Editor's Note: Houston is loaded with must-have houses for sale in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. Throughout the month of June, CultureMap Editor-at-Large Shelby Hodge snoops through some of our faves and gives you the lowdown on what's hot on the market.
Maybe it's because I'm just back from Paris and once again enamored of all things French, but I can't get this beautiful home with resolute echoes of la belle France out of my mind. I'm dreaming of having my espresso and croissant in the center courtyard so reminiscent of a quaint Parisian hotel that I'm flashing back to the Plaza Athénée.
Walk through: Curb appeal is huge for those with an appreciation of a decidedly European look — a thick bounty of rich fig ivy covers the exterior walls, leaving only the mullioned windows for show. From the beautifully landscaped auto court, one steps into the entry hall featuring polished limestone flooring and a curving stairway with decorative wrought-iron stair railing, once again recalling a Parisian residence.
To the right is a study with diagonally-patterned parquet flooring and to the left is the living room that stretches from the front to the back of this wing, floor-to-ceiling mullioned windows and French doors offering beaucoup light.
The living room overlooks the interior courtyard with its beautiful saltwater pool coated in shimmering blue glass beads. The pool terrace, newly covered in travertine marble, is wrapped on three sides by the house, the windows and doors draped in oh-so-French striped canopies.
The living room is connected to the back of the house via a gallery (parquet floors) that wraps down around the interior making an open flow plan from the study to the formal dining room and back to the living room. The family room at the back of the house is spacious and bright, overlooking the pool terrace. The linear kitchen is practical if not quite in tune with today's focus on home cooking (something most River Oaks residents are not attuned to, we are told).
The spacious (28'X16') master suite and a guest bedroom are at the front of the house on the second floor and have surprisingly contemporary baths and closets considering that the house was built in 1971. Two guest bedrooms share another spacious bath at the back of the house.
The wide open third floor is large enough to house, at the moment, a pool table, large wrap-around sofa, exercise equipment and an office desk. In other words, lots of space for many uses.
Bonus: The windows and French doors of the wrap-around first floor look onto the pool terrace with fountain, which at night features dramatic LED lighting. In fact, the house's exterior lighting is another glam factor that adds to curb appeal and to interior sophistication.
Drawback or no? The good news is that the garage is at the back of the house so no intrusive driveway at the front. Not such good news is that the garage entry is on bustling San Felipe, which during rush hour can be a tricky situation to maneuver.
Entertaining at its best: Because of the open flow and the spaciousness of this home, entertaining is a breeze. Current owners invited 150 friends and neighbors in for a holiday party this past Christmas and held a sleep-over for 10 friends for England's royal wedding.
Up to date: In 2009, the current owners completely refurbished the house which explains the feel that it is brand new. Even more recently, the owners replaced the roof.
Square footage: 8,357
List price: $2,895,000
Listing agent: Cathy Blum with Greenwood King Properties