Experience Luxury and Elegance in These Up-cycled and Vintage Rentals
By Mary Chavoustie
It’s an exciting time of year in Warrenton, Round Top, Carmine and surrounding areas, when we’re all on the lookout for those vintage, antique and quirky objects for home or garden. True pickers turn it into an adventure, setting up camp during Antique Weeks to take advantage of first-day finds or those coveted last-minute steals. But, where to stay?
There are several options including the funky and unique Flophouzes, built from recycled shipping containers, as well as the relaxing and peaceful restorations at ARMANDOS Round Top Houses.
ARMANDOS Round Top Houses
Houston restaurateur Armando Palacios and his architect wife, Cinda, had been lovin’ Round Top long before news spread of their B&B. Their daughter Alexandra Palacios Donnelly — who remembers spending quiet weekends in the town growing up — tells us that the unique houses are a great option for a weekend getaway or weeklong retreat.
The venture began with the purchase of the Winn House, a property that dates back to the 1830s. The chic and romantic home has been lovingly restored, balancing the home’s past with modern touches.
Donnelly tells us guests love its rustic luxury and, once they learn about the other two houses (Bybee Cottage and The Nest), they want to come back and try them all
“They feel so relaxed. The town’s not what they ever imagined,” says Donnelly. “Guests can easily walk to shops and restaurants since our houses are in Round Top proper.”
That feeling of relaxation is enhanced through the use of luxury linens, robes and MALIN+GOETZ bath products, as well as Wi-Fi, coffee, a mini fridge, wine and gourmet snacks.
Cinda Palacio’s sense of design and harmony are evident in the décor found in all three houses — choices that preserved the authenticity of the homes.
“A lot of work and many hours have gone into just that,” says Donnelly. “Thankfully we were able to keep the original 24 inch cypress wood walls and preserve the original window glass.”
The historic 1880s Bybee Cottage features a deep soaker tub that would tempt even the most faithful shower-goer, an inviting leather couch, comfy king-size bed and other furnishings with local ties.
“The big blue leather couch is a great piece; we found it at the Arbors in Round Top during one of the biannual Antique Weeks,” says Donnelly. “The resurfacing for the flooring and the rebuilds were the handiwork of local artisans and craftsmen.
The cottage was purchased from the Bybee Foundation, a group established to preserve the architectural and decorative arts legacy of German-American immigrants in Central Texas. Donnelly says the walls have been sanded and sealed with lacquer to preserve the patina of an old romantic cabin. “The quaint front porch overlooks the lush gardens filled with butterfly plants and fruit trees,” she adds.
The largest of the properties, The Nest, was relocated from west Houston and sleeps from two to four guests. Its modern interior with Dornbracht fixtures, stainless accent walls and statuary marble shower and vanity are a sharp contrast to its 1930s row house exterior.
“Definitely The Nest has a style all its own. My mom and dad designed the space like a living art gallery to bring that cosmopolitan feel. Art is so much a part of Round Top and my parents really thrive here,” says Donnelly.
“They have used their creativity to build these three houses and have recently opened a vintage leather shop called Bad Hombres just across the street,” she adds.
Earlier this year the couple also introduced two new restaurants to Round Top: Mandito’s, a Tex-Mex locale, and Lulu’s, an upscale Italian restaurant.
Matt White is a master of creativity, not only with objects but also words. For example, have you ever considered the term recycled as a modifier for a 45-foot shipping container? Or the word flophouse — which White converted to Flophouze — to describe a sophisticated hotel comprised of a series of reconfigured shipping containers. Inside these chic vacation abodes, called Houzes, there’s a Yugoslavian egg crate that holds bath towels, a ceiling fashioned out of scrap steel and railroad car flooring that became a sleek kitchen countertop. White combined his childhood love of wooden blocks and LEGOS, wanderlust and an eagerness to make the planet a better place to create an experience that guests acclaim is “the coolest place we’ve ever stayed!”
Enter the Flophouze Hotel — a laid-back, boutique fleet of shipping containers turned lodging, just off the popular antique highway and down the road from Round Top. Don't try to compare them to tiny houses as these funky oases are so much more; they are a breath of fresh air for body and soul.
White designs and custom builds the living areas to be separate from the privacy of the bedrooms. The kitchenettes are outfitted with a Chemex coffee system while whimsical art from RTexasGallery’s Ray Hadaway takes center stage on the interior walls. And when a day of exploring the back roads comes to an end, guests wind down with a no light-polluted sky and beds layered with luxe linens from favorites like Pandora de Balthazár and Matteo. The climate controlled Houzes are equipped with two split-level air-conditioning units and are designed to comfortably sleep three to six people. Compactly complete, the areas seldom appear small with nine-foot ceilings and expansive glass.
Did we mention there are no televisions? White believes “friends, family, a good book and an old song are food for the soul.” There’s even a vintage vinyl collection and turntable in each unit to support the theory.
Flophouze also allows guests to test drive the experience firsthand with its Build Your Own Flophouze program. White’s expertise and own turnkey operation — from initial design build to onsite installation and consulting — are available to those adventurous spirits considering the world of container living full time.
And let’s not forget the Round Top Ballroom next door, a popular entertainment space for public and private gatherings with a zebra mount and an airplane. Some call it a salvage warehouse; others call it a venue. The onsite storefront Recycling The Past with its 12,000 square feet of curiosities can accommodate any treasure hunter’s quest for that perfect objet d’art. Conversations are never lacking as guests roam the aisles, be it musings about the tufted velvet green sofa or theorizing the homeland of a ship’s porthole. In White’s eyes, that porthole is destined to become a Houze mirror.
More Houzes, solar panels and rainwater retention are on the horizon, but in the meantime the entrepreneur encourages his guests to “unwind, unplug, and enjoy a much needed break from all the noise” at this hotel that’s open year round.
Flophouze collaborates with Modpools, a company that turns shipping containers into high-end spas and swimming pools. Guests who decide to purchase their own Modpool by inquiring through the Flophouze website will be credited their night’s stay and will receive a $250 credit towards their new pool. These pools also can be shipped, which means homeowners can take their pool with them when it’s time to move.
Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show
American LegionvNo. 388
1503 North S.H. 237
ARMANDOS Round Top Houses
304 South White, Round Top
303 South White, Round Top
Dornbracht Americas Inc.
3907 S.H. 237
145 Rohde Road, Warrenton
1132 West FM 1291, Round Top
Lulu’s Italian Home Cooking
204 East Mill, Round Top
Mandito’s Original Tex-Mex
102 South Washington