Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
In PrintIn StyleIn BooksIn MediaIn the KnowIn House


A house designed by AlterStudio on a jaggedly shaped lot on Sugar Shack Drive in Austin is a reminder that building challenges can result in wonderful structures. There is a major cliff on the site as well as mature live oaks. Kevin Alter refers to these issues as “opportunities” and the house he and partners Tim Whitehill and Ernest Cragnolino created fits its site like the missing piece in a puzzle.

The steel-, cement- and fumed oak residence building is modern in style with angles that accommodate floor-to-ceiling windows for best viewing the landscape.

The living space is just beyond the entry and is furnished with a mix of new and vintage pieces. The ’60s-era sofa belonged to one of the homeowner’s grandmothers, and has since been reupholstered in a navy velvet geometric print. Full-length glass windows slide open to the courtyard.

Much of the home’s storage is discreetly hidden, sometimes right in plain sight: A closet is concealed behind a floor-to-ceiling panel of black waxed steel in the living room.

The homeowners didn’t need a formal dining room but still wanted a special space for dining that’s set apart from the open-concept kitchen and living room. A plush banquette was a way to make the dining space special.

The kitchen boasts a glass backsplash and a pantry tucked away behind a door next to the glass sliding doors. A vertical steel stripe on the left wall holds all light switches, and a panel on the ceiling is where all the lighting is clustered.

A window wall keeps the stair well light and bright.

The master is at the back of the house where it’s secluded from the street.

Fumed oak slats mimic the slats in the stairwell window.

The structure juxtaposes modern, clean lines with abstract shapes.



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