Houston Ranch of Art

When I planned to restart TPH last year, I planned to do a whole month on everything ranch houses.  I was thrilled when Susan, an interior designer I worked with in Houston, let me shoot her house, a 1949 ranch, for a post.  Unfortunately, I stalled out on my ranch month and the photos waited and waited.  Her house is better than amazing, where every square foot is lovingly thoughtful…I just wish my photos did her house full justice.  Turns out my meager photo skills have actually improved in the year since visiting her and having a better camera now doesn’t hurt either.  Now, on with the tour!

I met Susan White in 2000.  Freshly graduated with my painting degree from University of Houston, I was cold calling designers in Houston looking for decorative painting work.  I left a message for Susan on her answering machine, and she was one of the few designers to call me back.  When I pulled up to her little gray house with aqua trim and purple neon house numbers I was sufficiently intrigued.  Boots on the door celebrate the Houston Rodeo, a big deal in H-Town.

Purple crystal doorknob and celestial mural on the porch ceiling…a proper welcome in my book.  Ready to go inside?

The entry to the two-bedroom home greets with a gallery wall and a laminate Parsons table draped in lace.  One immediately knows this house has soul.  There is an initial moment of readjustment–of leaving one world and entering another.  Fantasy, whimsy, history, and sentiment dwell together as Susan has deftly combined periods, pattern, and color.  You just can’t take it all in with a casual glance.

Layers and colors and objects and handmade treasures speak of Susan’s love and appreciation of art.  She has lived in the house since 1973 (when she purchased it for $26,500!) and has spent the years crafting every nook and cranny into visual perfection.

A vintage mink fur coat covers the frame of a painting by Dixie Friend Gay in the living room.  The list of artists in Susan’s art collection is long:  Sandra Russell Clark, Joanne Brigham, Dan Allison, Paula Fridkin, Kathleen Packlick, Karin Broker, Jeff Delude, Bob Russell, Tom Wheeler, Wulf Barsch, Lisa Qualls, Lin Swanner, Reverend Howard Finster…and me, to name a few.

Faux malachite, glossy berry and oversized leopard spots cover previously-traditional family dining room furniture.  That is Susan as a head of lettuce.

The retro sunroom lies off the dining room–and to me is a fitting tribute to the 1949 house.

Of course she has a pink kitchen.  I love her.  And do you see that aqua pentagon on the ceiling?  Pentagons of various hues are scattered randomly on the kitchen walls.

Lookie, Angela originals hang in the kitchen!  Susan surprised me and bought the bird painting at a Houston show I participated in.  The small cake painting was a gift from me to her the year she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her design business.

The Reverend Finster piece hangs behind the pink flamingos and above the refrigerator on the same wall.

Down the hall to the bedrooms hangs a Paula Fridkin heart–delight deluxe for me.

About her art collection, Susan told me she looks for pieces that speak to her, in which she has a visceral reaction–then she knows she wants it.

Even away from her rancher, Susan hints at the style of her home in her dress.  Whenever I met her at job sites or the studio, I always looked forward to seeing her sartorial interpretation for the day.  Always textured, colorful, layered, and sculptural.  I love people like Susan who can make an ordinary day much more interesting and fun by just being unabashedly true to themselves.

You can read more about Susan’s home on the Houston Chronicle–a 2006 feature about her ranch home amidst a crowd of puffed-up new builds in her neighborhood.  Come back for part two of the tour to see the bedrooms, bathroom, and her home office.  See you then!


  1. Wow that was a serious visual treat…I love her home, so unique, colorful and inviting! I could see myself having a cup of tea and chatting about local art. All of my dearest friends are artists, we are an eclectic group, but man we have a lot of fun. What I love about each of them is there ability to take an ordinary day and give it a dash of spice. Great post and can’t wait to see part 2!!!

  2. Love her home! So warm and colorful! Fulll of personality!

  3. I love Susan’s house. Filled with fun color and artistic creativity. She truly is living up to my motto “LiveLikeYou-not everybody else”!

  4. she is amazing.
    a stunning and gutsy sense of confidence and celebrating what she loves.
    not to mention: FUN!

    you said it best: “I love people like Susan who can make an ordinary day much more interesting and fun by just being unabashedly true to themselves.”

    I am drawn to people like this like a moth to flame. they are few and far between, but always worth the trip, no?

    great post, angela!

  5. Susan is a true original and so is her highly visual and personal style. You gotta love someone who is true to themselves and doesn’t follow trends. Btw, love the malachite top on that sideboard/buffet. I’ve been wanting to do a little faux malachite somewhere. I’m tempted to just buy a cheap box and try my hand at it. I love malachite for some reason.

    Thanks for sharing this, Angela. Can’t wait to see the rest of this visual smorgasbord!

  6. Part 2!?!? I’ll have to call 911.

  7. Okay that’s good!
    I love homes like that with all of those layers and personal objects out to enjoy- it has just a great balance and warmth. Lucky you, thanks for the field trip looking forward to all the rest…

  8. I love her pink kitchen, it’s amazing!

    The large painting ringed in fur is beautiful.

  9. Peggy says:

    What an interesting home! I admire people who can put things like that together.

  10. love it!

  11. I love her funky style and that rug in the DR is awesome!

  12. I {heart} her house!!!

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