Population growth in the inner loop and a rising number of home buyers in the city mean that those buyers are starting to look in places they never thought of before. From inner loop real estate maven Bill Baldwin’s point of view, “It used to be that home buyers in the Heights only came from other parts of the Heights. Now we’re seeing people come from places like The Woodlands, Bellaire, Memorial and River Oaks just to shop for homes here.”
“More specifically, they’re coming to see what kind of unique custom single-family homes are on the resale market,” adds Baldwin.
Incredible wine cellar and entertaining back yard
One such listing is 745 Oxford, built in 2007 but with a highly traditional layout and design sensibility. Walk into this brick two-story plus wine cellar (all accessible via a spacious elevator) and you're greeted by the richly stained trim and gleaming hardwood floors.
A few sellers are offering up custom dream homes they otherwise wouldn't consider parting with if the resale market weren't quite so hot.
The first room you see off the stunning foyer is a study with floor-to-ceiling paneling to accompany the 12-foot coffered ceiling, plus a built-in bookcase and double-doors leading to the wraparound porch that profits from the large corner lot. Nearly every other room downstairs also has access to the porch.
The classic floor plan doesn't shy away from formal space, like an enviably large formal living with a fireplace boasting an oversized cast stone mantel. The formal dining has a true butler's pantry with pocket doors, glass-front built-in china cabinetry, and marvelous features like an ice maker, beverage cooler, and dishwasher drawer all concealed by custom fronts matching the rest of the cabinets.
The kitchen features an oversized granite island and Viking Professional range. Both a warming drawer and refrigerator, also with custom fronts, blend seamlessly with the rich, site-built cabinetry while the breakfast area with even more built-ins also looks out to the porch and has a view of the pool.
The crown jewel of Oxford, though, is the wine cellar, where a refrigerated walk-in wine room holding 2,500 bottles isn't just storage for the wine enthusiast but the centerpiece of a distinct entertaining floor complete with a rustic bricked tasting area. The entertainment opportunities continue in the back yard, where a full outdoor kitchen and pool make this a memorable place to celebrate or get together.
Urban retreat with multi-functioning rooms
If traditional finishes and formals aren't what your housing dreams are made of, then bask in the understated simplicity of 403 Byrne in Woodland Heights. Functionality is elevated to an art form in this serene home with craftsman touches. With a huge collection of windows and glass doors, including operable casement windows in nearly every room, this home invites its lush surroundings inside.
The polished concrete floors, the rafter tails found on the backside of the home, lap siding, and barn doors on one side of the garage add to the rustic coolness.
Byrne has the ineffable qualities of an urban retreat, a large porch with both dining and lounge areas overlooking the verdant yard, evoking images of casual entertaining and the effortless chic of a vacation getaway. In fact, the limestone countertops and wall paneling in the master bath almost transport you to the Hamptons.
The space in this home is ample yet never extravagant, eschewing formal areas for multi-functioning spaces that reflect the coming-and-going that makes up life in a growing family: a game room above the garage with its own screened porch, a kids study/reading area right off the second-floor landing, and a large work/craft room adjacent to the mudroom.
The polished concrete floors in these latter rooms, the rafter tails found on the backside of the home, lap siding, and barn doors on one side of the garage add to the abode's rustic coolness. With restrained yet appealing trim detail, all these flexible areas, plus a downstairs study with a wood-burning fireplace, this home highlights the beauty of everyday livability.
Frill and functionality with soaring ceilings and a huge back yard
Offering its own style of frill and functionality, 616 E. 19th St. gives equal consideration to livability and design. The traditional layout with 12-foot ceilings throughout the entire downstairs includes a full set of formals and a sprawling kitchen with an enormous Calacatta Gold marble island. This breathtaking marble with its distinct creamy background and complex grey-to-black veining can also be found on the counters in the kitchen, butler's pantry, and master bath.
The fittingly precious Mother of Pearl backsplash is the cherry on top of this marble extravaganza. Extensive paneling in the formal dining and in the lofty landing, with a stunningly gorgeous pairing of a stained glass window seat and chandelier, and you have a house whose elegant air threatens to overshadow its sheer comfortability.
Covered in built-in and concealed storage, including incognito charging stations and a secret closet, this home shows an exquisite level of thoughtfulness without sacrificing a wow factor.
The master wing is an experience in itself with a private terrace overlooking the expansive backyard on this rare 10,000-square-foot lot in the Heights.
The master wing is an experience in itself with a private terrace overlooking the expansive backyard on this rare 10,000-square-foot lot in the Heights. A study off the large bedroom has its own array of built-ins and pocket doors for added seclusion. The master bath has not one but two chandeliers, along with two custom stained glass windows and a clawfoot tub.
The wealth of marble continues here, not only covering the floors and countertops, but also completely enveloping the shower. Last but not least is an exercise studio accessible only from the master bath with carpet and a wall of mirrors.
With a game room upstairs, extra large utility room with floor-to-ceiling storage, large secondary bedrooms, and 2-car garage with additional parking in the porte-cochere, this home lets you enjoy all that raising a family in the Heights has to offer, just with the added bonus of an enormous back yard. A traditional, comfortable, and spacious layout, but ready to put on a serious show when entertaining.
Even experienced realtors in the Heights are having a hard time believing that these treasured homes are coming to the market. "The beauty of a strong market is that what it takes to make up the cream of the crop necessarily becomes more competitive," says Bill Baldwin, the listing agent for each of these homes. "Those folks out there shopping for a house right now are certainly in for a treat now that these custom homes are up for sale."