Small, Stylish, and Already Sold: Design-y Inner Loop Home Bargains You Missed

“I do always seem to be showing you houses that few of us can really afford,” Houston interior-design blogger Joni Webb admits to her readers:

But the secret truth is, nothing gets me more excited than seeing a house which is NOT expensive yet looks like it was designed by a professional! Nothing is better because it affirms what I fully believe, style is not about money.

So Webb sets out to find a few inside-the-Loop homes dressed to meet her style standards — and priced between $300K and $500K. How long does it take her? Two days, poring through “hundreds, if not thousands” of HAR listings.

What does she find?


Six designer-worthy picks! But each of them is . . . uh, sold already. Webb says she “couldn’t find one attractively designed house in the price range” that was still on the market:

Many houses were nice enough – just bland, or it looked like they went to a furniture store and bought up the display. There was no imagination or attention to detail in the vast majority of the houses. Most were clean, neat and organized – though quietly dull. More amazing is how few houses (in any price range) are actually decorated or styled.

Okay, so what did catch Webb’s eye?

This 1,500-sq.-ft. 1957 rancher that presumably sits quite close to 610, about a half-mile from the Galleria. It sold in the high $300,000s:

House number 2, in West U, dates from 1979 and went for around $350K. “The drawback is its back yard faces a busy street.” It’s 2,000 sq. ft.:

Next up: This 1949 bungalow in Upper Kirby. It’s 1,470 sq. ft. and sold for “close to $300,000″:

Number 4: This $450Kish Montrose home, built in 1935, measuring 1,690 sq. ft.:

House number 5 blows the budget: It sold for around $575,000, Webb reports. The location: Southampton. Built in 1938, 1,658 sq. ft. total. Has a pool:

Last one: On South Blvd., probably far towards the Kirby end. It’s 2,500 sq. ft., probably including the garage apartment. Built in 1939. Dunno what it went for:

Swamplot sleuths: How tough would it be to dig up all these listings?

You’ll find far more detailed descriptions — along with bowl-of-lemons-in-the-kitchen-type tips for staging your small but stylish home — on Webb’s blog, Cote de Texas.

Photos: HAR, via Joni Webb

22 Comment

  • And not one ostentatious chandelier in any of them!

    Bigger is not better. Sometimes smaller is more elegant. A little imagination is all it takes. Or a good decorator!

  • Wait Miz Joni– I would like to respectfully submit that you missed one really cute one that is actively for sale– what about Phillip Alter’s listing at 2214 South?
    (Is it possible to paste a link from HAR here?)
    Nothing of the tawdry fingerprints of a furniture store on that one…..

  • With this price range (if I had $300K, I could buy here in Avondale), most of us who love historic architecture are still left completely out of the loop, pun intended. Any leads on where to find an inner-loop place for less than $200K that isn’t a new-construction townhouse? (Piece-of-crap fixer-uppers would still be great, unless they’re in neighborhoods where you have to be terrified running the four feet from your car to your door.) Some of us still only make five figures here… I don’t want to rent forever or resign myself to some crap ‘burb, though.

  • #2, in West U., is 5702 Academy. Horrible location and a townhouse to boot.

    Tax value is $230k so if it did sell for $350k then the buyer got ripped off……..

  • Amanda, come check out Brooke Smith. There are plenty of nice places on the market here. You can easily find a real house in your price range.

    Like the Heights 25 years ago, the quality of the subdivision varies block by block — some are more kept-up than others. The restoration (a term I prefer to “gentrification”) of the neighborhood has been gradual but inexorable.

    Lindale is also very nice and has brick houses.

  • Tis true, though – us mcmansion hating 5 figure makers are stuck with renting or, as I’m finding in my house hunt, buying in the ‘hood.

  • …or maybe Brooke Smith, as Miz mentioned, if I could move to the north side…

  • Oh, Bozo, please don’t confuse HCAD’s appraised value with “value”. Most people fight HCAD, or hire someone to do it for them, because they don’t like to pay more taxes than they have to. I would argue that the $230k valuation is evidence of a good tax consultant if nothing else.

  • Gotta wonder how many of these homes will be standing a year from now.
    The danger in many in-loop neighborhoods is that one day you must face the fact that your home is a tear-down. I have a friend near Pershing Middle School in that situation. Plans on selling when the kids are grown, which is soon, but it makes every dollar for repairs and upkeep especially painful.

