Houston’s Chronicler

Once upon a time, it seems about 100 years ago, a young Texan was planning her wedding. During a fitting for her gown she noticed some black and white photographs laying on a table in the dress shop. She was mesmerized by the images. They were unposed and unpretnetious. The close ups were very close up. They felt like Life magazine. They reminded the bride to be of  the glorious images taken on September 12, 1953, Jackie and Jack’s wedding day.  The curious girl inquired about the photographer and learned he was a university professor and accomplished photographer in the throes of a divorce and might be willing to shoot a wedding. She hired him on the spot.

Hammersmith Farm, Newport RI.


Fast forward to now, nineteen years later. Geoff Winningham is near and dear to my heart.

Most years, in December, Geoff opens holds a studio Open House and offers a few pieces for sale. During this exact week 8 years ago, we purchased our first piece.

You can find Geoff’s photographs in most major collections in the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the major art museums of Texas. But why just rent when you can own?


The Brandon Gallery Houston cordially invites you:

Opening December 12, 2014

7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Exhibition runs through January 9, 2015

One of my all time favorites. “Lame Pants” –1970’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.


If this were mine to name, I’d call it “A Glimpse Into Heaven.”

The exhibit:

“In Place”

Texas 1970’s
Arkansas 1980’s
Houston 1980’s
Pozos México 1990’s
Gulf Coast 2000’s
Galveston 2010’s

“Please join us for an unprecedented look at the far-reaching career of photographer Geoff Winningham. During a career that spans over four decades Winningham photographs the life and landscape of the Southern United States and Gulf of Mexico, offering us insight into this complicated sociopolitical and geographical landscape. Part photo documentarian and part keeper of the South’s secrets, Winningham’s work opens a space from which to examine the precarious relationship southerners have with the natural forces that surround us; be they the oil that built a city’s fortunes or the hurricanes that tear them down.

In this exhibition we are given a glimpse of the Houston of the 70’s, where glistening wrestlers light up the coliseum and demolition derbies carve up the Astrodome. Winningham shows us the excesses of an oil boomtown of the 80’s and the melancholic post-Ike Galveston. He will also be showing a selection of photographs from his most recent book, Of the Soil: Photographs of Vernacular Architecture and Stories of Changing Times in Arkansas, which was published in October of this year by the University of Arkansas Press. These images of vernacular architecture exquisitely render disappearing relics of Southern American culture.” –The Brandon Contemporary.





The Grinch Lives Here

One of my (many) character flaws is my dislike of Christmas. If only the holiday was just about Christmas…

I won’t go in to the details or blame my mother, but really…it can be a challenging season for me. My hubby, desperate for me to love the tinsel and the endless carols on the radio, pleaded with me yesterday, desperate to offer a solution. My hubby is, after all, Father Christmas.

{Although the Blue and White collection in Carolyne Roehm’s  CT home is stunning, my eyes go right to the Granny Smith apples and grapes. The color combination says “I have confidence.” Can we reconsider the green and red? Personally, I have changed the channel.}


If I ran the world, the celebration Christmas would involve revolve around four things:

1. The birth of Christ

2. Cooking with my family

3. Dancing in our kitchen

4. Laughing

It would N-O-T involve black friday. It would N-O-T involve FLOCKING our homes with things made in China. It would N-O-T involve meeting relentless expectations imposed on us by Madison Avenue.

While I have no personal knowledge of what happens inside the homes I highlight here, I dream they are filled with warm kitchens, happy lazy dogs, and people delighted by their children, families and friends.

Tonight, we decorated our tree and our daughter climbed the ladder to turn the lights on the angel. My favorite ornament was hidden in a box marked fragile because it is homemade. PURE JOY.



{Lauren Bacall with Daughter Leslie Bogart at home in Beverly Hills CA.1958}

{I love the wooden box that Anita from Far Above Rubies uses here for her arrangement.}

{We can all do this, right? Save the milk bottles or buy some apple cider. Once it’s gone, you’ve got your containers. Photo via Plum Pretty Sugar.}

{Carolyne Rhome in her Greenhouse.}

{Gray and White are a perfect compliments to Christmas greens in this Dining Room by Mary McDonald. Photo via Veranda.}

{Nothing here made in China. Image via Veranda.}

{I love the natural addition of pomegranates. This could be made with scraps from your tree or garlands and some floral wire.}

{No dining room? No problem;  a barn or driveway works just dandy. Photographer unknown.}

Billion Dollar Week @Sotheby’s. Thank you, Bunny Mellon.

{Jacqueline Kennedy and Bunny Mellon in the lobby of the Colonial Theatre in Boston in 1961. Photo: AP}


A sweet spot if there ever was one…just 3 short weeks ago across a span of 8 days, Sotheby’s, the global powerhouse of second hand goods, marked an all time record, hawking one billion dollars of art. Curious about Sotheby’s cut? It’s 25 percent of the first $100,000; 20 percent from $100,000 to $2 million; and 12 percent of the rest.

“History, legend, taste — you had everything tonight,” Lionel Pissarro, a great-grandson of the painter Camille Pissarro and a Paris-based art dealer, said as he was leaving the auction.

Forty-three pieces came from the Bunny and Paul Mellon’s five homes, including the the 2,000-acre estate in Upperville, Virginia where Bunny resided during the later years of her life. The work of the artists she held dear, Rothko to Picasso to Diebenkorn, brought in $158.7 million, about $40 million more than the high pre-sale estimate. A few days later, her jewels and furniture brought in almost $60 million more.

Aside from collecting art, Bunny adored gardens and became a noted and respected horticulturalist who redesigned the White House Rose Garden at the request of her friend Jacqueline Kennedy in the early 1960s. You may remember Mrs. Kennedy’s 1996 auction which contained over 5,000 of pieces and brought in $34.5 million, the equivalent of $52 million in today’s dollars. I bought that auction catalog in 1996 and flip through it occasionally. You can buy a sealed copy here. It contains pieces from her everyday life; from her pearls to her BMW 3 series.

{Auction catalog for Jackie Kennedy’s estate.}


{Mark Rothko’s Untitled sold for $40 million, twice the estimate. Image via Sotheby’s.}

{The dining room is an act in restraint with handsome yet simple caned armchairs (similar to those made by my favorite furniture maker and RI friend Charles Fradin), tiny homegrown topiaries and vintage linen napkins.  If we could substitute some emerging artists in place of the blue chip art shown here, I could recreate this room almost exactly with a very modest budget. An O’Keefe ($3.2 million) and a Diebenkorn (one of 8 that sold for a combined $32 million) shown here were also auctioned at Sotheby’s.  Image via AD.}


{The collected objects and paintings displayed in the Oak Spring Farm living room reflect the tastemaker’s eclectic style and vast vocabulary of collections. Bunny’s vignettes seem effortless and I daydream about how she must have shined when bringing people together too. Image via AD.}

{Giorgio Morandi still lifes cluster over a parcel-gilt banquette at Bunny and Paul Mellon’s Manhattan townhouse. I love a banquette and surely this one held it’s share of leading ladies. Image via AD.}


{Paul Mellon’s rococo Gothic-style study was crafted by the the full time carpenters at his Oak Spring Farm estate and was made with with his home grown timber. Image via AD.}

In November, Christie’s achieved a personal best selling $853 million of contemporary art in just two hours but just today, Steven Murphy announced he is stepping down as CEO. Less than two weeks ago, Sotheby’s announced that it’s CEO,William F. Ruprecht would leave his post after 14 years. Neither have announced what their next move will be, surely they both have stacks of messages to return and ventures to consider.

The move comes amid surging sales in the global art market driven largely by the wealthy Asian collector. Those same stylish and savvy consumers who are buying Birkins are also bidding up contemporary art. In November 2014 the combined sales of these two firms totaled $2.2 billion. Astounding, staggering and captivating for sure.

I am loving my Facebook feed today as many of the artsy Houston tribe post from Miami where they linger amidst warm breezes and hot art at Art Basel. Next year I hope to see what all the fuss is about. Until then, keep sharing your favorite spots sweet friends, thanks!


