A New Blue ’Do in Brookesmith

Redo work on a 1920 cottage with a watching-the-world-pass porch spun off a mini-me houselet in back (above) and an airy, matching carport. The property, located a few blocks west of I-45 — between the Near Northside and the Heights — listed last Friday with an asking price of $399,000. The property had last changed hands in November 2012, for $119,500. But that was in its pink period (at right); it had first listed last March, for $150,000.


From the street, the 824-sq. ft. original home’s expanded-to-1,292-sq.-ft. footprint now ooches out its midsection a couple feet on the north side (that’s the right side in the photo above). Two types of new fencing define the yard, provide a barrier for extra parking at the street, and incorporate an automated gate across the grass-and-gravel driveway.

The setting’s focal point, however, remains the porch, now sporting a nifty wooden swing and period door with trim matching the craftsman detailing of the original side panels. A little graying at this temple changes up the property’s prevailing blue hue:

Inside, the living, dining, and kitchen spaces all open to each other. Not so before the transformation; this photo from an earlier listing shows the same space as it was:

Since the home faces east, toward the neighboring freeway, morning sun comes through the front door:

The re-exposed chimney is original to the home, and it stands in contrast to the modern kitchen appliances:

Added space affects the kitchen and dining area, where a breakfast bar doubles the seating possibilities, high and low:

Here’s a peek at the kitchen before Carrera marble countertops, dark-stained cabinetry, and stainless-steel appliances joined the party:

Added space now accommodates a small mud room (above) off the kitchen, the washer and dryer (below), and a back door opening to a small, new porch:

Once a 2 bedroom-1 bathroom cottage, the home now claims 2 full bathrooms and 2 or 3 bedrooms. The master suite is at the back:

A hall bathroom, meanwhile, picked up a clawfoot tub in the remodeling:

That last “or 3” bedroom is this 6 ft. by 9 ft. space, which is off a hallway accessible from the kitchen:

Here’s the back porchlet (above), which frames the look-alike flex space out back. Yes, it used to be the garage (pictured at right):

The back of the house (above) has now been squared off with an addition. The before is shown at right. Even with the casita and carport, there’s still room for a small patch of lawn on the 5,000-sq.ft. lot (below):

HCAD indicates that the listing’s current owner (and remodeler), Renovative Thinking, also has dibs on the previously updated home next door. Meanwhile, south of the carport lies a multi-bay storage lot facing W. Patton St. Montie Beach Park is 5 streets west.

32 Comment

  • Lots of “semi-historic on the outside, crappy townhome on the inside” lately on Swamplot. Are people really buying these flips for anything close to asking and do the flippers snatch these things up before they hit the market?

  • What is “flex space”? Wouldn’t the average buyer have preferred a garage?

  • *swoooooooon* Now *that’s* how you do a re-do – I’m looking at you “EaDo” bungalow with the unnecessary island.

  • How much for just the houselet?

  • Not a fan of the location or the price, but I have to admit that the flip appears to have been well done.

  • @JB3: Real estate in the Heights is red hot. A 950 sq ft bungalow in the Heights I almost bought in 2010 for $255 just sold for @$320-something after being bid up from its list price (2 days after listing). People are even bidding up new construction. This house is probably not going to get $399, but it will probably get mid 300s, at least. 5-6 bids are the norm on decent houses. There are piles of people looking to get into the Heights area for $300-350 and almost no inventory at that price point. Good opportunity for flippers in Sunset Heights and Brookesmith where property values are still somewhat based in reality.

    And while I agree that the kitchen is a bit too much townhome, the rest of this flip is actually very tasteful compared to most. No travertine, exposed chimney, clawfoot tub, nice tile pattern in the bathrooms, wainscotting, and nice restoration work on the hardwood floors. One of the better flips I have seen in the Heights in a while.

  • Lauren, I think they call it flex space
    because, once all the crap that would be normally piled up in the garage ends up in there, you have to really flex to get inside.

  • It looks lovely, but not $280,000 more than paid for worth of ‘lovely’ for that location.

