Houston-area surgeon’s final gift, a home his wife and daughters could move forward in

To Ray Valdez, few things were more important than having a home that was safe and nurturing.

His family was so poor when he was growing up, their home had sheets of plastic where there would otherwise be a back wall. Security was fleeting, and even as a young man, he felt physically and financially responsible for his family.

When he met his wife, Paula Hale, in 1991, he delayed proposing because he wanted to make sure his sisters were married and well taken care of first. His father died when he was in medical school, and when he went into private practice, one of the first things he did was buy his mother a home in a better neighborhood.

So when Valdez, an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist in Sugar Land, learned he had cancer, he told his wife he wanted to do a little remodeling.

“As his disease progressed, our house became a hospital. There were wipes, bandages and meds in certain places. It wasn’t a house anymore,” Hale said of caring for her husband at their Tanglewood home. He was 60 when he died in 2017.

He especially wanted to remodel the room that had been converted to his “hospital room,” and the work expanded to include the living room, family room and primary bedroom.

“Ray knew what was coming,” said Hale, 54, who works in health care. “He wanted to give us something to help us move forward.”

A few months before her husband’s death, Hale Googled “interior decorators.” After poking around, she found the website of Rainey Richardson Interiors. She loved the photos of homes in bold colors.

Valdez and Hale were unassuming when they visited Richardson at RR Home, her showroom at the Houston Design Center.

“He wanted the space to feel comfortable when he was gone; he wanted that in place for her,” Richardson said. “He didn’t get to see any of it finished, and he knew that was the way it was going to work out.”

“My dad always wanted us to have more than he grew up with, whether it was our home or education, he always wanted better for us,” said the couple’s oldest daughter, Parker, 21, a junior at the University of Tennessee. “Our home had a lot of hard times that we lived through in it. It feels more like a home to us again.”

Middle daughter Peyton,19, is a freshman at the College at Brockport, where she competes in gymnastics and studies political science; the couple’s youngest daughter, Pilar, 16, is a sophomore at Duchesne Academy.

All three had some input into the living room and family room furnishings, testing out cushions for comfort and looking at fabric options.

A year ago, Hale reached out to Richardson once more, and they remodeled the primary bathroom, bar and powder bathroom.

The primary bedroom had been redesigned to feel soft and feminine; Valdez knew it would be a bedroom for his wife after he died.

It’s decorated with blush-colored wallpaper embedded with tiny glass beads, a rose crushed velvet tufted bed and nightstands with mirror finishes. Adding to the final, glitzy effect is artwork depicting glamorous women from the 1920s, which Hale chose because the women look confident and strong at a time when women were just starting to understand the power of their own voices.

“Those pictures reflect for me how I was going to move forward and raise three girls by myself and figure out who I’m going to be along the way,” Hale said. “Those pictures are very powerful for me.”

That pretty bedroom wasn’t in sync with its bathroom and its dated, dark stained cabinets.

Richardson brought in some wow factor to change all that. A glamorous black bathtub with a faceted exterior and chrome reveal is accented with a Murano glass chandelier hanging above it.

Cabinets are now painted black, a high contrast in comparison to the sparkling Ann Sacks marble tile and pretty Kate Spade sconces.

“I don’t know where all of this comes from because I’m a heavy-metal headbanger,” Hale said, laughing at the sound of her own words. “I will tell you that the six years that Ray had cancer were so hard and heavy that I needed lightness. I needed to be able to breathe.

“Ray passed away here, but now that room doesn’t feel like it anymore,” Hale said. “We don’t see it like the room where he was sick. The room has a lot of love in it. ”

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