Luxury Outlook 2023
An ambitious exploration into high-end residential markets across the globe.
Dating to the 1920s, the landmark Houston neighborhood of River Oaks is a coveted community with roots in the city’s early expansion. Its reputation remains that of an exclusive enclave brimming with exceptionally regal estates designed by illustrious architects, enveloped by stalwart grandfather oaks, and mere moments from fashionable shops, eclectic restaurants, indulgent salons and spas, and lively arts and culture venues.
Such a rarefied setting is perfectly fitting for a home clearly inspired by the châteaux of France—fine country homes for the haut-bourgeosie that signaled authority, nobility, and wealth and were passed down for generations. In keeping with the European predecessors that inspired it, this 15,000-square-foot residence is replete with refined interior details: ornate ironwork, limestone and marble tile, custom boiserie and millwork, rift German white oak parquetry, vintage and Baccarat light fixtures, plaster walls with Segreto finishes, gently curing coves, trompe l’oeil ceilings, antique European fireplaces, handpainted wall coverings by de Gournay, and ceiling tracery.
Naturally, interior spaces possess a suitable splendor, largely for grand gatherings. Among rooms that could easily be mistaken for their Old World predecessors are an elegant living room with iconic black and white “harlequin”-patterned marble flooring; a formal dining room awash in a dreamy midnight blue and crowned by a heavenly trompe l’oeil ceiling; a bar with a dazzling mirrored-glass backsplash, brass hardware, and marble countertops; and a kitchen designed by St. Charles New York—a company firmly rooted in American design history—with appliances from the esteemed French firm La Cornue—whose provenance dates to 1908—cabinets in a matching lacquer finish, and marble countertops. Each of the five bedrooms is both serene and stylish, distinguished by a unique palette and aesthetic.
The bygone-era sensibility persists no further than ambience, however. The bar is equipped with a beverage refrigerator and an ice maker. The kitchen will please any modern cook with its 72-inch range and rotisserie, soft-close cabinets, thoughtful professional caliber appliances from Sub-Zero and Wolf, beverage and wine chillers, and two Thermador dishwashers that make cleanup—even for a crowd—effortless. On the third floor is an expertly outfitted gym with rubber flooring, a wet bar, a refrigerator, and built-in speakers. The game room includes a wet bar with a Perlick beverage refrigerator, and a dramatic wine cellar clad in eye-catching tile has a 500-bottle capacity. A Savant smart house system allows for effortless automation and access from anywhere in the world via smartphone or tablet. Other contemporary comforts and conveniences include a security system with cameras, biometric access at multiple entrances, a safe room, a Kohler whole-house generator, water softening and filtration systems, and a landscape irrigation system. A three-car garage stands in for the carriage houses of old.
The 1.5-acre grounds are equally, appropriately majestic. An ornate antique English fountain contributes to the opulent introduction provided by the verdant front courtyard, while the backyard features classically inspired statuary, a verandah and a stone terrace with a vintage limestone balustrade, a tranquil koi pond, and two vine-draped pergolas. The centerpiece is a tiled swimming pool replenished by a cascading “water wall.” Landscape architect Johnny Steele has strewn the grounds with captivating crape myrtles, weeping willows, oaks, magnolias, and a tall flourishing privacy hedge. The estate backs up to the River Oaks Country Club and a rolling emerald course for one of the preferred sports of the modern American haut-bourgeoisie, golf.