ONE A sense of place illuminates our spirit as we enter a space that has the bones of thoughtful architecture. However, it is not always easy to refine it. Getting the feel of a personal home in a stunning 8,453 square foot mansion resting on 25,000 square feet of manicured grounds is no easy task. But that’s exactly what Houston architect J. Marshall Porterfield achieved in the European-style mansion of an estate at 1039 Kirby Drive.
It’s all about that sense of intimacy.
“Once you’re in the house, it has a beautiful flow,” says Porterfield. “I like a lot of natural light in my designs. It’s a very airy home which means the ceiling heights are nice. There are some oversized rooms and then all the natural light comes through.
“I also used back porches, which are also inviting. That also helps with the design and process.”
Yes, the music room could call you, or the green gardens. But it’s the unmistakable feeling of home throughout the space that shines the most.
“I wanted the music room to be the core,” says Porterfield paper town. “This is the room I chose that needs the space. It has the premiere ranking because it has the large verandas.
“It has glass walls on two sides. It has north and south glass walls.”
Nestled on River Oaks’ prestigious Kirby Drive, the five bedroom home is currently on the market for $6,499,000 and is listed by Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The home has been upgraded with more than $2 million in renovations and features five bathrooms and two half-bathrooms. The property is just a short walk from River Oak’s most exclusive street, Lazy Lane. The opulent home features formal, informal living rooms, a sumptuous dining room, an extensive library, a wine cellar with over 2,000 bottles, an exercise room and a Pilates area.
“The library is one of my favorite places because it’s cozy,” says Porterfield. “There is a lot of woodwork in this room. They are open to the outside, but still in a part of the house where it is set back a little. You feel like you have your private space to chill or read a book or sit by the fire and chill, unwind and have some free time.”
In the chef-influenced kitchen, you’ll find stainless steel appliances from Wolf and Miele. The kitchen area opens directly onto a large loggia with outdoor kitchen, fireplaces and patios for al fresco dining and entertaining.
“It was a home designed with a California flair—and California design is open,” says Porterfield. “The original owner wanted a really nice wine room and was detail oriented.
“I love spending time on details and it reads throughout the house. If you have time for details in each room, it is coherent. It lets one space flow into the other.”
Having spent four decades designing homes in Houston, Porterfield resonates with delivering old-world finishing touches that weave delicately in texture and detail. There is an air of grandeur as soon as you first enter the property and behold the grand pillars and arched mahogany double doors at the entrance.
“I’m making some houses on Friar Tuck that are old world houses,” says Porterfield. “The detail in these houses is just something. We make a lot of barrel ceilings, reclaimed materials, board ceilings. We use many of Chateau Domingue’s materials, such as 500-year-old mantles, 400-year-old French limestone and old wooden floors brought from an old village.
“These houses are unique houses.”
Porterfield embraces the power of the great outdoors
Porterfield was inspired by the natural beauty and lush greenery of this River Oaks property. Outdoor areas include a tree-lined pool, fountain, raised vegetable and herb gardens, and covered walkways. There are also private attached living areas that offer a living room, bedroom, wet bar, and Juliet balcony.
“I allowed a lot of outdoor space – just as the herb garden needs to be in the right place for sunlight,” notes Porterfield. “I love the garden view and the small intimate spaces, the rooms with a garden. I pretty much created these rooms, and they made their deal. I left it open for the landscape architect to come in.”
Because Kirby can be a choppy stretch of road, Porterfield wanted a creative change from the street view.
“Kirby’s a pretty busy street. I wanted the front of the house to be the back of the house,” says Porterfield. “But I didn’t want the overall view to be straight ahead. That led to the schematic design.”
It’s the nuances of classic details — from the rich mahogany wood accents to the warm intimacy of a music room — that really add character to a space, notes Porterfield.
“What really inspires me is textures, I can look at something and it’s very warm,” he says. “I’m looking for inspiration. If I like something, I can take it to another page. I’m looking for inspiration. It’s about how the space feels.”
Click through the full photo gallery below for an even closer look at Porterfield’s creation: