PaperCity Magazine

July 2014 - Houston

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STORY BY FRANCINE BALLARD. PHOTOGRAPHY JACK THOMPSON. PRODUCED BY JENNY ANTILL. CLOTHES STYLED BY MEGAN PRUITT WINDER. HAIR TAYLOR HUDGINS FOR CERON SALON. MAKEUP TAREK EL-BJEIRMI FOR CERON SALON T he pair met in Los Angeles — he, a writer in town on business, and she, an aspiring producer. Their creative, adventurous spirits and love of post-modern furniture immediately drew them to each other. Elizabeth sealed the deal by shipping homemade chocolate chip cookies to Peter in New York shortly afterwards — a precursor to her eventual exit from the film industry and foray into the baking biz. Their move home was unintended. They initially thought they could run the business remotely with Dorsey in Houston, but after the first year, they realized that the concept had legs. With Elizabeth's family beckoning and a 1-year-old in tow, they finally submitted to an exhaustive house hunt to set up base for Camp Cooper and Crave Cupcakes. They first looked in Southampton and River Oaks but ultimately settled on the latter, as it was closer to The Kinkaid School, which Elizabeth had attended and where they hoped their daughter would succeed her. The footprint of their home, a 1944 Georgian-style house, is a shared history and a fervent California influence — old Hollywood Dorothy Draper meets Kelly Wearstler's Viceroy hotel in Palm Springs. Disciples of Wearstler's fervent use of pattern and color, Peter picked up the phone and telephoned the designer herself for the color of the exterior of the Wearstler-designed Maison 140 hotel in West Hollywood. She told him the exact shade of Pratt & Lambert paint, and that's the hue of the exterior of the Coopers' abode. But before they reached that point, there was the issue of making the house livable. After all, it had been untouched for seven decades, and vacant for many years. "There was this big blue tarp over the roof in the front and an old Cadillac in the drive," Peter says. "The ceiling had been torn out in places, and all three bathrooms were gutted." And this was before they even bought the house. Adds Elizabeth, "He went in the front, and I came in from the back. We walked through and met in the middle. We looked at each other, and said 'This could work!'" Lesser mortals would have hightailed it. For the revamp, they brought in Houston-based architect John Blackmon, who had worked on another home they'd considered in the same neighborhood. The Coopers credit Blackmon for marrying their obsession with mid-century modern to a traditional frame. He took the house down to the studs, extending the tiny kitchen into a large open space with adjoining family room and adding two bedrooms upstairs. He also added one more room, which Peter considers his crowning (and only) achievement with regard to the interior decoration: When a party at Maison Cooper lasts longer than expected, a panel door in the sitting room opens to reveal a hidden bar, where festivities can go on undeterred (or at least unheard by sleeping children) late into the night. It's another idea drawn from their time out west — in particular, a home Peter visited in the chic 1920s enclave of Hancock Park. But with a second baby and business demands taking precedence, the house sat empty until Area's Daniel Cuellar introduced them to Blair Gordon Design. Gordon and his associate, Emily Jackson, wooed the couple with chatter of Palm Springs glamour and Manhattan cool. Together, they set to work bringing the early-20th-century home to life. Jackson says, "We focused on creating a unique space that shies away from traditional southern design by repurposing vintage pieces — such as the Paul Laslo dining-room chairs painted black with cushions recovered in Dedar Italian grosgrain and the benches upholstered in Jack Lenor Larson fabric in the main seating area — that provide a quirky contrast to the sophisticated living space." Bright solid colors and modern lines, as well as a mix of neutral and white tones, juxtapose well with stills of Matthew Broderick and Mia Sara dining at Chez Quis in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and a classic Slim Aarons poolside image — playful touches that speak to the Coopers' day-to- day lifestyle. Says Gordon, "We recognized from the beginning that their home should feel artful, reflect a mix of current and past influences and have the ability to evolve as they evolve." And evolve they have. Two Crave locations are now open in Houston (Uptown and West U), with a third debuting in The Woodlands this fall. True to their quixotic entrepreneurial roots, they summer on the West Coast and frequently contemplate their next act. Elizabeth fantasizes about a return to the movie business someday. "I want to get the kids into it," she says. "We do shorts [films] with them sometimes. I want to teach them what I know. I'm fulfilled now with everything going on in my life, but filmmaking is just such an amazingly creative profession. I would hate to lose it forever." Take two Houston natives. Mix in a couple of kids, a great idea, old-fashioned ambition, and you'll find yourself in the kitchen of Elizabeth Harrison Cooper and Peter Cooper — co-owners and founders of Crave Cupcakes. Together with a third partner, Brad Dorsey, the Coopers returned to Houston in 2009 to expand upon a vibrant new business venture and create a new life. HOME SWEET HOME WITH CRAVE CUPCAKES' ELIZABETH & PETER COOPER

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