Cascading Creek House is a contemporary single family residence that has been designed by Bercy Chen Studio, located in Austin, Texas. The property was conceived less as a house and more as an extension and outgrowth of the limestone and aquifers of Central Texas. Just recently completed, this 11,796 square foot home incorporates plenty of sustainable features including photovoltaics, rainwater collection and hydronic heating and cooling. The beautiful contemporary design details carried out throughout the home was the meticulous work of Alan Cano Interiors.
The primary formal gesture of the project inserts two long native limestone walls to the sloping site, serving as spines for the public wing and private wing of the house. The walls and the wings they delineate shelter a domesticated landscape that serves as an extended living space oriented towards the creek below and protected from the torrents of water draining from the street above during sudden downpours characteristic of the area.
The sitting of the boundary walls and building elements was informed by the presence and preservation of three mature native oaks. The roof structure is configured so as to create a natural basin for the collection of rainwater, not unlike the vernal pools found in the outcroppings of the Texas Hill Country. These basins harness additional natural flows through the use of photovoltaic and solar hot-water panels.
The water, electricity and heat which are harvested on the roof tie into an extensive climate conditioning system which utilizes water source heat pumps and radiant loops to supply both the heating and cooling for the residence. The climate system is connected to geothermal ground loops as well as pools and water features thereby establishing a system of heat exchange, which minimizes reliance on electricity or gas.
Photos: Bercy Chen Studio
Westlake Ranch House is a stunning mid-century home re-designed by Shiflet Group Architects, located in Austin, Texas. Mark Ashby Design worked in collaboration with the architects to reconfigure the 1961 ranch house into a bright, open-plan residence.
The amazing fixture featured in the living room is a functional sculpture, with a futuristic look that also has mid-century modern flair. It is a Cross Cable Mobile in a powder coated aluminum nickel plated steel shade by David Weeks. The dimensions are: Standard Tier Length: 55” x 55”; Tiers can be customized up to 96”.
The extensive remodel included doubling the kitchen, integrating a state of the art sound system, and creating new exterior spaces. Mark also worked closely with the owner to curate the art collection.
The flooring in the dining space are end cut wood. The pendant lamp hanging from the ceiling is a Akari Noguchi light sculpture.
Mark’s approach is defined by a deep reverence for history and architectural context combined with a refined, contemporary aesthetic. He is a true collaborator, engaging his clients and his design team to ensure that each project is a thoughtful expression of the client’s own style and sensibilities.
Mark and his designers work on projects across the southwest and around the country. The firm’s work has been featured in the books Great Homes of Texas and Modern Cabins, as well as in a number of publications, including Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, and Western Interiors.
Photos: Courtesy of Mark Ashby Design
This casual compound has been designed as a vacation retreat by the San Antonio architecture firm Lake|Flato, located high above Lake Austin, Texas. This is the second home for a busy couple who lives near San Francisco and loves the water.
High above Lake Austin, the main house keeps the couple walking on air, thanks to a catwalk that connects it to one of the three out buildings.
Interior designer Fern Santini’s ruggedly casual decor makes for relaxed living, and is punctuated on high with stylishly whimsical pendant lighting. Porches encourage outdoor living, and separate yoga studio and exercise room are for well-being. A lake pavilion and boat house complete the setting.
This incredibly stunning home is is open and airy and has wonderful flow. The beautiful furnishings throughout has a modern yet cottagey feel.
Photos: Nick Johnson
Cove House is a contemporary remodel of a dreary 1980s tract house designed by Furman + Keil Architects, located on a narrow peninsula in Lake Austin, Texas. The site was incomparable, with the lake fronting two sides of the property. The new owners loved the location and even wanted to save the house, which spoke to them about casual lakeside living. The architects worked largely within the constraints of the existing footprint, inheriting many of the quirky geometries of the floor plan.
The entry courtyard was redesigned to allow visitors to penetrate deeper into the site, extending and enhancing the entry transition.