  • Amanda – Look at Lindale, Idylwood and Eastwood.

  • The “Upper Kirby” home is charming.

    The Montrose one is so-so, and would be if it was about $100K cheaper.

    The Southhampton one is way overpriced. I sure hope that a live-in landscaper was included with the sale.

  • Amanda and Lauren,

    At the risk of letting the cat outta the bag on this one…. I met a woman at my weekly networking meeting and had discussion with her about my Rice Military neighborhood. She said one of her best friends lived there and they both love the neighborhood. She would love to move here from her east side neighborhood, but couldn’t afford the prices. I responded that there are several older 80’s cedar sided duplexes, of which a number of them are in disrepair, that might be able to be snatched up for a very reasonable price. She was rather shocked and immediately gave me my card saying if I stumbled across one to let her know immediately. She went on to opine that to her it seemed that whenever the realtors found a bargain like what I was describing, they snatched it up and remarketed it.

  • Amanda, bought a 1944, totally renovated bungalow in Lindale Park for 150k. The nicest part of Lindale, at that.

    But, that was two and a half years ago, and prices in my neighborhood have skyrocketed, even more so recently with the rail approval. Getting something in decent shape for $150k is impossible. But 200k is still doable.

  • Just to be clear. $300K to $500K is not affordable for the great majority of people. Even double-income professionals.

  • That’s nice and all, but if I’m shopping for an ‘affordable,’ older, inner loop place, I’m interested in how they did the wiring updates, what the insulation situation is like, is it going to cost me thousands to make the windows operable, etc. Not really interested in if the seller’s stylish art is flanked by lamps from Kuhl Linscomb.

    I wonder how many of those sellers are secretly dying to move into a big new house with a two- story entry and a chandelier the size of a Smart Car.

  • Hold on – she calls most of the houses on HAR “boring” when every house she showed is predominately neutral with over-use of seagrass carpeting? The houses she showed are perfectly fine, inoffensive, and pretty dull. While I agree that a lot of the houses on HAR could use a jolt of style, I don’t think copycatting the same Texas Pine-Seagrass-white bedding look adds that much excitement. I’d rather see some diversity in my decorating.

  • I’m with Shakes.

    I cringe at having to deal with interior decorators, but sometimes the job requires it.

    They often think of themselves as “designers”, but in reality they just decorate.

  • I’m with LT; the interiors of of these houses look like a Pottery Barn catalog. There’s too much faux-authentic crap for my taste, and there are too many design mistakes that the decorators probably justified by describing them as “fun”.

  • omg – 18 comments on my little story! wow! thank you. ok – first off, I DID consider the Alter house for sure, but cut it for length consideration – it’s darling. And yes – most of these houses are white slipcovered and seagrass – that’s what I like, not you!!! But truly- good luck finding other houses that are cuter inside. AND remember please, that I am really talking ONLY about interior design here, not the house per se. There are tons of darling houses out there – just like the ones I showed, they just weren’t “decorated” so I didn’t chose them. You MUST understand the difference, it’s very important if you are currently house hunting. I was ONLY judging interior decoration. ok? And the Academy house is a house, not a townhouse that I could tell. And it’s a terrible location – I said that!!!!! It backs up onto Bissonnet. One day a car is going to go right through that house!!!!!! But it sure was decorated cute, don’t you think? ha!!!!
    Thank you all so much – if you are interested in interior design – please join me at my blog –

    thank you Gus, as always!!!!!!!!!!!!! maybe one day I will post without the exclamation marks because they are so obnoxious. sorry about that.

  • Great. Thanks. Post the house that I stupidly missed on Norfolk (Upper Kirby). I’ll go beat my head against my same-area, rented, late 90’s apartment wall. Unfortunately, me head is probably mightier.

  • Thank you Harold and Joni for the comments on my listing at 2214 South Boulevard. I had to pillage my own home and hire C&M Movers to haul stuff over for staging the home. We have just reduced it to $499,000. I am ready for it to sell. I miss my things…

  • Amanda-
    Try the First Ward-
    Can’t get much closer to downtown- Some of it is “transitional” but you can find redone bungalows or buy something and pay to have it redone for under 200k