Many have stared up at the slightly hidden staircase at the corner of the Standpipe Coffee House in downtown Lufkin, wondering what was beyond the front door. A secret garden? Giant outdoor porch? A vampire’s lair? Narnia?
As it turns out, the door opens into a newly refurbished apartment, leased and rebuilt by Brenda and Mark Lowery.
The 3,000-square-foot home is dubbed the Saxon Loft.
“This actually is the Saxon building, and we wanted to keep the history of it, so when we remodeled it, I tried to leave some of the history behind and decorated it with a rustic industrial style,” Brenda said.
They stripped everything to create one big room, and Brenda drew up blueprints.
“That was so much fun because I got exactly what I wanted,” she said. “Everything turned out so nice. And actually we weren’t sure if we were making a mistake by doing this because both Mark and I are outdoor people. We’ve always had land and a house. But we stay at our farm in San Augustine half the time and then half the time here. It’s back and forth all week. So we get the city life and the farm life, and it works well.”
The front door opens into a big open area that holds the kitchen, dining room, family room, movie room and more. Eighteen-foot ceilings with large wooden rafters and gray walls encase the room.
Everything from warm buttery leather and cypress wood to steel mixes together to create a rustic industrial look. Recurring hues are red, gray, black and white.
To the right of an antique desk in the entryway is a movie area where one can walk through a classic movie theater turnstile. A large red leather sofa and chairs sit in front of a 6-by-10-foot movie screen. The screen itself sits on a large cypress stump table.
The cypress stumps are a hundred years old, each at least 4 feet wide and 2 ½ feet tall, according to Brenda.
“It’s rare to find cypress trunks this big,” she said. “What’s really nice is we’ve got a security system set up that overlooks the streets, so when there is a parade, we can have the street view on our movie screen. The kids can also sit on chairs next to the open windows and watch it from up here. It’s a great view.”
To the right is a 10-by-14-foot cigar room with tiled flooring and filled to the brim with large leather chairs.
“This is our favorite room,” Brenda said. “We have two St. Bernards that I was going to try to have live with us here in this room, but taking them to the restroom doesn’t work, so this room is where we sit at night with a glass of wine and the open windows looking down at the street.
“Whenever these windows are open, that’s when everybody knows we are here and drops by to see us.”
The large 8-by-3-foot windows wrap around the entire area, from the cigar room, to the family room, past the kitchen and into the bedroom area.
“We really like all the natural light that is let in by the windows,” Brenda said. “When they replaced the windows, I had them leave the rough casing because it showed the history of it and gave it texture and depth.”
To the left of the cigar room is the family room with large leather couches, an electric fireplace and a flat-screen TV mounted on the brick wall. To the left of that, situated between two windows in the corner, vintage white leather chairs sit around a suspended table covered in peanuts.
“This is a giant scale that was used to weigh something like grain,” Brenda said. “It goes up to 100 pounds and is everyone’s favorite to sit.”
Following the windows along the wall to the left is a wet bar stacked high with an assortment of wines.
Nearby is a 1960s red food cart that reads “Hamburger restaurant, quick.” The red cart is attached to a bicycle which rests next to a giant chef, “Mr. Piotte,” who has been with the family for years. He welcomes visitors into the kitchen area, which sports a large granite countertop island with five metal and wood stools.
“It’s little bit too tall for a short person like me, but works good for Mark, who is the cook,” Brenda said.
Stainless-steel appliances line up against a multitude of gray cabinets and dishes. The wall between the cabinets and counters are glass-tiled.
Next to the island is a large 12-foot dining table with eight brown leather chairs.
Photos of downtown Lufkin, taken by Brenda’s sister, Traci Elliott, flow throughout the home, from the kitchen into the master bedroom.
And it’s called the master bedroom for a reason. With several large sitting chairs, full-length mirror and lamp, the room features a king-size bed, hoisted on a black ironwood platform.
Large chandelier-like lamps sit on either side of the bed on his and hers matching silver tables. The walls are left bare of artwork to allow for a sleek and modern finish.
One of the windows serves as a workable fire escape where Brenda has placed many plants, including her tomato plant.
“My 1-year-old granddaughter, Elise, loves to pick the tomatoes off the plant with me,” Brenda said. “She is a permanent fixture here, always scooting about on her toys. We love to have her over.”
Attached to the bedroom is the bathroom. It has a walk-in tiled shower with three faucets and a high window letting in light over the giant copper and nickel free-standing bath tub. A chandelier hangs above the tub and white bath rugs are scattered about the floor.
There are two black countertops with gray cabinets and matching copper and nickel vessel sinks.
Coming back past the entry room is a small bathroom with a petrified wood sink and another downtown photo taken by Brenda’s sister.
To the side is a laundry room, and then the guest room unfolds.
“It’s really big enough to be another master bedroom,” Brenda said. “We wanted it to be as nice as the master bedroom for our guests.”
The gray room has another king-size bed on a platform, dark closet doors, a gray chair and stand. The bathroom has the same granite countertops and gray cabinets, floor-length mirror, tiled walk-in shower and small toilet room, just like in the other bathroom.
Brenda looked around at her home and said she was happy with the way everything turned out.
“We wanted to create a different look than I’ve always had that fit in with the history of the place, hence industrial,” she said. “This is something different, something people can enjoy and is unique. It fits in with the downtown area. In my other house, everything is rustic with cowhide, a different feel. When we walk in here, it still nearly feels like you are somewhere else; it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into your house.”
She said she has more plans for her and Mark’s downtown home.
“My desire is to build an outside balcony on top of this thing with a spiral staircase in the entry room,” she said. “It’d be great for parties and just great to relax in and enjoy the view. I don’t know we’ll see what’s in store.”