New panoramic windows allow the inhabitants to take in the natural surroundings, while massive sliding doors connect the living room to a new screened porch, engaging with views of the lake beyond.
The architects rendered a stunning renovation to the wood and glass building, turning it into an indoor-outdoor house that’s perfect for entertaining both formally and informally.
Fern Santini Design played up the new architecture with elegantly relaxed furniture and an expertly curated array of contemporary art by local artists. Touches of absolute luxury—such as plaster walls in the master bedroom, all-out glamor in the gold-and-white tiled master bath, and a Kyle Bunting rug in the dining room—are reminders that being casual doesn’t preclude being very very stylish.
Overcoming the challenges of the lot and the geometries of the existing house led to an unexpected design which takes full advantage of this spectacular site.
Photos: Nick Johnson
Trahan Ranch is a stunning residential modern compound designed by Patrick Tighe Architecture, situated in the heart of hill country in Austin, Texas. The 3200 square foot residence is on a fourteen acre sloped site with native oaks, natural springs and unobstructed views. The layout of the house is a direct response to the site conditions.
The plan is organized to integrate and enhance the many features of the landscape. A panoramic view that spans 260 degrees is experienced as well as other more site specific orientations. The front of the house is made of heavy materials that rise from the earth. The building is nestled into the brow of the hill and have an unassuming appearance when seen from a distance.
The heavy, solid, grounded front is in sharp contrast to the more ephemeral back. At the down slope side of the house, the structure becomes lighter and opens to the landscape. Steel pipe columns splay at unsuspecting angles dancing along the rugged landscape.
The architecture explores a series of counterpoints including heavy and light, front and back, open and closed and contemporary and vernacular. The grounded front is composed of heavy materials rising from the earth in sharp contrast to the more ephemeral back. The structure rises and becomes lighter at the down-slope side of the house as it opens to the landscape. The main house is a contemporary interpretation of Texas Hill Country post-and-beam construction that exploits regional materials and the expertise of local trades-people. The spaces of the main house flow from one to the other without doors while the guest room appendage is a more traditional layout.
The environmentally mindful design includes a hydronically-heated concrete slab on grade. The concrete foundation and walls provide high thermal mass. Large overhangs and covered walkways offer protection from the sun and cross- ventilation is used. Natural materials are used throughout including concrete, steel, stone and metals.
Texas Hill Country limestone was chosen from the site to create the over-sized Rumford fireplace that is central to the living space. An arbor connects building components and functions as an armature for solar photovoltaic panels that provide power for the property. The landscape consists of regional drought- tolerant plants that are native to the area and the local ecosystem.
The steel frame structure is a kit of parts prefabricated in a shop and erected on-site. The steel pieces attach to a series of exposed board-formed reinforced concrete pylons that are a vertical extension of the foundation.
Photos: Art Gray Photography
This 92 square foot SIP panel, modular, backyard office has been designed by Sett Studio, located in the backyard of a beautiful home in Austin, Texas. The materials used in this outdoor home office are Shou-Sugi-Ban wood siding and Monotread wall sheathing. Burned-wood or charred-wood siding, Shou-Sugi-Ban is Japanese wood treatment used in various elements throughout Sett’s – interior and exterior. Not only does it deliver an attractive aesthetic, the burning also weatherizes the wood, prevents bugs and rot, and has enhanced fire-resistance.
Our signature interior surface, Monotread is a durable, seamless, sustainable material used on floors, walls and ceilings. Milled from OSB (Oriented Strand Board), Monotread is produced from fast-growing, underutilized, inexpensive wood species grown in carefully managed forests. The combination of wood chips allows a unique, monolithic presentation allowing various applications. Durable, seamless and sustainable, Monotread is produced from fast growing, underutilized trash trees. Sett Studio manufactures and sells mono tread in house starting at 14.99 a square foot.
The Sett Studio office is more like a pre-fab house, with a “water and ice shield roof membrane” and Drywall walls and Monotred flooring. You can add upgrades like air conditioning and heat, a built-in desk, stainless steel metal shingles and even planter boxes. You can even add a deck. The company is also working on a solar-powered version.
