I think you’ll love getting to know Lisa from Pearland, Texas. Her story is an excellent example of how life rarely turns out the way we expect it to — and that is okay. Her farmhouse chic home is full of personality and fun details, and seems like a great place to raise a pair of twins. Welcome, Lisa!
We are the Hooks Family — Paul and Lisa and our 12 yr old twins, Eliana and Ethan. Eliana is the oldest by one whole minute, and since she learned this fact a few years ago, has never let her Little Brother forget it.
Paul and I met online actually on AOL — back in the day! Circa 1999 this way of meeting was VERY Taboo, so much so, that I had a friend from work come by the restaurant an hour into our first meeting and accidentally run into us. We had a code word if it was safe for her to leave which obviously I used!
The funniest part is that is was safer to tell my parents and family that we met at a bar for the next 10 years until the online meeting space took hold.
Paul has been in the commercial construction industry since graduating from UT-Austin, and I worked for a major re-insurance company from 2001 until 2007.
Shortly after the twins were born, and successfully buying and selling children’s clothing online and on eBay, I convinced Paul to help me open a brick and mortar retail consignment store. We bought what we thought was our dream home — a 3200 sq ft, two story, suburban cookie cutter, in the newer part of Pearland.
Well, circumstances change and cause big life decisions.
Paul’s industry was deeply affected by the Great Recession and he lost his job in Sept of 2010. After the next 12 months of unemployment, financial stress, and the ebbs and flows of having 3 year old twins, we eventually divorced. We lost the house in the process and eventually, we filled for bankruptcy.
Luckily, we are able to look back at those events and thank God for them.
In the summer of 2012, Ethan was diagnosed with a rare and serious blood conditions. During numerous emergency issues, and multiple treatments at the Texas Children’s Hospital, all of those past issues slowly and unnoticeably disappeared.
To make a long and complicated story much shorter, Paul and I found ourselves spending time with the kids a lot through these struggles, and decided to lease a house together around April 2014. From then on we have been together and eventually were able to find the house featured here.
After moving, and leasing something closer to the consignment store that I still owned and operated, we fell in love with this side of Pearland and spend the next 18 months watching online searches, to ensure we knew the trends and prices once we were ready to buy.
The Pearland market is VERY competitive and bidding wars ensue almost immediately. This house was no exception. We were the third showing of five in the first hour after it went on the market. We were the second offer, but the first full price offer of 265k, and were able to secure the home.
The home is a 1988 custom build in a three block community. It is very established with most of the original owners still living here as empty nesters. The previous owner of our home was the original builder and a long time plumbing company owner in Pearland — hence, most of the neighbors and people we run into at school events, restaurants, etc., upon realizing where we live, exclaim, “OH ! you live in the SMITH (not actual name) house!”
Funny story: Our agent has been our friend and agent since our first home in 2002, and our “dream home” in 2007. As the three of us were standing in this home’s kitchen, with the cabinets stained golden oak, and the kids playing in the paneled and green carpeted living room, I looked at Paul and said, “I love this house! please get it for us!”
He paced the kitchen a few times and turned to our realtor and said, “Go ahead and call in a full price offer.” The kids and I jumped for joy! The realtor said to Paul, “Wait what‽ You’re making a full price offer?”
Paul smiled and said, “The pool plaster is crap and the equipment is out of code and old. I’ll get my money back during inspections.”
Thankfully Paul had that experience and eye. And a few days later during our inspection, the owner and Paul were sitting on the back porch sharing a beverage when the owner asked Paul, “So who else are we waiting to come by for the inspection?” To which Paul replied, “My pool contractor.”
At this point the owner leaned back in his chair and said, “Well we should probably talk about that pool…” From that starting point we were able to secure a fair price for urgent repairs and even managed to save them the moving cost of several appliance and the owner’s treasured gun safe.
Over those beverages he admitted to Paul that he really didn’t want to move the gun safe — he wanted a bigger one, instead. So I can imagine that conversation when he got home.
I grew up in a small town in east Texas. In my early 20s I collected and decorated with old, unique items that were at my grandparents’s house which came from their parents: old milk jars, metal chicken feeders, milk cans, old tools — anything that was different and unique. I was always asked why I wanted that old “crap.”
I loved the rusty, chippy old look of these items. I’m in my mid 40s now and that was many years ago before the farmhouse/ rustic look was a big craze. Over the years I had thrown many of those items out (kicking myself now), and after marriage I decided we should go with the more traditional look — dark, boring and depressing.
But once we found this house, I was ready to embrace the farmhouse look full force and not care about what anyone thought about my design vision. We gave away all our old dark pieces to flood victims that had lost everything (we closed on our house the same week after Harvey hit) and started fresh.
The town we live in has many great small businesses with local vendors that make unique, custom decoration and furniture. My absolute favorite is Legacy Home Staging. The owner has a great vision and help me pull together the perfect look for our home. Then there was digging into my parents garage, barn, attic to pull it all together.
