An English Country-Style Austin Estate with Expansive Garden Landscape


Neutral Country Exterior with Stone Facade

Since according to Travis, the landscaping embodies the spirit of a lush English country estate, the architecture was constructed to do the same. The exterior offers a classic stone façade with a deeply pitched roof and rows of dormers and steel windows that suggest the leaded glass windows in traditional cottages.

Eclectic Neutral Living Room with Bay Window

In the living room, the low-slung A. Rudin sofa and 1920s iron benches, covered in a Clarence House leopard print, overlook the formal gardens. Rose Tarlow’s Emile leather club chair swivels to join the conversation, and a dramatic fireplace screen by Philip Nimmo Ironworks adds a modern touch.

Cream Country Office with Glass and Steel Doors

In the wife’s office, a round Archetype pendant light from Boyd Lighting plays off the grid of the floor-to-ceiling glass and steel doors. A hooked rug from Carol Piper Rugs conveys upbeat femininity.

Neutral Country Kitchen with Breakfast Island

Belgian interior design books inspired the kitchen’s palette. For depth, cabinets were layered with three different Farrow & Ball paints, and the CaesarStone countertops complement the Waterworks tiles that sheath the backsplash. Urban Archaeology pendants hang over the island and its Peter Alexander barstools.

Country White Foyer with Dormer-Style Windows

Natural light floods the two-story entry gallery where modern dormer-style windows provide the second-floor landing with a garden view. The contemporary Formations hanging lantern and Christian Liaigre sconces contrast with the old-world feel of the carved wood stools from Tara Shaw and the Dessin Fournir mirror.

Contemporary White Office with Garden Views

The husband mixes business with pleasure in his personal office, with help from the Therien & Company game table and a comfortable, red leather sofa from Dakota Jackson. Gregorius Pineo’s iron Midlands chandelier harmonizes beautifully with the dark steel of the window mullions.

Neutral Country Loggia with Large Arched Openings

Large arched openings, an iron chandelier from Rose Tarlow and a vintage pub sign over the fireplace from Antique Swan lend English Country style to the pool loggia. Local rough-hewn Granbury stone was handworked to achieve a refined look on the exterior of the house.

Contemporary White Bathroom with Ribbon Pendant Light

In the master bathroom, the Waterworks tub is the ultimate spot for relaxation, thanks to its careful positioning in regards to the view and its soothing backdrop, courtesy of countertops by Architectural Tile & Stone. AXO’s ribbon pendant light provides drama overhead.

Country Cream Master Suite with Office Nook

A Jan Showers desk paired with a Therien & Company armchair in the master suite provides a contemplative nook; a pair of A. Rudin club chairs, upholstered in a hand-screened cotton velvet, do the same. The Dessin Fournir bed and Cameron Collection lamps ground the tall space.

It’s not unusual for architects to be asked to pencil future gardens into their blueprints; it is, however, rare that they be required to build a house around an existing one. Happily for the homeowners of this impressive estate, architect Charles Travis enjoys a good puzzle. Not only did Travis have to figure out how to construct a beautiful new house amid a flourishing garden, he also had to find someone who could remove the old one without destroying even a single delphinium.

That’s where builders Shawn Solsbery and Don Harris came in. Their approach was a simple one: They proceeded as if they were on a city project in a tight space, even though they were way out in the country. “We installed an eight-foot fence around the garden and surgically extracted the existing house,” Solsbery explains. “Then we turned around and built a bigger house in the same spot.”

“Everything about the house—from its scale to the size and placement of the windows—responds to the garden,” says Travis. To ensure interior finishes and furnishings would be just as obsequious to all the floral glory outside those windows, the homeowners asked design maven Fern Santini to come on board early on. “The gardens are one of the tremendous pluses of this place,” Santini says. “So, I chose materials that would stand back a bit to let the interiors integrate into the landscape.”

The homeowners say one of the best things about their experience was the entire team’s sensitivity to the emotions the project held for them. The sweeping property in Austin’s rolling Hill Country has been in the husband’s family for generations, and as a young married couple, they’d built their first home there. It served them well through their child-raising years, but then the old place’s foundation began to shift on the scrabbly shale terrain. “When we realized the house couldn’t be fixed, we had to come up with another solution, and my wife was not going to leave her garden,” laughs the man of the house of his spouse’s devotion to the lush half-acre designed by local plantsman Bill Bauer.

And since, according to Travis, the landscaping embodies the spirit of a lush English country estate, the architecture was constructed to do the same. The exterior offers a classic stone façade with a deeply pitched roof and rows of dormers and steel windows that suggest the leaded glass windows in traditional cottages. “But then,” Travis is quick to add, “everything is detailed in a very contemporary way.” “Detailed” being the operative word. Features like the windows underwent extraordinary scrutiny, with Solsbery and one of Chas’ project architects traveling all the way to Jamestown, New York, to spend days at Hope’s Windows to oversee their production. “They’re unbelievably large— 14 feet by 14 feet in the husband’s office and even larger in the living areas—but they’re also minimal and refined,” says the builder. “We wanted to get it just right.”

For her part, Santini knew exactly how to handle all of that expansive glass and the glorious competition from Mother Nature. “It was fantastic,” she says. “I could be muted and nuanced because even the subtlest texture shows up in all this natural light.” She points to the breakfast room’s A. Rudin chairs upholstered in a cut velvet that has a random dot pattern: “In lots of rooms these dots would be lost, but here you can clearly see how they play off the sleekness of the Rose Tarlow table. I love that.”

So do the homeowners. Their deep involvement with the project and the design team’s passion for the house banished any lingering remorse they may have felt about tearing down the old family homestead. As the wife explains it, “One of the coolest things is that we had so many fun conversations with the team during the process. By the time we moved in, the house already came with good memories.”