The Round Top Life
Houston entrepreneurs turn a vintage farmhouse into an inn — and it inspires a bustling antique business
If you’re attending the Original Round Top Antiques Fair and Marburger Farm Antique Show April 1 to 5, be sure and stop by Tent C, Booth 10, at Marburger’s 43-acre field where you’ll find Houstonians Paige and Smoot Hull and their three children selling their found treasures.
The Hulls’ repertoire this second year go-round represents a carefully curated collection of pieces they selected during across-the-state treks and on more extensive trips to Europe. Paige describes their spring offerings as "French bohemian luxe" with some industrial thrown in, plus many handcrafted goods she commissioned like aprons, candles and more.
Even more importantly, every item is inspired by how their antiquing business came to fruition: With the purchase and remodel of a rustic home, now a cozy, funky rental escape known as The Vintage Round Top nestled in the countryside in that quaint Texas town.
“Smoot and I went on a trip to Fredericksburg about 15-16 years ago,” Paige says. “We stayed at a great bed-and-breakfast, and together we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be innkeepers?’ "
Paige, a 22-year veteran employee and former vice president of Page Parkes Corp., and Smoot, owner of State Contractors whose successes include the creation of the popular Empire Cafe, felt a common calling to pursue a simpler time and lifestyle.
“There’s something about the hills that is like the ocean,” Paige says. “That calling back to nature suddenly resonated with both of us.”
The Vintage Round Top
In 2011, during a casual Saturday afternoon drive in the country with their children, Paige and Smoot stumbled across a farmhouse for sale in Round Top. Sitting on one and a half acres with a detached two-car garage, the property needed plenty of updating — and was the perfect beginning for their ventures into innkeeping.
“Practically everything in this house is on its second or third life."
Paige and Smoot immediately purchased the house, quickly ripping out the wall-to-wall carpet, building a wrap-around porch and vaulting the ceilings downstairs and upstairs — all in all establishing a clean palette to determine the decor. After fresh coats of white-washed and neutral paints, next came reclaimed materials and found objects, showing the couple's concern for the environment — and their whimsical yet functional decorating style.
They installed planks in varying woods from Habitat for Humanity’s Restore to bring playful color and interesting texture to many of the ceilings. Their great finds like cow-feed sifters at $10 each enjoy new life as artful sconces, complete with bonafied burlap fringe. Window screens at $5 a piece sit atop the fireplace mantel like fancy accents, a $45 bedspring Paige found makes a creative memo board and polished tin panels shine as a headboard above one of the beds.
“Practically everything in this house is on its second or third life,” Smoot says.
Paige adds, “We had this 9-inch-deep space cut into the staircase wall. We cut trunks and suitcases to fit here in a puzzle, like a wall of travel. Where did these suitcases go? Who owned them? You can feel that spirit throughout the house. All of the things we brought in have their stories.”
In 2012, the couple hired Tim and Carol Bolton of Carol Hicks Bolton Antiques in Fredericksburg as mentors in their shopping adventures. With their assistance, Paige and Smoot expanded their shopping haunts to France to buy one-of-a-kind finds.
First guests arrived in November 2011, and by March 2012, The Vintage Round Top was the word-of-mouth place to stay. The charming 2,400-square-foot abode sleeps up to six and has been reserved for everything from girlfriend weekends to an escape for couples seeking an easy getaway to a base for Round Top and Marburger shoppers. Room rates run $225 per night based on up to two guests, with high season, such as the antiques weekends, $650 a night based on up to six guests.
And just one minute from Round Top Square, the getaway enjoys that location-location-location crowning jewel.
On a lark, the couple sent photos of the house to Country Living magazine. Shortly after, the publication highlighted The Vintage Round Top in its February issue.
Back to Malburger, Tent C, Booth 10
While The Vintage Round Top is booked for Texas’ mega-antiques festival, the relaxing vacation rental is available year-round. Just check out the website for openings.
Paige and Smoot welcome all to their booth at the annual the Marburger/Round Top antiques extravaganza, an easy day trip from Houston. They encourage bargain enthusiasts to shop online, too, at The Vintage Round Top, another natural expansion of the Houstonians’ dream.
“We really put on a production,” Paige says with a laugh of their Marburger sale. “Our entire house in Spring right now is all ‘Marburger,’ and we’re bringing everything to our booth.
“Of course, everyone shops for their personal style. We hope what we offer resonates with people.”