Last year when I heard news of Theresa Roemer’s mega-closet in her mansion in The Woodlands, I kind of thought to myself, “Wow, score one for Houston in the Neverending Great Big Texas Rich battle against Dallas.”
Along with the rest of the state and nation, I believed that Roemer’s in-home sanctuary and shrine to consumerism was the most opulent in the country. Maybe even worldwide! Or, at least just this side of Dubai, Moscow, or Brunei.
The Houston Chronicle called it a “mammoth homage to all things girlie” and “Aladdin’s Cave of Wonder.” It seemed to me that perhaps in this case, Houston had Dallas beat in the conspicuous consumption stakes. We were doing it big, like Texans should. And in any event, the tale of the owner of Houston’s most famous closet certainly whooped anything Dallas had to offer in the drama department, as our own Skip Hollandsworth reported earlier this year.
Or so I thought. Sorry, Houston, we lose. At least in the glitz department, if not the other details.
In the northern exurbs of Dallas there exists a multi-level, Florentine chandelier-illuminated closet full of 18-karat gold fittings that cost a reported $5 million to build. Tucked away in a huge manor known as Champ D’Or, the brainchild of Shirley Goldfield, it’s hardly ever even been used, by Goldfield or anyone else.
Though it attracted its share of attention in its day, it seemed to have been all-but-forgotten when Roemer was enjoying her moment in the sun as the Closet Queen of Texas, and then weathering the firestorm that followed. Goldfield’s closet is just something the Metroplex has lying around, like a handful of nickels and pennies you’ve left on your desk.
Anyway, let’s look at these two luxe treasure-troves.
First, a little info about the houses:
47 Grand Regency Circle, The Woodlands, north of Houston. It’s about 17,000 sq.-ft.
1851 Turbeville Road, Hickory Creek, South of Denton, north of Dallas. It’s about 48,000 sq.-ft.
The Closet’s Inspiration
“A miniature Neiman Marcus.” When it comes to glitz, Houston imitates Dallas.Goldfield:
Coco Chanel’s orginal Paris boutique. When it comes to glitz, Dallas imitates Paris.
Price Tag (Construction of closet only)
Goldfield: $5 million
Size and number of stories
Roemer: 3,000 sq.-ft. and three stories
Does it occupy an entire wing of the house?
Roemer: Skip Hollandsworth has been inside, where he a saw:
A champagne bar, a salon area for hair and makeup, a sitting area with a banquette sofa, and a mannequin wearing a $10,000 Oscar de la Renta gown. On one wall is a photo of Theresa dressed in silk lingerie, staring steamily into the camera—a photo she presented to her husband on her fiftieth birthday. On another wall is a photo of Theresa wrapped in a terry-cloth robe.
Goldfield: Whereas Roemer’s closet chandelier is of Swarovski crystal from downmarket Austria, Goldfield’s came from Florence, which is in Tuscany which is much fancier than Austria, and it is of 18-karat gold and cost $30k. There’s gold everywhere in there: the doorknobs, the fixtures, all over the place. And that custom-woven Coco Chanel area rug set her back $10,000.
Has it been ransacked by a cat burglar?
Goldfield: Apparently not.
Most Memorable Quote About the Closet
Roemer: “My closet is my dressing room, but more importantly, it’s my retreat. I like to call it my ‘female man cave.’ ”
Goldfield: “When I built this closet, I tried to think of everything I would need.”
Has she thrown fund-raisers in it?
Roemer: Yes. “There’s no reason for me to have this amazing, gorgeous closet if I can’t do fundraisers in it, too, right?”
Goldfield: No. In fact, the Goldfields only spent a few months living in the house they spent four years building. “I’m like a painter who creates a beautiful work of art and then sells it,” Goldfield said at one time. For ten years, the house stood vacant. That’s one reason D Magazine once dubbed Champ D’Or “the best little teardown in Texas.”
What about sexy-time shenanigans?
Roemer: Most definitely: “You have to have sex in the closet! And every position too! And on the staircase and on the bar and on the makeup station.”
Goldfield: If she ever got busy in there, she never told anyone publicly.
National TV coverage?
Roemer: Yes, Good Morning America came out.
Goldfield: Yes. HGTV did a segment, complete with unctuous voice-over.
Is Jay Leno invoked in the media coverage?
Roemer: Yes. As Clifford Pugh of CultureMap Houston wrote:
Much of the coverage has been sexist — one might ask if the same kind of media attention has been focused on Jay Leno and his fleet of classic automobiles — and negative, portraying her as a “blond bimbo,” she notes. “I was a self-made millionaire before I met my husband,” she says.
Full disclosure: I took Champ to Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance this summer, and it was the most talked-about home at the car show. Yes, it even turned the head of Jay Leno!
Is the property Wal-Mart-adjacent?
Roemer: No. It does abut a golf course.
Goldfield: Yes. Pretty much. It’s also about a half-mile to a trailer park, and about the same distance to Chick-fil-A, Chili’s and IHOP.
Can you buy this closet and the house around it?
Roemer: Yes, for $11.2 million, down 13 percent from its December 2014 asking price of $12.9 million. (Back in 2013, Theresa and husband Lamar Roemer purchased the same house from famed pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell for $3.64 million. Roemer is her own listing agent.)
Goldfield: Yes. Though it is not actively on the market, listing agent Justen Aranda tells the Daily Post that the owner would consider an offer. According to some recent listings, those would need to be in the area of $35 million, about 50 percent of its original $72 million price tag.
So there you have it. Houston’s most decadent closet cost ten percent as much as Dallas’s. It resides in a home a fraction of the size of its DFW rival, and lists for a fraction of the price. Houston’s looks to a homegrown source as its inspiration while Dallas’s is content with nothing less than Parisian inspiration. When it comes to things like house-sized closets, Dallas is still the wise sensei, Houston the upstart grasshopper.
(Photos from HRA.com and other real estate listings)