Glam Squad

Property Watch: A Glamorous Custom Home in Highland Park

Custom craftsmanship and gilded accents with, yes, a few palm trees in the mix.

By Melissa Dalton May 4, 2023

Image: Julie Soefer

In 2002, Carol Isaak Barden pivoted. After years of working as an editor and writer covering architecture, design, and interiors for a range of national magazines, from Condé Nast Traveler to Harper’s Bazaar, she decided to get more hands on in the design world and become a developer. Since then, Barden has built a reputation for producing high-quality, bespoke homes that challenge the design norms of a typical spec home, collaborating with top-tier architects and artisans to fashion every detail. The result always factors in function, including such musts as kitchens that work and closets for dreamy shoe collections.

For this 2022 build on Essex Lane, dubbed the “House of Many Palms” and completed with Houston designer Scott Strasser, the guiding inspiration was West Palm Beach glamour, starting with the exterior. A stucco façade centers a recessed entrance with a 14-foot-high arched alcove lined in limestone and hand-forged iron double doors sourced from a Mexico studio. That limestone is then repeated on the exterior window sills and crown molding as a streamlined accent.

Image: Julie Soefer

Inside, the 5,300-square-foot plan has five bedrooms and 4.5 baths, with the combined living spaces on the main floor overlooking a gorgeous tropical garden and protected outdoor living space under a pergola. There, find a lounge arranged around a fireplace, dining area for al fresco entertaining, and sleek stainless steel outdoor kitchen ensconced by textured brick and leafy fronds.

Image: Julie Soefer

Gilded accents are woven throughout the black-and-white interiors, from the gold patina of the Ann Sacks backsplash behind the wet bar to the dramatic wall of hand-cut onyx and antique Venetian chandelier in the powder room. But the gilt is always mixed with a high-level of functionality, as in the large kitchen island topped with Italian pomodor gold marble that’s big enough to prep a meal and also seat 12 for dinner.

Image: Julie Soefer

The creative collaborations here don’t stop with the architect, as Barden worked with a number of Houston outfits to get the details right, like lighting designer Justin Woolf of Light and the highly crafted cabinetry and millwork from Modern Wood Services.

The glam also continues upstairs: gleaming bronze tile in one bathroom, the primary suite’s statement pattern behind the soaking tub. Just like on the lower levels, bold moments are balanced with quieter ones that bring the outdoors in, such as with the serene treetop views from the windows in the primary bedroom.

Image: Julie Soefer

Fittingly, this stretch of Essex Lane is becoming quite the destination for architecturally significant homes, with this most recent addition joining those designed by Rottet Studio next door, and across the street, a project each from Allen Bianchi Architects and Reagan Andre Architecture.

Listing Fast Facts 

Address: 4006 Essex Ln, Houston, TX 77027
Size: 5,300 square feet/5 bedrooms/4.5 baths
List Date: 4/18/2023 
List Price: $3,395,000
Listing Agent: Tiffany LaRose, The LaRose Kaileh Group, LLC

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