THE SILVER AGAVE HOUSE
This design-build project creatively transformed an older house in an inner city Austin neighborhood from a small, nondescript, one story cottage into an efficient, hip, two story dwelling for a young couple to showcase their collection of art, midcentury modern furniture and furnishings.
From the beginning, existing site conditions presented significant constraints. Due to FEMA regulations, the lot’s proximity to a 100 year floodplain dictated that the addition could not extend beyond the original home’s footprint— a restriction which necessitated limiting the addition to a second floor immediately above the existing structure.
In order to preserve much of the existing street façade, the new master bedroom and bath additions on the second floor were pushed back to the rear of the house. At the front wall of the second story, a large bank of operable windows was sandwiched between the existing first floor roof and the new roof above. This wall of glass increases the openness of the second floor addition and minimizes the scale of the new two story structure. Additionally, this high bank of windows allows for a great deal of natural light and cross ventilation on the second floor, along with privacy in the master bedroom and protected views of the street below.
On the front exterior of the house, the primary design element is a large, overhanging metal roof that turns down to shelter a small ipe’ deck above the front door. Behind this distinctive form, the new loft space is located along with a new dining area on the first floor below (where the garage once stood). Separating the upper and lower floors is a continuous bank of horizontal windows that wraps the stairwell and visually separates the concrete stucco walls from the painted cement board siding above-- an architectural strategy which not only allows for even more natural light on the interior of the house, but helps to minimize the scale of the final two story home among its mostly one story neighbors.
Rather than create an attic space in the new second floor roof, ceilings on the second floor follow the slopes of the roof planes above, with windows on the second floor extending all the way up to the ceiling. While this design feature greatly complicated running ductwork inside the house, the feeling of spaciousness and the use of slightly sloping ceilings in the interior resulted in more interesting spaces and helped contribute to the midcentury feel that runs throughout the house.
An open stairway made distinctive by floating horizontal wood treads and a steel and plywood railing system with a decidedly retro feel connects the dining area with the second floor loft space above.
A tiny, compartmentalized kitchen on the first floor was gutted and remade as a spacious, up to date kitchen with a large bar that’s now completely open to the adjacent living and dining areas. Caesarstone countertops with the look of concrete separate the stained walnut upper cabinets from the sealed mdf base cabinets below. Above the bar a large open walnut shelf suspended from the ceiling conceals puck lights and mirrors the finishes and forms of the wall-mounted TV enclosure in the nearby living area. In the hallway, the existing bath was remade with all new tile, lighting, plumbing fixtures, a cantilevered sink cabinet, and a horizontal, wood-framed mirror with a concealed medicine cabinet hidden behind its sliding panels. Existing bedrooms on the first floor were retained but have all new lighting and finishes.
Midway through design, the sudden crisis in the financial system and resulting constriction of the lending market forced the clients to reduce their budget, but a careful redesign and some strategic material substitutions allowed the design team to preserve most all of the key features without compromising the integrity of the finished home.
Creative use of materials, a carefully detailed stair with open risers, strategic placement of windows, open spaces bathed in an abundance of natural light, and a dramatic new building envelope defined by multiple interlocking volumes -– all combine to create the feel of a larger, modern home that sits comfortably among its older neighbors with its own, unique style.
This project was selected for AIA Austin Homes Tour.
↑ BACK TO TOP