Friendswood home manages to be warm and cozy despite its vast size
The Tuscan-style villa sits at the end of a winding lane bordered by 30-foot Cypress trees and young oaks.
Clad in tan stucco and capped with a red tile roof, it snuggles in the center of 4½ acres of park-like grounds in Friendswood.
Designed for Michael and Janet Wegner by Houston architect Robert Dame and built by Samson Custom Homes in 2004, the house’s interior exceeds 9,000 square feet and every window has a view of pastoral landscape.
It seems a world away, but it’s only minutes from downtown Friendswood.
“What I love about this house is that it feels like a home, despite its size,” Michael Wegner said. “It’s warm and comfortable, and perfectly suited to our family.”
Expansive rooms on the first floor flow from formal to more informal family-centered areas. A private master suite is tucked in its own wing off the first floor entry beyond a master study and library. Upstairs, there are three additional family bedrooms, all with different-style ceilings, an exercise room and a separate guest suite. There are laundry rooms on both floors and two three-car garages.
“It was my plan to build our dream home before I was 40 years old,” Wegner said. “On my 40th birthday, they were hanging the front doors.”
The Wegners’ three children were in elementary school when they built the house, so family life was key to the couple’s planning and design.
“We wanted to create a home that our children could truly enjoy; one where their friends would feel welcome to hang out,” Wegner said.
The central part of the house is dedicated to the entryway with a grand staircase and a 25-foot ceiling. It also houses the formal living and dining areas.
A larger part of the downstairs space is reserved for informal family use.
Their strategy to keep their children close and home-centered worked well. Over the past 14 years, the house was a revolving door of friends, Wegner said.
The whole family became immersed in sports, school activities and their daughter’s cheerleading squad.
“It was not uncommon for us to have six or eight kids in the house for a weekend sleepover,” Wegner said. “I never minded — it’s what we wanted for our children.”
The Wegners hosted soccer practice, birthday parties, prom night pictures, cheerleader weekends and social functions at which the guest lists often topped 200.
They also opened their home for church gatherings, family reunions, political fundraisers and charitable events for nonprofit organizations, including the Friendswood ISD Education Foundation — Janet Wegner is a board member — and the Laura Recovery Center, which helps to find missing children.
“We have so many memories in this house and I believe it has contributed to how close our family is,” Janet Wegner said. “One time, we hosted a family reunion with 100 guests on the same day as prom, which began with pictures and dinner for 60 kids. I’m not sure how, but it all worked out.”
Holidays at the house were a special time.
“Christmas mornings were hilarious,” Michael Wegner said. “The children would sleep in one bedroom and wait for us to tell them to come down the stairs, even when they were grown. We have years of video footage to prove it.”
The center part of the house is dedicated to the entryway with a grand staircase and soaring ceiling. It also has the formal living and dining areas. However, the largest part of the downstairs area is reserved for informal family use.
The open-concept floor plan has a large kitchen with a half-circle granite peninsula, opening into the family room. All the appliances are Thermador.
“I love spending time in my kitchen and I am convinced it has made me a better cook,” Janet Wegner said.
The family room flows into a separate game room, all with wall-size windows overlooking the swimming pool and spa. Beyond the pool and covered porch are a sports court and an entertainment pavilion.
The house has many whimsical touches, including a 525-gallon freshwater aquarium stretching across the west side of the family room. Silver, yellow and red cichlids flash around in their own handsome waterscape.
The size of the house’s interior was not the original plan.
“We didn’t expect it to be as big as it is,” Michael Wegner said.
“I like big rooms; I don’t like to feel closed in,” he said. “Then, if you have big rooms, you need to have proportionate hallways and closets, so that’s how the house grew.”
Michael and Janet Wegner are Galveston Island natives who graduated from Ball High School in the 1980s. She was the younger sister of his high school friend.
As he approached college graduation from Texas A&M University, they began dating. They were married at Trinity Episcopal Church in 1989.
He owns LifeStyle Financial Advisors, and she is an active community volunteer.
Michael Wegner and his daughter are both graduates of Texas A&M University and the middle son will graduate in 2018. The youngest son left home last fall to join the Aggie legacy.
Now the Wegners are preparing to downsize.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Michael Wegner said. “But with just the two of us at home, we’re ready to begin the next chapter in our life story.”
Historical note: Janet Wegner’s mother was Jeanette Badgett — one of a set of quadruplets born in 1939 at Galveston’s St. Mary’s Hospital at a time when multiple births were rare. As the first set of quadruplets born in Texas, Joan, Joyce, Jeraldine and Jeanette were national celebrities.
The city of Galveston contributed to the building of a two-story house for the family — with a catch. The Badgetts had to allow visitors in their home several hours during the week to have photos taken with the girls. The sisters sold War Bonds in the Second World War and there was a popular line of Badgett Quad paper dolls.