The “Shabby Victorian” Magnolia Pearl Ranch in Texas

by hookedonhouses on July 20, 2012

You might not recognize it by name, but if you read as many shelter mags and blogs as I do, I bet Magnolia Pearl Ranch will look familiar to you. The “Shabby Victorian” cottage has been featured in publications like Country Living and Romantic Homes, and the photos have been reposted all over the Internet, from blogs to Pinterest.

It sits on about 40 acres in Texas Hill Country, and it’s now on the market for $975,000. Take a look!

Robin “Pearl” Brown and her partner John Gray founded Magnolia Pearl in 2001, selling clothing and accessories she made from vintage laces, velvets, silks, and embroidered linens.

The property comes with two guest houses, three outdoor showers, two barns, an RV structure, a well house, a rocked-in office and a storage shed.

That garden gate (above) was made out of a rusty headboard.

Robin once told Romantic Homes, “I don’t like anything to match.”

There are only a few new photos on the listing, and they’re all exterior shots. Most are ones that appeared in magazines.

Robin told Country Living that the fridge was a “horrible brown” when she found it at a yard sale for $30 bucks. A trip to an automotive painter turned it shell pink, her favorite color.

“Everything here, from bits of tapestry to tin ceilings, had a previous life,” Robin told CL, calling the retreat “a Victorian fairy tale.”

The property, which is near Medina, has nearly 40 acres with “lots of oak trees, two gazebos, a covered rock table, three chicken coops and a deer-proofed and irrigated organic garden with a rock enclosure.”

Shabby Victorian is definitely not my style, but I admire people like this who have an artistic vision for something different and really go for it. It expands our ideas of what is possible and what we can do in our own homes.

The Country Living photos were taken by Steven Randazzo.

In 2008 Robin wrote a book about her unique style called A Bit of Velvet & A Dash of Lace:

Want it? For more photos and information about the ranch, check the article on My San Antonio, the listing by Steven Stone at Gray Realty, the photos on Country Living and the Magnolia Pearl website. (Thanks to Michelle for the tip!)

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Jane July 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

Like you, Julia, it’s not my style but I do appreciate that she marches to her own drummer. I wish more people would risk being different. Of course, that’s not easy when you’re worried about the resale value of your home! I imagine it’s going to take a bit of work to sell that home as it will only appeal to certain people. All that chippy paint gives me the willies. All I can see is lead paint everywhere. The exterior kind of reminds me of the Green Acres house.

Donna July 20, 2012 at 8:17 am

So many beautiful spaces! Seeing photos of the interior screams “flaking lead-based paint” to me, though.

Penne July 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

EXACTLY what I was thinking…and that it’d be an excellent place to get splinters. Really really don’t like this, and I can’t imagine any male-type person being comfortable in such a girly space.

Jessica July 20, 2012 at 9:30 am

I think the roughness prevents it being “girly”. Ha And her male partner has lived there for years. ;-)

Sarah @ housecrazy July 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

as someone who bought a flaky-lead-based paint old, old house, I wonder how on earth someone would be able to obtain a mortgage for a place like this? Lenders + lead-based paint in old house = complete nightmare!!!

imjacobsmom July 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Those were my thoughts exactly Sarah.

Wendy July 22, 2012 at 1:32 am

HA! My first thoughts was that I could never take my toddlers there with all that chipping paint and rust! It must be a toxic place to live. Though cool, very cool.

Donna July 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

@Jane, we must have been posting at the same time. Glad I am not alone in taking issue with the paint.

Kathleen August July 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

Ok – so how come when I do something shabby chic – it just looks shabby, no chic?

This is so clever and charming!

Vicki July 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Exactly what I was thinking! I’ve tried “re-purposing” old items in the name of art, and it just never works out. I think the trick to making shabby look chic is to have a really good photographer taking the photos! :-)

kristen@fit2feelbetter July 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

It’s not really my style either but I would take it just to be in the Texas Hill Country. I’m willing to bet that if that place has a view, that view would be worth more than the house!

Shabby Chick July 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

Wow. I feel like I just toured a strange cross between the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house and a brothel. Nevertheless, shabby perfection overall.

Christina from Dallas July 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Funny! I can kinda see that.

Heatherly July 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. Not my style but appreciate their effort. That might be a bit of a hard sale.

Kelly July 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

It is interesting to look at, but no way is that my thing. I would constantly be scrubbing things which would ruin the whole shabby chic look.

Holly Irwin July 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

Thanks for sharing! What an over-the-top, shabby chic-ified cottage! I’d go nuts living in that place!

