The Return of a Pioneering Turn-of-the-Century Solar Property in Bellaire

Some of the green that goes with this early player in energy-conscious home building in Bellaire could be the $200,000 price increase over its sale last July, when it went for $1.35 million. The ca. 2002 limestone-and-stucco property with Texas Hill Country stylin’ — designed back then for her own family by architect Kathleen Reardon — popped back up on the market earlier this week with a $1.55 million asking price. Some of the enviro-sensitive elements are visible from the get-go, such as the deep overhangs on the eaves. Others are buried deep in the lot — where a network of caverns 250-ft. deep use underground temperatures to regulate the air conditioning and heating. Solar panels and low-water landscaping also play the green card.


And so does the breeze. This fancy ‘dog trot’ entryway may be a fancy vaulted one with flagstone and exposed trusses, but it still lets the air flow. Sliding doors and windows (with screens) and remote-controlled operating skylights help it do so.

Several rooms with high ceilings combine functions, such as the living-dining area (above) and family room (below) with stairwell and go-with-the-flow views through distant windows, stacked where possible. But only on the north and south walls; the home’s design has no windows facing east or west.

The trim is cypress wood, and it’s used all over the house:

The dining area adjacent to the kitchen looks over the southern-exposure back yard, and there’s a patio off the adjacent family room.

In an otherwise open floor plan, these 2 offices off the entry (above and below) get walls and doors, but they do connect:

Not pictured in the listing are the bedroom downstairs and its bathroom, which “integrated” materials from the original home that stood on the lot, according to a writeup of a 2006 home tour of the property.

The master suite is upstairs and comes with a balcony (above).

An extra closet off the master closet (above) looks to have enough storage to handle a bike team. The listing says the space also has an area with a built-in table for sewing, wrapping, or crafts:

Three secondary bedrooms of various proportions also fit upstairs:

This one gets a loft:

This one has a door to a balcony connecting the front bedrooms:

They share this bathroom:

The solar features earned the home a slot on the National Solar Tour back in 2006. The panels help with the power and heat the water for the 4,368-sq.-ft. house — and its pool:

At the back of the lot, which is just shy of a half-acre, there’s a partly finished bath house with this view of the property, located west of Chimney Rock Rd.

Planters bump up the herb garden. (Other landscaping includes cactus fruit trees.)

25 Comment

  • This style of house looks great in–The Hill Country!–it looks cheap and out of place anywhere else–I mean a tin roof and limestone siding doesn’t exactly say Houston elegance

  • Well by that logic, all of the English Tudors, French Normans, Italianates etc in River Oaks…should be in Europe and not in some upper end subdivision in the middle of a Coastal Prairie.

  • Tudor, French Norman, are not tin roofed, with simple rural accents and lend thenselves well to any environment unlike the simple, austere look of the hill country vernacular, that is so synonomous with that region –in addition those styles are timeless and are copied all over the world and are renouned for their refinement and elegance–I suppose one could extrapolate in the literal, however I think most are nuanced to understand my point about tin and limestone and the hill country look–but maybe not

  • This house about as consistent with the neighborhood’s history as a mansion can get. The historic homes on the old Teas property sported both tin and limestone. And this half acre lot was once a farm, as most of those large lots near Chimney Rock were.

    Now, there are a couple of century-old houses just inside the loop that are small rectangles covered in siding, and one of the century homes on Bellaire is best described as having a craftsman front. But there was clearly a lot of variety around here back then, and it included some Hill Country style details.

  • I would live in that house in a New York minute. Beautiful and smart. Hard to beat that. Oh, I love the the roof. They are all over town now.

  • Sihaya, most homes in Bellaire (after it was farmland) were houses built for World War II veterans returning from the war, they were built quickly and inexpensively much like most of the houses in West U–nobody would build a million dollar house in the style of these homes, as for an original farmhouse on the land–sure maybe they had a tin roof, but get real, they weren’t 5000 square feet with limestone walls or even a copy of original German farms in the Hill Country–im sure maybe a sharecroppers shack was on land in River Oaks originally but would you blow it up to 5000+ square feet and plant it on Lazy Lane then extrapolate that it’s a good fit on that August lane because it’s original to the land—I’m sure that would go over well

  • I love how these people build the home of their dreams, only to sell them because they can’t afford to stay there….

  • I also think Ms. Reardon’s intent was that the Galvalume roof with it’s light color reflects heat away from the interior of the structure and back into the atmosphere.