Collection Dissection: No More Naked Walls

During an initial walk through of a home with a new clients it isn’t uncommon for me to hear, “We need some art, but…”

It’s their reasoning that pulls me in for more.

This past Friday morning, my friend Galveston Girl and I stepped away from Costco and other pressing duties of the Houston Suburban-set, as in motor vehicle, not location of our homes, to visit Texas Contemporary, an international art fair, dare I compare to Art Basel? Probably not.

Although historically my taste in art does not reflect a modern slant, there is much to be noticed at an event such as Texas Contemporary. It reminded me that continually endeavoring to occupy spaces that bring us joy and to create spaces for others that do just that is a mighty noble cause.

Two years ago today we moved in to a “built new from scratch” home and I began a crying jag that lasted nearly 3 months. My soul ached for our ‘quaint’ 1942 vintage; freezing in the winter, hot in the summer, single pane glass hacienda. One day, as quick as a cricket, my tears dried up and I felt peace wash over me.  Surely you are on the edge of your seat trying to predict what remedied my sadness?

We unpacked and hung our ART. Actually, we have a team we call that does such tasks.They hung it.

That one, simple, action brought our walls to life. The pieces which we have collected over throughout our 100 year marriage were suddenly before me again. Each piece represents a happy event in our lives: a suite of historical botanicals in water gilded frames purchased with my first bonus check from my first job on the trading floor. When we learned we were expecting a pair of hand colored drawings of sheep for the nursery seemed appropriate. Hubs huge nautical charts he employed while circumnavigating Sweden, vacation inspired watercolors created by Hubs mom and grandmother and the works of  Geoff Winningham and Shirley Sheldon capture most of our Houston hacienda wall space.

We are also making room for a new friends work, R Michael Carr. Each summer we seek him out during the Wickford Art Festival  and in hopes of discovering a piece to tuck away for our Someday House. And so a collection begins.

It’s good to be back in the saddle.



P.S. On the scale of 1 to 10, your walls rank where???

The real deal, an old grande dame in England ~Simon Upton~


A new house and clever homeowner tore sketches from an art book ~Lauren Liess~


Charmed, not divided.

Hackerware collection, bought in one day on eBay ~House Beautiful~


~Stephen Knollenberg~


~Alessandra Branca~



Take me on a Rhode Trip!

Summer is nearly upon us and I find myself longing to over-pack my trusty Jeep and begin the 30 hour journey to my adopted summer sneak away spot Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The tiniest state in the US was also the last to join the original 13 colonies. Things in Rhode Island don’t tend to change much from decade to decade. I think that’s why I find it so charming.

A place to stretch your eyes. When we see the bridge, we know that we've arrived!

Happiness is Texas in the rear view mirror. At least for the summer. 

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the fabled stories and summer cottages of America’s earliest tycoons. The Breakers, Marble House and Rosecliff are carefully and lovingly maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County and open to the public almost every day of the year. Before your trip to Newport, consider joining the Preservation Society and supporting their heroic efforts and you’ll be rewarded with a “front of the line” pass for your tour. Newport is a highly coveted summer destination (i.e. CROWDED) and I would nudge you in the direction of a smaller town (Saunderstown, Wickford or Watch Hill) if you have more than a few nights to spend in the area. I’m normally the kind of hotel guest person who drives the front desk manager crazy by switching rooms at least twice before settling in. At The Ocean House and 41° N, I gleefully thank the bellmen and let the merriment begin. However, if you plan to stay a week or more, consider renting a charming coastal cottage. I’ve learned from experience that the only thing that really matters aside from location is cleanliness.

The Ocean House in Watch Hill. RI’s fanciest crash pad.


41N is the poshest hotel on Aquidneck Island. My first visit to 41N I was delighted to find 5 different kinds of ice being served at the bar. Hello happiness!


What you may not know about Rhode Island:

1. Rhode Islanders know where their food comes from. You can visit a Rhode Island Farmer’s Market nearly every day of the week. Farm Fresh RI.

