There's something about a villa. The very name conjures up images of Italian mountains sloping into the sea, with terraces bathed in Tuscan sun. That vista isn't available here in Houston, but a striking villa, painstakingly restored, is. And it's right in the heart of the city in the Rice University area.
The five-bedroom, 6,556-square-foot home at 5322 Institute Ln. is on the market for $3.75 million, offered by Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty. Known as the Eppes House, this is a piece of Houston history that now boasts every modern amenity.
Originally built in 1926 by concrete manufacturer Ned Eppes, it’s said to be one of Houston’s first concrete homes; it's also on both the National Register of Historic Places and Texas Historical Commission. The Italian Renaissance design sits on a 19,000-square-foot lot and boasts five bedrooms, four baths, a fireplace, its own wine vault, a true cook's kitchen, a pool, and other amenities that herald gracious living.
A green front lawn bookends a two brick staircases leading to the wide, welcoming front porch. Like something out of a movie set, it features built-in stone benches and concrete railings that speak to the home's character. Enter through the front door, and visitors are greeted by the lovely original wood staircase sloping gently upward, and the original arched doorways and built-in shelves. The dark hardwood floors are a perfect accent to the white walls, giving the home load of light.
The formal living room has its own fireplace, recessed lighting, access to the adjacent sunroom, and sweeping views of the front lawn. The formal dining room, on the other side of the foyer, features a dazzling, one-of-a-kind Swarovski chandelier and original hardwood floors. A cozy breakfast room sits between the dining room and the kitchen, perfect for more intimate meals.
The massive kitchen is a stunning display of hardwood floors and bright white fixtures. A large island sits in the middle of the space, with a granite top that matches the counter tops and offsets the limestone backsplash. It comes complete with a Sub-Zero fridge, Thermador appliances, and an endless array of counter space. The beamed ceiling adds beautiful detailing, making the room a natural gathering space while preparing meals or simply hanging out.
Upstairs, the oversized master bedroom features hardwood floors, plantation shutters on the windows, and access to a private balcony, which echoes the front porch downstairs. There are double walk-in closets, lovely archways, and French doors that lead into a private study. The master bathroom's limestone counters and flooring, glass shower with a bench, and barrel-vaulted ceiling offer luxurious comfort and incomparable function.
The backyard is anchored by an inviting blue, heated, in-ground pool with diving board, creating a space that wants to be lived in. Truly built for use year-round, this is a place that not only allows for parties, but provides an intimate feel for just-family times. The landscaping is simply gorgeous, with trees surrounded by flowers, walls coated with greenery and pillars. An outdoor kitchen adds to the relaxed vibe.
The home's basement is fully finished, adding to the luxe living space. Carved out of the home's original foundation, the concrete columns not only add exquisite architectural detail, but give the whole space the feeling of being tucked away in an underground wine cellar. And the walk-in wine cellar here has space for 180 bottles, meaning the right wine for celebrations is only steps away.
The Eppes House was built by one of Houston's most prominent businessmen, and was a testament to gracious living and the luxury that hard work could provide. Over its nearly 100 years of existence, the home has been a striking example of Houston's history. Through loving preservation and finely detailed renovation, the home now seamlessly blends Houston's past and present.