Waterfall House is a single family residence tucked away in the rolling hills of West Lake, in Austin, Texas, recently completed by Dick Clark + Associates. The home features efficient design and impressive views, a unique single family spec home built to attract a discerning group of potential owners. Though comfortably removed from the thick of the city in the hills of west Austin, the stunning skyline is the most influential factor in the design of the house.
To achieve the ideal view, the house is subtly perched on a raised foundation. The main spaces in the house are located along the eastern facade to have equal access to the skyline views. The seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces of the house is achieved through material continuity, such as the tile floor that flows from inside to out, and through the massive sliding glass doors that open the living, dining, and kitchen spaces to be one with the exterior pool deck. The skyline, as viewed from this open indoor/outdoor space, is dramatically framed by an elegant negative-edge pool that disappears into the hills below.
The love of beautifully detailed architecture, shared by both the builder and the architect, are evident in the carefully executed lines, delicate proportions, and seamless spatial transitions in this high-end Austin home. The site placement of this house blurs the line between city and rural living, a characteristic that Austinites greatly value, just as the design itself softens the divide between interior and exterior.
Photos: Alexander Stross
East Austin is a lively mix of commercial buildings, Victorian architecture, and bungalows. The lifestyle there is casual. It was important to the homeowners that their new 2235-square foot, two-story home fit into its friendly neighborhood setting while also expressing their contemporary tastes. To achieve that purpose, the architects designed a gabled house with a minimalist palette of white siding and contrasting bronze windows and steel detailing. The profile is simple and modern, yet also iconic: The long side of the house faces the street and an over-sized front door encourages visitors to drop in.
Inside, a sleek Lueders limestone fireplace surround anchors the all-white living room. The exterior’s contrasting palette is carried through to the adjacent kitchen, with black Shaker-style cabinets highlighted by Carrera countertops and white subway tiles. Vertical steel slats on one side of the room are a dramatic screen for the stairs and also allow light from the second story to filter into the open dining area. Upstairs, two bedrooms and a flex space are connected by the spacious and light-filled book-lined landing.
The Final Result
This house looks timeless while melding with the here and now.
Photos: Ryann Ford
Garden St. Residence is a stunning barn style house that has been designed by PAVONETTI Office of Design, located in Austin, Texas. This stunning residence showcases industrial style interiors with a transitional style exterior facade.
From the architects: We aim to create buildings that get better with age. We have a style of our own but we hope that it is our design and not our style that allows our buildings to persevere and be relevant for generations. By acknowledging our style but adhering to a rigorous design process we aim to create heirloom quality architecture. The experience of the inhabitant is the ultimate end of architecture. Architecture must be able to accept a patina of memories without losing its own character. We aim to create spaces that facilitate enjoyable, memorable experiences.
Photos: Amanda Kirkpatrick
Bouldin Creek Residence was designed for a young family by Silverthorn Contracting and Design along with Restructure Studio, located in an historic district of south Austin, Texas. The owner is a contractor and an interior designer as well as a mother of four. When she set out to build her dream home, she had a few design dilemmas, such as a narrow lot on a steep downslope as well as a live oak tree in the center of the property, an eroding stream (with no promise of upcoming embankment), “McMansion” regulations on home size and the needs of home schooled kids as well as a work-from-home husband. Built in 2012, the 3,695 square foot house progresses down a sloped lot, with increased heft as it goes. It has been squeezed around the oak tree in the center, and a deck wraps the tree, making it the centerpiece of the design.
“We wanted [the house] to be modern,” Gonzalez says, “but to have a vintage, industrial feel as well.” This aesthetic is best seen in the living room, where antique chairs mingle with exposed steel windows, and the herringbone floor butts up against the plaster finish of the fireplace.
