Thu. May 23rd, 2024

The first house that Charles and Sherrell Neal have bought together is a 1990s-era production home in Cypress. It has too many interior angles and a dated exterior, but Sherrell saw its potential.

Sherrell, who launched her own interior design firm, Sherrell Design Studio in 2016, tackled her own home as a big first project, creating a new palette for the exterior, then shifting inside and reshaping its landscaping, too.

Her vision for the house’s exterior included painting its pinkish-tan brick Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter,” a light “greige” that on this house reads fairly white on sunny days, and installing new, black-framed windows and replacing the brown roof with one that’s light gray. New lantern porch lights (Ralph Lauren’s Carrington lantern for Visual Comfort) and dark green paint (Benjamin Moore’s “Bassett Hill”) for the front door add a little color and a lot of style.

The home is just 2,100 square feet, so when they started to address interior changes, Sherrell wanted to get rid of as many angled walls as she could to maximize room sizes. Also, any room that didn’t get wallpapered was painted Benjamin Moore’s “Chantilly Lace,” a popular shade of white because it has virtually no undertone.

The kitchen was nicely finished with modern, European-style Foscari cabinets, so the Neals didn’t need to spend a lot of money updating that space.

In the living room, though, a prior owner had installed similar modern cabinets on one wall and covered an angled fireplace wall — from ceiling to floor — with 20-inch squares of tan limestone tile. 

Sherrell’s reinvention of the space was to remove the cabinets and allow for more seating, then replace the wall of tile with a sleek and simple mantel that would work with any style of furnishings. The Neals tinkered with the windows in this room, removing two smaller windows with a single larger window for a better view of the backyard.

She used a large sisal rug from Stark underneath an antique Oushak rug, then used a light color palette of neutrals and blues in solids, stripes and florals for furniture and pillows. Their white sofa was reupholstered in a light beige stripe, fabric from Suzanne Kasler’s coastal collection for Lee Joffa. A pair of swivel chairs are done in a soft, muted blue Belgian linen with a Greek key tape trim, and another pair of antique reproduction chairs were reupholstered in a geometric print, with gold leaf applied to the wood arms, legs and trim.

Sherrell said that she knew the tight stripe on the sofa would read as a simple neutral rather than a pattern, allowing her to play with patterns elsewhere in the room. 

“I love fabric and pattern, but there’s a balance in mixing patterns well,” Sherrell said. “I love pairing a floral with a stripe. You have to be mindful of scale; you need a small print with less white space, and if you’re using a floral with more than one color, you can pull a color from that as a coordinating color.”

Sherrell loves chinoiserie-style wallpaper but didn’t want the big investment of Gracie or de Gournay wallpaper, knowing this wouldn’t be a forever home. But she found a beautiful Tempaper mural peel-and-stick wallpaper with botanicals in soft colors that wraps around the dining room.

“It was cost effective, but, honestly, I loved the pattern and color. It’s black and gray and soft warm white, and it’s a great look,” she said. “I wanted people to feel like they’re in a garden.”

She reupholstered her Schumacher dining chairs in cornflower blue fabric and used a similar color for draperies in the room.

The room’s chandelier is a Visual Comfort piece designed by New Orleans-based Julie Neill, who gifted it to the Neals. Charles Neal is a longtime employee at Visual Comfort, a lighting company launched years ago by Andy Singer. Charles has worked his way up the ladder and is now its executive vice president. In fact, all of the home’s lighting, naturally, is from Visual Comfort.

 Sherrell has lots of fine china, crystal and flatware, and sets a formal table when friends and family come over.

“In my family, we see each other all of the time, and they’ll say, ‘You don’t have to do this for us,'” Sherrell said. “I want them eating on the best. I can mix things from different collections because I gravitate to the same colors and style. I can layer in different glassware and I have tons of napkins, some with and some without a monogram. I change it out for dessert and appetizers and soup — the whole experience.”

Sherrell is all about textiles, and it’s evident in her primary bedroom, where she used a form of bed drapery called a “tester.” It brings in draperies and the equivalent of a valance behind the bed and its headboard, creating a romantic scene reminiscent of a canopy bed, though without the canopy.

She layered whites and ivory and a soft blush in draperies, bedding and upholstery on a footboard bench and had a new king-size bed made with an 80-inch-tall headboard that backs up to the “tester” draperies for a little more drama in traditional style.

A pair of Made Good nightstands, covered in faux ivory, add a little texture to the room. 

They started over in the primary bathroom, gutting the old version that had a big corner tub and tiny shower to create the reverse: a free-standing tub that took up far less room and a bigger shower. Getting rid of an angled wall in an adjacent guest bedroom, added a little more space to the primary bath, allowing two larger vanities, each with a tall storage cabinet.

They used luxurious Italian Cararra marble for the counters and wall tile, and opted for a mosaic version of it for flooring. Removing one of the room’s windows and reducing the size of the other allowed for two wall niches for towels, flowers or other things.

The three-bedroom home has two guest rooms, the smaller room holding just a twin bed with a small desk and the larger room getting the full design treatment with Brunschwig and Fils’ Talavera wallpaper, a pattern repeats in a large lumbar pillow and a bedskirt. For the bed, Sherrell took the headboard of the bed her husband bought years ago — a short, brown, nondescript headboard — and had a workroom reupholster it after making it taller and adding a camelback detail. 

Both of the guest rooms had carpeting, so the Neals found wood flooring similar to what was in the main living area and added it to the two bedrooms. 

The two rooms also share a guest bath, which was was gutted so they could install a wide dark blue vanity with a marble top, wallpaper, a new mirror and, of course, a pretty chandelier.

“Color has had such an impact. You can use blue and yellow or colors that make you feel alive or awake. If you want moodiness, have a cigar room and paint it something masculine and strong,” she said. “Right now, all of my clients love color. I’m painting more rooms with color, and there’s wallpaper everywhere. There’s no limit to color in the architectural story of our home.”

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