Before and after: Spring Branch teardown becomes couple’s his-and-hers project
Houston Chronicle Lifestyle/Home Design | By Diane Cowen
A passion for travel is evident in Amanda Tucker and Rick Goldberg’s house in Spring Branch — artwork from Portugal, masks from Africa, wood sculpture from Thailand, lighting from Morocco and textiles from Guatemala.
The couple bought the house — built in 1975 — in June 2019, prepared to remodel every inch of it, plus add square footage for a large primary bedroom suite. They moved in January 2020 after demolition and lived there through the construction that ended that October.
It’s a mix of his taste and hers, a little modern and monochromatic but also rustic with a vintage flair.
Their journey to this Brykerwoods neighborhood began in Montrose, where Goldberg bought a not-yet-finished spec home. It was very modern and filled with things he brought from his prior home and added with the help of an interior designer.
Goldberg, 64, owns Rick Goldberg and Associates, a firm that helps lawyers and their clients prepare for trial, and met Tucker, 42, who was then an attorney, through their jobs. They fell in love and married, and Tucker and her daughter, Sosie Tucker-Underwood, who is now in sixth grade, moved to Montrose.
But it never felt like Tucker’s home, especially after they bought a rental home in Santa Fe, N.M., and took all of her furnishings there.
“I had lived there five years and did not want to move,” Goldberg said. “At the end of the day, though, it’s a great neighborhood for empty-nesters and young couples but probably not the best place for young children. We wanted Sosie to be in a neighborhood environment.”
Tucker grew up on the city’s west side and lived there prior to meeting Goldberg, so it was the focus of her search. She found this home — desperately in need of work and listed for lot value — and waited.
The seller eventually accepted the offer, and Tucker — who has launched her own interior design business, Bohome Interiors, got busy. She’d already renovated properties in New Mexico and learned about construction timelines and materials.
The couple — as well as Sosie and the family’s rescue dog, Luna, a 4½-year-old Corgi mix — use all 3,500 square feet of the new house.
Goldberg is the first to say he’s most interested in getting a project done, not so much about saving every penny he can. But Tucker is a bargain shopper, proud of resale items such as the Asian-style doors she found for $250, then stripped down to bare wood for a beautiful entry to their bedroom closets and bathroom, or the natural stone slabs she found for a very low price and used all over the house.
They updated the exterior with modern windows and Thermory wood that holds up to Houston’s harsh climate and humidity. They used it under front and back overhangs and porch ceilings, a front porch and even at the entrance, where the front door leads into its surroundings.
The main living area comprises an open living, dining and kitchen space, in a monochromatic palette that Goldberg loves and an eclectic, boho mix that’s all Tucker. The living area has a colorful rug from Santa Fe mixed with a white sofa, wood bench and rattan chairs.
A traditional fireplace was replaced by an Ignis fireplace, a ventless, ethanol-burning insert that’s easy to use and eco-sensitive.
“It was really fun to figure out how to make our two styles work — to go a little more modern with the house and warm and earthy with the furnishings. There are some pieces we both fell in love with, like this French buffet table we found at MAI,” Tucker said of a sofa table that helps them decorate around a middle-of-the-room column.
A pair of oversized pendant lights encased in old fishing baskets hangs from the ceiling, purchases from ARKA Living in Houston. A striking painting of Sitting Bull, painted by an artist they met on a trip to Portugal, hangs on the wall. The artist, Miguel Levy, painted the proud Native American on cardboard as a social statement — that America had treated Indigenous people as if they were as disposable as cardboard.
The dining room is anchored by a painting by Houston artist Mark Flood, who’s friends with Goldberg, plus a live edge table, leather and wood chairs and a modern chandelier with bars of light.
The kitchen was reorganized just a bit, eliminating a small island/bar and an enclosed utility closet. Now the space has a bigger island, and a pantry stands where there used to be a washer and dryer. Open shelves replaced full cabinets on an outer wall.
Throughout much of the first floor is flooring made of natural stone in neutrals that range from very light to very dark — a mottled look that actually helped when they needed to replace some of it and they didn’t have to be too precise.
A front living room/lounge is a cozy place to hang out with friends and family, with a pair of leather sofas and swivel chairs, and a long leather ottoman that they use as a coffee table.
The couple added 500 to 600 square feet to the primary bedroom suite. The footprint of the entire original suite now is where the shared closet and bathroom are. The extra space goes to a bedroom with windows so they have a view of the pool and a bamboo-lined zen garden at the side of the house.
The king-size bed is built in, with a short back wall serving both as a headboard and a wall that gives privacy to the closet and bath. They wanted a TV in the room, so they added one to the bed’s footboard since there was no logical place for it with windows lined with walls.
Wood beams line the ceiling, and the walls have an old, earthy feel. Rather than an expensive Venetian plaster or even an artist-applied faux plaster treatment, Tucker had her painting subcontractor use Meoded Decorative Paint and Plaster Stucco Lamundo mixed to match Benjamin Moore’s “Chantilly Lace” with an “Alabaster” overlay. (The treatment can also be mixed to Sherwin-Williams paint colors.)
The second-floor landing that looks onto the first-floor main living area features more evidence of the couple’s travels, with a zebra-skin rug near a pair of rattan chairs with Tibetan sheepskin cushions and African-print pillows. They kept a wall of built-in bookshelves and added wallpaper for a textural backdrop for pottery, figurines, books and mementos.
There’s also a rustic wooden table with a wall of masks that once belonged to Tucker’s mother, souvenirs of her travels to Egypt and Africa.
An upstairs storage closet became the new laundry room, where the couple stacked a washer and dryer to conserve space.
Tucker said she’s always had a strong creative side even though she pursued a career in law and still helps Goldberg if he ever needs her.
“All of this has led me to take the leap into design. That’s how it impacted me personally. I love being in this space,” Tucker said. “I’ve told Rick that I’ve always wanted to stay on vacation, but now I love coming home to this house. It feels grounded and special.”