Empty nesters build perfect Woodlands home despite supply chain issues

Cindy and Chuck Bider loved their home in the middle of The Woodlands, but it didn’t serve their needs as empty nesters.

For 29 years, the house gave their two sons plenty of room to play and to have friends over. Now, it’s Cindy and Chuck’s turn to host cocktail and dinner parties.

They considered buying an existing home but ultimately knew that they’d get exactly what they wanted with new construction — and it wouldn’t need constant remodeling and maintenance.

They found a new neighborhood in Creekside Park on the edge of The Woodlands, and though they anticipated moving into a smaller home, their new place ended up being slightly larger — going from 2,700 square feet to 3,000 square feet. The configuration is a little different, too. Their previous home had four bedrooms and a game room in two stories, while their new home has three bedrooms and an office all on one floor.

Their taste and style have changed through the years, and this time around, they wanted what’s in demand now: cleaner lines, a neutral palette, plenty of art in a more transitional style, with far fewer accessories sitting around.

Chuck, 65, who never had strong opinions on interior design other than knowing what he liked when he saw it, walked into a model home in the early days of construction in their neighborhood and immediately said: “This is the one.”

He works for a French shipping container company and has worked from home for the past 12 years, so having a real office was a priority. What originally was meant to be a small patio on the side of their home was enclosed to become his workspace.

“This house is about us and our friends. We have been doing some entertaining and I feel like we’ll do more of it,” said Cindy, 64. They’re also getting in some time with their two grandsons, 3-year-old Logan and 2-year-old Camden.

All of the work and purchasing of new furniture happened during the coronavirus pandemic, so they — like others — found workaround solutions for things that were hard to get. They signed a contract the summer of 2020 with construction starting in November that year. They moved in April 2021.

The original brick and stone combination that they chose wasn’t available, so they had to make another choice. When the finished look wasn’t quite what they wanted, they opted to paint it — something a lot of people are doing because painted brick is popular now.

They kept some of their bedroom furniture for guest rooms and had recently purchased a new bed for the primary bedroom, but everywhere else they needed new things.

The scale of everything was different. They gave some old furniture to their sons — 39-year-old Joe Bider and 36-year-old Austin Bider, both of whom live nearby — and sold other pieces, so nothing ended up in a landfill.

They spent much of the pandemic searching online for furniture, sometimes visiting stores or showrooms and simply not finding what they wanted or hearing about long wait times for delivery.

When they stumbled onto the Urban Leather showroom in Houston, they discovered a place where they could find a basic sofa they liked, then customize it to make exactly what they wanted. And they could get it in weeks instead of months.

For example, she bought a pot for plants from Pottery Barn and it took three months to arrive. A bench she’s having made for the foyer will take three weeks to be made from scratch.

Urban Leather took care of the living room sofas and chairs, plus two upholstered chairs for the primary bedroom. Then they needed a console to sit beneath their TV, a long table for their foyer and a coffee table and side tables. The owner of Urban Leather referred them to a friend who made custom case goods.

For all of the things that can’t be gotten through manufacturers now, an opportunity has opened up for local businesses who make furniture right here. It’s a way for Houston-area residents to support small businesses — and those who work at them — and contribute to the local economy. And this custom-made furniture isn’t always more expensive; sometimes it’s considerably less costly.

The Biders have a foyer that’s 25 feet long, so they had a 10-foot hall table made for it. A pair of mirrors flank a new painting, and three large pendant lanterns light the space up.

New leather furniture fills much of the new main living area, which also includes a dining area and the kitchen. What might have been a wine room became a storage closet because the Biders didn’t feel like they needed a full-on wine room or bar — but they did need a place to put things.

Because they lacked storage, they went big on kitchen cabinets and included a nice pantry and a butler’s pantry, too.

In the kitchen Cindy chose a granite slab for the island, with a white background and taupe veins so it fits into her mostly neutral palette. Perimeter counters are covered in quartz.

Chuck was adamant that he wanted new, original art for the home, but they’d need to get a lot on a budget. They found Trend Gallery, where they could order pieces online and they would be painted and shipped ready to hang or not yet stretched onto a canvas. They were sent unframed and the Biders took them to a local framer, Davis Hardware and Picture Framing.

The couple’s primary bathroom feels luxurious compared to their prior home. A double shower would rival any hotel/spa shower and there’s plenty of room for his-and-hers counters. A sparkling chandelier hangs over the freestanding bathtub.

The “room” Chuck cared about the most is his garage, which he treats as a man cave, with walls filled with license plates that he has collected through the years and in their travels and with signs that he has purchased or been given as gifts.

When he lifts the garage door, visitors are welcome. He has a table and chairs and a refrigerator full of beverages. A popcorn machine gets fired up every now and then, too.

A large portion of the man cave is devoted to Chuck’s newest hobby, model railroading. Chuck smiles sheepishly and explains that Cindy urged him to start a new hobby because the pandemic left him with extra time on his hands and there’s nothing that needs fixing in the new house.

He has always loved trains, so he built a table out of scrap wood from nearby homes under construction, then bought train cars and track. He’s creating the landscape now, just starting to etch out and paint some mountains that will run along one side.

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