Pink House

Home Is Where the Art Is: The Coolest Pink House in Montrose

How a local architect helped a Houston couple create an art lover’s dream home.

By Melissa Dalton Published in the Winter 2022 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The front exterior of Pink House, painted in “Charming Pink” from Sherwin Williams.

After living in a 600-square-foot apartment together for thirty-one years, in 2018 an art loving couple (who wish to remain anonymous for this article) commissioned Houston-based architect Brett Zamore to design their new home in the Montrose neighborhood. The new home would serve as their personal retreat, a place with plenty of room to gather together, cozy spots to be alone, and surround them with their favorite artwork.

Art truly is the main focus of the couple’s new home, and there are dozens of pieces of varying size throughout the house and the grounds. In addition to the usual wall-hanging galleries and smaller pieces dotting shelves, there’s a large-scale installation suspended from the vaulted ceiling in the kitchen: 13 pieces of inter-tangled salvaged steel framing, appropriately named “Pick Up Sticks.” There’s also a  painting of a tree branch that graces the stair hall, evoking the rustle of the Virginia Live Oaks outside, while luminous oversized neon roses and hearts blossom from a painting behind the master bedroom’s headboard.

There’s even art outside. At the end of the deck, the outline of a ballet dancer stamped on perforated metal is caught in joyful mid-leap. “Incorporating art as part of the architecture was something that was integral from the beginning,” Zamore said.

With its long, linear form—the house is 20 feet wide and 80 feet long—steeply pitched roof covered in standing seam metal, and clapboard siding, it might be mistaken for a classic Texas shotgun-style home. But closer inspection reveals a more modern abode, from the gridded picture window on the front façade offering a peak of the kitchen’s overhead sculpture, to the streamlined deck wrapping around the corner and extending along one entire side, to the four sets of sliding glass doors that open to the yard.

Turns out, this blend of old and new is exactly what Zamore envisioned when he developed zKITs, a series of pre-planned kit homes that harken back to the days when customers could open a Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog and order a house through the mail. “The idea was really about designing a modern home that fits within the context of the city of Houston and the history of its housing,” Zamore said. 

Utilizing off-the-shelf components—like standard-sized doors, windows, lumber, and prefabricated trusses—makes site-built homes more affordable and the construction process more efficient. Under the direction of Catama Builders, Ltd., this house went up in 14 months during the COVID pandemic, and was ready for move-in at the end of 2020.

The lot’s strengths (like the gracious 90-year-old Virginia Live Oak trees) and its weaknesses helped inform Zamore’s design approach. On one side of the property is a fiber optic communications facility, which emits a steady 63-decibel purr of white noise. So Zamore positioned the house along the West perimeter to “turn its back” to the noise and the hot afternoon sun.

The zKIT design was also modified so that only two windows face westward, focusing the owners’ experience on the East side instead, where the glass doors connect the house to a tree shaded yard. Modern treatments include louvered barn doors that can be rolled across for shade and privacy, while still allowing the Gulf breezes to flow inside for good air circulation. Also, the home sits on a pier foundation raised 30 inches above grade, which ensures both tree root and flood protection, while allowing the ground to better absorb rainwater.

The 1800-square-foot interior layout features rooms stacked along the length of the home shotgun style, but contemporized by double-height ceilings in the main rooms and stair hall. The kitchen is at the front of the layout, creating easy sight lines to the sidewalk for friendly waves to neighbors. The dining and living rooms are lined with 27 feet of bookshelves, home to the owners’ collection of 4,000 monographs, which further buffers unwanted sound and makes for a meditative spot to read in the morning. At the plan’s core is the office, or “snuggery,” with the primary suite taking up the rear. Upstairs, another en-suite serves as a flexible “retreat” for hosting overnight guests or watching TV.

Then there’s the remarkable (and unmistakable) color palette. The interior color scheme was kept purposely streamlined to better appreciate all of the artwork, most of which is from local Houston artists, like Kelly O’Brien, Patrick Renner, Graciela Socorro, Carlos Ocando, Sarah Welch, and Nataliya Scheib to name a few. All of which was commissioned by the couple and presented to each other as “surprise” gifts during construction.

One of the pieces, “Yves Klein International Blue” is simply a shock of blue paint covering the soaring, 25-foot-high wall in the living room. An homage, the owners said, to multiple Yves Klein pieces in the nearby Menil Collection.

Finally, of course, there’s the unexpected hue of the exterior—“Charming Pink” from Sherwin Williams—which, like every other touch in the house, somehow just works. “A pink bookend,” Zamore calls the project, also known as the Pink House. On a street filled with historic bungalows, and just a block from the Menil Collection, “it’s a happy moment at the end of the street.”

 

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