The ability to imagine, to envision is invaluable when it comes to designing a home. And when that ability belongs to someone who also has a well-developed sense of artistry, the result can be a house that truly stands apart. Such is the home of Kate and Johnny Moore. It’s the home that Kate had envisioned it would become, a home distinctive in its refinements.
“Formerly, I was a fine arts photographer and a commercial director,” says Kate. “And I used the eye I had trained in those fields when I designed and furnished our home. We built our home for our art, but I also wanted our home itself to be a work of art. With sensual, curvaceous architecture and fine, beautiful finishes. I’m a romantic. I wanted us to see beauty everywhere we looked in our home. I wanted us to enjoy a vista from any and every vantage point.”
“I wanted us to enjoy a vista from any and every vantage point.”
BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF
With that in mind, and knowing they wanted the appearance and feel of a small European estate, Kate and Johnnie began looking for the ideal setting for their new home, which was to be fashioned after the works of Addison Mizner. Over the course of three years, the Moores continued to look at various pieces of real estate, which not only was enjoyable for them but it also kept them abreast of home and property values in the Houston area. When they came upon an half-acre lot with an abundance of live oaks and magnolia and prominently located on a peninsula where two roads converge, they knew they had found the perfect location. The only thing remaining was to make it theirs.
“We were patient, and we were rewarded for our patience in the end. That experience reminded me of how important it is to trust yourself when you’re building a home. You should get what you really want, whether it’s real estate or an element to be used in building,” says Kate. “And also, if possible, get it when you see it. You can always hold onto whatever it is until you’re ready to use it or you can put it in storage if necessary. Just don’t wait until you need something to start looking for it. If you do, you might have to settle for less than what you really want.”
With site determined, plans finalized and subcontractors onsite, construction began. It wasn’t long before Kate, who spent virtually every day on site, started to see the sensuous, flowing house she had envisioned come into being. The abundant curves of the arched doors, windows, and doorways, as well as the loggias, were creating the softer feeling just as she had wanted. Kate was particularly pleased when she saw the gently swirling staircase she had designed taking shape, even though its construction would require extra time and care.
“A curve always requires more than a line. Building a curve instead of a right angle always takes more, too. More time, more materials, more expense and better craftsmanship,” says Kate.
Gentler lines and fewer sharp angles are also fundamental to the peace and tranquility of the grounds and gardens. Within the fenced and gated property, curving walkways offer means for strolling among the gardens, including a separate tranquility area that Kate designed to be a meditation garden. “There’s a feeling of privacy about our property, I think. Because we’re located on a peninsula, we have neighbors on only one side. But we’ve also created a number of different areas within the yard and that gives a feeling of privacy, too. Having a variety of venues and vistas also makes the property seem bigger than it actually is.”
When it came to finishing the house, Kate used the highest quality products and finishing details she could find. Her love of light and the effect it creates when interacting with glass, gold leaf, and similar glossy surfaces is particularly evident. “We love the warm elegance that light can create when it’s used effectively. We have lots of windows and our house faces east, so the morning sun makes all the gold leaf in our home shimmer. And the crystal and glass just sparkle when the sun shines through them, making prisms everywhere. That’s why Johnnie and I affectionately call our home the house of rainbows.”
Gold leafing is used generously in the house to highlight both the architecture and the furnishings. On the interior of the lighted kitchen cabinets, which are painted and finished in mother of pearl, gold leaf provides a glow that accentuates the artwork, particularly the blown glass pieces, on display there. Other warm, glossy finishes in the kitchen such as the golden onyx of the backsplash, complement and set off effectively the original Italian scenes painted on the island and television cabinet. “The scene of the range hood reflects our home as it would appear near the short of Lake Como in northern Italy.”
Italian marbles used in varying combinations and designs throughout the house are also finished to reflect the light and thereby provide additional sheen. Kate especially enjoys the elegant hallway floor because the design helps to distinguish and define the space as an art gallery, as well as a generous entryway into the formal living room.
“The scene of the range hood reflects our home as it would appear near the short of Lake Como in northern Italy.”
On the sunning shelf that surrounds the pool and spa area, around which the house is built, Kate used an iridescent tile because of the shimmer and sparkle it provides. Though she choose to finish the pool floor in the deepest shade of Diamond Brite, which helped create a Hawaiian feeling, she designed the waterfall to be reminiscent of a favorite place along the river where she played as a child.
Now Kate and Johnnie can look out at a familiar waterfall and fall asleep to its soothing, restful sound from the beauty of their Louis XV master bedroom. The dropped arc finish to the ceiling houses hidden lighting that offers an additional warm, elegant luster to the room. Raising the hearth up off the floor allows the carved angels of the gilded fireplace to be more easily seen from the bed.
Kate used gold leaf also to accentuate the furnishings in the living room and the family room. “I enjoy going to finer antique estate auctions to look for those special, unique pieces that are increasingly difficult to find. Sometimes I’ve taken the pieces we’ve bought to a local artisan who specializes in gold leafing. He does beautiful work. His work can make the lines and features of a special piece really come alive.”
A DISTINCTIVE DREAM COME TRUE
It was the attention to fine detail and finish that defined Kate’s initial dream and vision for their new home, and it’s that same attention to fine detail and finish that makes their home distinctive. Kate and Johnnie Moore can now look around in any direction within their home or in the surrounding gardens and relish what they see. With a smile that bespeaks a touch of pride, Kate says, “Our neighbors tell us that this is a very Kate home, and I love hearing that. It makes you feel so good when you’ve done it yourself. Johnnie and I are very proud of our home. We love entertaining family and friends here as well as hosting charity events for Citizens for Animal Protection and other organizations. Our home is just what we wanted, and we really do see beauty everywhere we look. Both inside and out.”
BUILT: Broke ground in 2000 and completed 2½ years later
STYLE: Small European estate, primarily Italian Mediterranean
HOME SITE: One-half acre peninsula-shaped lot in a prominent Houston location
LIVING SPACE: 8,200 square feet
HOUSEBUILDING TIP: “Follow your heart and not the trend. That way, your home won’t be someone else’s home. It will be truly yours.”
CUSTOMER QUOTATION: “Frontgate items have detail, and I appreciate that. Of all the catalogs we receive, Frontgate carries the highest quality products.” — Kate Moore