Modernist Houston Home With Brazilian Curves

One couple from Brazil wanted a home that was true to their roots after years of living abroad. They built it themselves. Gustavo and Angelica Nechar lived in Brazil for many years, but also in France where their careers were successful. They owned a Haussmann-style apartment at the 17th Arrondissement in Paris. It wasn’t until Mr. Nechar, a human-resources executive, brought the couple to Houston in 2013. They realized that all their homes had been lacking one thing: a design made just for them. The sprawling suburban house they bought when they arrived in Houston was not right. It was too big for a couple who had two adult sons. And it was too far from the action of the city, which had pleasantly surprised them with its cosmopolitan vibe and cultural offerings, even after 13 years in Paris.What they wanted, they realized, was to build a house in the city that would support an urban, walkable lifestyle.ImageAngelica and Gustavo Nechar built a custom-designed house in Houston with the help of StudioMET Architects and Meedi Hidalgo, an interior designer, who introduced curves to an interior that was previously all straight lines.Credit…Annie Mulligan for The New York Times”After 30 years of being married, we decided to build our own house for the first time,” said Ms. Nechar, 48, who left her job as a lawyer to open a showroom for the Brazilian furniture company Etel around the same time.Added Mr. Nechar, 55, “We had always been moving and buying houses from others, and living in places that didn’t have our soul.”They wanted to be able to entertain friends in style. He said that they love to host guests and to cook, which they learned in France. “When we talked about our home, we wanted it to be a place where people could feel comfortable being with us, sharing a meal, or a glass of wine.” They found a old bungalow in Montrose, close to the Menil Collection museum, Rothko Chapel, and many other restaurants. They bought it for about $550,000, with plans to demolish it and start fresh.ImageWith Ms. Hidalgo’s guidance, the couple chose a thin, glazed Italian brick that runs from the exterior to the interior.Credit…Annie Mulligan for The New York TimesTheir search for an architect to conceive the house led them to StudioMET Architects, after they’d admired the boxy, modernist homes with long, flat roofs and plenty of glass that the firm had built in Houston.”A contemporary house — that’s what we wanted,” Ms. Nechar said. “We didn’t want to play like people here who build houses like palaces.” Stephen Andrews, a partner with StudioMET, said that the firm wanted the house to be subtle and not make a statement from the outside. The two-story design has an upper level suspended above a poolside patio and back outdoor kitchen. It was designed to maximize natural light and connections with the outdoors. However, the Nechars started to have doubts as soon as the plans were completed. The couple were concerned that the house would look too similar to other architects’ projects. They wanted something different. Meedi Hidalgo was a local interior designer who offered a second opinion. “I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to highlight their cultural backgrounds and personalities,” Ms. Hidalgo stated. “I wanted to capture their culture and add some poetry and emotion to the space.” She not only offered advice on furniture and finishes but also suggested some architectural changes. She said that she studied the midcentury-modern Brazilian designs and concluded that the house should be filled with sensual shapes. “Brazilian midcentury design was dominated Oscar Niemeyer, who loved the curve, as well as women.” “So I decided that we should try to bring in curved lines as much as we could.”ImageThe living room has an Alta armchair by Oscar and Anna Maria Niemeyer.Credit…Par BengtssonInside the front door, Ms. Hidalgo changed a straight staircase into a sculptural, curved one with open treads. She created a large, sweeping curve at the junction of the kitchen and living room ceilings. Upstairs, she replaced the rectangular pivot door to her primary suite with a pocket-door within an asymmetrical arch. In a nod towards the couple’s time in France she installed a floor to ceiling, wood-and brass screen from Paris-based Red Edition in the area between the kitchen and the dining area. She also tried to add attractive textures and colors. She pushed for thin, glazed Italian bricks to be used on exterior walls. She commissioned custom concrete panels with abstract shapes for the living room. Credit…Par BengtssonIn her primary bedroom, she used dip-dyed wool curtains by Holly Hunt in a watery Blue. She used large-scale porcelain wall tiles in the primary bathroom to create the appearance of worn plaster walls. “It’s a project which really embodies who and what we are, and it is just phenomenal,” Mr. Nechar stated. “We are very happy to have achieved this.” Sign up here for weekly email updates about residential real estate news. Follow us on Twitter at @nytrealestate