Fan Favorite in Black and White: Is This Really the Gaudiest House in Houston?

A reader who says he’s always been curious what the gaudiest house in Houston looks like on the inside tells Swamplot his wish has come true — now that photos of this 5-bedroom just-outside-the-Beltway home at 12930 Memorial Dr. have been published on MLS. Four readers have written in to express awe at its appearance. “I’m not sure how to even begin describing the living area decor,” writes another, who also seems transfixed on the “giant high heel and giant lady statues (or are those murals?) in the entryway,” as well as the mermaid-themed master bathroom.


Why should a few decorative items and paint swirls get in the way of a sale? Listed for $1.5 million, this 2001 home features everything you’d imagined, and of course much more. The main house has 3 full and 2 half bathrooms. There’s a guest house as well, and a 3-car garage with its own carport addition. In all: 5,865 sq. ft. on a 11,760-sq.-ft. lot.

93 Comment

  • it’s like bland & gaudy at the same time

  • Lottery winner?

  • What the…..?!?!?!?

  • When realtor tells me house come with pool and tiki bar, I jump in it.

  • It literally punches your in the face with its classiness!

  • “You”, not “your”

  • OK, the outside sucks, IMHO, but the inside is friggin’ AWESOME! Love it! Beats the typical “model home” look. I hate matchy-matchy! Honestly, to each his own – if that’s what makes you happy, rock it. If not, decorate in whatever way makes your heart smile!

  • I don’t know why, but I keep thinking Alice in Wonderland.

  • Not only does the interior look like an old familiar trip on peyote, but if anyone cares to drive by it, take a closer look and you will see that it’s caving in the middle from a big ‘ol fault line. $1.5 million really doesnt go as far as it used it.

  • Don’t they film Jersey shore there?

  • Aw, KJ I like you :)

  • From Fresh Prince:
    Not only does the interior look like an old familiar trip on peyote, but if anyone cares to drive by it, take a closer look and you will see that it’s caving in the middle from a big ‘ol fault line. $1.5 million really doesnt go as far as it used it.

    Caving in might not be such a bad thing. The only word that comes to mind with regard to the “decor” is nightmare.

    The only “normal” room is the study which reminds me of Ned Holmes’ den.
    Welcome to Safari Land.

    As for the fault line, well, they’re all over Memorial. Something sellers tend not to disclose. Often because no one disclosed the fault line to them when they bought the house. Of course their realtors often don’t know. “Foundation repaired 2010” covers a lot of things I guess. Especially the “foundation repaired” in 2005 and 2000 and 1995 that isn’t on the owner disclosure.

    I think the worst really is the pool area. Motel 6 collides with Waikiki.

  • What about the room of death!? A little over the top!

  • I’m fully aware of the fault line plague in Houston, but I’m telling you, that camera angle for the picture of the front of the house is strategic. I’ve been taking wagers with neighbors as to when the right side would collapse. That thing has been an eye-sore for MDUMC since it was built 10 years ago.

  • I am with CHITDB. I say bring on the cast of Jersey Shore and let them see what they, too, can own if their 15 mins of fame continues to stretch longer than anyone thought possible.

  • I have always thought the interior could not be as bad as the exterior of this home, but I was wrong. This listing will never sell for 1.5 million. Is this a joke or what? I feel sorry for the listing agent if they think this house can fetch anywhere close to what it is priced at currently.

  • Best house in Houston or best house in merica!!!

  • Hope they got a volume discount from Murals R Us.

  • What’s up with Kermit on the bed?

    HCAD lists Johnny Costello as the owner. Anyone have any ideas?

  • I have always wondered what that house looks like on the inside. I will never do that again.

    I think on the room pictured between the bar and dead animal room, if you look at the wallpaper and blurr your vision, you will see a scooner.

  • This is what happens when an older wealthy couple gives a designer a blank check. No one designs an interior like that for themselves; it’s way too over-the-top awful to pay for in person.

    My guess, based on the selection of cars in the garage, is that the husband was 20 years old circa 1960, so he’s 70 now.

  • OMFG It looks like the house in Beetlejuice.

  • This house is certainly crooked. I have driven by it everyday since it was built. The right had “tower” leans to the left. I am not so sure that it is due to faulting. I think that it was built that way. This house sat for about a year with just the framing up.

    There is no grass on this lot only house and concrete. I just can’t believe that the deed restrictions in this area allowed for this thing to exist. It is really wonderful when they park a huge motorhome and speed boat and several pickups out front.

  • I’ve been obsessed with this house since I first saw it driving to lunch at Bistro Provence many years ago. How exciting to see the inside of it. Something not captured in the pictures is how on many days it has one or more boats and RVs parked in front of it. In my imagination, it’s owned by a successful if slightly shady bariatric surgeon.

  • From Jim:
    What’s up with Kermit on the bed?

    HCAD lists Johnny Costello as the owner. Anyone have any ideas?


    It looks like it was decorated by Abbott & Costello.