The classic Rumford Fireplace pushes heat into the room and easily warms the living room and kitchen. The steel above the opening is structural, but instead of placing a veneer on top, the homeowner left it exposed, which increases the industrial feel of the space. She also wanted a mantel with presence, but that didn’t leave room for objects placed on top. This piece of salvaged wood — the tip of an old pylon dredged from the bottom of the Colorado River — worked.
The office sits at the front of the house, away from homeschool activities. The husband works from home, and here it’s quiet enough for his conference calls.
Throughout the home the owner’s used reclaimed items. The chandelier is a rewired fixture, and the exposed ceiling beams, which are structural, are salvaged wood.
In the kitchen, the countertop is comprised of Carrara marble; the cabinets are white and a light gray; and a white chandelier hangs over the island. The backsplash and hood are greenboard painted with an eggshell finish. The shelves are reclaimed wood from a former spaghetti warehouse in downtown Austin. The brackets are repurposed from the custom-built steel windows.
The basement came as an afterthought, but was an easy addition. After digging out an 8-foot section of backfill, the team built a concrete retaining wall and a set of stairs to the first floor. The raw, exposed room works well for movie nights and as a quiet space that’s separate from the first floor.
A powder room is nestled under the stairs, and to the left is the office. The doors, both salvaged, were part of the homeowner’s findings while waiting for the permits. The architect designed the openings to fit the doors; having the doors onsite made the customization easy.
At the intersection of the entryway and two flights of stairs, the main flooring elements meet. The home’s entry sits on a concrete slab, then there are steps down to a cantilevered foundation (it floats above the oak’s roots) with wood floors finished with a gray stain. The stairs are pine, stained a dark ebony.
“The second story of a home usually gets neglected,” states the homeowner, “so I wanted to do something interesting.” The hallway worked as one of those engaging spaces. Instead of leaving a narrow hallway whose sole use was for passage between rooms, the designer and architect widened the path to create a reading nook.
They also repeated the salvaged-wood beams from downstairs and installed shelving from the excess window steel. On the other side of the windows, the upper branches of the oak tree sway, adding a calming visual.
The master bedroom has sweeping views of the creek and foliage beyond; the slanted windows progress from 9 feet to 12½ feet. The bed, made from a old industrial steel grate, is the focus of the room.
Both the freestanding tub and the vanity — a converted Belgian workbench — were finds that the homeowner discovered during the long permit process. The tub she discovered as a floor model; she waited until it was being sold at a discount at the end of the season.
For now three of the kids sleep in one oversize bedroom, (the youngest is still in a crib). When framing the room, the homeowner planned on the suspended sleeping space, and she had the framers build additional support in the wall. She also added sturdy rope that connects to a ceiling truss and a ladder that also provides structural support.
The steel doors open as traditional hinged doors (for quick access in and out), but they also fold together to create open access to the outdoor areas. The homeowner wanted to be able to move the dining room table outside if she wanted to, and the custom-built accordion doors fulfill this request.
The oak takes all the focus on the deck. The homeowner hired an arborist to help with preserving the tree, and the architect designed the house to both accommodate the needs of the tree and highlight it. Downstairs the deck and three walls of glass face the trunk, and upstairs a gallery of windows looks out at the branches.
The deck and part of the home’s foundation are cantilevered, allowing the home to sit above the tree and leaving the roots undisturbed. For the decking material, the homeowner chose garapa wood, which performs like ipe but is significantly cheaper. The untreated wood has faded to coordinate with the finish of the interior flooring.
A side yard provides space for play, and a pathway of loose rocks works as a swale to guide rainwater to the creek. The home also sits on piers sunk 40 feet into the ground, something Coel engineered to prevent the home from moving due to gradual creek erosion or flooding.
Custom steel windows were built onsite and stretch from floor to ceiling. Gonzalez’s husband lives by the mantra “The more light, the better,” but since moving in, they’ve added curtains.
Photos: Michael Hsu
The site plan outlines the difficulties of designing the house. The large green circle represents the canopy of the oak tree and shows what an obstacle it was to work around. Coel made room for the tree and also managed to get city approval for moving the house closer to the street and farther from the creek.