Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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When builder Alan Muskin asked Austin architect Jay Corder to collaborate on a custom house on a sloping lot with a giant old oak tree in front and an erosion control zone bordering one side, Corder was immediately on board. Instead of feeling hampered by the narrow lot, the busy street, the unrepentant topography, and city regulations, Corder viewed them as positives. “How can we embrace the creek,” he wondered. “How can we make our future homeowner feel that they aren’t on a busy street in the middle of town?”

A 15-foot-long entry faces a close-up view of the woods in back of the house. The exterior’s black brick wall extends into the interior accentuating one side of the central dining area and extending upwards into the second floor family room where a waxed cold-rolled steel panel floats high above the dining table but also functions as the back of the family room’s bookcase.

Interior designer Kasey McCarty specified all finishes, such as the cold rolled steel panel, and responded to the new homeowner’s request for modern furniture with comfortable seating such as Mitchell Gold leather chairs around the dining table.

Two leather “Pretty” chairs by Della Robia are just visible to the right of the fireplace in the living room. “They fit like a glove,” McCarty describes the swivel pieces that accompany a Restoration Hardware sofa and a classic Eames chair. McCarty chose a walnut Crate & Barrel dining table with a seam of Japanese butterfly joinery for the dining table.

“The house lives side to side,” says Corder. He designed a courtyard—framed by another black brick wall that terminates in the living room’s fireplace—that extends off the living room and doubles the perceived size of the room while also providing privacy from the neighbors.

Detail of living room. The rug is from David Alan Rugs.

The custom kitchen is Arete Kitchens.

McCarty chose the same white leather Cassina chairs (bar stool height) for the island that she uses at the adjacent dining table.

The Moooi pendant hangs above the dining table, which is at the end of the long entry hall.

The sculptural white oak stairway is composed of hunks of white oak.

The leather sofa in the upstairs family room has a saddle stitch detail.

Master bath with linear tile from Ann Sacks.

The pool backs up to the creek.

The pool is by Johnson Custom Pools.

The black brick, white stucco, steel, and Western red cedar two-story modernist dwelling stretches the width of the lot, a white stucco second story creating a horizontal layer over the cedar-and-glass first floor.

Three brick walls—one enclosing a front courtyard, another concealing the public area of the house, and the third defining the downstairs bedrooms, punctuate the structure.                                                                                                                                                                                        Landscape by Grieg-Percy Collaborative


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