2. Rhode Islanders think ice cream and iced coffee should each be designated a food group.  Ask 5 Rhode Islanders where to get the best ice cream or best iced coffee and you will likely get a slurry of different answers.

3. Rhode Islanders all know each other and they can recognize a tourist in a flash but if you are nice, they will open their circle and make you feel at home.

4. Use your iPhone for directions in RI. Don’t ask the locals. If you do, be prepared for them to say crazy things like, “Follow your nose.” They also give directions based on long ago demolished landmarks. And for added fun, most roads in RI have multiple names.

5.  Be open to the idea of falling in love with Rhode Island and coming back year after year. The housing market is among the slowest to recover in the country and there are plenty of “Someday houses” that you can call your own. View RI Real Estate here. My favorite Ocean State realtor here.


The Famer’s Market is THE social hub in every town. You may see your neighbors, your neighbor’s house guests, the Governor, Taylor Swift if she’s in town and of course, the farmers.

Find your dinner at the Farm!

Dinner found at the Farm.


A rainy day for us entails lunch in Newport and a drive along the ocean. At the end of the day, a stop at Newport Creamery for an Awful Awful, (a milkshake to the rest of the country.)

A rainy day for us includes lunch in Newport and a drive along the ocean. At the end of the day we always stop at Newport Creamery for an Awful Awful. (a milkshake)


Last stop before bed after a long day at the beach.

Last stop before bed after a long day at the beach. We are giddy and punchy and plan to do it all over again tomorrow. 

Where you will find the locals: 


Don’t expect to go anywhere fast on gorgeous days. The beach traffic can be daunting but don’t give up and turn back. This isn’t East Hampton! It usually looks worse than it is.


Sail Newport  offers daily rentals of family friendly boats.

3. SUPPORTING THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY at events like The Willet Free Library Book and Bake Sale, The Church Fair at Chapel of St. John the Divine.

4. Scouring for treasures at YARD SALES. We count the signs every day as we meander down the two lane beach road near our rental house. It’s fairly common to spot a handful of hand lettered signs beckoning us to stop. “Fresh Berries” “Tomatoes” “Bouquets” “Baby items” and the one that assures I stop “Fresh Eggs.”

5. Matunuck Oyster Bar. THE place to eat in Southern RI.


Paddle out to catch a wave, ride it in, and repeat.

Paddle out to catch a wave and ride it in. Repeat.

Kids ages 5 and up can sail in Newport through Sail Newport.

Kids ages 5 and up can learn to sail through Sail Newport.

Three generations on the water is a common sight!

Three generations on race day is a common sight.

After a fun day of club racing. Nobody rushing to get off the water!

After a fun day of club racing nobody rushes to get off the water.

If you've never slept on a boat, you haven't lived!

Napping is important too. If you’ve never slept on a boat, you simply must.

Fleet racing. A common theme on Wednesday nights.

Fleet racing is a common theme across RI on Wednesday nights.

The Newport "Harbor Tour" is the equivalent of a Sunday drive.

The Newport “Harbor Tour” is the equivalent of a Sunday drive.

Photo credits: All photos by Lisa Hough for The Hough Post except:  2. Ocean House 3. Forty-one North 4. Farm Fresh RI


Sometimes you have to put aside the routine and invest in yourself despite the obstacles and second thoughts that get in the way. Last week, I made an unforgettable investment in my design business. I hopped a plane to LA to preview the fantastic design community event LEGENDS and to meet a handful of amazing artisans I knew only by phone. What a treat to be invited into their workshops and showrooms.

Today, a few highlights…

Marjorie Skouras design empire is admired by many and glorified by every shelter magazine in the US. Her ever growing line of luxury home products including mirrors, tables, seating, hardware, rugs and lighting are immediately recognizable. Her Empire chandelier is my all time favorite and it was a thrill to see the first one ever created hanging in Marjorie’s hot pink living room.


Majorie Skouras at home in the Hollywood hills.

Darby, Marjorie's Senior Designer and me

Darby, Marjorie’s senior designer and me outside Marjorie’s home under the Hollywood sign.

