Thursday, April 20, 2017

Travis Heights Project Wraps Up

Our Travis Heights project has wrapped up, and was recently featured on the Curbed Austin website here. Visit us again soon to read more about the project!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Une Petite Maison -- the AIA Homes Tour

It's been over a year since my last post on the project, and we've been happily living in the house since last September.  It was featured recently in a article, and will be on the AIA Austin Homes Tour, Nov. 2-3.

The front porch was finished off with an end-of-project splurge-- Kyle Gordon of KG Stone delivered some travertine pavers reclaimed from the LBJ Library remodel, and we laid them over the existing and new concrete.

Roger and Paul Wintle of Texas Trim did a fantastic job on all of the cabinets and trim work.  Paul practically lived at the house for about six weeks, and was happy to move on when I stopped asking him to build "just one more cabinet."  Jeff Bennett stepped in to help with the office cabinets and the kitchen butcher block.  Paul's "piece-de-resistance" is featured in the new dining room/library-- a full-height wall of bookshelves.

Paul and I collaborated to design the "wood tiled wall," which is composed of ripped-down panels of maple plywood attached in a running bond pattern (which echoes the travertine on the front porch).  Rafael Gamez, our excellent painter, came up with the whitewash finish.  The "Gransuite" can be seen through the open doorway.

The boys' old bedroom and bathroom have been converted to provide a peaceful guest suite for visitors.


Decorum Stone provided the Hanstone countertops at the kitchen island.  The look complements the "Healing Aloe" paint color (Benjamin Moore) that Ashley picked for the cabinets.

The wood butcher block countertop is from IKEA.  Groove Glass fabricated the steel frame for the stair guardrail, and Nick Bell installed the maple panels.  The original white oak floors were refinished, and new flooring was laid over the kitchen's original pine.

A barn door under the stair leads to a new office, which overlooks the backyard.  We carved out some space in the hallway for a "family locker" system.

A door off of the office leads to a new laundry room.

Paul Wintle built the new media cabinet in the family room.  The master bedroom is one of the few rooms that wasn't changed during the project (though we did add a couple of bookshelves and a new dresser).

The hall upstairs has a cutout window that looks down into the dining room.

We salvaged quite a bit of the original longleaf pine from interior walls and ceilings, and re-used it as flooring in the boys' bedrooms.  The two rooms are divided by back-to-back closets, and can be closed off from the hall by a large barn door.

We were able to design a cozy nook above the vaulted dining room ceiling-- it's a perfect reading spot for Beckett.

The corner windows bring in plenty of light, and are another nice spot to perch.

Many years ago, I promised the boys a "Scooby Doo" bookcase.  We finally had a chance to design it.  The bookcase rolls aside on skateboard wheels to reveal the hidden music room.

The bathroom has good light and a simple palette of glass tile in two colors (from Hakatai).

There's still a bit of landscaping to do, but hopefully everything will be in place by the weekend of November 2nd/3rd-- come visit us on the AIA Austin Homes Tour!  Thanks to everyone who put in so much time and effort on the project (and thanks to Patrick Wong and Whit Preston for the great photographs).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mid-century Modern Makeover

Lloyd and Kirsten first contacted me in 2008 about a remodel to their house north of Hyde Park in Austin.  As the discussions progressed, the economy worsened, and the project was put on hold.  Eventually they sold the house and moved 2 miles south to Hyde Park proper.  We had kept in touch intermittently, and in 2011 we sat down again to discuss plans for this house.  Built in 1950, the house had some inherent mid-century charm and good flow.  An addition, however, had been poorly done sometime in the 70s-- it was out of level, uninspiring, and made no connection to the backyard.

poorly designed addition, before remodel

The addition connected the living area to the kitchen, and Lloyd and Kirsten wanted to remodel the entire space.  The main goals for the project were to open up the living area to the dining area/lounge, and open the lounge to the outdoors.

interior of dining/lounge, before remodel

We widened the opening between the living room and the dining room, keeping the existing doorway but cutting out a portion of the adjacent wall.  In order to still give a bit of separation and privacy from the street, we added a screen of vertical wood slats.

We also leveled the floors in the dining room and lounge, and added new oak flooring.  New windows and a sliding patio door bring in the light and give the house a nice connection to the new deck and lawn area.  We took advantage of a strange offset in the wall framing to create a continuous wood picture ledge on one wall.

Kirsten sourced some Eichler siding for the wall separating the lounge and the kitchen, and painted it a cool grey-green color which nicely offsets the warm maple cabinetery and the Heywood-Wakefield dining set.

The kitchen was outdated and needed some modern inspiration.

kitchen, before remodel

Kirsten and Lloyd chose a muted mosaic tile to use as a backsplash and the entire back wall of the kitchen.  Cork floors give a nice feel underfoot.

Thanks to the perseverance and great taste of Lloyd and Kirsten, and the excellent work done by contractor John Edmond, the project is a success!  Additional thanks to Whit Preston for the great photos.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Southern Gothic - a Halloween Post

It was a dark and stormy night, the wind howling outside the studio as I hunched over my drawing board.  A faint "tap-tap-tap" broke my concentration, and I looked up to see two spectral figures illuminated by the gaslight outside the front door.  I recognized them as neighbors and welcomed them inside.  After a restorative toddy, they related their tale of woe...

They resided with their two sons in a South Austin bungalow that had seen better days.  The ceiling was falling into the kids' bedroom, and to use the bathroom was truly to commune with nature.  They needed more room and a drastic remodel of their house was in order.  Could I help? 

