Nestled in Oak Hills subdivision off Highland Road just south of Bluebonnet is The Arbors, an intimate 8-residence Rick McDowell development that is waiting to welcome a new neighbor. This time, McDowell is unwrapping his own home at 401 Arbor Court, and it will be a real Christmas present for the new buyer.

With an interior by Holly Harrison, the home is filled with quality materials and thoughtful touches. The public areas are large and inviting, and the private areas are segregated by transitional foyers, giving a “private retreat” feeling to the master suite and giving other areas their own individual space.

Lighting and plumbing fixtures are top drawer, with lots of iron and other upscale materials like copper, slate, pewter and glass. And the outdoor spaces are dramatic, with a slate fountain pouring into a long slate-walled saltwater pool in back.

Heart pine floors the foyer, which introduces guests to the home library/ office, a long room with a wall of brick and shelving surrounding a masonry fireplace. Tall pocket doors at the entrance offer privacy when needed.

Ahead is the great room and kitchen, which is the heart of the home. A big arched entry frames the kitchen, which has an upscale stainless Thermador appliance package including a 6-burner cook top with griddle enclosed in a brick cove, double ovens and a tall refrigerator. The faux-finished cabinetry is also tall, some of it with glass doors. The large 3cm granite island has a copper vegetable sink, and the main counters have a fabulous hammered copper farm sink. And to be sure all the bases are covered, McDowell built a fully-equipped butler’s bar, as well as a separate butler’s pantry, to connect to the formal dining room. Here, a 27-light wood window views the courtyard and woods that surround the nearby Hilltop Arboretum.

Flooring on the first floor is unique; it’s a combination of heart pine and ceramic tile in a crossing pattern. Three big French doors lead from the great room to the slate rear porch and pool courtyard. At one end is the outdoor kitchen, with a stainless grill and sink package on the bar. In the center is the slate-walled saltwater pool, and overlooking it all is a wide slate porch with a pine and exposed beam ceiling. At the far end outside the master suite is an elevated slate deck, perfect for morning coffee and the newspaper.

The master suite is something special. Floored in heart pine, the bedroom has a large sitting area with a view of the woods. The master bath, however, is the showcase. The long suite is arranged in three separate areas. At one end are two large closets with switched doors and a dressing area. At the opposite end is a small gym for morning workouts. And in the center, a separate makeup vanity is across from the wet areas. Here you’ll find a corner whirlpool tub, two opposing vanities and a tile double “shower room” with a half wall and five water sources, including a rain head, a hand-held unit and body sprays. Upstairs, there’s a big sitting area and two bedrooms connected by a Hollywood bath.

McDowell always puts quality into his homes, and this one is no exception. Even the guest suite is opulent, with a hammered pewter vessel sink in an Oceanside glass tile cove. The energy efficient home also has surround sound, security, a natural gas generator by Generac, and zoned heating and air.

Because of the intimate size and setting of The Arbors, this home in the subdivision’s cul-de-sac is a special opportunity that doesn’t come around that often.