Swimming Pool Design

Spring Valley dream home blends modern and traditional design with stylish kid-friendly touches

Space was tight in Blaire and Scott Hocking’s 1950s-era, 2,100-square-foot Spring Valley home, where they lived with their two young sons, John, now 9, and Eli, who soon will be 6. They couldn’t comfortably have friends over for parties, and they didn’t have the backyard they wanted.

Rather than relocate to a place that suited their needs, they opted to build their 4,600-square-foot dream house with a great backyard that includes a covered patio and summer kitchen, swimming pool and always-perfect artificial turf lawn. They demolished the original home in early March 2020 and moved in just before the February freeze.

One big advantage they had was that their builder, Scott Schindler of SRS Contracting, is Scott’s childhood friend, so their wives and children are close friends, too.

A mix of modern and traditional, the new house has a little something for everyone in the family. Blaire, 39, and Scott, 40, gained a sophisticated dining room and stylish sitting room. Their boys have a game room where they can hang out with friends and a toy room where they can play games or assemble colossal Lego structures.

Interior designer Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design served as the bridge between the two styles — Blaire’s more traditional and Scott’s more modern — blending both, along with colorful touches and one-of-a-kind pieces found on Round Top shopping excursions.

The Hockings, married 10 years, wanted guests to be wowed right when they entered, and Patton delivered with a stylish sitting room and the dining room.

With a hand-painted mural by Segreto Finishes artists, Patton instantly brought a feminine backdrop to the space. With a botanical/chinoiserie theme, the mural could pass for luxurious Gracie or de Gournay wallpaper.

White oak flooring that covers most of the ground floor was laid herringbone style in the dining room, and proved so attractive that the couple opted not to add a rug. A round table was important since conversation is easier with that seating pattern, and a trio of globe-shaped pendants lights up the room.

The sitting room, meanwhile, is more dark and moody, the perfect place for cocktails and conversation.

Paneled walls and the ceiling are lacquered in a deep blue, Farrow & Ball’s “Hague,” and a quartet of swivel chairs upholstered in caramel-colored leather clusters around a trio of cocktail tables. Draperies made of Pierre Frey’s “Pampa” wallpaper — cactus, palms and mountains in a toile design — merge the West Texas landscape with French, traditional style.

“I like things that are different, so it was one thing we couldn’t pass on,” Scott said of the unusual drapery fabric. A pair of cactus sculptures — Round Top discoveries — stands tall in a corner.

Blaire already is primed for Christmas. She’s planning to scoot the sitting-room furniture around so she can have a beautiful Christmas tree in a front window for everyone to see.

A short hall in the entry greets guests with a pretty vignette: a midcentury console made of white lacquer and acrylic, a Louis Philippe-style mirror and knobby Circa lamps.

The large living room and kitchen share an open space, with black-and-white furnishings on one end and the kitchen in a similar gray-white palette with quartzite counters and the same slabs running up a black wall. Segreto painted the kitchen’s switch plates to look like the quartzite so they “disappear.”

The team opted for white cabinets on a back and side wall, and used Farrow & Ball’s “Plummett” on the island, then repeated it in a nearby butler’s pantry.

Every remodeling or construction project is a balance of “saves” and “splurges,” and the Hockings chose to splurge on quartzite and marble slabs for the kitchen, bathrooms and butler’s pantry, using some 10 slabs throughout.

The breakfast nook has an L-shaped built-in banquette with thick cushions, and three bistro chairs around a rectangular table, all with a view of the backyard.

A covered outdoor space with a summer kitchen, fireplace and seating area, plus a swimming pool — a late addition during the pandemic — was part of the plan, so the Hockings can have families over. The kids can splash in the pool while the adults hang out on the patio.

The powder bathroom now has dark tile forming a geometric pattern behind a wall-mounted counter, an oval mirror and three globe-shaped pendants hanging in the corner.

Blaire and Scott created a quiet retreat in the primary bedroom suite, with built-in cabinets on each side of the bed and a bay window with a pair of club chairs for relaxing.

In its bathroom, an oversized shower can be accessed from two sides, and the walls are covered with big slabs of natural stone. In their prior home, Blaire lived without a bathtub, so she made sure she got a great one this time; it sits immediately in front of the shower with a floor-mounted faucet.

“I used to love hotel bathrooms before because they were so nice,” Scott said. “Now they don’t compare to this.”

The upstairs revolves around the couple’s sons, John and Eli. There’s a big family room with a cabinet full of games to play and another room they use as a toy room. Right now it’s filled with John’s Lego projects, but there’s plenty of room for Eli, too.

The boys were consulted on colors for their rooms, with John opting for blue and Eli wanting green.

Each has full-size bunkbeds, a wall of built-ins, a desk for homework and a window seat.

Patton, who has a young daughter of her own, said she doesn’t like decorating kids’ rooms in babyish styles because kids outgrow them too quickly. John’s window blinds are made with fabric with a blue background and leaping zebras, and Eli’s are covered in birds.

There’s a guest room upstairs, too, mostly used by visiting grandparents, including Scott’s mother, who lives in Kingwood.

In addition to spending more on nicer stone slabs, Scott wanted to invest in a smart home. Even as he explains how Alexa can turn on the lights or change music for him, she hears him say her name and gently asks him to repeat his question.

When they have parties, the Hockings can operate music, playing different songs in different parts of the house, if they like.

As for decisions about saving money, they considered a Wolf microwave drawer but opted instead to have a different microwave and place it in their butler’s pantry. The shift saved them $3,000.

Blaire saved ideas on Pinterest and did some shopping of her own. When a favorite Jonathan Adler coffee table seemed too expensive, she found one she likes on Wayfair. She’d always enjoyed shopping at Round Top with girlfriends, but now she had a different purpose and a new shopping partner — Patton.

“We did this together,” Blaire said. “Scott put so much into this house — he came here and checked on it every day.”

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