It was a perplexing riddle, until I became aware of the clients' deep and abiding adoration of Halloween.  To these neighbors, All Hallows Eve was like Christmas, the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving combined.  One word was all the inspiration I needed: Beetlejuice!

We decided to give the non-descript bungalow some Southern Gothic style.  One of the goals of the project was to add a couple of bedrooms upstairs for the boys.  By giving the roof a steeper pitch and adding some dormers, we were able to gain space on the second floor without building an entire second floor.  The stairs would go inside a tower with a widow's walk above it.

 It was an enjoyable project to work on, and Melynn Mayfield (my intern at the time) had fun with the renderings.  Alas, funding became an issue and the design was put on hold.  Hopefully someday we'll be able to see the project through construction... until then, Happy Halloween!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Une Petite Maison -- All Dried In

After the framing was completed and the wall sheathing and roof decking installed, we were ready to install the windows.  All of the new windows are Andersen 100 Series, with a few exceptions.  The 100 Series is a composite vinyl window made of recycled material.  On the north side of the house downstairs, we were required by code to use aluminum-clad windows since our house sits over the setback (a fire concern, apparently).  The corner windows are custom aluminum windows made by Joe Gaspard at Groove Glass.  Joe and I have worked on quite a few projects together, including the Yaspar Residence and the Zilker Treehouse.

Prior to siding, the metal roof was installed.  Ed Hayes of ATX Metal Roofing installed a galvalume snap-lock (hidden fastener system) metal roof, which looks great.  I've worked with Ed on a number of projects in the past, and he and Joe Hopkins (framing) worked well together.  We had hoped to reuse some of the old metal panels that came off the carport, but in the end it was easier to go with new panels, so we gave the old roofing material to our concrete crew.

Shortly after the siding started, the framing crew had to leave town for Nebraska.  I had hoped to have the siding finished before they left, but it had to wait until just a few days ago, after a 2-week break.  We have two different sizes of smooth hardi plank siding-- a 4" exposure to match the back of the house, and an 8"exposure.  Unfortunately I came home one day to find that the entire second story had been clad in the 8" exposure (which is not the way it was drawn up).  I was concerned it would make the house look a bit top-heavy, but in the interest of keeping things rolling I let it slide.  I think it will look fine once it's all painted.

We passed our rough inspections with flying colors and were ready to insulate.  Felix de Leon and Done Right Insulation stapled cocoon-like sheeting over the framing prior to blowing in rockwool insulation.  It made the whole house look like it was covered with a spiderweb.

The roof insulation is open cell foam, sprayed out of a hose connected to a machine in the truck outside.  Haz mat suits not strictly required, but recommended due to the adhesive nature of the foam...

The open cell foam expands to fill the rafter cavities.  Besides insulating against heat gain, it's a good acoustical insulation as well.

Here's a view into the front room, over the stack of sheetrock awaiting RC Brown's drywall crew.  Beckett had some fun climbing on and over the obstacle...

In this photo you can see the "rockwool" insulation in the wall cavity and the open cell foam at the roof.  At this point, I am way behind in posting progress photos... so will try to catch up in the next couple of days, since the project should be wrapping up in about 4 weeks.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Une Petite Maison - Concrete Pour

I'm a few weeks behind but wanted to post some photos of the concrete pour.  There are some mistakes in residential construction that are relatively easy to fix... concrete, not so easy.  So I was a little bit worried.  The concrete subcontractor had the forms up quickly for the laundry room addition, but I noticed it seemed a little small.  Yep, 9'x6' instead of 9'x9'.  They had to dig another beam trench and reset the rebar.

Once that was corrected, they formed up the front porch extension.  I checked the dimensions the evening before the concrete pour and-- oops-- 2' too long.  Fortunately they were able to correct that before the concrete truck showed up the next day.  Once the truck arrived, it sat across the street for a few minutes, growing a "tail"...

When the chute was sufficiently long, the truck backed up the driveway as the concrete crew used a 2x8 to lift branches out of the way.  Once the truck was in place, they directed the chute over the porch formwork.

Then the driver let 'er rip, and the mix started to fill the formwork as the workers aided the flow over the rebar and compacted it.

I went upstairs for a bird's-eye view...

After the porch was done, the truck backed up a little more to access the laundry room formwork.  It didn't take long to complete the pour, after which the workers spent some time smoothing it out with steel trowels.  I had spent some time earlier laying out the anchor bolt placement and marking it on the formwork-- the anchor bolts are J-shaped bolts that get placed in the concrete with about 2" sticking up from the top of the slab.  Once the slab cures, the sole plate (framing bottom plate) is marked for the bolt locations, drilled, and placed over the bolts.  Washers and nuts tighten the plate down to the slab.

This was more of a concern though.  The photo above shows the T-shaped steel plates I designed to connect the porch posts (Douglas fir 8x8s) to the concrete porch.  Two of the plates were expansion bolted into the existing porch, but the other two had to be set in the right location.  Fortunately I was there because the concrete contractor initially set them rotated 90 degrees, a mistake that I caught and corrected right away.  The next step was to notch the columns, which the framers did with an electric chain saw.  Then the columns were slipped over the steel plates and through-bolted (the plates were pre-drilled).  

It ought to hold up just fine-- the columns sit about 2" above the porch to minimize potential damage from rot.  Each plate weighs about 20 pounds and is welded out of 1/2" steel plate.  Next up, more framing, windows and roofing...