A Transitional Austin Residence with Eclectic Influences

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Transitional White Great Room with Red Area Rug

Discussions ensued about renovating the “old” house, with the couple vetoing any big changes. “The house was finished out fairly traditionally,” says Clark, who quickly went to work on the redesign with project architect Scott Ginder. The new homeowners’ sensibilities were more modern, but the fix Clark suggested was an easy one: “We changed all the surfaces—such as countertops and paint colors,” he says, “but the bones of the house remained intact.”

Transitional Limestone and Stucco Exterior with Curated Landscape

Architect Dick Clark left the limestone and stucco exterior of the house intact but topped it with a new roof. Bigger changes were evoked with the landscaping by Rick Scheen, of LandWest Design Group in Austin, who replaced the existing plantings with a sward of plush Palisades Zoysia.

Contemporary Neutral Kitchen with Granite Backsplash

In the kitchen, the sculptural lines of the Gaggenau hood look dramatic against the absolute black of the granite countertops and backsplash from Austin’s Architectural Tile and Stone. A Grohe faucet presides at the custom teak island where black leather barstools from Twentieth in Los Angeles encourage conversation.

Transitional White Dining Room with Walnut-and-Blackened-Steel Table

An ebonized walnut and blackened-steel dining table from Profiles in New York is surrounded by black imbuia chairs upholstered in chocolate leather from Moura Starr, also in New York. A custom chandelier from Wes Lane casts a starry glow, while a Roberto Dutesco print from his Wild Horses of Sable Island series adds artistic flavor.

Transitional Neutral Pool with Pavillion

Scheen minimized superfluity in the backyard, trimming and grooming trees, adding potted plants and bolstering the few existing tropical species with added numbers. Dallas’ David Sutherland provided all of the outdoor furniture for optimum relaxation.

Transitional White Bedroom with Tufenkian Rug

A cozy, leather and wood bed from A. Rudin sets the stage in the master bedroom. The bench at the foot of the bed joins the three-drawer nightstands from Moura Starr in providing a feeling of symmetry to the space. A neutral Tufenkian rug and linens from Lee Jofa bring luxury to the forefront.

Contemporary Neutral Bathroom with Glass Tile Wall

Walker Zanger glass tile on the wall—stacked unexpectedly on its side to create a bamboo-like pattern—mimics the backyard foliage visible through the window. Teak cabinetry topped with polished marble from Austin-based Moe Freid and a wall of mirrors provide an extra hint of glamour. All fixtures are from Dornbracht.

As Dick Clark will certainly tell you, there’s a first time for everything. In his over 30 years as an architect in Austin, “This is the first time I’ve renovated a house that I had originally designed,” he says of the “Texas meets Tuscany meets Frank Lloyd Wright” dwelling that he placed on its premier lot over 10 years ago. “You can’t help but notice it,” he insists, which is precisely how his clients felt. After asking Clark to design a new house from the ground up, the couple did an unexpected about-face when the architect ferried them on the customary tour of his past projects.

When they walked into the limestone, stucco and glass stunner, “they fell in love,” recalls Clark. It’s obvious why: A window-lined front gallery stretches across the width of the living room, channeling guests to the vast cathedral-ceilinged room or to the double-height dining room to the right. A screened-in porch and deck just beyond provide a place for pleasant conversation in cool seclusion. And at the back of the house, a tree-shaded pool and dining pavilion promised opportunities for total relaxation. The house was exactly what the busy couple was looking for. And though it wasn’t for sale at the time, it soon—and conveniently for Clarks’ clients—hit the market, and they quickly nabbed it.

Discussions ensued about renovating the “old” house, with the couple vetoing any big changes. “The house was finished out fairly traditionally,” says Clark, who quickly went to work on the redesign with project architect Scott Ginder. “The rooms were painted green and brown, and handcrafted hardware and light fixtures gave the rooms a lodge-like feel.” The new homeowners’ sensibilities were more modern, but the fix Clark suggested was an easy one: “We changed all the surfaces—such as countertops and paint colors,” he says, “but the bones of the house remained intact.”

It was at this point that the couple turned to Suzi Dunn, a designer who works in Clark’s firm, to bring the home’s palatial scale down to a more human level. “I was already familiar with the house having worked on it before,” says Dunn, “and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it again.” Since the homeowners had already tossed out most of their own furniture—with the exception of their collections of fine art and glass—everyone was looking forward to starting over. “Our clients are very sure of their tastes,” notes Dunn. “They understood immediately that the house has good bones. They also felt—as I did—that there was so much texture everywhere, they didn’t want the furniture to compete.”

In the living room, Dunn opted for sleek sofas and low-slung ottomans so as not to distract from the statement-making limestone block fireplace. But while Dunn opted for furniture that is subtle and unfussy, she splurged in an unobtrusive way. “The upholstery—suede in an ethereal champagne hue—is pure luxe,” she says. Color makes a striking appearance in the form of a vivid red Tufenkian rug that anchors the space.

In the master suite, glamorous materials—such as the cream leather-upholstered headboard, camel leather Holly Hunt bench at the foot of the bed, cranberry-red quilted silk bed cover, and white and beige patchwork silk curtains—don’t overwhelm in a room that is otherwise understated in volume, size and color. “Even though the homeowners’ tastes lean toward the understated,” notes Dunn, “I felt that we could get a lot of mileage from wonderful fabrics and colors without seeming too excessive.”

If there is a place where outright luxury has a legitimate foothold, it’s in the backyard, where agave and sago palms flourish next to well-groomed live oaks. The homeowners asked Rick Scheen, of LandWest Design Group in Austin, to “clean up” the backyard, knowing from previous experience working with Scheen that he is committed to creating landscapes that complement their architectural setting. “They wanted a backyard oasis,” he notes, so Scheen added lushness in the form of agapanthus, lilies and spider lilies, and corrected grade and drainage problems by building up lawn and beds with healthy soil. “Before,” says Scheen, “this yard looked like no one ever went out there.”

Now, the landscape is an ever-present part of the homeowners’ daily lives—either as the main view from living room and kitchen, or as a cool retreat from Texas heat. And, it makes Clark feel good, too. “I’ve always liked that house,” he says. “I’m glad the new owners are there and having so much fun. I like to see a house I designed being enjoyed.”

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