Top-to-bottom renovation transforms The Woodlands home – News Trends

By | April 13, 2018


Jeff Morris’ wheels are turning.

He’s always in the middle of figuring something out, whether it’s exercising his engineer’s mind on a project at work or how to make a shower knob or a cabinet drawer more effective in his home in The Woodlands.

He and Cindy Morris, his wife of nearly 30 years, have spent the past year and a half enjoying the home they spent a full year renovating. The project began with the couple buying a house and deciding to remodel its kitchen and master bath.


But like many other new home-renovation projects, it turned into so much more.

Once inside, they thought it was too dark, so they removed all of its plantation shutters, donating them to Habitat for Humanity. It still was too dark, so they added nine windows to the 6,700-square-foot home, lightening things up all over.


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In a closer look, they saw it needed new flooring and wallcoverings, new lighting and updates to all of its four full and two half bathrooms.

If you’re counting, that’s adding up to a full-home renovation.

Jeff jokes that the family is on a five-year rotation, buying and selling homes often just because they feel like getting a new place. Some came with custom-made furniture, but each got some kind of special touch to make it their own.

The last one was a French country home on a golf course in Carlton Woods. Not only are they not golfers — it takes too much time, Jeff says — but it just wasn’t them.

“It was a beautiful home, it just wasn’t our style. This is what we like. This is more our style than anything we’ve been in,” said Cindy, a fifth-generation Texan who soon will finish a degree from the Dallas Theological Seminary and already has a new career as a counselor at Stonebridge Church.

Their new house is one they’d driven by many times, admiring the street because each home on it is a replica of a historic home in Texas. Theirs is modeled after the Galveston home of Samuel May Williams, built in 1839 and the second-oldest residence on the island.

The Morrises are approaching empty-nest years. Their oldest daughter, Alexa, lives in Oklahoma and is expecting the couple’s first grandchild this summer. Their son, Sam, is a student at Texas A&M University, and their youngest daughter, Grace, is 16 and contemplating where she’ll go to college.

Jeff Morris — a diehard Aggie and an executive in the oil-and-gas industry — is counting on it being A&M.

“When Alexa was in high school, she’d been accepted at UT and A&M, and I said, ‘They’re both great schools, and if you choose the University of Texas, you’ll drive your 11-year-old used car and live in a dorm. But if you go to Texas A&M, I’ll buy you a new car and build you a new house with a swimming pool right next to campus,’” said Jeff, the consummate storyteller. “So she chose A&M, and I bought her a new car, built a house and put a pool in the backyard. When it was my son’s turn, he asked if he got a new house, too. I said, ‘No, son, you all get the same house.’”

The Morrises are a close-knit family, and Jeff notes that from their home in The Woodlands, he can be in College Station in an hour and five minutes any time he wants to check in on his kids or take them to dinner. The family’s Magnolia ranch, where they keep Longhorn cattle — Cindy’s a UT grad — isn’t far away either.

They also have a vacation home in Hawaii, where the couple lived for the first five years of their marriage. Jeff’s sister had lived there, and he always enjoyed visiting. Not long out of college, she called one day to say that a friend needed to hire an engineer. He quit his job, and they were on their way.

Now they get to spend vacations in their fabulous home — it was featured on the cover of Coastal Living — on the east side of Oahu whenever they like.

The Morrises had hired decorators for small projects before, but for this new home, they called in Julie Dodson of Dodson Interiors, who’d done work for friends.

They needed ideas and furniture since everything they had stayed in their Carlton Woods house. With Cindy in school, she had no time to shop. Visits with Dodson included looking at fabric samples, and their phones stayed busy texting photos of furniture, lighting and other ideas.

Jeff was most excited about the kitchen. Years ago he saw a fabulous one in Architectural Digest and hung onto the magazine, hoping that someday he’d be in a house with the right configuration to mimic his dream kitchen. He designed his own range hood in brushed nickel with rivets that are decorative and functional. The counters and backsplash are Carrara marble, and the cabinets and 10-foot island are all painted bright white. Contemporary chandeliers with disks of textured glass hang over the island.

Carrara marble repeats in their breathtaking master bathroom, with large-format tile on the floor, a veiny slab behind the freestanding bathtub and smaller pieces laid herringbone style in the beautiful shower. The shower is another place that Jeff put his engineering mind to work. It’s a spacious site with his-and-hers doors, and Jeff wanted the shower head and knobs to be across from each other so they could turn on the shower and not get hit with an instant stream of cold water. Additionally, he wanted each side — his and hers — to have its own knobs.

As his contractor scratched his head, Jeff told him how he thought it could be done. It worked, of course.

In the same room, Jeff, who’s tall, wanted to avoid a “head-bumper” cabinet on the wall behind the toilet. Surely there could be another place to keep extra rolls of toilet paper that would be less cumbersome.

He looked at his vanity on the other side of the wall and wondered if one of his drawers could have a faux front, with a real front opening in the toilet area.

“The house was built in 2001, but it looked more like an ’80s or ’90s house,” Morris said of the dramatic transformation in the bathroom.

The original master bathroom had tan stone floors with small squares of black granite set into the corners; vanities had the same black granite. The new dazzling bathroom looks like it could make the cover of any home-décor magazine.

In the living room, too-traditional paneling came out in favor of clean white walls with bigger windows. On a wall with built-in bookshelves and a fireplace with a dark, heavy mantle and hearth, Dodson had them remove the shelving and cover the wall with reclaimed brick and a masonry fireplace and hearth.

No more French-country décor for the Morrises. Dodson instead had them mix a handful of antiques — an antique chandelier in the dining room, a rustic but elegant hall table in the foyer and a linen-covered bench in the living room — with more casual transitional sofas and chairs in neutral tones.

The result is a relaxing and livable space for the Morrises and their guests.

Though Cindy’s been too busy with school to host many parties, she does bring her ladies’ Bible-study group to her home.

Though there were plenty of luxurious splurges, the couple found ways to execute a few things on a budget.

For example, Jeff saw a stone fireplace mantel for the dining room but thought it would be too expensive. Instead, he had ¾-inch marble applied with book-matched corners so it looks nearly seamless. He got a similar look for a fraction of the cost.

In the foyer and front hall, they wanted a high-end paneled look but instead got the same effect by putting trimwork together with mitered corners — and Jeff did the work himself.

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