When Teresa Welch moved, it was to start a new chapter of life not just for her but ultimately for her extended family.
She didn’t know a soul in the Houston area but had an opportunity to leave an IT career behind in Maryland to launch a business — Alston Transportation, an Amazon delivery-service partner.
Welch moved here in August 2018 to get established, and by the end of that year, her children — Kaia, now 17 and a high school senior, and Brandon, 15-year-old sophomore — had joined her. In early 2019, her ex-husband transplanted, too, to be near his children. In time, her mother and sister joined the fun.
She rented a home in Katy because she and her ex-husband agreed they’d put their kids in the school system there.
“I started looking for homes and said, ‘You know, I want a house that’s designed the way I want it. I don’t want to tear stuff up and redo it,’” Welch said. “I’ve done that all my life.”
A Realtor led her to the Cross Creek Ranch neighborhood in Fulshear. Welch had never built a home or worked with an interior designer, but she was game for both.
“Once I decided on a plan, I had to go to the design center and had to make all of these decisions in four hours. It was so overwhelming,” she said of the prospect of going to the Perry Homes design center to pick out finishes.
Busier than ever with her company, she wanted help making decisions, so she hired April Littmann of Neighbor Interiors.
“There are things I never would have thought of. I don’t live in that world,” Welch said. “To take a little piece of tile and a little piece of cabinet and know if it looks right — I can’t do that. She made me feel comfortable with the decisions.”
By the time they were done picking out hardware, plumbing fixtures, tile and flooring, Welch knew that Littmann could help fill the house with furniture, too.
Welch had a good handle on her style: It was getting more transitional and contemporary. She’s never liked a lot of clutter, but she has always loved big splashes of color, especially in the original art she has collected through the years.
Littmann said that her focus was to create custom touches instead of a simple “builder look.” For hard surfaces, that meant quartz counters, hardwood floors and interesting backsplash tile in the kitchen.
The kitchen cabinets are painted white, and the island is a trendy gray. Welch wasn’t sure she wanted hardware on cabinet doors and drawers, but Littmann reminded her that those are high-touch surfaces, and the hardware will make the paint look nice for longer.
Welch and Littmann agreed that oversized lanterns would look great over the island, and they found a pair that look like small chandeliers inside boxy lanterns.
When they arrived, though, Welch was certain there’d been a mistake.
“The boxes were at my waist, they were so tall. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, did I screw this up?’” Welch said. “They took them out of the box and, sitting on the floor, they still looked so big.”
Once the lanterns were hung, Welch understood the choice.
“Scale is something designers and consumers are playing with,” Littmann said of lighting choices. “You don’t have to follow an exact rule. You can be more dramatic and go bolder. That’s something people are doing now — not really playing it safe.”
On her own, Welch purchased barstools for the kitchen island but thought they weren’t quite right. Littmann replaced them with stools that could tuck under the island’s overhang since the tall backs of the other barstools were distracting when you looked into the kitchen from the living room.
In furnishing the house, Welch’s top priorities were bedrooms for Kaia and Brandon and getting furniture for the living room.
“When we moved, my son was in the middle of junior high and my daughter was in the middle of high school. You can imagine what that’s like for a teenager,” said Welch, a native of Flint, Mich. “They had to move and leave their schools. I wanted them to feel like someone was listening to them.”
So Littmann had virtual sessions with all three, and sometimes the kids gave one-word answers. But they gave her enough information to know that Brandon liked sports and simple colors and Kaia was earthier, wanting plants and a Bohemian vibe.
“I can tell you how much my kids like their rooms — I can’t get them out of there,” Welch said. “They would usually hang out in the living room all the time, especially my daughter. But she loves, loves, loves her room. I literally have to go to her and say, ‘Can you come hang out here with us?’”
For Kaia’s room, Littmann opted for a headboard and nightstands in a weathered, sun-bleached wood color and linens in sandy colors with a little bit of pink. On one wall, planters allow for fresh or faux succulents or other plants.
Littmann and Welch both wanted Brandon to have a room he could grow into, so they opted for more modern furnishings. He needed storage, so they put a trunk at the foot of his bed. A bat he cracked in half during a school baseball game hangs on a wall next to an acrylic cube that holds sports mementos.
For the living room, Littmann helped Welch choose a sofa and a pair of swivel chairs along with a TV console. A floor-to-ceiling stone front for the fireplace has a wood-beam mantel that holds colorful art, and African masks hang on a nearby wall.
To break up an expanse of sheetrock between two sets of windows, Littmann urged Welch to splurge on floor-to-ceiling draperies. She agreed, but she wanted a close friend who’s a seamstress back in Michigan to make them.
Littmann purchased the fabric and shipped it to the friend, who made them on time, but shipping delays were going to prevent them from arriving in time for the installation appointment.
“One night, it’s midnight and I’m about to go to bed, and I get a call from my friend. She says, ‘The drapes are going to be on your front porch in 15 minutes,” Welch recalled. “I’m in the delivery business, and I know that no one can do that. She literally drove here to get me my drapes, then got in her car and drove back to Michigan.”
From there, Littmann and Welch dressed up her powder bathroom with a faux-paint treatment in shades of gray, swapped out the mirror and light and added art.
COVID-19 has kept Welch from using her formal dining room much, but when she is ready to step out of her bubble, it’s gorgeous.
Stylish chairs with velvet couture fabric and sexy acrylic legs surround a 60-inch round table. Faux grasscloth vinyl wallpaper covers the walls, and a chrome starburst chandelier hangs over the table. Another piece of colorful art, a contemporary painting by Ko Bhamra, a Canadian artist whose work Welch admires, is on display.
“These chairs are a statement. Oh, my goodness, they’re the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. They are comfortable and beautiful,” Welch said. “Then as soon as that light was up, I thought, ‘Yes, it’s an instant home run.’”