December 1, 2023

1950s-era Spring Branch ranch home gets a major update

5 min read
1950s-era Spring Branch ranch home gets a major update

When Annalee and Evan McCord bought their 1950s-era home more than a decade ago, they knew that someday they’d renovate to get the place the way they really wanted it.

Years passed, and the McCords didn’t do much more than think about it. Now and then they’d talk to a contractor but, for whatever reason, the timing never felt right.

Last year, though, the couple met mother-daughter contractors Brigitte Howell and Haley Ottmann of Home Girls Design and realized it was go time.

“Our house was eclectic in that it was a mix of hand-me-downs from when we got married, things from different families and things we got from Warrenton and Round Top. Our style was survival-with-little-kids with things that won’t get ruined or broken,” said Annalee, who is 42 and a kindergarten teacher. “A lot of the furnishings were at a breaking point and needed to be replaced. A lot of the house was at a breaking point, too.”

Their three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,962-square-foot home had plenty of space when it was just Annalee and Evan and their eldest daughter, Adelaide, who is now 14, but they’ve since had two more children, son Graham, now 12, and youngest daughter Mae, who is 9.

This summer, Annalee and Evan, who is 39 and vice president associate general counsel at Hines, will have been married for 18 years. They were both students at Abilene Christian University but didn’t meet until Evan went to Oxford, England, to study abroad. The same semester, Annalee’s uncle taught in Oxford, and she went along to be a nanny for his kids, That’s when she started dating Evan, who was one of her uncle’s students.

They could have bought a bigger home elsewhere, but they wanted to stay close to their extended family. The couple’s children are the fourth generation in Evan’s family to live in the Afton Village neighborhood in the Spring Branch area, and many family members are still nearby.

In the early planning stages of the five-and-a-half month construction project, Ottman and Howell talked to the McCords about how they used the space to help figure out what was important.

“We went through the house, and in one room we’d say, ‘This is where we like to do puzzles and school and art and games’ and then in the next room we’d say, ‘This is where we do puzzles and school and art and games.’ It was every room,” Annalee said. “Even in the kitchen, we like to hang out and play cards. You gravitate toward where everyone is.”

The children attend a University-Model School, where the kids go two days a week and then do their schoolwork from home three days a week, so they needed a room for their home studies.

Adelaide and Graham are often content doing schoolwork from their rooms now, but the family’s “projects room” — previously a dining room — is where Mae does her schoolwork and where the other kids store school materials, books and art supplies.

Big moves in the construction project were the creation of a new, 360-square-foot primary bedroom suite and the removal of a main living area wall with a brick fireplace that required support beams so they could create an open concept area.

They also reimagined the utility room after they found another place for the hot water heater. The improved utility room even has a built-in kennel for the family’s dog, Laszlo, a sweet Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Everyone helped with decisions: Annalee felt strongly about paint colors, while Evan had more opinions on the lighting. Graham and Mae worked together to pick out tile for their shared bathroom and Adelaide launched a Pinterest board with her preferences.

The big main living area has a round dining table that can expand when others come over for dinner, a living room with a big sectional and a new, more streamlined fireplace in a wall with built-in bookcases.

Supply-chain issues have caused a few hiccups in getting things done, including causing a big delay in the arrival of their Bosch dishwasher. And they’re still waiting for a West Elm chair that will go in the living room. (They expect to receive it a year after their initial order.)

Their kitchen used to be dark, with cabinets painted black, beige granite counters and beige tile backsplash. Now, it’s picture perfect with light Mont Blanc quartzite counters, white cabinets, gold lighting and hardware and an island painted Benjamin Moore’s “Tarrytown Green,” a deep pine.

Annalee was most interested in a functional kitchen, with pullout shelving in her pantry and shelves spaced to hold specific things. Some of her ideas came from the homes of friends they stayed with during construction.

“There were things I didn’t notice or appreciate until someone else had it,” Annalee said. “I saw a spice rack (in a pullout drawer alongside the stove) and thought ‘yes, that would be handy.’ And I like that the spices don’t sit out on the counter all of the time.”

Beige ceramic tile that used to covered the kitchen and family room floors has been replaced with salvaged hardwood that matches what they had in the formal living room, dining room and bedrooms, a great solution when you have an older home and want to extend the wood flooring.

The new bedroom suite gave Annalee and Evan a bigger bedroom, bathroom and closet, instead of the cramped spaces that were standard for the 1950s. It also meant that each of their kids has a room — no more sharing, even if the kids really enjoyed their bunkbeds.

Mae has closets with plenty of room for her things and Graham has a big shelf to hold his Lego structures and floating shelves at bedside for the stacks of books he loves to read. The two share a bathroom now, and it grew by a few feet — enough to add a second sink — when they absorbed some utility space and moved the door closer to the hallway.

Adelaide moved into what used to be the primary bedroom, so now she has her own bathroom that got a couple of updates with paint and new cabinet hardware. Because that bedroom was large, some of it was used for the new hallway that leads to the new primary bedroom suite.

The new suite’s entrance has a built-in desk that serves as Evan’s office on Fridays, when he works from home. The two have a large closet that they share, with clothing racks customized to hold different things and shelves for Annalee’s shoes.

“I love its layout and location in the house. It feels so relaxing on mornings when we don’t have to be somewhere right away. It feels restful and I love how that all turned out,” Annalee said.

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