C O N T E N T Architecture has designed the Southampton Residence, a modern brownstone renovation for first time homeowners recently transplanted to Houston, Texas from Chicago. The young family wanted their brick house to be designed as a modern interpretation of their beloved brownstone as viewed from the street, high ceilings and no visible roof surface.
Developed to maximize the size of the house while taking into consideration deed restrictions and internal views, the volume responds to the massing of neighboring homes and is carved to allow light from multiple directions in each room. Four bedrooms, three and a half baths and generous living spaces face onto a courtyard that is intended for a future swimming pool.
Sectional differences further serve to relate the program to the site by connecting the kitchen and guest suite to the exterior, elevating the living room above the court, raising the kid’s bedrooms into the tree canopy and sequestering the master suite in the rear of the lot.
Designed on a full brick module to limit material waste, materials shift to glass, cast stone, or wood where the masses are carved out. Spray foam insulation and a commercial grade air conditioning system discreetly and efficiently control the interior climate while the highest rated glass assists to limit the energy impact of the large windows.
Photos: Peter Molick
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.
Main Street House is a sensational multi-story modern property that has been designed by Robertson Design, situated in Houston, Texas. This residence is prominently situated at the convergence of two major streets and fronts the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, which has wings designed by Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Moneo. Formally, the house is composed of three volumes, which create a u-shaped courtyard to the rear. This courtyard, which is the heart of the building, is connected to the life of the Museum District through the large, fully glazed walls of the living room.
Photos: Benjamin Hill Photography
Blanco Residence is an existing stone barn conversion that has been renovated into a main house by Jackson & McElhaney Architects in the Austin, Texas Hill County. The residence is comprised of 3,200 square feet of living space. The second floor of the barn, once a hay loft, became an open space encompassing the living room and kitchen, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the first floor. Dormers added to the north and south roof walls provide ventilation and offer views of the Hill Country.
The barn and studio are connected by an angled screened porch, which pivots at a large live oak tree. The screened porch follows the outline of the barn’s gambrel roof with a steel frame. A catwalk near the tree offers a direct path between living room and studio. A folding glass wall on the living room side, and French doors at the studio, provide natural ventilation.
This project required sensitivity to both the natural environment and the historic barn. Where possible, we left the original barn materials (stone, wood and tin) exposed, and tried to keep the material palette for the new structures complementary.
Photos: Courtesy of Jackson & McElhaney Architects
Matthews Residence is a modern dwelling that has been designed by Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects, situated in Austin, Texas. The home is nestled on a long rectangular lot, which was inspiration for the homes basic geometry. The home was the result of a long design process that began as a house for the architect and his family and then evolved with the sale of the lot to a developer. Like all of the speculative work that the architecture firm has completed, this house was designed as if it was for a real client, rather than taking a “middle of the road” approach.
The site’s slope and alley gave inspiration to the location of the half-basement garage and multi-level organization. The desire to open up to a large Oak tree and view on the west side gave rise to the large overhang the windows. This home is a 5 Star Austin Energy rated house.
Photos: Courtesy of Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects
The Deep Eddy Residence is a modern single family home designed by Baldridge Architects in an older neighborhood in west Austin, Texas. The owners, a couple, wished to create a modern refuge and to regain some of the privacy they had previously enjoyed prior to the construction of a looming residence immediately to the west and uphill from their home. In their words, they felt as if they lived in a fishbowl.
Built in the worst part of the “great recession”, the particulars of the design shifted and moved with the exigencies of the budget. The house features fully customized detailing and constitutes a truly green project featuring natural ventilation throughout, a sod roof, foam insulation, insulated 8″ walls throughout, low VOC paint, pine floors, etc. Moreover, we featured an adaptive and organic design process where subsequent design gestures were routinely questioned and tweaked, often using the spoils from earlier construction to achieve elegant and unexpected results.
The 2,500 square foot home provides an open and light environment for its owners, featuring dramatic views of downtown Austin, while addressing the concerns about privacy and drainage. Despite its stark modern lines, the home “fits” in the neighborhood in both context and scale. Most of the exterior is covered in Corten steel.
Kitchen counters made of hot rolled steel, a concrete floor and a stairway built from off-the-shelf lumber provided low-cost modernism.
What was going to be a stone wall in the screened porch is now economical white pine. The fireplace surround was made of steel left over when architects built the window frames.
A tree-house home office and studio.
Warm materials like a steel countertop balance the modern form of the building.
The architects installed clerestory windows and glass railings to maintain the airiness of the central double-height space. On the level below the TV area, screen doors open onto an “outdoor living room.”
Narrow windows maintain privacy on the side of the home facing a neighbor’s three-story house. On the other side, the facade is mostly glass.
Street-front of the Deep Eddy Residence, featuring its sod roof front yard.
Hacienda Ja Ja is a LEED-Platinum home nestled beneath a canopy of live oak trees, designed by Lake Flato Architects, in Alamo Heights, Texas. The 2,328 square foot property is to scale with its neighbors, offering porches that allow its residents to easily engage with activity on the street. Spaces wrap around a small courtyard to maximize natural lighting and ventilation distributed throughout via tall glazings and high ceilings. High-performance features include details like the variety of floors made of polished fly-ash-content concrete, locally sourced stone, engineered wood and locally sourced wood siding installed as a rainscreen system.
Carefully sited to preserve and to protect the live oaks, to promote cross-ventilation and to maximize natural daylighting, the home is also designed to avoid solar thermal gain during the summer and capture passive solar heating during the winter.
Rainwater is collected from the roofs and stored in a below-ground 6,000-gallon tank; during most of the year, captured rain water will supplant domestic water for all landscape irrigation needs.
Photos: Frank Ooms
Lakeside Retreat is a relaxed weekend getaway designed by Lake|Flato Architects, on a compact sloping site along Horseshoe Bay, Texas. The design of the residence was informed by its compact sloping site, close proximity to neighbors, and direct waterfront access. Aided by the fall of the terrain, the house’s one-story profile from the street conceals a transparent two-story lake facade opening to the primary views. Cantilevered porches offset the bermed structure of the main house with a lighter, floating tree house effect. The southern screened porch, coupled with landscaping, offers protective privacy from neighbors while permitting cooling breezes and daylight.
The composite palette includes hardy materials such as native Texas Lueders limestone, cedar, and steel; simple, brightly painted interior surfaces and millwork; and individual expression demonstrated through custom-designed hardware, fixtures, and furnishings.
Contributing to the casual atmosphere and occupant comfort are right-sized spaces for both large and small gatherings, modern efficiencies such as the lake-based geothermal HVAC system, and the family’s commitment to outdoor living and dining embodied in the lofty screened porch.
The abundant use of native materials and passive and active design strategies has led to the award of LEED certification.
Photos: Frank Ooms Photography