I love finding different ways to utilize pieces other than the obvious, like using chicken feeders to collect Paul’s things when he gets home from work (keys, change, business cards.)
One of my favorites reuses is an old enamel roaster I use to keep bread in — it’s the perfect size! Another is hung in my entryway — a piece of barn wood from my father’s country home where he grew up.
Antique stores? Not really for me. I love the run down places you pass driving through the country with the ‘junk’ piled up. That’s where I find my best treasures!
When we first moved in there was a lot of stress. The amount of time and effort to redo the interior was more than expected, even with Paul’s experience and own contractors helping us. The carpet in all the bed rooms literally was laid minutes before the furniture arrived. We moved in as crews worked and eventually had full use of the house — except for the kitchen and breakfast area. That was like a crime scene with completely draped plastic around it as they prepped and sprayed the walls and cabinets over the next week.
Now when you walk in here you feel calm, joy, love and HOME. We always joke that someday, if only we could move this house with us into the country, we wouldn’t change much of anything.
Maybe subconsciously I remembered Monica and Rachel’s kitchen from Friends, but I’ve just always wanted a blue kitchen. I was very nervous and Paul and the kids were not on board at all! I used at least 12 quarts of sample paint on the existing stained cabinets.
One day Paul called and said, “You need to pick one — every time you put a different color blue up, you are making more work for the painters!” I had actually made a decision and told him to order the paint. The painter was nervous as well and asked Paul, “Are you sure? Once they mix it, it can’t be undone.”
Well the next morning I was doubting myself and had to try one more color. I got to the house after buying a couple more samples, and before I could even put up the new colors, the phone rang . It was Paul. I was busted!!
The painters at the house had called their boss and he called Paul. SHE’S BACK AND HAS ANOTHER COLOR OF BLUE WITH HER! We stuck to the color I chose the day before and think its perfect. I keep our shades open during the day and we have had strangers (often) stop by and ask if they can come in just to see the kitchen.
Most days I feel like I’m failing as a mom. I’m not a cook, I’m absolutely no help with homework, and I have two kids hitting puberty at the same time. I’m struggling to survive!
I tend to use laughter when my daughter bursts into tears for no apparent reason, or jokes with my son when he’s struggling with well, whatever he’s rolling his eyes at me that day for. But as a family, and with our faith in God, we pull together and somehow it works.
We pray together as a family first thing in the morning and every night before bed. We share hugs, kisses, and each of our biggest “thank yous” for the day. After that, the fight might be on to get the kids to brush their teeth, take the dogs out, and shut down phones — but dammit, those few moments when everything is “perfect” makes the struggle all worth it.
For the first few months, after finally wrapping up decorating and putting everything in its place, there was lots of “don’t run in the house,” or “you better not break that,” or ‘“no roughhousing.” I hope my kids don’t remember that part of me yelling constantly.
I eventually realized this is just stuff and I’d much rather see them running around with their friends and dogs and knock something over occasionally. That ceramic bird you just broke? I probably got on sale. That decorative plate that came from my grandmother that just shattered? I’m sure she was smiling down on them as they were laughing and playing when it broke.
Pick up the pieces and move on. That’s what I pray my kids remember and carry on with their children.
I look at these photos and think: My house may be this clean once a month.. Okay more likely every couple months.
Let’s be real. Your shoes would probably stick to the floor most days. We don’t wear black because it shows dog hair. There’s typically a crockpot still out from 2-3 days ago that needs to be cleaned (and probably thrown under the sink before photos were taken). I have plug ins in just about every outlet to mask the smell of pre teens. And we’re all looking for a clean pair of underwear and socks most days.
But despite the real life messes, both my kids will still crawl up in my lap for a hug, and will randomly say “I love you. And oh my word, seeing my daughter’s crinkled up nose when she laughs, and my son’s wittiness, is what I’ll miss seeing every day when they’re gone.
Life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect. My husband and kids aren’t perfect. The struggles we’ve been through medically, financially, emotionally were never planned or anticipated. There will always be battles to face, but learning how to lean on each other and get through as a family? We got this! It’s not always a pretty picture, but in the end we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Thank you, Lisa! What a great perspective on parenting, decorating, and living. Things are things, but what is really important is making memories and being with the ones we love. I remember working in a high end furniture store and we were selling a very expensive coffee table that had been a floor sample to a woman. Because of a few nicks and scratches, we asked her if she would rather we order a new one and she said “Oh no. Since this one is already a little beat up I won’t have to worry when my grandkids climb on top of it.”
I also think that Lisa’s story is such a great example of “starting over.” Starting over in a relationship, starting over in a new home, starting over again when you realize the dark wood furniture you thought you wanted isn’t for you. What a great reminder that there is no limit on the number of times we can change our mind and decide we want to do things differently. Sometimes it’s easy to think “Well, this is just who I am,” but really, we can start over whenever we want.
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.