Editor's Note: Houston is loaded with must-have houses for sale in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. In this continuing series, CultureMap Editor-at-Large Shelby Hodge snoops through some of our faves and gives you the lowdown on what's hot on the market.
Internationally-renowned interior designer, award-winning furniture designer and quirky free spirit, Kelly Gale Amen has "abandoned ship" as he puts his planned departure from his wildly artistic townhouse in Montrose. "Like all starving artists, I've completed this project," he quips. "I'm moving into the next artistic part of my life."
And with that, he begins a breathtaking, detailed tour of the unique four-story townhouse that he completed only a year ago. It's as if he were a museum curator taking us through the various galleries and indeed this townhouse —which is for sale lock, stock and barrel — is very much a museum of his collections and a framework for his creativity. You've never seen anything like it.
Thanks to the open concept, loads of windows with verdant views and Cameron Architects' execution of Amen's desires, the designer says, "It has only 2,200 square feet but it feels like 6,000."
Walk through: Behind a high wall, we find a private garden and garage (completed with ac/heat, insulation and a sound system making it a suitable party space) both of which open to the ground-floor office. The space is open (except for the full, wheelchair-accessible bathroom) and the eye is drawn immediately upward to the stairway that leads four stories up to a roof garden (more on that later).
For those who don't like the thought of a climb, an elevator with glass door whisks you to the second floor and the main living area.
Erected on a 2,000 square-foot corner lot, the townhouse has a 37-by-20 footprint that requires a creative and oh-so-efficient use of space. Credit Amen with designing a ship shape home that makes good use of every inch. The second floor is a combo living/dining/kitchen area that resembles not so much a townhouse as a loft thanks to the open plan. Mirrored walls, gas fireplace and an entire wall of Texas artist Michael Tracy's collages on paper from the 1980s offer warm appeal. We love the deep windows on this floor that overlook the postage stamp park with its one massive oak directly across the street.
"Like all starving artists, I've completed this project," Amen quips. "I'm moving into the next artistic part of my life."
Here and on all the upper floors, walls are covered in collectors art and the furnishings come from Amen's treasure trove of original design. Works by Donald Roller Wilson, Claire Ankenman, Omar Perez, Scott Griesbach and John Palmer are among the decorative touches.
The third floor houses the master bedroom, bath and walk-in closet as well as what Amen calls his sleeping loft/media room. Love the view of the downtown skyline from the tub and the shower.
Then it's up to the roof top for the narrow roof garden which overlooks that tiny park and downtown, to the north and east. Amen's outdoor furniture, his design, fill out the space that is verdantly landscaped with rosemary bushes and holly trees.
Extra special: This is not your mother's townhouse and we applaud the creativity that led Amen on this design journey. 719 Bomar isn't for everyone. But it will have huge appeal for those with a sense of whimsy and imagination.
Exercise your options: While the townhouse does have a roomy, glass-enclosed elevator, the four levels of stairs (a design feature in itself) of reclaimed oak provide a terrific natural stairmaster.
Contents to boot: Amen is ready and more than willing to depart with all the contents of the house. But you'll need to add several more grand to the offer. Amen says that he has half a million in decor, furnishings and artwork.
Up-close-and-personal: Sudhoff Properties is hosting an invitation-only open house Wednesday afternoon. To be included in the look-see, contact Beth Cassidy-Garcia at 832-646-2982.
Square footage: 2,200
Asking price: $675,000
Listing agents: Brit Ewers and Beth Cassidy-Garcia of Sudhoff Properties