How Michael Morrow’s Home Changed His Approach to Architecture

When Michael Morrow was a student at the Rice School of Architecture, he envisioned designing “shiny contemporary things” after he set up shop. He had no interest in older houses until 12 years ago when he and his wife Taryn Kinney, also an architect, bought a dilapidated 19th Century house in Sixth Ward.

Renovating the house, Morrow saw the beauty in patterns that form over time, and when peeling back the house, he came to value “the texture of older things.” The home renovation would greatly influence the work he would  do at his and Taryn Kinney’s firm  Kinneymorrow Architecture, instilling in him a philosophy that “the greatest attribute for an architect is restraint” whether it is a new residence or renovation.

Kinney’s and Morrow’s residential designs have won numerous awards, including three Good Brick Awards from Preservation Houston.

Their 1,500 square foot home is actually two houses from two other lots that were stuck together in the 1890s, Morrow said. The couple spent about five years on the renovation.

The interior highlights the building’s history, featuring, for example, nail holes and specks of ancient white paint, “to show all that it’s been through,” Morrow said. Their hallway wall is a stunning patchwork of the home’s original exterior and interior boards.


The house doesn’t feel old on the inside – it is warm, open and stylish. It has an abundance of light from the windows and skylights.

Most of the furnishings are modern, but even vintage objects feel contemporary by way of their surroundings.


Kinney and Morrow have an amazing collection of old signs and outsider art which complements the home’s age and creates a sense of playfulness and wonder.

They found some of the signs in antique stores and have also purchased a few at their original retail locations. When Morrow approached the men at an old tire shop and offered to pay for their hand-painted “Used Tire/Fix Flats” sign, “they thought I was crazy,” he recalled.


Kinney and Morrow’s daughters Miller and Josie are creative types who frequently make their own art. The chandelier in their bedroom belonged to their great-grandmother.



Bonus pictures from the Kinney/Morrow home:

Living room
Reclaimed work stools at the kitchen counter
Outsider art in the bathroom
Breakfast room

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