  • It’s Brooke Smith, not Brookesmith! ;) I actually don’t mind this renovation, even with the car port garage and unconventional addition. Renovative Thinking also bought 807 Archer, a property I viewed before buying, and replicated what they did to 805. Interesting, considering how 807 was a sweet updated starter home, even if the floor plan was a bit wonky.

  • @Amanda–I agree with you. I would think, given the right purchase price, you could buy, renovate, and sell these all day long. I can’t comment on the price, just on the updates.

    Not everyone is married to the interiors being perfectly period-appropriate if they are well laid out and aren’t *totally* out of character.

  • @Old school thanks for the reply/commentary. I’m well aware of the state of the market because I’m part of that unfortunate group looking in the 300-350 range in the area. I’d love to find something that’s pre-renovated, but livable, to get good value and renovate to personal taste over time. It’s upsetting to me as a buyer to see homes like this in BS (this would probably be +$100k anywhere in Heights proper), because it seems there’s less chance that I’ll find something that fits the bill with each passing week.
    And on second glance I do agree that the house is tastefully done minus the kitchen/living space.

  • Nice redo. Crazy (for the location) price.

  • Darn, now I really wish we had bought the house in Brooke Smith with the 10,000 sq ft lot for $52k in 1998.

  • Brooke Smith is jumping and jiving with 2-1 houses, either in situ or moved in from other neighborhoods, expanded to 3-2 with contemporary touches. Expanded front porches are a happy trend. There are still plenty of non-remodeled houses around for those who want to avoid the expense now, or want to do it yourselves later.

  • Why all the hoopla? I’m sure this house will be listed on the swamplot daily demolition list in a few years anyways.

  • This reminds me of my dream home.

  • JB3 said: “I’d love to find something that’s pre-renovated, but livable, to get good value and renovate to personal taste over time.”

    So would I. Unfortunately, when the dirt under a tear-down easily costs $250k, it’s just not happening. My current strategy is “wait 10 years for the bubble to burst, then try again.

  • Jennifer,

    There is no Heights bubble. Your best bet is to buy in the East End or another similar area and hope that area catches up so you can lateral over. But, by then, I bet the East End or whatever inner-loop area you buy into will be comparable to the Heights and you’ll be happy you bought in at the low end of the market. Then you too can smirk while reading swamplot posts about the East End “bubble” bursting.

  • Other than the cabinets, I think they did a great job. As much as I would like it to go for that list price, I think it’s crazy too, though. As has been said above, lots of this kind of thing going on in Brooke Smith…which is so much better than cheap, new construction, imo.

  • “when the dirt under a tear-down easily costs $250k, it’s just not happening. My current strategy is “wait 10 years for the bubble to burst, then try again.”

    I don’t think this is a bubble that is going to burst anytime soon. Houston’s annual growth rate is 3.7 percent. We are expected to double in size over the next two decades. When you do the math on a city of over 2,000,000, that’s in excess of 75,000 new residents per year, soon to be upwards of 100,000 per year, and those people need somewhere to live. Prices are going to continue to go up everywhere, and areas like Brooke Smith are going to have much more expensive dirt – regardless of what the national economy does.

    Also – those people are not coming to Houston to preserve it’s history, they are coming to find jobs and nice homes to live in. This place fits the bill, town home decor and all.

  • Yes, there is no bubble in the Heights. Inventory is scant and buyers are piling into the neighborhood with no sign of letting up. The only real question is how much more appreciation is left in the market. When I bought in 2010, everyone said that there was no appreciation left in the Heights, and Oak Forest was the place to invest and get a good return. Well, they were certianly right about Oak Forest, but wrong about the Heights. I have probably seen 20% in appreciation since I bought and do not see it letting up anytime soon. The surrounding greater Heights neighborhoods will fill in and attract more retail (this means you HEB) and imporvements to amenities. There will be a ceiling, but it will be a sustainable ceiling for the foreseeable future.

  • JB3 – I’m in Lizzietown Terrace (this is roughly four roads in the middle of Brookesmith) and I have just the house for you. It’s pre-renovated and livable. Who knew that my house might finally be valuable after living in the ghetto for 10 years!

