07/13/17 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BIG THINGS YOU GET WHEN YOU LEAVE JUST A TINY SPACE BETWEEN HOUSES “The City of Houston’s codes are different for a ‘free-standing’ or ‘detached’ ‘single-family’ home, as opposed to a two- or multi-family property of some sort. Detention, lot coverage, building code, legal description, all different. So maintaining even the tiniest gap means you have a fee-simple, stand-alone property.” [dave102, commenting on Can You Beat This Townhome Gap?Photo of 3108 Baer St., Fifth Ward: HAR

10/25/16 6:00pm

12020 Tall Oaks St Bunker Hill, TX 77024

12020 Tall Oaks St Bunker Hill, TX 77024

12020 Tall Oaks St Bunker Hill, TX 77024The house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for insurance company exec William Thaxton is back on the market again as of Friday, now listed at just $2.795 million. Wright designed the triangle-and-diamond-themed home with no air-conditioning system in 1954, though Thaxton and the builder eventually snuck some ducts into the red concrete floor; the mid-century space later got a classically-inspired makeover and circled the market drain toward lot-value sale and presumed teardown. But an early 1990’s buyer saved the property from demolition and removed the pineapple-shaped finials — while adding a high-ceilinged, right-angled extension which enclosed the almost-a-parallelogram pool in more of a central courtyard. (That extension contains a living room, lofted entertainment space, bedrooms, and a kitchen, meaning the occupant doesn’t have to spend time in the angular Wright portion of the building if they don’t want to. )

The new listing (the latest in an on-again-off-again series of market stints that started in 2010 at $3.5 million) includes a few new angles on the property, which (as seen from above) sits alongside a channelized ditch draining directly south from Memorial City Mall to Buffalo Bayou. The lights around the front door and entryway are equilateral triangles:

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Mid-90s Modern in Bunker Hill
04/29/16 3:45pm

3622 Lehall St., South Union, Houston, 77021

3802 Lehall St., South Union, Houston, 77021The front is up on the shipping-container-containing duplex under construction now at 3622 Lehall St. between Tierwester and Scott. The box-based structure is similar to builder Krieger Containers’s first such project (down the street at 3802 Lehall); both buildings consist of 2 separate 2-bed 2-bath units framed around 2 steel containers each. The company claims on its website that the model can beat ‘any general contractor in Houston’ on a cost-per-sq.-ft. basis.

Back in September, company founder and steel box aficionado Sean Krieger spoke with Nancy Sarnoff about plans to built dozens more container houses in the South Union neighborhood over the next few years, aiming to draw students and young professionals. Krieger now tells ABC13 that the project underway at 3622 Lehall has faced abnormal scrutiny from city inspectors and officials, recently including a heated verbal exchange on site with District D councilman Dwight Boykins (who also spoke to ABC13 about the incident after Krieger sent them a recording).

The floorplan above shows the layout of the downstairs unit of completed 3802 Lehall; the bathrooms, bedrooms, and closets fit within the footprint of the shipping containers, which flank a central living space. Here are some shots of the inside, both during and after construction:

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Checking All the Boxes
03/30/16 10:00am

Shotgun Chameleon, Fourth Ward, Houston

Shotgun Chameleon, Fourth Ward, Houston

From the inside out and the outside looking in, here’s a peek through the semi-see-through mesh facade of University of Houston architecture professor Zui Ng’s Shotgun Chameleon house, located just east of the intersection of Cleveland and Gillette streets in the Freedmen’s Town National Historic District. The 2-story 3-bedroom home was named Architectural Record‘s house of the month last month, and was originally designed for a 2006 expo of building ideas for post-Katrina New Orleans. The space can be used as a duplex or a split home-office setup thanks to a set of exterior stairs leading to the upper floor.

The design’s appearance can also be adapted to blend in with different neighborhoods and urban settings. The metal mesh, which covers most of the upstairs balcony on the street-facing side of the building, could provide a scaffolding for leafy cover, or could get wooden siding tacked over it to help the structure fit in with similarly-adorned neighbors. Ng says the front could even go commercial, with the upstairs hosting a billboard for a downstairs business, or go high-tech, with options ranging from solar panel arrays to breeze-catching louver arrangements.

The Chameleon is shown above between a metal-skinned contemporary house and an older wood-sided home. Here’s a view from the back side, which is shorter due to the structure’s sloped roof: 

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Blending In in Freedmen’s Town
12/09/15 3:50pm

2115 Wroxton St., Southampton, Houston, 77005

As of yesterday, the home at 2115 Wroxton is on the market again — this time for $4.5 million, and with some zoomy new angles among the listing photos.  When last we left the home in February of this year, the Southampton property had been listed (for the second time) for just under $3.5 million, and was bracing for auction with a minimum bid of $2.9 million. But the property was pulled from the market at the end of May, with no recorded sale. (The mod was first listed for $3.75 million in September 2013, but was pulled the following July.)

