Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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MELLOWER THAN EVER

COUNTDOWN TO AIA AUSTIN HOMES TOUR, Oct. 25 & 26!

“My clients were very interested in having their house look really minimal,” says Austin architect Mell Lawrence about a house in he designed in Westlake Hills for an arts-minded couple.  Lawrence explains that the 83-year-old client and his wife are big fans of Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center, designed by architect Renzo Piano. As a result, their new house—a series of three pavilions—is sculpture-like, with emphasis on form and esthetics. The owners’ agenda was so strict that even furniture was kept at a minimum, and there isn’t even any art on the walls. This is one of those rare cases when the architecture is enough.

You can see this house on the AIA Austin Homes Tour, Oct 25 & 26.

To learn more, see my article in the Fall issue of Modern Luxury’s INTERIORS TEXAS.

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The kitchen in the 5000-square-foot house is just beyond the front door and has the spacious, light-filled quality required for viewing great art. “This kitchen is for looking at,” says Lawrence. And that is actually pretty important, because the kitchen is the centerpiece of 2500-square-foot room: “It is what people end up viewing from the dining table.” Appearances can be deceiving though, because this kitchen is fully equipped to do what it’s supposed to do. “Everything—including the microwave, refrigerator, and laundry room—is concealed inside the white oak-clad boxy pantry that also looks like a big piece of sculpture. The owners can shut the pantry door and never have to look at the realities of cooking, which is fine because architect Mell Lawrence has made it easy for them to concentrate on something else.

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The immaculate space is defined by a Bulthaup island and cabinetry.

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The precisely constructed eight-foot-by-four-foot charcoal grey laminate island looks a lot like a Donald Judd stainless steel cube, except that there is a barely visible stove top and drawers with a place for every item that might otherwise be cluttering up counter tops.

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There is also no place to sit: For a very modern space, the intention ends up being quite old-fashioned. “Food is prepared in the kitchen,” says Lawrence, “and then everyone eats at the dining table.”

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Furniture in the living room is from Scott + Cooner.

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Views in the living room range from the city skyline to intimate views of the landscape.

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Limestone inside and out is charcoal Lueders split face from Continental Cut Stone in Florence, Texas.

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Lawrence used white oak on the floors, walls, and cabinetry.

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The bedroom pavilion overlooks a sea of native grass, the only thing that’s fluffy about this project.

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A high band of windows runs throughout the house, admitting soft light; support piers punctuate the windows along the way.

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Transparent hallways contrast with the solidity of the pavilions.

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The interior courtyard.

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The homeowners are admirers of the Nasher Sculpture Garden and have managed to foster the effect in their own home of living inside a piece of sculpture.

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Concrete harmonizes with the Lueders limestone and is used throughout for patios and passageways.

BUILDER: J. Pinnelli Company

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA CALO

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