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In 2001, when Amy and Carlos Villarreal were looking for another home, location was a priority. Carlos wanted to come home for lunch from his downtown law office. When they stumbled upon the home on Louisiana, the location and bay views were enough to set their imaginations into overdrive, resulting in a renovation with multiple phases. Both Carlos and Amy directed the entire creative process and design. Blending a style from Carlos’ childhood in Monterey, Mexico and Amy’s travels to France, they combined the best of both worlds.
The first part of the renovation took 10 months and was done by contractor Peter Fernand and master carpenter Gilbert Morales. Gilbert is, indeed, responsible for all that beautiful cabinetry in the main rooms downstairs, the kitchen, the upstairs bedrooms, and for the two story playhouse. But the second part of the renovation took place several years later and took almost another year. That portion included the half bath, master bath, renovations to the master bedroom, and the exterior staircase and tile. This second part of the construction was overseen by Mike Howry. As you can tell, many talented people have contributed to the house.
Walking into the foyer, to your left is a formal living space with the fireplace as the focal point. The original ranch-style fireplace was redone with an ornate hand painted mantel. Morales crafted the bookshelves, molding, and accents throughout the home. The dining room walls are hand painted by artists Linda Baker and Rebecca Glaze to add an elegant detail. Most all of the light fixtures were replaced, and several windows were added to enhance the views. Like a time warp, one may feel as though they have gone back in time to a place where conversations, reading, and family gathering without big screen TVs were enjoyed.
“W loved the combo of Spanish/French as it’s the same as in New Orleans. We figured that was particularly relevant because we were on Louisiana Avenue,” said Amy.
While most of the artwork is traditional, there are several large, colorful paintings by Linda Dumont from Austin. These paintings are of the Corpus Christi bay front, where one can sense the movement and energy just flowing from the canvas.
The master suite is off the formal living room and has windows looking onto the bay. The TV is hidden in the built-in armoire. It seems quaint and simple until you open the doors to the bathroom. Inspired by his trip to Monticello, Carlos had a tub in the center of the octagonal room, and the entire room is wrapped in meticulously placed tiles from Valencia, Italy. One vanity is made from an antique wooden buffet and provides a sink that’s exactly the right height for Carlos. The marble shower has seven showerheads and was like the one they saw at the Hyatt Hill Country. But there’s more; glass doors lead onto a private fenced courtyard with a quiet water fountain.
Moving the other direction from the foyer to the dining room, the old world charm becomes evident. The exposed beams were painted white creating a welcoming space. Through the dining room is the butler’s pantry with a sink that’s immediately off of the kitchen. Blue and white tiles, also from Valencia, create a French country feel that is decorative and functional. The original kitchen was expanded, and a breakfast nook with a bar area and second dishwasher were added.
The kitchen is open to the large but cozy second living space. The room is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows overlooking the backyard gardens. There is a second bedroom downstairs with a garden view and a private bath.
Upstairs there are two bedrooms that were personalized for their children, Franklin and Alexandra (or Ally). Ally’s room has ballet bars and mirrors were she took and gave lessons until she went off to college at Columbia University. There she is majoring in journalism and writes for Huffington Post and The New York Times. Often she is asked to review dance performances in New York; a natural fit for her talents. The front bedroom overlooks the bay, and this was Franklin’s room since he was 8 years old. He was a fan of JR Tolkien’s Hobbit series, and they built him a closet that was a great hideaway. After school, Franklin moved to the west coast. Franklin is living in LA managing his own ESports team. Also, upstairs is a small room with built-in bunk beds and shelves. The room was the fairy room based on a birthday party for Ally, and it’s always been a favorite spot for the kids and their friends when they were little. The home feels like it holds many magical memories nourished by Amy’s creativity.
The backyard is a little Giverny with green latticework and gates. The gardens are separate from the large grass yard were the two-story playhouse is and the private master bath courtyard. The original backyard had a few trees and was a blank slate. The transformation was effective, and you would not be surprised to look over and see an artist in a smock with a beret painting water and sky en plein air.
Over the three-car garage are guest quarters with a bath, kitchen and fireplace. There is also a small apartment next to the garage. At one point, the property was used as a Bed & Breakfast, and you can understand why with the great location and expansion scenery.
They held many family get togethers for the holidays and birthday parties. While outgoing in public, Carlos preferred private family gatherings and was most himself at home. One year they transformed their home into Hogwarts with a hat sorting ceremony, classrooms and a fortuneteller. But one of Amy’s favorite spots is the swing in the front yard. She has beautiful memories of her and Carlos looking at the water in the evening and talking about their day.