In North Austin, Texas, sits an area that abounds with classic midcentury modern design alongside some fantastic scenery.
When first assessing this project, Architect Jay Corder of Jay Corder Architect was excited by the ‘vibe’ and saw great potential in the revitalization project. Corder, together with Project Architect Travis V. Habersaat, set about to bring this into motion.
The clients wanted to find out if keeping some or all of the existing structure was possible, but ultimately the project would be a teardown.
“I was very cognizant of wanting the house to fit the neighborhood but in a contemporary way,” said Corder, “that meant things like scale and material selections were big drivers of the design.”
Corder was was keen for the home to blend in with other modernist homes in the area. A combination of Italian brick and wood siding gives the exterior texture and warmth.
It was not entirely smooth sailing as the project came with some distinct challenges. The main floor of the house is below street level making drainage decidedly complicated.
“The existing house featured a walk-out basement to a pool so we wanted to keep that,” said Corder.
Corder and his team were able to raise the main floor of the house and thus were “able to slow runoff from the street by reducing the slope while lifting the ceiling height of the lower floor.” A bonus was that this let in an abundance of sunlight and improved the view for the clients, all without impeding the neighboring homes.
Interior Designer Rachel Mast was excited to explore how to best bring out the character of the home.
“I typically design without boundaries [at first],” said Mast, and then “walk it back” to appease the clients’ scope, budget, and personality.”
For inspiration, Mast and the clients devoured examples of similar projects online, saw different homes in person, and ultimately were able to zero in on a vision. The house needed to be modern, yet funky, luxurious and child-friendly.
“At first glance it looks like a very high-end house” said Mast, “but every material is kind of ‘bomb-proof’.” This included concrete floors downstairs, a faux suede sectional, scratch-resistant metal finishes, and custom steel furniture.
Mast prefers a minimalist approach to interior design, advising clients not to try to fill empty space in their homes but instead to avoid clutter and celebrate the empty space.
“We didn’t buy art or pieces of furniture [at first],” said Mast, instead taking four to five months to do so. This meant that mistakes could be avoided and the house would retain its open space and sense of clam.
“That’s the beauty of working with a good architect,” Mast said, revealing that she would consult with Corder throughout the design process. This resulted in a unity between the structure and the interior while always aligning with the clients’ vision for their home.
“I am most proud of the restraint, the respect of context, and the balance of practical solutions and how that all came together in a house that looks backward with one eye and forward with the other,” said Corder.
It’s “decidedly mid-century inspired,” continued Corder, “but with a fresh expression… and an extremely refined material palette and detailing.”
Photos by Dror Baldinger