    All of those Normans and Italian vernaculars have slate, terracotta, or God forbid shingle roofs. I’ll never understand why Houstonians insist on dark heatsync roofs for their tropical coastal environment. Reliant thanks you though, I’m sure…

  • Kathleen is a very skilled architect with a number of other great projects around town. I’m happy to see her work featured on here!

  • @Shannon : depends on what YOUR definition of “elegance” is. Taste is ALL subjective anyway. I think this house is VERY fine. I’d move in if I already hadn’t started construction on my new place Inside the Loop.

  • Thank goodness for that LONG jetted spa tub in the Master Bath. I’m putting one into my new place. I’ll never understand builders who cheap out and use tubs sized for people under 6′.They’re only good for small stature people, kids & pets.

  • Shannon musta stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Shannon seems to know quite a lot. Except that’s not a tine roof. Not a whole lot of tin being used in metal panel roofs anymore. That’s a galvalume finished roof.

    Of course, Shannon is “nuanced” enough understand the “austere vernacular” of the dummies like us that block the path to being on the “august” board of Architectural Digest.


  • I love how people build the house of their dreams in a style not altogether popular with the wealthy of Houston, then wonder why they can’t sell it—if they had built a traditional Georgian or Tudor, and don’t it well, instant interest, but hill country depression era blown up Texas style is not the greatest plan

  • Shannon, I would put that metal roof on my house in a heartbeat, but they cost more than I am willing to pay. They last forever, look good, and keep heat out of the attic.

  • Well if anyone has trolled and looked at the interior of many River Oaks homes, he or she could see that the “wealthy” do not exactly have a grasp on good taste. The homes are either garish with excessive gilding, paneling and copiously designed draperies etc…. or they are furnished so blandly with a truckload of “safe” furniture from Meredith O’Donnell that they hardly inspire the rest of us plebians to aspire to that level. Perhaps the owners of these unique homes don’t give a flip if the “wealthy” cannot appreciate any style outside of the perennial safe choices. Obviously they have the money to express themselves and enjoy their homes and may have the funds
    to wait for the buyer that can appreciate
    their vernacular.

  • That is a magnificent specimen.

  • You did see where I said that the house was as close to the neighborhood’s history as a MANSION could get. I get that you’re demanding that all mansions today look like all mansions used to – namely like something located somewhere else. But, to use your phrase, “Get real.” That won’t happen, because taste isn’t that limited. Complexity is part of the definition of sophistication.

    As for whether this would “go over well,” it has gone over very well, featuring on home tours and being celebrated for its design. It has already sold once at a premium with pretty much that look. It’s going to sell again at an even higher price.

  • Much like doctors should not diagnose and heal themselves, architects should not design and build their own homes, emotions and desires take over and reason and good planning goes out the triple pane UV coataed Argon filled copper clad window.

  • Because good design is marketable… Look at any corporations advertising campaigns.

  • Lord, this is a first!–I agree with commomsense –and you’d put a tin roof on a Georgian! or Tudor!–philistine!–and very few houses in River Osks look like this!–tin roofs look appropriate on houses like this or maybe certain mid century moderns–and hmmm, let’s see how quickly this tin roof monster sales–let’s all just move on and agree to disagree —

  • Oh Jay, please –nobody with a brain invests over a million dollars and doesn’t care if it will ever sell. Give me a break. I have no clue whose house you’ve seen in River Oaks, but I can assure you the vast majority are elegantly appointed and in a vernacular that the select few who are rich enough to afford them will appreciate –pick up this months Architectural Digest for a perfect example

  • look at Google maps — the house next to this one dwarfs it. they are building some huge places over there.

  • trolled so hard

  • Well, it’s official: Everything Shannon hates, I really like.
    I grew up in Bellaire and this house is a thousand times more attractive than the ridiculous “Arabian Nights meets the Vatican” themed house that recently replaced my old childhood home nearby.
    Also, geographically we’re a lot closer to the hill country than we are to either Italy or England. Just sayin.

  • Go to and look up houses over $1m in 77019. In my opinion, the top 9 most expensive homes are either garish (Del Monte) or boring (Bunny Williams yawnfest on Willowick). As I said earlier, money does not necessarily equal or buy taste. A sea of panelling, beige furniture and draperies for days. There is no edge in any of these houses nor is there anything who is exposed to the design community hasn’t seen before.