Mike July 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

While I can appreciate the artistic flair, I am also pretty sure I could buy a house that looks like it is rotting away underneath me for a lot less than $975,000.

Amy July 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

I’d love to go see this in person, but only after I made sure my tetanus was up to date.

Jenny July 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm

ROTF! I was thinking about tetanus shots too while looking at these pics. The house looks filthy and dangerous.

Jessica July 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

I read that book a few months ago and enjoyed it. :-) I love many elements of her style, although it is a lot more “shabby” than I prefer in my own home.
I wonder how it will go selling it, since it is so unique?

Margaret July 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

I hope it only looks like it is falling down. I would have to paint the whole thing. I’m glad she is happy with her style. Now about that stove, THAT I love.

Sherry July 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Margaret, you take the stove & I’ll take that pink fridge. :) Lots that I like here, especially the location, but somewhat beyond my “shabby” threshold.

Sarah @ housecrazy July 20, 2012 at 9:51 am

WOW! love everything about it! So rich and creative and romantic! Gosh, I’d move to Texas if I had the money to but that place! I love the roughness of it – the “found object” nature of it. It’s a little crazy – right up my alley!

Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet July 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

It’s WAY too shabby chic for my tastes, but the exterior shots are gorgeous. I wouldn’t mind escaping the world there…

Janet July 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

Like most I admire the owners for following their own vision but it’s just too much shabby to be chic to me. I just can’t see loving distress, rather I only see a few unique items scattered among alot of pretty dingy looking rooms. I did love the pink fridge and the gazebo thingy that looks like tree trunks. Also the property itself in hill country looks gorgeous.

Maddie July 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

I love the creativity and that outdoor bathtub!

Fwitzie July 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

All I see is a run down fixer upper I dont care what label you put on it. uck scary.

gena July 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I’m all for doing what you like – heck, I live in a lavender house – but this looks dirty to me! And the chippy lead paint, yeah… no thanks. The idea they were going for I get, but the reality is just not very “liveable” looking. More power to them if they get that kind of money for it.. like I said, I live in a lavender house, so what do I know????


snaggy July 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Interesting ….but creepy !

Zoe July 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I agree!

Mary July 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I love shabby chic but I would have to draw the line at whatever is affecting the ceiling over the indoor bathtub. Probably it only looks distressed, but I would be the one distressed, laying in that tub and looking at what appears to be mold and crusted dirt. Ew.

Zoe July 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm

It looks a little “too” shabby for my taste. More like a lot of old nasty smelly junk.
Not really my style, though I do love the outdoor tub and the pink refriedgerator!

threadbndr July 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Add me to the list of ‘OMG flaking paint ick!”. I just can’t stand rusty things. But I do love the fabrics; the stove and fridge are wonderful, too.

And I love the gardens – the veggie garden is a dream of mine.

Shannon July 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I love elements of her style when she takes it outside – I love the long table in the meadow with the mismatched chairs, and I love the furniture and some of the details in the porch shot above it. I love the rusty gates. And that is a great pink fridge. But it takes shabby to a place where the house looks like it is rotting. It looks like it smells bad. It looks like you would find Miss Havisham in there in her tattered wedding dress with the one shoe and the decomposing wedding cake on the table.

However, if I could get in there and paint the walls and fix the ceilings and remove some of the clutter I would probably fall in love with the place.

Cindy July 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Wow – I’m all over the place on this one. LOL

On the one hand, I love that she is following her creative spirit and being true to what makes her happy. Good for her! On the other, the overwhelming feeling I get looking at those interior shots is ‘yikes, this looks dark and dirty’. I’m having a hard time reconciling two such strong reactions. :-0

I think if I could recreate one strong chippy piece for my home (with beautiful lines and non-lead paint), that would probably be enough for me. I tend to like a much cleaner, brighter look, but a nice dose of texture might be perfect. Hmmmm… I sense a project coming on.

Thanks for another great post, Julia!

Tracie July 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I am equally conflicted. I think I have a love/hate relationship with this one. Nice set for a magazine shoot, but to live in? No way.

I also would imagine they are taking (or took) the furniture and cool pieces, like the fridge, with them, which would leave just the ick factor. :)

Empresslockness July 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm

This house looks as if it reeks of moth balls.

Laura July 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Shabby is good in small doses. Same with the flaking paint. But outside it looks great, and I’m a big fan of the pink fridge as well.

Earth Ocean Sky Redux July 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I’m in the “more power to her” camp that she dared to express herself to the max in their home. More impressive her partner is comfortable there. The man gets alot of points in my book. It must be true love.

