Spectacular Three-Story Gamble
A real estate adage advises against buying the priciest property in a neighborhood. But this cleverly designed contemporary townhome near Knox-Henderson begs to be the exception.
On a tree-lined stretch at 4321 Travis St., the townhouse's three-story, vaguely International Style face sticks out like a shiny silver dollar in a pile of dull pennies. Listed at $1.1 million by Dave Perry-Miller & Associates, it's a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath, 4,368-square-foot palazzo amid dowdy 1960s condos that have half the space (and asking prices).
That's quite a disparity, but the home's prime location and architectural surprises make it hard to resist for anyone gambling that the neighborhood's value will climb.
Owner Tracy Shreve, author of Ms. Matched: The Sophisticated Girl's Guide to Dating in the Digital Age, had concerns about the price when she bought the home in 2010 for $1 million. But the square footage and location near Knox Street, Uptown and the Katy Trail made her confident she'd made the right choice.
"There are some smaller places in the neighborhood that have sold for around $700K," she says. Ultimately, she thinks the area will turn upscale and attract more of the corporate executive types that own the other four units in her complex.
Designed by Brown Architects, specialists in modern home designs, the facade is a three-story cascade of windows, buff brick accents and rustic cedar siding. The elements are an artful hint at the harmonious jumble of materials and architectural styles inside.
Soaring 20-foot-high ceilings in the first-floor living room bring the exterior's drama to the interior — and heighten it. The brick accents outside transform into a monolithic inside wall that slices through the center of the house, splitting the living and dining areas and providing an anchor for an industrial steel staircase to the second floor.
There is almost too much to look at in this space. Espresso-colored bamboo floors give way to creamy limestone. Horizontal dark wood slats echo the exterior siding and clamber up a two-story museum-finished wall alongside another bank of windows. A mauve concrete fireplace makes the biggest statement of all, with a chimney that reaches the top of the atrium-like space.
The cool, minimalist kitchen is a relief from the razzle-dazzle. There are no ranks of boastful stainless steel appliances, just a gleaming metal vent hood that shines like a beacon.
It's a kitchen that tries hard not to be one, as the convection oven, gas cook-top and wine chiller discreetly fade into a grid of faceless, handle-less Bulthaup cabinetry. A stark-white center island with a thin charcoal granite countertop separates the area from the dining room, which will comfortably seat dinner guests and capably handle large holiday gatherings.
Jog up the stairs — or take the house elevator if you're lazy — to alight on a landing that overlooks the living area and doubles as a study and gateway to the master bedroom. Double-glass doors lead to an outdoor balcony that's one of four patio and garden spaces attached to the home.
With its private staircase to the third floor and generous walk-ins, the 450-square-foot master bedroom is almost as large as some of the neighborhood's condo units, and the attached bath seems nearly as big.
A hulking, granite-topped vanity with opposing raised sinks and seating areas rests on more of the creamy stone from downstairs. Like so many of the details in the house, it transforms, extending to become the surround for a jetted soaking tub set in a dark marble-tiled grotto with dual shower and glass doors.
Kids or guests have the run of the third floor. Two bedrooms each come with an attached bath. And a large living area is suitable for a media room or a game room. The laundry is also on this level, which means you'll never have to schlep clothing for more than a floor.
A host of energy-conscious systems add to the home's value, such as highly efficient insulated concrete building forms, double-paned and tinted low-E windows, and a variable speed air-conditioner. The new owners probably won't make back their down payment on the energy savings, but it's something to hold onto while they wait for real estate prices to rise.