Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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INTO THE TREES
A 1955-era ranch house in Austin designed by the venerable firm Page Southerland Page received a major renovation by architect Scott Specht. The architect—who has offices in Austin, Dallas, and New York—added a new second level that cantilevers over the original limestone-clad base and transforms the single-story residence into a 5,500-square-foot dwelling with four bedrooms and five baths.

A catalyzed finish (a coating that dries by evaporation, acting much like lacquer) was used for the cabinetry under the stairs.

Porcelain-colored tile are on the floors in the kitchen and bathrooms. The spacious kitchen has built-in storage; serving-windows set at countertop-height open out onto the pool terrace and entertaining area.

A staircase from the double-height entry hall leads to the living area on the new upper level.

Shou-sugi-ban sections of the facade extend into the interior to become accent walls.

The main living/media room on the upper level overlooks the double-height entryway. Large windows open up the interiors by creating double-height spaces that draw light into the middle sections of the house.

Detail of stairwell wall. The surrounding cladding of charred cypress prevents glare from the surrounding windows and adds a textural counterpoint.

Large overhangs provide shade at all times of the day. The owners decorated their interiors using pieces such as George Nelson benches from their own mid-century furniture collection.

Wrapped in frameless glass set atop a continuous planter wall, the upper level looks out to the trees and beyond.

A master bedroom with large glass walls looks out to the pool. Floors are white oak.

The pool and entertainment area are new.

The project presented architect Specht and his team with the dilemma of how to merge preservation with change. The team retained the existing limestone perimeter wall, using it as a plinth to support the new second level. To circumvent the costs of new piers, the architects chose not expand the house’s footprint, but instead to cantilever the new second level out from the existing structure. The strategy gives the house a distinctive dynamic expression.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CASEY DUNN

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