At Home with Randall and Heather Davis
by Sharon Brier
Randall Davis is often given credit for single-handedly revitalizing downtown Houston. He certainly has changed the landscape of the million-dollar home market and has had a major impact on Houston as the first loft developer in the Bayou City. The Dakota Lofts were the beginning of a series of projects for Davis that included the renovation of the Hogg Palace and Rice Hotel. One of his early projects, the Metropolis, was the first high-rise built in Houston in 12 years. It was followed by Gotham and Renoir and now the Manhattan, a partnership with Gerald Hines in the Galleria area.
Randall and Heather Davis, publicly and privately, exemplify the bold color red that is found throughout their home. They are passionate about their hobbies and do everything in style. They love to cook gourmet food, dine in the best restaurants, travel often, read mysteries, host gatherings and participate in various sports. Their location near Rice University is perfect for their lifestyle. Heather runs at the Rice University stadium and Randall, whose office is only minutes away, plays tennis at the City Club. On pleasant evenings, they ride their bikes into the village for dinner.
Randall describes himself as a man who has one foot in the past and one foot forward – who always looks for new and fresh ideas. He designed his current house, a contemporary floor plan with flourishes of a bygone era, on a scrap piece of paper before he took it to the architect. As a decisive person, he knew exactly what he wanted when he built his home – well, sort of.
The “loft king” designed his home to be a red brick traditional. After the foundation with a brick ledge was poured, he made a dramatic change to use stone and stucco instead. The outcome is an exterior that blends the style of a grand New York bank and a Mediterranean villa.
One of his priorities was to have a foyer that reflects a sense of arrival. And indeed it does, with six towering Ionic columns stretching to reach the 12-foot ceilings. One day, as Randall looked for antique doors to put in one of his projects, he saw columns from a St. Louis courthouse. He instantly knew he had to have them for a future house. He used them in the model of the Tribeca lofts for 1 1/2 years before he started construction on his home. Little did he know then that he would later be married amid the columns in the foyer of his own home.
True to the character of a Renaissance man, he selected limestone seconds for the flawed effect to use around the fireplace and entertainment center in their great room. Spaces were cut out for surround sound speakers and a big screen television, ever ready for Super Bowls, prizefights and holiday parties.
These newlyweds of three years are still getting to know each other’s friends. Their formal dining room gets plenty of use for these casual gatherings. Ten or 12 friends dine comfortably under an antique chandelier, against the Chinese red walls. Some of the Davis’ favorite dinners include Galveston imported stone crabs or an orgy of Randall’s homemade clam and pasta specialty. The grand finale is when Heather’s masterpieces, chocolate tollhouse pie, strawberry and cream cake, and magic chocolate and coconut bars, appear on the table.
Although Randall, the decorator at heart, designed the home when he was a bachelor, he gave Heather the liberty to make changes once they were married. She rules supreme now as the official “re-decorator.”
The kitchen, which opens to the great room, went from contemporary stainless to warm ambience with dark rich wood and glass cabinets. Heather also whisked away the funeral drapes and twisted metal bed in the master bedroom, which she called the “den of inequity.” To create a cozy and charming “French apartment” atmosphere in the boudoir, she added an antique mirror they bought on a shopping spree at the Paul Behr market in Paris.
The master bathroom originally had a whirlpool tub in the middle of the room, but Randall wanted an unobstructed view of the television so he could escape and watch sports from the oversize shower. But Heather found just the right couch to put in front of the shower, making herself the view. As director of their social calendar, she likes to discuss their schedules from her couch. She definitely has his full attention when he is in the shower.
Often the plans they discuss include charities they support such as Casa de Esperanza and Baylor Breast Center. When they lent their home for a March of Dimes dinner, they added a surprise to the Moulin Rouge-themed event. A Nicole Kidman look-alike singer entertained guests from the raised marble foyer.
Although they say they don’t keep secrets from each other, they do have a secret room. The hidden study, which connects to Heather’s bathroom, is behind a mirrored door. Randall jokes, “I lost the study when Heather moved in. It was to be my refuge if I ever had to hide from lenders.”
One of the rooms Randall admits that Heather did not change was the master bedroom closet. But she filled it up. Since there are not less than 50 built-in drawers, it was no easy task. With both of them being neat-niks, their closet is always perfectly organized and color coordinated, and nothing is out of place. Heather admits her bookcase of treasured books is like that as well.
Keeping with past and present, Randall had four paintings by old masters re-created for him by licensed master painters at the Louvre, and together, he and Heather commissioned whimsical French artist Ernesto to paint a vivid party scene to hang over the fireplace. In the bend of the stairway, he had an artist combine and hand rub two old master paintings to cast a feel of what one might find in a castle. But Heather admits the best combination of “master” and “original” in the house is Randall, himself.
A sense of history and character continues with a photomontage of both their families in their upstairs game room. The memorabilia includes photos and original 1920s love letters from Randall’s father, Ocky, to his mother, famed bridge player Pigeon Davis. An empty frame near photos of his two daughters, Natalie and Samantha, awaits a photo of a future child. Randall touts that he has a child and a hole-in-one about every 10 years and that he will be due for one of each in about a year. Another Davis masterpiece.