Design to make Visual

Memorial area family builds home around Venezuelan art, modern style

In 2007, Alejandra Rincon and her husband were on their way to a party and stopped to look at a home for sale. The house itself was not their dream place, but it had a great backyard, so they bought it.

The Rincons are Venezuelan natives who came to the U.S. for college and landed in Houston for work. Alejandra was a young mother and her husband, who works in the oil and gas industry, traveled a lot. She figured they’d be in Houston for a couple of years, then move on.

“My American experience had always been the East Coast. I went to camp in Maine and spent summers in New York or Miami. I had no Houston experience; I came here expecting to see cowboys in the street,” said Alejandra, now 44. She studied sociology and public policy and worked in nonprofit fundraising before deciding to stay home with her children, a daughter who is now 16 and sons who are 14 and 11. She now volunteers at her kids’ schools as well as for nonprofits that advocate for education and health of underprivileged children in the U.S. and Venezuela.

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They moved into the 3,400-square-foot home in the Lakeview neighborhood in the Memorial area and made the most of it. But Alejandra dreamed of having a modern house they could use to entertain family and friends. 

So they hired home designer Kevin Young, along with builder Prebisch Homes. Interior designer Jana Erwin of Nest Design Group helped Alejandra bring her interior vision to life. The project began early in the pandemic; construction finished in the spring of 2022.

“We did so much online. I could tell that Alejandra had a very clear vision of what she was looking for but needed help executing it and even elevating it. I also could help her figure out where to spend money and where to have an impact, or when it was OK to pull back,” Erwin said.

In the foyer, new 3D wall tile by Roca begins solid in one corner and becomes more sparse as it moves across. A black iron console table blends with the black steel front door and windows and the black steel staircase visible just down the hall.

“It was a labor of love. I wanted to make this place special, a place that my kids will remember as something beautiful and enjoy and treasure,” Alejandra said. “Both my husband and I are family oriented; we work as a team for sure. Even though I put my heart and soul into this project, he was very much on board with everything.” 

A gorgeous table with a steel base and quartzite top — created by Alejandra’s designer friend Maria Fernanda Del Bufalo — sits in the dining area in front of a large picture window and underneath an otherworldly chandelier sized in proportion with the table and two-story ceiling. Surrounding the table, though, are a “save,” velvet dining chairs from Crate & Barrel.

A modern Platner table with molded plastic Eames chairs reside in a more casual breakfast nook. Sleek Madeval cabinets on both sides of this nook serve as a butler’s pantry, where Alejandra can keep china, crystal and extra things for parties hidden away.

The living room is filled with color and texture, starting with a beautiful rug with big pops of red and purple, a gift from Alejandra’s father. Art throughout the main living area brings in more color, in pieces by artists such as Mariana Copello, Joaquin Salim, Alberto Riera and Gego (the late German-Venezuelan artist Gertrude Goldschmidt, who went by the truncated moniker).

Gray and white sofas, a suede-covered bench and a pair of channel-tufted chairs are all modern in style, neutrals that add texture and interesting shapes to the room.

“All of the pieces look very sculptural, and that was intentional. We liked the acrylic chairs with boucle fabric and suede on the bench and a velvety fabric on the sofa,” Erwin said. “We wanted it to look collected.”

At the back of the living room, situated so outdoor guests can easily access it when sliding windows are open, is the bar, a tidy space full of function. They added black and white decorative tile to the back wall, painted the cabinets black and added a trio of Knoll barstools.

It all comes in handy when they host events such as their big New Year’s Eve party, which starts late, runs long and draws a big crowd of family, friends and Venezuelan ex-pats.

In the kitchen, wood-grain panels on the island and coffee bar, plus a couple of floating shelves, add warmth to the modern white Madeval cabinets. Slabs of Mont Lucca quartzite were installed waterfall-style on the island and used for counters and backsplash, too. To avoid having electrical outlet plates that stand out from the quartzite backsplash, the painters who applied a plaster finish to the range hood also faux painted the outlet plates to blend with the veins and coloring of the quartzite. 

For the large primary bedroom suite, Erwin added an accent wall designed with a pattern of architectural trim behind the upholstered bed and a pair of shagreen-covered nightstands from RH.

The home’s bathrooms all have interesting tile treatments, with terrazzo tile floors and a combination of white subway tile installed vertically on two walls and part of the ceiling and taupe hexagon-shaped tile installed on the floor, up the back wall and onto part of the ceiling. It all makes for a chic package.