Instead of moving out, this Houston woman gave her River Oaks-area townhouse a chic upgrade

Claudia Kreisle was looking for a bigger house, but all she found were huge price tags with corresponding tax bills.

Her 1,485 square foot townhouse on the edge of River Oaks, she decided, should be enough – she would do with this one exactly what she wanted.

While she likes to entertain, Kreisle does not cook. It brought a different approach to remodeling her kitchen and imagining what “entertaining” would mean. Interior designer Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design made sure she could accommodate plenty of people in her living room and could seat at least eight at the dining table.

It also meant that the small office area in the kitchen — which Kreisle hadn’t used since she bought the place in 2010 — could become a bar.

Originally from Austin who moved to Houston for work, Kreisle is in charge of Phillips 66’s social impact team, overseeing their work in the areas of philanthropy, volunteerism, corporate sponsorships, scholarships and community relations.

His family has deep roots in both Texas history and American history.

On one side of the family, his ancestors were among the first Europeans to arrive in America, including John Harwood, who was governor of Martin’s Hundred, a Virginia Company of London colony established in January 1619 east of Jamestown.

His Kreisle ancestors left Germany in 1845 when Texas was still a republic, and by the time they arrived three months later it had become the 28th US state. They lived briefly in Victoria and Goliad before moving to Austin in 1871, going into business with Joseph Hannig and his wife, Susanna Dickinson, one of the few Alamo survivors.

Work on the Kreisle townhouse began in October 2020 – before building materials and furniture became too hard to come by – and she hosted her first event, a wedding shower for a colleague, the following June .

While the kitchen and bar had some construction going on, much of the work involved refreshing the space with new furniture, paint, brass hardware, lighting, and some wallpaper.

Her kitchen used to be a regular space you’d see in any apartment — too small to have an island, and with white cabinets and a black granite countertop; a small stove and a microwave installed above.

Now the microwave is in an easily accessible cabinet, and a custom range hood fills the spot where it once stood.

When Patton urged Kreisle to buy a white range, Kreisle’s immediate reaction was that it might look like something her grandmother had or be so trendy that she would quickly regret the purchase.

When she looked at GE’s Cafe Collection, however, she was sold. Manufacturers of high-end appliances, such as the French Lacanche or La Cornue, have a five-figure price, while the very attractive GE range costs significantly less.

“When Mary showed me the photo of the stove, I was totally into it. It wasn’t the white appliances I thought she meant,” said Kreisle, who is 41. “It’s almost decorative, so I said, ‘Let’s do it and let’s do this, it’s a really pretty kitchen. Everyone comments on it. »

Its new bar is a sparkling gem, with a satellite-style light fixture and rejuvenating brass and glass shelves mounted on antique mirrored subway tiles that run along the wall. The mirrored tile was less expensive than buying an entire sheet of glass.

Since it’s a townhouse, its first floor is a garage, but they added gray and white cement tile to the floor, installed new carpet, and painted the stair railing black.

The second floor contains the main living space – kitchen and dining/living room – and saw most of the work. The walls are a brighter, crisper white, Farrow & Ball’s “All White”. New blinds and draperies have softened the whole room.

In the dining room, they kept Kreisle’s faux bamboo chairs and reupholstered the seats, then added a pair of custom-made hostess chairs upholstered in blue velvet. A new table from Vieux has an acrylic base and a white lacquered top.

Behind is the small sideboard that Kreisle already had, a piece made prettier with a new black lacquer finish. There’s Asian diptych art hanging above, and Patton added a pair of sconces either side.

“The art belonged to my grandmother and I loved it since I was a little girl,” Kreisle said. “It came with me and has always been one of my favorite pieces.”

Kreisle’s faithful companion, Scotch, an 11-year-old orange tabby, also loves the dining room, and most of the time he can be found hiding at the base of the table – because it’s acrylic and he can see through – or on one of the chairs.

He was a big factor in choosing colors and fabrics: his fur had to blend in so it didn’t look like there was cat hair on the floor or furniture all the time.

Before, the built-in entertainment center was the same color as the walls, and a single sofa and pair of chairs filled the room.

Now, a sofa with a finial that stretches out like a daybed shares the space with armchairs upholstered in a blue cheetah print, a pair of ottomans with a cheery lemon pattern in the upholstery, and a modern wooden coffee table and glass.

Beanbags covered in a lemon pattern weren’t part of the original plan, but when Patton bought some Kreisle fabric, Kreisle saw it and said, “I wish I had a bigger house so I could put it somewhere. . Patton suggested ottomans, and they’re the perfect sunny accent in the room.

The entertainment center is painted pale blue to match the dining room chairs. Beneath it all is a custom cut antelope print rug.

The powder bath on this floor got a major boost with Schumacher’s “Queen of Spain” wallpaper in soft blue and white, a new mirror framed in green glass, lighting and brass hardware.

The upstairs master bedroom walls were painted Farrow & Ball’s “Parma Grey”, and Patton added new bedside tables, lamps and a sofa. Kreisle’s bathroom received new paint and hardware.

The guest bedroom, now with a fresh coat of white paint, has new bedding, artwork and a nice light fixture where a ceiling fan once stood. Round acrylic bases were added to a pair of lamps from Target, making them look like a designer find.

“I wanted it to be classy and unique and sophisticated,” Kreisle said. “I didn’t want anything trendy because I won’t be doing this again for a long time.”

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