Real estate broker Bill Baldwin finds and renovates a lakefront home next to his childhood cottage

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Houston real estate broker Bill Baldwin spent much of his childhood fishing and waterskiing on Sunset Lake outside of Huntsville, and he’s now recreating his own family’s dream.

After spending months tearing down walls, reworking the interiors, and waiting for building materials and furniture, he sits on his back patio on a cool fall day, sharing an al fresco lunch with his partner of seven years, Fady Armanious.

Armanious, creative director of women’s clothing store Tootsie’s, tended shrimp on an outdoor grill after making a chopped salad in their remodeled kitchen.

Throughout the week, the pair live in Houston and are part of the hustle and bustle of a busy life, holding demanding jobs, attending philanthropic events, and hosting a few of their own.

But just an hour from their townhouse is their rustic lakefront home they’ve spent months restoring to its pre-1970 glory.

When Baldwin’s children – Ginger Baldwin, 29, and Richard Baldwin, 28 – were younger, the little cabin they had on this lake was fine. They got older and busier and the tiny home didn’t work for them anymore, so he sold it in 2008 after owning it for seven years.

But he always thought of going back. When the house next to his chalet went up for sale, he quickly bought it.

“I want the generational thing for my kids. I wanted those times when you could just play, fish, and kickball. These things became so important to me because my mother passed away when I was young, ”said Baldwin, whose mother died while in college. His father was a football coach at the University of Houston and later for Bum Phillips with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.

Although his father moved to Louisiana, Baldwin stayed in Huntsville while in high school, with friends families. Not only was he very independent, but he believed that one day he would go into politics in Texas and moving to Louisiana just wouldn’t work with his plan.

The house, however, was in a terrible state. Its exterior was pink and much of the interior was pink as well. Its previous owners were elderly and had lived in the house for 52 years, creating a downstairs bedroom since they couldn’t climb the stairs to the upstairs bedrooms.

The kitchen was small and quirky – in fact most of the rooms were small and quirky.

He bought the house in March 2021 and the same day he bought it, he and Ginger were inside tearing up the old carpet and considering the upcoming interior demolition.

Baldwin, 56 years old and owner of Boulevard Immobilier in Houston, could have done just about anything to remodel the 50s home, but decided to stay true to its roots, taking it back to before 1970, using vintage appliances and manufactured furniture. in America – even finding art created around this time.

He tore off the drywall installed on the fireplace wall to find the original brick. More hardwood has been added to keep the main floor cohesive; then they added more hardwood to the upstairs bedrooms.

The paneling was painted white and the kitchen still retains its vintage charm, although its decades-old Formica has been replaced with a new Formica featuring a gray-white Calacatta marble-like pattern. Baldwin even found vintage appliances, although he bought a new Big Chill dishwasher for its vintage appearance.

Baldwin knew his kids would love to return to the lake house, but he wasn’t sure how the big-city-focused Armanious would react.

Armanious didn’t hesitate, dabbling in color palette ideas – taken from the decor – and helping to find all kinds of furniture and materials for the home, inside and out.

“Here we don’t have a television. This is what you need in a vacation home. You want to relax, ”said Armanious, 39, who is the family’s cook when they are by the lake.

In the main living room there are several places to gather: a living room with Mid-Century style leather and upholstered furniture and a vintage record player as well; a sitting area in front of the fireplace; a tulip-style table and chairs where they can have breakfast; and a more formal dining room with a simple wooden table and chartreuse chairs.

In fact, there are several places to dine – Baldwin and Armanious plan to start having more entertainment here. There is another table and chairs in the walkway between the main house and the master suite, one on a patio near the built-in grill and a fourth by the lake on the dock.

What is now the master bedroom was the garage. Now it has plenty of room for a bedroom, closet, master bathroom, and a flexible room that will likely become a home office that can accommodate a visitor.

The color scheme – browns, greens, orange and gold chartreuse – was chosen from the colors you’ll see here, from nearby Huntsville State Park and Sam Houston National Forest to red-orange sunsets that sparkle on the surface of the lake.

An accent wall in the master bedroom has wallpaper made from a photograph of a nearby wood, paired with gold-hued bedding, then emerald green Ann Sacks tile in the shower.

Care has been taken to keep the upstairs bathrooms as close to the original as possible. So Ginger’s bathroom still has a pink toilet and sink – and they added pink wallpaper with a botanical pattern to the walls. Richard’s bathroom still has a medicine cabinet with mirror built into the wall, as well as beige square wall tiles with pine cone decor.

What is now a walkway between the main house and the master suite was once enclosed, but Baldwin and Armanious like the idea of ​​a welcoming place that visitors could use to walk straight into the courtyard. It even has an access door to the powder-coated bathroom from the main house.

On the outside, Baldwin got rid of the Pepto-Bismol paint – yes it was original, but it was really bad – and opted for Sherwin-Williams “Peppercorn”, a color he had. used on homes in Houston.

From the inside, it’s obvious that sightseeing in Sunset Lake is all about being outside. Four sets of large sliding doors cover the back of the house, for easy access wherever you are.

Baldwin installed a series of three docks – one for eating, one for sitting, and one for fishing and kayaking – along its 160-foot frontage on a 110-acre lake. On these docks and the patio near the grill – it was a wood-burning grill that they raised and used to hold a gas grill – orange is the accent color for rugs, chairs, and pillows – a color easily identifiable from the brilliant sunsets here.

Nearby, Richard tends his vegetable garden and Fady cuts pieces from his herb garden while he prepares lunch. Meyer lemon and fig trees will one day bear fruit, but for now they are spreading their roots and growing.

Back in Houston, the pair are planning and building a new modern house which they are building with architect Michael Hsu. The two are often seen at charity events supporting the Houston Ballet, Recipe for Success, and the Blackwood Educational Land Institute, among others. Baldwin often hosts events for his favorite artists and also lends his Houston home for photo ops, averaging 115 events at his home each year.

For now, however, you’ll find him on Sunset Lake on the weekends, enjoying the result of his hard work and remembering his childhood and the dream he created.

Diane.cowen@chron.com


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