04/05/16 4:15pm

The house at 1514 Banks St., which Karen Lantz designed for herself and her husband a few years back, just hit the market this weekend for a cool $2.5 million. After deconstructing the previous house on the Ranch Estates lot piece-by-piece for reuse, Lantz made a point of sourcing as much of the new building’s materials as possible from American manufacturers — and got most of the way there. The 3-or-4-bedroom home, nicknamed the Down and Up House by Lantz (and the (Almost) All-American Home by Mimi Swartz), contains both an extensive basement level and an upstairs patio terrace; its energy-conscious design (including solar paneling and solar water heating) bagged it a LEED Platinum certification.

Above, you can listen to architectural historian Stephen Fox narrate a walkthrough video of the house and its design process; below, you can look through the house at your own pace, starting with the spiky xeriscaping and poolside edible gardens:


High and Low in Ranch Estates
12/08/14 3:15pm

1535 milford interior

1535 milford front-2

In a niche neighborhood near the Museum District, a 1994 modern home designed by architect Natalye Appel blends into the stretch of custom homes on a wishboned street pair between Mandell and Montrose Blvd.  The corner property was listed a week ago with a $995,000 asking price and held its opening open house last weekend. Updates since its 2012 change of hands (at $730,000) include a kitchen remodeling and access from the master suite downstairs to a new courtyard and pool.


Space Efficient
10/15/12 1:26pm

For the home she’s building for her family on Banks St., on the former site of a carefully disassembled Ranch house in Ranch Estates, architect Karen Lantz tried to make sure every product was made in the United States. But the breaking point came with cabinet hardware, Mimi Swartz writes: “‘This one?’ Lantz said, picking up the pull on the left and turning it over for my inspection. ‘From Italy. Nine dollars.’ She picked up the one on her right. ‘This one?’ She paused. ‘China. Four dollars.’ The U.S.-made pull that was closest to what she wanted cost $72. She called company after company trying to do better. When she asked why the American pulls cost so much more than those made overseas, the answers ranged from ‘We make them here’ to ‘It’s a classic.’”


08/25/10 12:14pm

The last time a Glassman Shoemake Maldonado house in the Museum District with a notable staircase went up for sale, things didn’t end so well. Now the 1997 home the local architecture firm designed for Carl and Pam Johnson in Ranch Estates is on the block, for $1,395,000.

The 3- or 4-bedroom, and — yes — 5-bathroom — house is probably best known for its inset nautilus-spiral-stair nose, dramatically framed at night (and in magic-hour photos) by porch and interior lights. Inside, at the end of the staircase spiral on the first floor there’s a round bar, which faces into the double-height dining room. One of the exciting things about the sale of a minimalist house like this: There’s no telling how much furniture and stuff a new buyer will be able to pack in there. Just look at all the available space:


02/18/10 7:40am

It’s not looking good for the few remaining low-slung postwar Ranch homes on Banks St. in once-aptly named Ranch Estates, in the northeastern stretch of Boulevard Oaks. Last year architect Karen Lantz took apart the Ranch at 1514 Banks, piece by piece. Three more of them have been idling on MLS for months, two at what the sellers consider lot value. The third, at 1515 Banks (pictured above), isn’t priced a whole lot higher, but it’s been out there since September of last year, shedding $50K from its initial $599,950 price tag. Will the owners even get back what they paid for it 15 months before putting it on the market?


10/06/09 5:54pm

Meanwhile in Ranch Estates, architect Karen Lantz is deconstructing this 1950 Rancher, piece by piece. Her goal: building a new home on the site — but only after finding new homes for most of the materials that are already there.

This type of disassembly is almost unheard of in Houston, where relatively low local landfill tipping fees make crushing and dumping a much cheaper alternative. After 5 local demo companies turned down the work, Lantz decided to contract it all herself. She says she expects to be able to recover and donate 90 percent of the materials in the Banks St. home. Working with an appraiser, she’s been sending materials to the city’s new Reuse Warehouse, Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Harris County, the Houston Habitat Restore, Century Asphalt Materials, and Lone Star Disposal.

“The house going up will absolutely be going for LEED, hopefully the highest rating,” Lantz tells Swamplot. It’s intended for her and her husband. Lantz, the founding president of Houston Mod, says it’s been difficult to convince clients to commit time, energy, or funds toward this sort of attention to materials. Since she’s now preaching the benefits of building deconstruction, she sees this project as an opportunity to practice it.

How much will it cost to strip the place this way?