ML Lonergan

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A jet-setting duo finds their dream home in Houston—the second time around.

After relocating halfway across the world, most folks would be content to stay put for a while. However, this one, on-the-go couple (who had just finished a two-decade stay in Dubai) was ready to move again after only six months in their new Houston home. Though their good friend and Houston-based designer, Meg Lonergan, worked diligently to personalize their first home, the home itself was no match for the couple’s “Dream House” down the road.

The first house they bought was a newly constructed home in the prestigious neighborhood of Southhampton. For six months, Lonergan, the founder of LeSueur Interiors, worked to personalize the space from top to bottom. All the while, a grand stone home in the same neighborhood was beckoning the couple. “The husband walked by it every day, and he called it his ‘Dream House,’” says Lonergan. “He said if it ever went up for sale, they would buy it.” Just as Lonergan put the finishing touches on the couple’s first home, they surprised her with the announcement that the dream house had gone up for sale, and would soon be theirs.

Though the houses were located in the same neighborhood, that is where their similarities ended. The first house was newly constructed with a more contemporary Meditteranean aesthetic; the second was built in the 1930s and wore its age proudly. Also, at 5,500-square-feet, the dream home was nearly twice the size as the first. Because the home had undergone a major renovation a decade prior, only the finishes were begging for an update. The couple asked Lonergan to help with the new addition, and right away she went to work sprucing up the interiors.

After the couple’s second move in 18 months, they were now anxious to get settled. Lonergan worked quickly, and four months later, the outdated stone house was swoonworthy once again. Working around the existing architecture, Lonergan added new paint, window treatments, and furnishings. As she washed the main living areas in shades of aqua, camel, pumpkin, and rust, the interiors blossomed under her discerning design eye.

“The palette really warmed up the spaces,” Lonergan says. The cozy hues also helped balance the imposing iron elements Lonergan placed throughout the home. “The husband wanted a castle-like feel, so we achieved that through the lighting,” says Lonergan. The metal pieces — a heavy chandelier in the entryway, and rusted sconces in the powder room — lend an even more majestic atmosphere to the already grand space. “The iron really gives the home that old-world feel,” she says.

Among the rustic touches, more elegant pieces shine: a mirror-topped antique table in the music room, sumptuous silk curtains, a crystal chandelier above the polished dining room table, as well as brocade chairs in the living room. The interiors are an ode to juxtaposition and not by chance. “The wife is drawn towards prettier, polished, more refined things, while he prefers a rustic aesthetic,” says Lonergan. “They buy what they love, and their house really shows that,” she says. “It’s not all the same style or color palette.”

The mix and match approach allowed Lonergan to work a number of the pieces from the first home into the new design. To stay true to the older architecture and character of the home, however, she also added plenty of antique furnishings and accessories. A pair of English bamboo side tables, an early American bench, an antique French trumeau mirror above the dining room buffet, a pair of antique French mouton chairs and an antique French mouton bench, and a marble sink in the powder room round out some of the home’s aged offerings. The coffee table in the living room, though not as old as some of the other pieces, has a particularly unusual beginning as an elevator shaft in Chicago.

“We found these bronze panels that were just pieces of scrap metal and designed a coffee table around them,” says Lonergan. One of the home’s most notable pieces hangs above the living room fireplace and behind an antique French tapestry; when pulled up via remote control, it reveals a flat screen television. “The television was a must, as the couple has three boys who hang out at the house every weekend, but they didn’t want it to be the focal point of the room,” says Lonergan. To solve the problem, she attached the painted tapestry to a motorized blind system, and placed it overtop the television. “It can be rolled up or down to suit the room’s function,” says Lonergan. “I think it’s one of the coolest features in the home.”

Nearby, the seating also reflects the room’s dual function as a sometimes-casual, sometimes-formal space. Pretty, brocade-fabric chairs sit across from sleek leather recliners. “The family spends the most time in the living room, so we needed the leather pieces for durability,” says Lonergan.

Just as the furnishings reflect the personality and lifestyle of the family, so do the accessories. The globetrotting pair colored the walls with works by artists from New Zealand to New York, and the guest bedroom is home to the wife’s collection of Asian-inspired treasures. “In that room, the antique bamboo side tables and the trellis draperies with their Chinoiserie feel tie everything together,” says Lonergan.

The interiors are not alone in revealing the family’s tastes. Outdoors, a swimming pool, a custom bar, an expansive stone fireplace, and handsomely furnished loggia makes their frequent entertaining all the better.

For now, the interior and exterior spaces are the perfect spots for mingling with friends. Down the road, the couple hopes their future grandchildren will enjoy them as much as they do. “This is it for them … this is their forever home,” says Lonergan. “They saved the best ‘til last.”

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