I never considered LA to be a walking city and was quite happy to discover most of the shops and showrooms on my list are on two streets (La Cienega and Melrose Ave) that intersect.

Good news: I could walk from one shop to the next.

Bad news: I wasn’t wearing walking shoes.

My hubby treated me to a walk on the beach in Santa Monica at the end of every day. A dip into the icy water helped my little sausages immensely.

Toes in the Pacific.

Toes in the Pacific.

Me and Million Dollar Decorator star Nathan Turner at his store on Melrose Ave.

Me and Million Dollar Decorator Nathan Turner at his store on Melrose Ave.

Be well!


Photo credits: 1. Marjorie Skouras   2.-6. Lisa Hough


Have you visited Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog Goop? It was here that GP and Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling.” While I’ve never been much of a Coldplay fan or GP movie fan, I am insanely concerned about what will happen to their chic LA abode decorated by Windsor Smith once they are splittsville.


Goop has a knack for uncovering meaningful establishments that promote healthy living. I was overjoyed last week when I learned that Beautycounter received the Gwyneth Paltrow’s endorsement.  Beautycounter is a line of chemical free, gorgeous skincare and cosmetics founded by Miss Porter’s School Ancient and self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur Gregg Renfrew. Gregg’s first claim to fame was The Wedding List, a bridal registry which was acquired by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 2001.

Gwyneth’s team at Goop also offers cool city guides for New York, London and LA. I’m perusing the Goop city guide  for LA as we speak. While not endorsed by Goop, In-N-Out Burger will be my first stop upon arrival in the City of Angels. Last year at the conclusion of my week at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, it didn’t seem appropriate to dive into a burger joint after a week of no meat, no dairy, no caffeine, and no sugar. My brain told me my stomach might likely reject the delicacy served at this LA landmark.


Also while I am in LA, I’m hoping Google Maps will lead me to: Hollywood at Home, JF Chen, Dragonette, Jasper and the others located in the La Cienega Design Quarter. After some deliberation, I reserved a rental car. My hubby says I am “not exactly a world traveler” and he doesn’t want me driving in LA, but really…I traversed Europe for 8 weeks, crossed 12 countries on 50 trains, with $2000 cash. Doesn’t that make me qualified to drive in LA with an iPhone and a VISA?


Photo credits: 1 & 2 Veranda 3 Ranch at Live Oak 4 LCDQ.com



I used to be a shelter magazine devotee and I mourned when my favorites like House and Garden, Metropolitan Home and Cottage Living folded as a direct result of fewer ad purchases during the recession. But I have moved on…and so have the publishers. Everyone affiliated with these magazines is celebrating the double digits increase in ad pages sales. Have you taken a good look at how thick the magazines are lately?

Four years ago a friend invited me to join a social website where I could create a visual bulletin board of recipes, quotes and photos. Poppycosh, I muttered to myself, who would use that?

Hello Pinterest!

—-Here are some stats you might want to gnaw on—-

Total # Pinterest users: 70 million

Total # Pinterest pins 30 billion (4/24/14)

Percentage of Female Pinterest users 80%

Funding for Pinterest $564 million

Valuation of Pinterest $3.8 billion (10/13)

# of Pinterest employees 140

Number of times Pinterest has overhauled its “CodeBase” … zero

Most repined pin on Pinterest Cheesy Bread, 105K times



Looking back at my migration to Pinterest, the only problem I have is shutting it off. Occasionally I glide through my pins and check for themes. Most of the time I see how a color has captured my imagination and it inspires me to suggest something off the wall to a client like a glossy dark blue office. Currently my theme review points in the direction that I am missing the outdoors. No, I am not planning a camping trip. Rather, I am bringing an element from the wilder side to my inner sanctum. I seem to have a serious infatuation with the long, dark, and handsome indoor tree known as a Fiddle Leaf Fig. This hardy variety of ficus features huge, heavily veined and violin-shaped, dark green leaves. Although they are native to the tropics and thrive in very warm and wet conditions, these tough guys can withstand neglect for a fairly long time. That’s good news for my new tree. I don’t have a lot of extra time to sit around with her and gab.

