A previous remodel to a 1954 ranch-style home in Austin, Texas, had resulted in disjointed spaces, poor circulation, and awkwardly proportioned rooms. New owners brought in Furman + Keil Architects to create a design to suit their needs.
We chatted with Philip Keil, principal, and a member of the design team for the project, to find out more.
Do you have any details on the client brief?
The new owners challenged FKA to create a design that established a sense of cohesiveness and order, reflecting their personalities through a feeling of openness, natural light, warmth of materials, and providing contemporary spaces for daily living and congregating with family and friends.
The owners were seeking overall value and unique architectural elements that made the home elegant in design and function. The team’s design strategy provided value by keeping the majority of the existing structure, with the added second floor program stacking directly over the existing garage.
What do you think was so special about this period in design?
The Midcentury period was a good period for single family residences – the better examples of midcentury design have a lasting appeal that still seems relevant today, with a more appealing aesthetic than suburban homes from later eras.
The clean rooflines and formal simplicity of midcentury homes make them good candidates for remodels and additions, if the additions can respond to the horizontality and low-slung nature of the original house.
What do you know about the original architect who designed the house?
We don’t know the architect of the original house – it may be a “builder home” built from a stock floor plan.
What were your challenges for this project?
It was a challenge dealing with the awkward spatial qualities of the earlier additions. The original L-shaped portion of the house remodeled easily, but reconciling the clunky additions and making spatial sense of the flow through the house was challenging.
What was the house like previously?
The 1954 ranch style home had undergone a previous remodel and addition in 2001 which resulted in disjointed spaces, poor circulation, and awkwardly proportioned rooms. The new plan reorganizes the circulation around a central kitchen as a hub of social activity, clearly delineating public and private spaces and improving the flow of the house.
Careful consideration was given to creating separate groupings for conversation, TV viewing, music, games, and other entertainment.
What in your opinion are the best features of the home?
A wood ceiling plane was utilized as an organizing device in the design; connecting lower ceilings at the front of the house which make for more intimate gathering areas, and taller ceilings with differentiated materials in the rear of the house that strengthen the physical connection to the back yard, pool, and views to the south.
A new screened porch allows for the home to be opened to the breezes coming up the hill to the back of the house for natural ventilation. Capturing and preserving views of the nearby Taylor Slough evokes the sense of being immersed in the natural wooded setting of this central west Austin property.
Most of the house has relatively modest detailing, but more intensive detailing was used to selectively emphasize certain connections. White oak millwork and honed limestone walls define the core of the house, while steel and white oak screens at the dining room, entry and stairwell emphasize movement and filter light into the heart of the house.
Honed limestone walls and porches anchor the home to the ground, while the existing tree canopy allows for diffused light throughout the day and gives privacy to public spaces throughout the house, contributing to the play of shadows on the walls detailed with a custom rhythm of Hardi-board siding.
Photos by Clay Grier