HOUSTON—One of the most expensive houses in Houston—priced at $14.9 million—recently went on the private market and it’s so exclusive, it isn’t on any local listing service.
Genteel fountains, manicured gardens and Grecian-style marble friezes decorate the outside of the Renaissance inspired home. A brand new cherry red Ferrari 456 Spider accents the driveway.
With the help of Houston designer J.D. Bartel, the owner Al Ross built this showcase home in three years. A champion of Houston craftsmen, Ross commissioned several local artisans to craft much of the furniture, from the ornate dining room set to many of the chandeliers and cabinets.
The 17,000 square foot home has six bedrooms, seven full baths, 500 rosebushes and a seemingly endless list of unique extras. The master wing has a private courtyard modeled after a Persian garden and a stunning master bath, larger than some homes at 1200 square feet.
The elaborate tiled floors, one of a kind light fixtures and even the door pulls are unique, each looking like a jeweled pin.
The Rosses travelled to France, visiting palaces and chateaux for inspiration. Like Versailles itself, many of the walls and ceilings are hand painted.
"A wonderful local artist Julie Williams did this work. She spent about 90 days in this room," Ross said of the formal living room’s ceiling.
Of course, the two-year old house has all the modern conveniences. An iPad or iPhone can control all the heating, A.C., audio and video elements of the house. The home theater boasts a 100-inch screen with the Ross coat of arms above it.
"Life is good," quipped Ross.
Ross started working at age 13.
"My first job was working in McDonalds on Rice Boulevard, sweeping the floors, doing all the grunt work, washing dishes for four to five hours. They wouldn’t even put me on the grill which is where I wanted to be," he said. "When we got married we started with nothing."
It was 24 years ago when he and his wife said "I do." She is now a dentist and the couple has two teenage children.
Ross still has the receipt for the $200 start-up capital for his National Sign Company. That business helped finance the luxury home.
There are very few homes in the 10 million dollar plus range in town.
"In last 15 years, we have only had 3 homes that sold between 9 and 10 million dollars," said Martha Turner realtor Cynthia Bigelow.
The median home price in Houston is about $225,000. Bigelow says whether $100,000 or $1,000,000, "It’s a seller’s market. We are very fortunate. We are in a bubble."
After all, be it humble or not, there’s no place like home.