However, I find the details of the listing interesting. One, the price! One bedroom and one bath! I’m a jaded New Yorker so I am used to sky-high prices in Manhattan, but in this part of Texas? The listing says the median home price in their zip code is $109,000. I’ll give them the fact that it has 38 acres and it makes mention of guest houses etc., that must increase the price, but I’d love to know how realistic the asking price is and what, if any, of the furnishings go with the home. I happen to think she’s marketing her style and if little to none goes with it, then, what’s the point? Under Amenities in the listing: chandelier. I might want more.

Also, the listing says there’s a dryer connection but makes no mention of a washer. I might have a problem doing my laundry in the stream. I am quite happy to hang out the washed laundry on a line, but I would need some new fangled machine to wash it first.

I hope they find someone with similar eclectic taste to swoop this up. Did she tell you why they are selling? I could introduce them to the wilds of The Big Apple where their $975,000 would again get them a one bedroom one bath, just minus the 38 acres!!

Bridget July 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm

The owner definitely made this HER home. Not my style at all. I wish her the best of luck finding somebody to love her home as much as she obviously does.

Kim July 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

What a creepy and dirty looking home. I don’t see how anyone can live or let alone, sleep in a place like this. I do love the property though. It has that soothing feel to it.

Amy July 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I’m a little bit of a clean freak and a person who loves a cosy warm home.this ain’t me! Love her different taste,obviously suits her,just not me. I want to paint it and make it more warmer. Too shabby chic! Looks a little bit like Ma and Pa Kettle live there! But Good on her for being her, I would love to have the guts and inspiration to do something a little different and individual.

Heather July 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

I used to love the magazine “Where Women Create,” but honestly, I was tired of Magnolia Pearl being featured all the time. Her style seems dirty to me. Casual is one thing, but unkept is another. All that flecking paint seems like a lead-based nightmare. I can’t believe it’s being marketed for $975,000. Knock a zero off that price, provide a Phase I Environmental Inspection, throw in 50 gallons of paint, and you might have a deal.

Christina from Dallas July 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

It seems like it’s shabby overkill! A few pieces( if you like that style) might be okay but it seems too “shabbified”. Or should it be “shabbyfied? Ha, I made up a word.

Gerry July 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm

The grounds look like there would be a lot of snakes lurking about……) No thanks.

Nita July 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I had an English girlfriend who loved this Texas whorehouse type of look and used red velvets and such in her ranch style house. It was really cute and not the same old, same old. I like this woman’s style and think it looks beautiful.

amanda July 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

A little too shabby for me, but kinda cool. And it did remind me I wanted to get out the the George Ranch again this year to tour the great old Victorians. Wish I had a better camera and I could share the pics. I love going to George Ranch’s annual Texian Market days fair, but you can only tour the downstairs of the houses during that event because of the traffic.

Deb in Oz July 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm

All I see is dust. lol Definitely not my style at all.

Pascale Steig July 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Lovely! But there is irony in the fact that only the very well-to-do can afford the luxury of paying premium price for a “product” intentionally designed to look as a set for The Grapes of Wrath…

Jane George July 21, 2012 at 12:42 am

I think it’s perfectly gorgeous, especially the columned bedroom and the outdoor tub. All it needs is a weathered gray horse barn for the horsies.

e. george July 21, 2012 at 1:32 am

Hi Julia I have not been able to look at your beautiful blog for almost 2 weeks that was tough our computer went belly up had to buy a new one this is huge I have to get used to it (IMAC). Anyway I love your sun room had to tell you that. Well I don’t know if I could cope living in this place it’s way over my cleaning energy and it looks like it needs a lot of looking after. Thank you for sharing. Regards Esther from Sydney.

Elvira July 21, 2012 at 6:24 am

I love this house! Not for me to live in, I prefer cleaner lines, but I celebrate her creativity and sense of style. It’s shabby chic done to the n’th degree, sumptuous and abundant. However, all those patterns and details could become overbearing in time.
I love the cooker and the painted kitchen dresser. The outdoor bathroom and the decorative paintwork on the walls get my full support as does the great idea of using rusty headboards as gates.
Great post, Julia!

Thirkellgirl July 21, 2012 at 8:17 am

I’d want to scrub it all, sand off the flaking (lead?) paint, and get in there with gallons of white paint. It’s horrible, in my opinion. “Shabby” is a bit worn around the edges, not beaten to death and dirty.

Beckie July 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

My house is not dust-free for sure, but I just would have to scrub down every inch of the place. Having grown up with a “lake house” in the country, I know how dirty something can get if the wind blows across dirt or gravel roads. Maybe if we just call it “shabby chic”, it will just make it cute. So, my house just went from dusty to chic!

Cindy July 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm

It doesn’t look shabby. It looks dirty. Bleh.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... July 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

It’s all so wonderful shabby chic wonderful.

Cindy July 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

And no way would I give them $975K for that. Here’s $100.

Dawn July 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm

It looks so DIRTY !!!

Bunnie July 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

I definitely prefer Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic to this Shabby Victorian. At least with Shabby Chic *everything* is white and clean. This house looks a bit like something off Scooby Doo and screams “lead paint chips”. I do love the refrigerator, though.

Megan August 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

My thoughts exactly!! Rachel Ashwell does the shabby look to perfection, worn but beautifully restored pieces mixed with the shiny, bright and new. This is over kill.. and not liveable like Rachels designs. Love the refrigerator too…

Melinda July 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I like the outdoor spaces but the interior is too “Miss Havisham” for me.

Shannon July 23, 2012 at 2:02 am

Thank you for seeing Miss Havisham in this house, I saw her in there as well.

K. Rosner July 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm

No way would I get my husband to even visit there.

betsy July 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Looking at the pictures makes me wanna scratch, just doesn’t look clean. Lazy Victorian would be another way to describe the look or decor.

Sheryl July 23, 2012 at 10:56 am

I like the style and the decor but would feel like I could never get it clean.

klamb July 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm

This house reminds me of when I was a little girl and we had a “clubhouse” in our old chicken coop. The neighbor kids and I dragged in old furniture but other than that everything else was nasty and dirty.

The Country Girl July 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm

It looks dirty because it IS dirty. Ick.

“Knock a zero off that price, provide a Phase I Environmental Inspection, throw in 50 gallons of paint, and you might have a deal.”

Couldn’t have said it better, Heather. Except that I would not want it at any price!

HollyM July 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Would you know, living here, if your house was dirty – - or not? Would normal dust and dirt show up amid all the chippy paint, rusty tin, and threadbare rugs?

Or is that the point?

Sarah August 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I would take the pink fridge, the outside bath surrounded by rocks and leave the rest of it (as far as style)

Judith Schram September 5, 2012 at 12:57 am

Love covers a multitude of sins.

nope December 2, 2012 at 11:06 am

Where the **** are y’all seeing dirt?
I know these people, and this house was never anything but clean.

betsy December 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Getting a little nasty here. Cut the nasty language.

hookedonhouses December 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I agree. I edited it.

Terri February 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

Anything that Robin Brown , AKA, Magnolia Pearl puts her name on is over priced. Why would a piece of property that she owns be any less different? She is a creative and unique individual and she beats to her own drum, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most creative people are out there a little anyway or so I have been told myself. I am not sure what property in Texas goes for. But, $975,000.00 out here in Oregon will buy you one nice home on a lot of land. I like taking pictures of old dilapted homes it’s a pastime of mine. Some are lived in by hippies growing pot and others are abondon. I have quie a few of these types of photographs. These old homesteads are all over here in the country and hills. Robin’s home for sale reminds me of one of these sites that I have photograph only perhaps a little better kept. What you are getting is basically the land and a small piece of what she considers to be heaven. There is no real value in any of the buildings. All any prospective buyer is getting, is the oppurtunity to own a Magnolia Pearl orginal! A place that has had been photograph and placed in a couple of maganzins. Just like one of her over priced pieces of clothing. In todays ecomony I am glad that people have the money to spend 300.00 to 800.00 or more on a pair of her bloomers or even more on one of her crochet pieced togather pieces. I like most of her clothing but come on. In the real world we can’t all be walking around dressing in big, baggy, over sized clothing looking like we just fell off the turnip wagon or just came from Round Top or whatever that giant flea market is called. I think she has made her own little fantsay world in which she lives in. It’s awesome that she has been able to escape reality. We would all like to do that, and I don’t begruge her of anything that she has. I am sure she has worked hard for what she has. I don’t believe that she was some spoiled, rich, bitch that had everthying handed to her on a silver platter. You have to admire what she has accomplished on her own it truely is awesome One day though reality will hit her full face and she will have to deal with it all. As far as her home goes she will never get the asking price. Its just a test to see if some fool out there is willing to pay that much. If she pulls it off will bravo for her! I have no doubt that she will eveuntally sell her home, but it will be for true marklet value and not because it’s a Magnolia Pearl orginal! Enough of my rantings I need to get back to my own sewing projects.

Me July 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm

The comments had me ROTFL . What a great way to spend the afternoon.

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