While last weekend was certainly one during which Laurenthehobbyist needed to be here in Austin, being the architect amongst the hobbyist family, you couldn’t miss the opportunity to see what people have done with amazing design-build projects around the gorgeous hills surrounding this lovely city. And so I set off, to take in as much of the Modern Home Tour Austin as I could…Without promising that my eyes picked up on all of the cantilevered details of the projects that I saw over the Modern Home Tour, the overall aesthetics of working with this paysage and the light that we experience daily in Austin definitely come through – not to mention the sheer pleasure of learning what people select for their art collections and getting a glimpse of they choose to live amongst these works.
The Modern Home Tour Austin is a remarkable feat when you think of the leap of faith that people take in opening up their doors simply for the sake of giving us a glimpse of what they have worked so hard to put together – but, which is, nonetheless, their home. Being someone who loves to host people yet, who is not incongruously someone who is nonetheless relatively private, and in particular, one who holds close her “preciouses” – those paintings, sculpture and books that have been painstakingly hoarded from around the world – I know this to be true: it would take a truly charming team to convince me to open my doors. Which is what I am sure the MHT ATX team must have in spades because these homes are truly stunning and something their owners must relish. To truly appreciate them, I didn’t do the whole list – but rather chose to do a few homes to do well and really get to know them.
First home up: 701 West Elizabeth
This house was such an interesting example of a way to build out privacy and light in a relatively close-knit neighbourhood. It also proved how it was possible to design a beautiful place to showcase art without much square footage – but by doing it right, with the right wallspace and light exposure, and of course proper lines from the critical points in the house.
Next up: 1119 Redbud Trail
What couldn’t you do with this house? Jay Hargrave designed and built this house from its initial bones of 900 sq feet and an existing pool. Built into the hills west of central Austin, this house is truly breathtaking. One of those structures where, even aside from its gorgeous location and Austin’s own spectacular lighting at the right times, the possibilities are endless…
As an example, what couldn’t you do from an office like this…? Exactly.
The infinity pool (shown in the first picture above) has been built in to really take the centre stage of the property on first glance – but on closer inspection, each room has been built and designed to truly speak for itself. The bones of the original 900 sq ft house still form a key part of the heart of the house – but it’s been built out to allow the couple who live here to really expand their lives within it.
Last home of the day: 4502 Balcones Drive
The front living room / library that you see jutting out from the photo below was a truly stunning room, situated to look out over the beautifully oaked, hilly countryside in front, while also providing the perfect canvas for a stunning metal bookshelf and some striking art set against well designed furniture pieces.
The architect of the Balcones Drive house, Elizabeth Alford, deserves all of the respect that she has received for this house. Her Balcones house was featured on the 2011 AIA Austin Homes Tour and featured in Tribeza Magazine in October. Elizabeth is a principal in Pollen Architecture & Design with her husband, Michael Young, and partner, Dason Whitsett. Their 12th Street Studios’ project received the AIA Austin Honor Award in 2009, and the UT Austin 2007 Student Architecture Award. The project was published in Architectural Record Magazine in July 2007 and Detail Magazine in 2010.
This house was stunning, with such a beautiful integration of all of the elements around it. A large portion of the one side of the house was built out to use the outdoor space – the outdoor fireplace and yard – with the glass windows structured to slide back to enjoy the fresh air and open up the living space. One of the things that you can love most about a climate like this is precisely that: being able to enjoy your house with a full fresh flow of air in February while looking out onto your garden. Complimented only perhaps by the smell of the bbq in the early evening.
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