Real Estate / Houses

From a Cramped New York Apartment to a Houston Dream Home: A Young Mom/Entrepreneur Finds Designing Heaven in Avalon

BY // 01.30.16
photography Jenny Antill Clifton

Interior designer Lindsey Looke and husband, Steven, resided in cozy rental apartments (read: cramped) in New York, Chicago, Palo Alto and L.A. before relocating to Steven’s hometown of Houston, enabling him to accept a position in the family business and allowing Lindsey to finally have the square footage she craved.

After nearly a year of searching — while living in another petite apartment in River Oaks — they found their dream home in Avalon, a coveted neighborhood adjacent to River Oaks known for charming older houses in approachable sizes. In a competitive inner-loop real estate market, home-court advantages are key: Looke, who was pregnant with their first child, penned a letter to the owners, expressing their desire to raise their young family in that very home.

This personal touch won them the property; the previous owners had raised their family there, too. The Lookes moved in just in time — two weeks later, Looke gave birth to a baby boy.

Lindsey Looke in a Dolce & Gabbana brocade daisy-print dress from Tootsies. Baker sofa. Pierre Vandel Paris vintage table from Uptowner Antiques in New Orleans. Vintage obelisks from Mecox.

The Federal-style two-story brick home was built in 1939, and an addition by prior owners resulted in a heavenly 3,560 total square feet — more than triple the size of their NYC apartment. At the time, Looke was studying interior design at The Art Institute; she soon began working as a design assistant for Munger Interiors.

Her busy schedule as a new mom, student and employee forced her to design her own home slowly and deliberately. What resulted is proof that patience is a virtue.

The Lookes’ house has turned into a beloved gathering place for the young innerloop social set. Dinner parties here are top-notch, and cocktails — an especially lethal margarita or Champagne with a float of raspberry, depending upon the occasion — are served in the family room. When dinner is involved, Looke holds court with one set of guests in the dining room, while her husband hosts another set in the library, which is filled with equal parts design books (hers) and autobiographical tomes (his), where a second table accommodates eight. Couples are frequently separated to keep conversation spinning among the guests.

Introducing Pêche

  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024

Last year, after the birth of a daughter and at the prompting of friends, Looke went out on her own and opened Ella Lee Interiors. Her own home has served as a calling card for friends and friends of friends who have now become clients, eager to adopt her aesthetic: a contemporary and traditional home that provides for cozy living and entertaining.

Looke made the most out of an awkward layout by embracing pattern in blue and white in her son’s room.

Flower: Hydrangeas. Especially in blue-and-white vases.
Restaurants: B&B Butchers & Restaurant, State of Grace and Shake Shack, once it finally opens.
Hotel: The Carlyle in New York. I love the lobby, the history and its authenticity.
Necessary indulgence: Sleep.
Travel destination: Any place with family. We love going to Nantucket in the summer.
Dream project: Designing a beach house. Interior design don’t: Don’t hold yourself to any rules. Creativity is not about limitations.
Fave designer: Daniel Romualdez. He can do contemporary just as well as traditional, and his work is the right balance of livable elegance.

A painting by Meredith Pardue from Laura Rathe Fine Art was the starting point for the living room, one of the first rooms Looke decorated.

• Buy things you love rather than simply to fill a space. And you don’t have to buy everything at once.
• Family heirlooms weave a personal story into your home. Also, they are gifted (ergo, free), which is a big plus. Even if it isn’t something you would have purchased, consider refurbishing to fit your taste.
• Look to a designer to help determine how to merge existing furniture and formulate a design scheme that serves as the foundation for future design work.
• Increase dinner party seating with tables in several rooms. Unbendable rule: Seat married couples apart to keep conversation flowing, witty and interesting.
• You can have nice things with young children; you just have to safeguard a bit. I museum-glued Christopher Spitzmiller lamps to vintage end tables. The removable gel creates a bond between the object and display surface.

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