  • Wait… try this narrative on for size. The house was sold by someone named George Costello to one Johnny Costello in 2001.
    George Costello was the name of Russ Meyer’s producer and occasional assistant director. So I’m thinking… this is the house from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

    Now if I know Swamplot, someone here has this movie in their possession. So post some stills and confirm my theory already…

  • being a car guy, I’m intrigued by the galvalume addition on the side of the house, how hot does that get?

  • A Kevin Costello from Pasadena won the Texas Lottery around 2000-2001. Maybe this is the result of the lottery winnings? I am surprised they got the permission to build that carport.

  • I am looking forward to seeing this on the Demolitions list… YUCK!

  • owner suffering from incurable vertigo. must sell.

  • As a person who grew up in this neighborhood in the late Sixties, the rumors were this home was inherited by the children and they used the rest of the money to tear down the existing house to make it into some kind of Tim Burton Disney Land.


  • I have heard this house referred to as “The Castle of the Gypsy King”. According to my real estate agent, its a shady family that lives there and they’ve made millions on “almost, but not quite provable” fraudulent deals over the years. Of course, it could be just a legend, but somehow the interior does represent someone who just became obsessed with buying expensive stuff, regardless of form or function.

  • But, I must admit they were so much ahead of the times. This is so Persian LA without the beige.

  • Ft Lauderdale.
    I was thinking Ft Lauderdale guy who started out as a porn impresario, then made more money than he ever thought existed in the Cuban gun/ people smuggling triangle trade.

  • This is the Von Trapps on acid, the Shady Sound of Music.
    I can’t decide if I love this place or hate it.
    Great party space but who could live here? How do they choose an outfit in the morning? Do they actually eat food in the kitchen?
    Thankfully some of the private areas do break with the black+white, life+death theme.
    And the pool is happily, wonderfully, predictably blue!
    I see a Youth Hostel in its future . . .

  • I can’t link directly but a search on the district clerk’s website shows that the county and city had to sue them from every year from 2003-2006 for unpaid taxes on the property. Lovely!

  • Fun to see the inside at last after driving past it (gawking) almost daily for 8 years! They totally should have shot the exterior with the boats and RVs though…looks sadly bare without them.

  • That red high healed shoe in the Entry Foyer looks like something out of a low end strip club.

  • When I saw the decor I thought, Gypsy Pad!
    For sure.

  • This has to be a drug dealer’s house, right?

  • Where is the fountain?
    Where are the bullet holes?
    Where are all the dead Cubans?
    And where is Pacino?
    So many questions!

  • beetlejuice.

  • I was planning to redo my bathroom in black/white/gray.

    I’m rethinking that now.

  • As an appraiser in Houston, I’d pay $100 to see the appraisal on this thing when it sells.

  • Ghastly. Looks like a strip joint after they turn up the lights. The tiki hut barstools look sort of fun, though.

  • “A Kevin Costello from Pasadena won the Texas Lottery around 2000-2001.”

    I’m liking this explanation. Pasadena + Lottery winner = THIS.


  • if there was an interior designer on this project they should have their license revoked. forever. and then change their name and move to another city.

  • I think the rumors are right: this IS a gypsy house. The owners patronize the same dry cleaners as me. According to the dry cleaning lady, these people have incurred hundreds of dollars of dry cleaning bills and then pay with checks that bounce. The dry cleaning lady knows plenty about these people and confirmed they are gypsies. It’s no surprise the house is on the market. We’ll see if the owners suddenly disappear, too, as soon as the law catches up to them.

  • A couple observations:

    In the animal den – Who puts a safe in front of a window that faces a busy street? Then again a dumb crook would probably look last in that spot.

    In a house with that much square footage the dinning room can only seat five people? The cabana outside is seriously necessary and is the best part of the house.

  • Made a special trip to see this house. The boat was outside being detailed. All this house needed was a car on blocks outside to be completed.

  • All that’s needed to make the place complete is a “The World Is Yours” fountain in the foyer, a giant indoor sauna facing a bank of flat screen TVs, and a white tiger housed out back by the swimming pool.

  • This house is in the same neighborhood as us. Kids run a muck. Maybe when they move our school can keep books in the library as the kids never return them. Our home values will likely go up when they move out! However, they’ll never get 1.5M for this house. It sits on a massively busy street!

  • In the photo of the double stairway, there is a portable dehumidifier under the right staircase. Or, maybe it’s an air purification machine.

  • OMG!!! Must be a tycoon or actor or professional athlete living there – or perhaps your basic politician! :) L O L!!!

  • However, they’ll never get 1.5M for this house. It sits on a massively busy street!

    I bet it goes into foreclosure before all is said and done.

  • Puttin’ the “ass” in “class”….

  • Seriously. I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

  • It’s funny reading people who say that this house is an eyesore. I drive by this house multiple times a day. They keep their exterior and yards cleaner than 90% of the people in Memorial Plaza and Memorial Bend. It’s an eyesore because you don’t like the colors/design? Deal with it. You’d be better off complaining to your neighbors who don’t take care of their homes.