  • Brooke Smith is what it is. An old, working class neighborhood with a a small supply of 100 year old houses on 5000 square foot lots in the inner loop. Not for everyone but if you want to live close by the city, have a bit of space, not have to commute, not have to live in a condo, enjoy the surrounding area, well there are not a lot of choices at this price point. Not everyone wants to live in The Woodlands.

  • I don’t get the attraction of Brooke Smith over some of the east end options. Much as the people who live in there might like to say “it’s the Heights,” no, it isn’t. It is east of the Heights & with the exception of a couple of blocks of Cordell, doesn’t have very many decent old houses worth salvaging. The houses are nowhere near as nice as what I have seen in Eastwood, and retail is weak with both, (the Patton Fiesta doesn’t exactly blow away Combat Kroger). The prices seem to be a lot higher for less interesting houses in just as transitional an area that is no closer to downtown.

  • I’m obviously a little biased…but do you really want to compare Brooke Smith and Eastwood’s locations? You mentioned grocery stores…within 3 miles Brooke Smith has 3 Krogers (I know….not a big Kroger fan myself…but you mentioned it), 2 of which are brand new or recently remodeled, an HEB (3.5 miles from my house), the Fiesta you mentioned, Revival Market… Too many restaurants to name within a couple of miles. Much more retail nearby… 19th street area, Washington, Sawyer, the Yale street stuff, etc… Brooke Smith is definitely NOT the Heights proper…but it is right next to it. I work in the East End and like it…but it is next to nothing.

  • Winer, I agree with you the architecture in Eastwood is superior to Brooke Smith (and frankly, most of the Heights), but I agree with Brooke Smith Too that Brooke Smith’s location is superior to anything in the East End, currently.

    It just depends on what is important to the individual buyer. If I didn’t have to worry about schools, I’d buy over in Eastwood. I think that area will be hopping in a few years.


  • Part of the problem with Eastwood’s location is the different yardstick people apply to what is considered close. The 2.5 miles or so to Washington avenue is listed like a neighborhood amenity for the restaurants or clubs over there, but a more direct 2.5 miles over to midtown from Eastwood is no where close.

  • Which Kroger is Combat Kroger?

  • when people start talking like there’s no such thing as a bubble, then it’s a good sign there’s something in the making. yes, our city is set to grow much larger and the economy is set to continue expanding, but nearly half our entire economy is still tied to oil & gas. if there was another well blowout and shut down in the gulf i can guarantee you these outlandish bidding wars would be a thing of the past.

    expanding populations are also no guarantee of ever-expanding home prices. in 10yrs time there’s going be 1 – 2MM homes coming on the market every year as the baby boomers die off and pass off their properties. there’s still tons of lots in the near-town areas that will continue to be demo’d and rebuilt as time goes on as well. the market will be stressed to soak up all these properties and prevailing market values may have to adjust to much lower income ranges for the newer population groups.

  • Joel- you must not work in oil and gas or if you do, you work in offshore. Not calling you misinformed but people moving to Houston in oil and gas are doing it for the Operators and contractors based in Houston – which dont all work offshore, but execute projects here in the US and elsewhere in the world.

    Brooke Smith is exactly what these people are moving here are looking for – this lot alone is 5000 sq feet and this remodel has been well done.

    I live in “Heights Proper” and have watched lots diminish in Shady Acres and Sunset Height to accommodate the skinny three story plus town homes.

    People want a backyard and those moving here in oil and gas will pay this kind of money (believe it or not its still cheap to everyone outside of Houston).

    Smart to buy a place now thats close inside 610 and doesn’t have historic restrictions and full lot size.

  • just looked at the listing for this one today, option pending! In your face Eastwood!

  • JD21 – I live in Brooke Smith on Tabor just north of Patton, have been receiving the neighborhood newsletter for the past 10 years and have wondered this whole time what constitutes Lizzieton Terrace (which the newsletter misspelled “Lezzieton Terrace for years, to my great amusement). What is it?