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Character Becomes Them

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, in the 9th floor high-rise home Janet Rosell Rice and her husband, Jason, Vice President at Grand Bridge Capital, occupies with their family of four, Batman comes flying around the corner. Batman, as in the superhero—also known as Jack, Rice’s 4-year-old son. Dressed classically in a head-to-toe costume with matching Hunter Wellies, the mini superhero is in full character. Without apology, his mom, a petite brunette, confides, “Jack is in costume 24/7.” Even sweet little sister, Jayne, 18 months old, calls her big brother by his superhero moniker. But as amusing as Jack’s costume is, it’s not the least out of place in the family’s sleek black-and-white home that overlooks Oaklawn.

Dressed in a cream Chanel tweed jacket topping white jeans, the former Family Circle editor explains that, in order to cope with her overstimulated life as an interior stylist, “My personal space … has to be white.” The self-professed minimalist adds, “I have stuff [around me] all the time.” She gestures to the bolt of fabric leaning in a corner of her entryway that had arrived just that morning. So she keeps the color palette simple: black and white, with fresh flowers (a must for the überfashionable mom). Today’s floral choice, ranunculus, adds vibrant bursts of magenta throughout the home. Neat stacks of Elle Decors (with white spines, pink type and tabs sticking out of the tops of the pages—a true sign of a magazine lover), sit prettily below the pink ranunculus on a white buffet table from Ligne Roset.

So the question begs: How do you live in a predominately white home with two kids younger than 5 and still manage to keep it pretty? “I don’t know,” Rice replies honestly while she sits on her white modern leather couch, looking a little mystified herself. Two seconds later, she follows up with, “There are imperfections in the house, [and] I think it’s OK. It adds character.” To prove her point, the laid-back mom points out marker stains on the ottoman I’m sitting on, Cheetos smudges on its twin and scrapes and scratches on her white walls. And it’s all OK. Really. “You can deal with the spills,” Rice declares nonchalantly—although she admits she doesn’t keep markers and crayons out all the time. Instead, Play-Doh is the omnipresent kid “staple” in the Rice home.

Walking out of the living room, into the dining area, and past the table she keeps set at all times so she doesn’t “junk” it up, Rice leads the me to the family room, where the family spends most of their time together. I can’t help but notice the walls adorned with a leaf motif hand painted by Rice’s friend, Cathy Miller (at first glance, it looks like wallpaper); the effect is what Rice calls serene. Nestled before a brown couch sits a white coffee table, with snacks for Jack and Jayne set out in chic, square, glass containers. And stacked on the table are books such as the 1960s series This is…Texas; …Greece; …Paris; and …New York, (exposing the kids to cities around the world in a cool and kid-friendly way) and most importantly, Jayne’s favorite book, Pinkalicious. Most of the toys, however, are tucked away in a cabinet under the TV. According to the minimalist mom, who only keeps a few toys for her little ones to play with, it all comes down to “one great bag, one great pair of shoes and a couple of toys.” It’s a philosophy the entire family adheres to.

The other high traffic area for the family is the fully renovated kitchen. Before the Rices got hold of the kitchen, it was “horrid,” untouched for decades, so everything had to be redone. In such a narrow kitchen, the layout had to be carefully planned. “You have to think about space in a small space,” the former New Yorker asserts as she demonstrates how each drawer, cabinet and door has a designated purpose. The themes of their redesign: organization and functionality. The couple even constructed a built-in cabinet at the end of the galley-style kitchen to house Rice’s beloved China collection. She proudly points out the Ralph Lauren china teapot her then boyfriend (now husband) gave her early on in their relationship. Jack and Jayne also have their own china, part of the chic mom’s philosophy that, “If you expect them to live with nice things, they will.”

All in all, the high-rise home, filled with stark contrasts and character (some of the superhero variety) is nothing short of stunning. Although it’s a space most Texans would call small, it’s expansive to the former New Yorkers (whose previous home also nested far above the city streets). In the future, the black and white abode, without a grass-filled back yard for Batman and his sister Jayne to play in, may not be the perfect hideout, admits Rice, but for right now, it seems to suit the family to a tee.