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This Stunning Music Room Sets the Stage for an Entire $6.49 Million River Oaks Mansion — Inside the Mind of an Architect

J. Marshall Porterfield Lets Us in On the Vision Behind 1039 Kirby Drive

BY // 01.20.22

A sense of place illuminates our minds when we step into a space that has the bones of thoughtful architecture. It’s not always easy to finesse, though. Getting the feel of a personal home within an impressive 8,453 square foot mansion resting on 25,000 square feet of manicured grounds is no simple task. But that’s precisely what Houston architect J. Marshall Porterfield managed to pull off in the European estate style mansion on 1039 Kirby Drive.

It’s all about that sense of intimacy.

“Once you’re in the house, it has a nice flow,” Porterfield says. “I like a lot of natural light in my designs. It’s a very airy home, meaning the heights of the ceilings are nice. There are some over-scaled rooms and then there’s all the natural light coming through.

“I also used porches coming off the back that are inviting, too. That also helps with the design and flow.”

Yes, the music room might call to you or the verdant gardens. But it’s the distinctive sense of home about the overall space that most comes through.

“I wanted that to be the music room to be nucleus,” Porterfield tells PaperCity. “This is the room I chose that needed the space. It has the premiere placement, because it has the great porches.


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“It has glass walls on two sides. It has north and south glass walls.”

1039 Kirby Drive
With over $2 million dollars in renovations, the European-influenced home features five full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms.

Nestled on River Oaks’ prestigious Kirby Drive, the five-bedroom home is currently on the market for $6,499,000, listed by Douglas Elliman Real Estate.  Upgraded with more than $2 million dollars in renovations, the home features five full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms. The estate is just a stroll away from River Oaks’ most exclusive street, Lazy Lane.  The opulent home features formal, informal living rooms, a sumptuous dining room, an extensive library, a 2,000-plus bottle wine vault, a fitness room and a Pilates area.

“The library is one of my favorite spaces, in that it’s cozy,” Porterfield says. “There’s a lot of woodwork in that room. You’re open to the outside, but yet it’s in a part of the house where it’s set off to the side a little bit. You do feel like you’ve got your private area to lounge or read a book or sit and relax by the fire, relax and have some free time.”

The library is one of Portefield’s favorite spaces in the home. “There’s a lot of woodwork in that room.”

Inside the chef-influenced kitchen, you’ll find Wolf and Miele stainless steel appliances. The kitchen space opens directly to a large loggia with an outdoor kitchen, fireplaces and terraces for outdoor dining and entertaining.

“It was a home that was designed with a California feel — and there’s an openness in the California design,” Porterfield says. “The original owner wanted a really nice wine room and was detail oriented.

“I love to spend time on detail, and it reads throughout the home. If you have time to spend on detail in each room, it’s cohesive. It makes one room flow into the other.”

1039 Kirby
For many Houstonians, the kitchen is the most important room in any home–and this one comes complete with Wolf and Miele stainless steel appliances.

After designing Houston homes for four decades, Porterfield resonates with delivering the old world finishing touches that delicately weave in texture and detail. There’s a hint of grandeur, right as you first set foot on the property and view the grand columns and arched mahogany double doors at the entry.

“I’m doing some homes on Friar Tuck that are old world homes,” Porterfield says. “The detail in those homes is just something. We’re doing a lot barrel ceilings, reclaimed materials, plank ceilings. We’re using a lot of materials from Chateau Domingue, like 500-year-old mantles, 400-year-old French limestone and old wooden floors that have come from an old village.

“These homes are once-in-a-lifetime kind of homes.”

Porterfield Embraces the Power of the Great Outdoors

The natural beauty and lush green spaces of this River Oaks property inspired Porterfield. The outdoor spaces include a tree-lined pool, fountain, raised vegetable and herb gardens, and covered walkways. There’s also private attached living quarters which offer a living room, bedroom, wet bar and Juliet balcony.

“I allocated ample space for outdoor space — like the herb garden needed to be in the right place for the sunlight,”  Porterfield notes. “I love looking out over the garden, and the little intimate spaces, the rooms that have a garden.  I pretty much created these spaces, and they did their deal. I let it open for the landscape architect to come in.”

Since Kirby can be a restless stretch of road, Porterfield wanted a creative break away from the view of the street.

“Kirby is a fairly busy street. I wanted the front of the house to be the back of the house,” Porterfield says. “But I didn’t want the overall views to be straight toward the front. That led the schematic design.”

1039 Kirby Drive
This Kirby Drive home features a 2,000+ bottle wine vault.

It’s the nuances of classic detail — from the rich mahogany wood accents to the warm intimacy of a music room — that truly gives character to a space, Porterfield observes.

“What really inspires me is textures, I can look at something and it’s very warm,” he says. “I look for inspiration. If I like the feel of something, I can take it to another site. I look for inspiration. It’s all about how the space makes you feel.”

1039 Kirby Drive
The River Oaks estate features formal, informal living rooms, a sumptuous dining room, and an extensive library.

Click thru the full photo gallery below for an even closer look at Porterfield’s creation:

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