Over the Easter weekend a very stylish friend posted a photo on Facebook. She had stumbled upon a Fiddle Leaf Fig while weekending in Galveston. Her photo propelled me to finally track one down to call my own. My friend, who reminds me of the Oscar PR girl, named her tree and encouraged me to do the same. I am pleased to introduce you to Fern Louise in the second photo below. Isn’t she a beauty? Fern Louise will be coming to the house this week via delivery van. I was terrified I could break one of her gorgeous limbs by stuffing her into the back of the Silver Bullet. No more broken anything around our house , if you please.




What is happening at your house as you zoom through Spring? Any themes or projects you care to dish about?

Keep in touch.


Photo credits: 1 House and Garden, 2 Pinterest 3 Ken Fulk 4 LRH 5& 7 Elle Decor 6 Grant K. Gibson



The Grand Tour

Last week was my daughter’s birthday and she asked to have a few friends over to celebrate. It was just the push I needed to move things around and freshen up the house after practically ignoring it since my accident.

Normally our dining room table is covered in tall stacks of books. As I moved and dusted books and collections during the party prep, it occurred to me that I didn’t really know anything about my collections of Intaglios. I bought them for beauty. The dealer told me they were common souvenirs from “The Grand Tour,” but what was The Grand Tour?

Turns out, TGT was a popular travel itinerary for the young British nobility (men only) from 1650-1900. This educational rite of passage lasting months to years, provided exposure to the arts, languages and comprehensive history of Western culture. Imagine life before “the SOAK,” Source of All Knowledge, i.e. the internet. Those noble boys took servants, sherpas and cooks across continents to enhance their education. Weary travelers returned home with crates of art, sculpture and items of culture that were symbols of their wealth and freedom. No wonder the English are known for the layered look!

Carolyne Roehm (pronounced “Caroline Rome”) is a master of refining spaces and brining a sense of history to homes without making them imposing or artificial.

Carolyne Roehm’s gorgeous living room with obelisks from The Grand Tour.

Carolyne Roehm’s NYC apt. Brown velvet walls, simple sisal from Stark and loads of classical charm.

Carolyne Roehm’s gorgeous Library in NY.

Plaster intaglios are most commonly found in round, oval or octagonal shapes and depict portraits, events or some kind of object or style. The process involves incising an image onto the surface of the material chosen; commonly plaster or stone. New Intaglios are commonly available on eBay and finer more rare specimens come up occasionally on 1st Dibs and through the better auction houses.

Sweet collection of Intaglios.


Intaglios at auction at Christie’s

Intaglios of fine pedigree. Each image on the Intaglio represents a historically significant person or place.

Emil Brack, “Planning The Grand Tour”

Is there something you’d like to know more about? Hop onto the SOAK and find some answers!

My best,



Rosemary Beach, located in the Florida Panhandle, is one of my all time favorite beach towns. It’s a sun-soaked family centered community conceived in 1995 by The Rosemary Beach Land Company and it’s President Patrick Bienvenue. This gulf front town boasts 107 acres on which to live, work and play. While the pedestrian friendly layout reminds me of  a small 1950’s town, the houses at RB are anything but bland. Many celebrated decorators, including John Salidino, have put their mark on Rosemary Beach houses.

Recipe for Romance in Rosemary Beach:

One Beach Front Estate conceived, built, and furnished down to the toothbrushes by husband/wife team  Stan Benecki and Melanie Turner.

One dozen skilled masons, plasterers and roofers.

Numerous baths, a generously sized laundry room with double washer dryers for all the towels and a 6 bed bunk room for kiddos.

A family with keen appreciation for craftsmanship, quality and longevity.


In March 2013, the homeowners of the lovely Rosemary Beach abode purchased a historic home in Atlanta saving a huge piece of southern history from demolition. I will be sure to write another post when this beauty wakes up and shines again.

Atlanta’s Craigie House

Rosemary Beach photos courtesy of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle.
Atlanta Craigie House photos courtesy of Atlanta Business Journal.


Happy Weekend!

My Best,