  • The lore says that the people who built this house are modern day gypsies, descendants of Romanian gypsies who still live and “work” all over the world. After seeing the interior I say the lore just might be right.

  • Um, just to quote the little mermaid who sang:

    Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?
    Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
    Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl
    The girl who has everything?

    Look at this trove, treasures untold
    How many wonders can one cavern hold?
    Looking around here, you’d think
    Sure, she’s got everything

    I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
    I’ve got who’s-its and what’s-its galore
    You want thing-a-mabobs?
    I’ve got twenty
    But who cares? No big deal. I want more!

  • This is a good example of medical non-compliance with full regime of psycho-tropic medications. But this is not by far the ‘gaudiest’ house in Houston. Driven through River Oaks and University Place lately??
    I guess class and taste change with the times but coming from a hunt it, eat it, stuff it, or marry it family I have to say that overblown death display is just that. Creepy and bad karma…..

  • Wilf, that’s hilarious! I guess nobody got the reference.

  • I think it’s very Texan.

  • 65 posts, and not one single defensive post from the owners’ children telling us how magical it was to grow up in an animaniacs inspired meets jungle cruise themed mansion? Surely they would explain that the lady murals in the entry are of aunt Maud and cousin Zilka from the old country and that the pool was meant as an ironic homage to the Blue Lagoon, the first movie their parents saw together. Cone on children of the owners, defend your house!

  • I’ve seen the entire front yard/parking lot full of cop cars a few times.

  • I think that these folks are connected with some Mexican Scrap Metal outfit. I figure that they are using the place to scrub Benjamins.

  • The entrance hall is strangely reminiscent of the entrance hall of Candy Spelling’s $150 million bungalow which is probably destined to become a boutique hotel once someone figures out how to work around the little zoning problem. Not sure which is the most garish. But I do like the sugestion of the fountain. For both.

  • Is it true if you have lions next to the front door that means you are a gypsy?

  • Meh. I’ve seen much worse. This is on a par with your average hotel lobby.

  • Dis howse bespeeks to the klass and sofistikashun of da ownerz!

  • Now we know- who purchased all that gaudy furniture from Noel.

  • I’m thinking it might be useful for the next incarnation of The Real Housewives of Houston

  • @Ryan: More like Alice in Wonderland on a bad acid trip.

  • I have a mental image of his wife.

  • This looks like Sears blew up!

  • don’t you dare talk about bringing the cast of Jersey Shore to my neighborhood! we have enough non-sense going on with McMansions going up and especially this creation. What substances was the architect of this house on?

  • I’m thinking more Cruella DeVille than Alice in Wonderland.

  • I really, *really* like . . . the , well . . . the . . . er . . . NOTHING!

  • Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • It looks like a garage sale threw-up.

  • Matt Mystery, I concur – this would make a delightful boutique hotel. IN LAS VEGAS, not a residential neighborhood. Having to say there for more than one or two nights, though…eek. It reminds me of this nutty place I visited while working in Vietnam – – except if the designers had sourced the decor from Ross and discount furniture stores. And Taxidermy-R-Us.

    I’ve seen those giant high-heeled shoe chairs in odd furniture shops, even in San Francisco, and somehow they always make me think of Pia Zadora. Okay, so I’m getting old, but at least I’ve never wanted my house to look like an acid-damaged, goth Marie Antoinette’s drunken ode to Busch Gardens, Disney World, and a tiki party.

    My eyes and my brain hurt now.

  • Houses like this are unsustainable, long term. The price point on this home will continue to decline as the years go by-as the market will be very limited (by the look/design as well as the location)and it will drag all the houses around it down with it. It is so awful-it is funny-except, I suppose, to those that have to live around it. The house is a blight to the whole neighborhood. The exterior is atrocious as well. Gawd awful gothic looking gray stucco and wrought iron everywhere. there are RV’s, boats and all kinds of cars parked everywhere. with this kind of money, you would think these folks cold afford a nice offsite RV and boat storage unit. Money can by a lot of things, but, it clearly doesn’t buy good taste or good manners.

  • i thought the chandelier was the worst thing about the house whenever i drive by…… who knew such a tragedy was even possible… but the owners seem pretty sketch i always see a ton of cars outside but ive never once seen a person coming or going…..

  • I can’t think of what’s worse – the fact that someone will have to clean this mess up or that these owners are going to buy a new house and do the same thing to it.

  • I will bet someone from the cast of jersey shore will buy it!! :)
    Probably snooky’s dream house!lol.



  • Ronnie, stop shouting. We use our “inside voice” here.

  • Sorry for loud voice. I thought you could not hear me in the Houston Holler.:

  • It’s so bad it’s actually offensive. I mean really, how tacky would you have to be to think all that shit looks nice? Just awful. If you like this, well, I just don’t know.

  • This house is back on the market again by the same owners, reduced to $2 mil. Same decor.

  • I just received an email it is back on the market for 990k.