After Harvey, Champions couple adopts new style on golf course

After Harvey, Champions couple adopts new style on golf course

When Pam and Morgan Gottsponers’ Champions home was left with three feet of standing water from Hurricane Harvey, their decision was easy: Sell and move to higher ground.

After spending time in a couple of rentals, they finally found a lot with an older home – still in the Champions area, but on a higher elevation that felt safer for future flooding. Starting from scratch with a home and furnishings, they opted for a style update, with lighter colors, bigger windows and more luxurious finishes.

One day they found themselves sitting at a small patio in the backyard of their new home, just finished with framing and only early electrical installed, and they realized they were in over their heads when faced with the dozens of decisions they needed to make.

They’d navigated a one-year move to the Galleria area, where they lived in an apartment, enjoying a different social scene and a different commute. Though Pam, 69 – who works for COLA, a laboratory accreditation firm – has long been a work-from-home employee, Morgan, now 70 and retired, worked for Apache Corp. in oil and gas national marketing and traded an hour-long drive for a five-minute walk.

They spent a fair amount of time looking at homes that were for sale, but they just couldn’t find what they wanted.

Pam liked the Champions neighborhoods and wanted to get back to her suburban lifestyle, so when their lease was up, the couple found a small home to rent not far from the lot they bought for a new home. They demolished the existing home on the lot – a place that had been vacant for many years – and hired Jason Penberthy of Penberthy Custom Builders to create a new home that was Mediterranean on the exterior but more contemporary inside.

It was Penberthy who saw that the Gottsponers were stuck and suggested they bring in an interior designer he’d worked with on other projects, Lauren Grumbles of Tomball-based Lauren Grumbles Design. She helped them finish paint, tile and lighting selections, find ceiling treatments, organize the kitchen and furnish the home.

They were able to finish the home by December 2019 and then host a Super Bowl Party in February 2020 not long before the coronavirus pandemic set in, shutting down many businesses and putting an end to social gatherings.

The couple, married 46 years, had lived in a 4,400-square-foot home before and opted for a new one a bit smaller at 3,500 square feet with four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. 

Pam and Morgan are both from Lakin, Kansas, a tiny town in the southwest corner of that state. They knew each other in high school, but didn’t date until later, after Morgan returned home from service in Vietnam. Though they’ve moved a fair amount for Morgan’s jobs, they’ve been in the Houston area since 1987.

They decided this would be their last home, so aging-in-place measures were important, too. That means that it’s ADA compliant, electrical switches are lower, doorways are wider and showers don’t have thresholds that have to be stepped over.

Though they’re not back to full party mode, they do have friends over for brunch on weekends, so Morgan, who does most of the cooking, can put his new kitchen to work.

The main living area has an open concept and big windows that look out to the backyard and their wide patio with a pool and hot tub, outdoor kitchen and living and dining areas that all have a great view since the home is located on the 10th hole of the Champions Golf Club’s Jackrabbit Golf Course.

The kitchen has a big, curved island with plenty of prep space and a six-burner Thermador range with a griddle and warming drawer. Instead of splurging on an expensive custom-made stainless range hood, they had a wooden version faux painted to look like it has a metal finish. The range hood was painted by Luxe Fine Finishes, which also did some wall and ceiling treatments in other parts of the home.

A big walk-in pantry has a small wall that pulls out to reveal secret storage space. Pam jokes that when toilet paper was in short supply, this secret room is where she stored her precious stash, but the reality is that during a serious storm, Pam, Morgan and their Labrador retriever, Birdie, all hunkered down in this small but center-of-house room.

While the perimeter cabinets are painted white (Benjamin Moore’s “Calm”), the island and some built-in cabinets in the living room are dark gray-blue, Sherwin-Williams “Outer Space.”

The Gottsponers use the words “dark” and “brown” to describe their prior home, one that was decorated when dark décor was more popular. But they were tired of it and ready to replace that heavy style.

Most of the furniture in their home that flooded was ruined, so they needed to start over anyway. Some antiques and family pieces they acquired now reside in guest bedrooms with old family photos and a cabinet full of quilts made by Pam’s mother.

The living room has a velvety blue sofa with nailhead trim and a pair of white striped club chairs. Its fireplace has a cast stone surround topped with stacked stone that runs up the wall. 

One of the biggest conversations was whether to have ceiling fans: Pam likes them, Morgan doesn’t. When Lauren sided with Morgan, they set out to find great looking sconces, pendants and chandeliers instead.

Pam did want great ceiling treatments, though, so a beautiful chandelier in their dining area hangs from a domed surface with faux painting. The living room has a coffered ceiling, Pam’s office has a criss-cross grid of wooden beams and a back hallway features brick tile.

In the primary bedroom, they wanted a great bathroom that includes a deep tub with its own faux painted ceiling, beautiful tile behind their vanities, and both indoor and outdoor showers with stone walls.

The couple likes to vacation in the Caribbean, and Morgan said that nearly everywhere they stay has an outdoor shower, so when they were planning their new home, he wanted one here, too. The bonus is that it works as an easy dog-washing station with minimal cleanup.

A natural stone vessel sink that Pam fell in love with set the tone for the powder bathroom, where they used granite with dramatic gray and white veining, more dark blue paint with a mesh metal screen on the cabinet and a pair of pendants with clusters of light that look even more dramatic against the wall mirror.

The game room also serves as a family room, and the planning of this space was amended after Grumbles came on board. It was initially designed to have a full-service bar with a counter for prep work, but it would have taken up so much of the room that they might not have had the space for a seating area and a table and chairs, too. 

They scaled back the bar to be cabinets against the back wall with a sink, leaving more room to seat guests. This is the room where the Gottsponers watch TV, so automated shades on the windows and French doors allow it to be dark when they want. A lift-up coffee table also serves as a place for the couple to eat when it’s just the two of them at home.

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