for “the point when simplicity and luxury meet.”

The key is in the details, he says. It is important that simple does not look cheap – in look or build out.

Their former Victorian-era home encompassed more than 3,000 square feet; today live comfortably with their daughter in half that amount of space.

When they sold the old Heights home, they bought a lot and built a 900-square-foot garage, where they lived and worked – until the time came to build the house that is on tour.

Tina Ford says the LEED-certified garage apartment and office soon turned into an experimental lab of sorts for them. First and importantly, it proved to them that a large house was not necessary.

In their home at 734 Tulane, visitors will notice the front exterior is void of windows. The couple love light and have large windows throughout except here where the afternoon sun can be intense.

The main body of the house is stucco mixed with a black pigment hand massaged into a marbleized effect. The wood selected for some exterior areas in addition to the second-level flooring inside is cypress – a wood once commonly used on homes of yesteryear.

Tina Ford says the interior 9-foot doors, also made of cypress and exhibiting high water marks – were found in New Orleans, post Hurricane Katrina.

“We like the warmth of the old,” says Ford, who adds that she and her husband also like the minimal, clean look modern styles offer.

When the couple began drawing the plans to their home, the intent was to utilize each space to its fullest.

They found the pendant lights for the kitchen on Ebay from someone in New York who had brought them in from France but could not use them himself.

The countertops are petit granite from Belgium. Ford says it is the same material used on many of the streets in Amsterdam.

The Fords celebrate the outdoors by having many large windows that bath the house in warm light. They also bought the lot next door, where they have a garden of fruit trees – apple, grapefruit, Meyer Lemon and lime.

The Ford homestead is one where their own hybrid style – a mix of a little old and rustic, touches of Mid-Century and modern thrive.

RDA Tour Homes

April 11 & 12, 2015

• 734 Tulane Street, Shade Development*

• 317 Sampson Street, Janusz Design *

• 2102 Francis Street, Brett Zamore Design

• 1217 Robin Street, Rodrigo Tovar

• 1515 Woodhead Street, pb elemental design*

• 1507 Chestnut Street, kinneymorrow architecture *

• 714/716 Sabine Street, Gottlieb Eisele, and Murphy Mears

• 205 North St. Charles Street, CONTENT

*Tickets sold at these homes

Info: www.ricedesignalliance.org