November 13, 2005
Holiday For Hosting
Sunday Homes
By Diane Morales
Neighbors took notice when Susan Harris and daughter Ashley Harris, 14, moved into the Downing Townhouse gated community.
The mother and daughter strung Christmas lights on their home for their first holiday season a year ago, raising their neighbor's spirits.
"Before we knew it, we were up on ladders hanging lights for them too," said Susan, a fourth grade teacher at Mireles Elementary School. "They told us we brought life to the community.".  And the community has enriched the Harris' lives as well.
"Our community meets every few months and we have dinners together. It's like a second family," Susan said.

Guests to the Harris' home are immediately embraced by the warm openness of the living, dining and kitchen areas - even a colorful Christmas tree - when they walk through the door.
Tan tile floors spread throughout the space, complementing the Tuscany faux finished walls of gold in the living room and a reddish tint in the dining and kitchen areas painted by Cheryl Votzmeyer.
"Coming from the Houston area, I was used to the faux finish look," Susan said. "Faux finishes make it more homey to me."
Susan said the selected the wall colors for the home, and always includes dashes of red accents or a red wall in her decor, reminders of her great-grandmother's stylish taste.
"I like that my home is comfortable and at the same time has a formal touch. I got that from my great-grandmother," Susan said.
A plush red sofa lines one wall with a leopard print ottoman/coffee table centered in the living room. Next to the tiled fireplace, a marble top sideboard displays Yuletide touches of Santa Clauses and velvet fabrics.
After downsizing from a 4,800-square-foot house to freshen rooms. The sideboard didn't fit in the dining room, so she placed it in the living room where it serves as a focal point.
The kitchen's functional layout makes it accessible to the living and dining areas. A granite top bar with neutral shades provides extra seating with four wrought iron stools. A few steps away, a rectangular dining table with high-back tapestry fabric chairs fills the dining space.
"We use our dining table because it's the only table we have," Susan said, "And it's OK. It's not just a feature. Now my friends use their dining tables more."

Down the gold faux painted hallway, a sitting room, office and the bedrooms branch to cozy spaces of their own.
The sitting room, office and the bedrooms branch to cozy spaces of their own.
The sitting room is an all around hangout for Ashley and her friends to get away from "adult noise," when Susan entertains. It's also a space for mother and daughter to watch movies, snuggled on a custom designed black leather sofa.
Susan said she selected the sofa's French style frame, the black leather upholstery with brown leather alligator accents.
An open doorway leads to an office shared by the Harrises. A cherry wood armoire topped with Christmas toy soldiers conceals a computer. Red accents sprinkle the room - silk red pillows on leather tan bucket chairs and a matching silk swath of fabric frame the patio doors.

In the master suite, Susan's penchant for old world flair continues with warm tones and artwork of gated garden scenes.
"I'm drawn to scrolls because of my great-grandmother's taste," Susan said.
A hand-painted black scroll design outlines her velvet cinnamon colored bedding, and the scroll detail continues in the master bath.
Tan walls were too placid for Susan, so Votzmeyer painted scroll designs on the bathroom walls.
Downsizing was an adjustment for the Harrises, but they don't miss their oversized house much. They've created an intimate home in a close-knit community.
"We're all just a family here," Susan said.

Susan Harris describes her townhouse decor as 'Old World' with furnishings from Buddy Walker and Trend House. Red accents combined with patches of animal prints throughout the home are decorative influences from Harris' late grandmother and great-grandmother.
Faux painter Cheryl Votzmeyer mimicked the floral pattern on Ashley Harris' bedroom throw pillow to create a hibiscus border on the wall.
The Harris home is ready for Christmas with a colorfully decorated tree to greet visitors at the entrance.