The new listing allows prospective buyers to peer across 1 of the 3 courtyards to Wroxton St. out front (above), and to gaze down into the pool through the solar screen (below):

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Third Time’s The Charm
06/24/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NEW HOMES HAVE BEEN GROWING BIGGER FOR LESS Large House“The funny thing is that back in the 1930s, people actually needed more space than they do today. The average size of a household in the 30s was just over 4 people. It has shrunk to ~2.5 today (although some rich folk do breed like rabbits for some reason). In the olden days, people would have large libraries of books. Now, all that can be kept on an iPad or kindle. People used to have large record collections and “hifi” stereos that were their own pieces of furniture. Now, you can store all your music on your phone and plug it into a massive sound system that is completely built into the wall of each room. Same goes for a TV set. I remember my mom chewing me out for leaving my soda cans on top of the old RCA because it left a ring on the wood. Now, the TV hangs on the wall and is just a few inches thick. Rich folk today do like to have a closet full of clothes that look like a small version of a high end retail clothing store. But today, most people, even rich folks, dress casual all the time. Back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, etc., people would dress up to ride on a plane, men would wear suits all the time, and women would have a collection of hats in large hat boxes to fill up the closet. But houses just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger as people have fewer reasons for living in such huge houses.” [Old School, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Lakes Out] Illustration: Lulu

04/09/15 11:30am

1704 Stuart St., Midtown, Houston

New photos posted to the listing of the dollhouse-like townhome under construction 2 blocks west of the Eastex Fwy. in Midtown appear to capture some sort of floral delivery in progress, a reader who’s been monitoring it notes. Between the arrival photo (above left) and the ready-to-go image next to it that appears to be the next in sequence, 5 new flower baskets appear on the grid masking the structure’s prominent garage forehead. The design by architect Martin James Lide morphs a shotgun house plan into a 2-story townhome configuration that manages to fit 3 bedrooms in 2,425 sq. ft.:

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Finishing Touches
04/07/15 11:45am

Entrance and Toilets, SkyHouse Houston, 1625 Main St., Downtown Houston

SkyHouse Houston, 1625 Main St., Downtown Houston“Not sure if you can see from this picture,” writes the Swamplot correspondent who sent the image at the top of this story, looking into a few of the units in the new 24-story apartment tower at 1625 Main St. from Pease St., “but it appears the ‘view’ from the bathrooms at the new SkyHouse will be excellent.” Of course you already knew that.

Bonus: The design of the SkyHouse Main going up across the street will be identical.

Photos: Swamplot inbox (view); Simpson Property Group (tower)

Headquarters
03/26/15 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT YOU’VE EARNED Basketball in Pool“How do you have the time to use all the various leisure areas of a house like this? You gotta be working a lot to afford it so when do you have the free time to ski, play hoops, work out, dine in the dining room, swim in the pools, sit in one of all the outdoor sitting areas, sit in the kitchen or the bar or the living room or the den and so on . . .” [jost, commenting on Katy Home Listing Photo of the Day: Can’t Miss] Illustration: Lulu

03/23/15 11:00am

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Windows have been replaced in a 1979 Shadowbriar home, its listing earlier this week at $375K proudly declares. But . . . where are they? Walls of solid brick and a deeply sloping roof appear to seal up the façade curbside (top); the deck out back has just a few panes by the French door access. What windows there are, however, appear to be heavy lifters:

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The Mortar Shell
03/17/15 4:15pm

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An expansive Mediterranean number in The Woodlands borders a nature reserve, but there’s nothing reserved about the sprawling home itself, which looks over the 11th fairway of the Carlton Woods Creekside Golf Course. Even the listing description eventually runs out of over-the-top adjectives to go with the photos. Envisioned by Patrick Berrios Designs and built by Termeer Custom Homes, the former Showcase of Homes home landed on the market earlier this month with a $3.35 million price tag. Its lot occupies about an acre well beyond the (manned) entrance gate of the community, which is accessed from Kuykendahl Rd. south of Spring Creek’s swath. Amid the interior’s layers of materials, iron ornamentation unspools (top) throughout the home, keeping anemia at bay.

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Indoor Grilling
03/16/15 5:00pm

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When architect Tom Wilson designed a contemporary residence for himself in West U back in 1977, he divvied the lot down the length, giving home and extensive poolscape each narrow side-by-side footprints. Twenty years later, the current owners took over, paying $535K for the privilege. Last week, the property popped up on the market with a $1.45 million price tag. Architectural guides peg the design as “a low-key medium tech house” engineered with steel and panels of metal and wood. The “front” door is on the side; it lies inside the porch and privacy screen (above) facing the street, which is located south of University Blvd. and west of Buffalo Speedway.

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Skinny But Loaded
02/26/15 4:30pm

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Its spread wings don’t fly, but a horizon-hugging 1960 mod in Memorial — once known as the Lapin House — did rise to prominence in 2009 after a Good Brick Award from the organization now called Preservation Houston was bestowed on its humdinger of a renovation. Actual bricks on the property are mostly to be found on the street side of the home. Window walls in back face the poolscape, yard, and a bend in Buffalo Bayou, bringing the outside in. To reach the waterway, take the stone steps set into the slope backing the almost-an-acre property.

It’s located in the Willowick neighborhood of Hunters Creek Village, west of Voss Rd. and south of Memorial Dr. The original design by Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson (yes, the Astrodome architects) has a later addition attributed to architect Joel Brand. When listed earlier this week, the posh property’s asking price was $2.495 million.

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Adjusting the Horizontal