The entry sequence to Stacey and Brad Beckworth’s Austin residence is a calculated series of experiences that begins with a rapid descent at the entrance and continues along a meandering driveway. After crossing a stone bridge, guests catch a first glimpse of the low-profile structure and swimming pool through a stand of oak trees, concluding the journey on a drive court with a fountain where soothing water sounds permeate. “By the time you exit the car,” says lead architect Kevin Gallaugher, who worked with project manager Johanna Reed and project designer Samantha Voges, “you’ve completely forgotten you’re in a neighborhood and near the city.”
One also might not register the unique placement of the front door on the side of the house looking away from the street. Faced with a 4-acre property containing two potential building sites, the team selected the more private and beautiful rear site, arranging the main spaces–including the great room and master suite–around a pool and oriented toward a wooded view. The layout mandated the front door also look that direction. “But because of the way the driveway snakes around,” notes Gallaugher, “you don’t notice you’re passing the backyard–it seems like a natural arrival.” For owners who desired the nearby Lake Travis schools for their children yet a more bucolic lifestyle at home, the siting was perfect. “You can’t even see the house from the road,” Stacey says.
Along with a rural vibe, the couple wanted as little maintenance as possible, and materials such as Lueders limestone and integral-color stucco walls burnished to a smooth finish resembling plaster handily met that request. The limestone aesthetic was also important, “because we tend to bring elements like stonework inside,” Reed says. Hence, they chose a limestone with more fossils and color variation for both outdoor and indoor flooring. The material also complements the grounds meticulously crafted by landscape architect Moyara Pharis and her former designer, Maggie Goen, to preserve the natural habitat. In fact, due to their efforts, a butterfly migration continues through the property every year.
Further bridging the indoor-outdoor divide, a white-oak wood first appears on the underside of the soffit above the front door and continues into the entry. “We wanted to give the residence a very warm, organic feel,” says Gallaugher, “by using natural materials and bringing the outside in.” The wood re-emerges on the kitchen cabinetry, the master bed frame and other interior elements. Stacey praises builder Dustin Seymore for the beauty and continuity of the work, noting, “He knows absolutely everything about wood grains.”
For additional warmth, a combination of steel divided-light windows, multislide doors and strategically placed clerestory openings guarantees a steady glow of natural light throughout the home. At the same time, variations in ceiling heights help create more enticing spaces. “When you go from a low, narrow area like the entry and step into an expansive, grand space like the great room,” Gallaugher notes, “there’s a compression and release that makes the day-to-day experience much more interesting.”
To help accommodate the furnishings and art, space planning took place ahead of time. “The plan for furniture informs the architecture–and the other way around,” Reed says. “It’s a holistic process.” In the great room, for example,the architects made space on either side of the fireplace for chests, which pair with Tony Scherman paintings. Elsewhere, the gallery-like entry showcases a work titled Ruth’s Kitchen by Joyce Howell. “My grandmother’s name was Ruth, we always gathered in her kitchen and her favorite color was red,” says Stacey. “I had to have it.” Also in the entry, an Andy Warhol piece inspired pops of color throughout the interiors, including orange leather sofas near the wine room.
Experienced home builders, both owners were hands-on during the process–and Stacey, on-site almost every day, was instrumental in not only the art but also furniture and accessories. “I’m drawn to European design and French antiques,” says Stacey, “and Brad prefers contemporary.” Hence, she incorporated existing antiques and, with assistance from designer Christopher Beach of Decorum Home & Design, new furnishings like the great room sofas and live-edge dining table. Beach also suggested lime washing the great room ceiling trusses. “When I get stuck, he points me in the right direction,”
The lime-washed trusses, dining table and knotty pine screened-in porches off the bedrooms are among the rustic nods that blend easily with the contemporary art and clean architectural lines. The result is a warm, comfortable and family-friendly house–exactly what the owners envisioned. “Things like wood in the ceiling balance the stone floors and help create a home that is modern and clean but not cold or cutting edge,” says Gallaugher, who applauds the owners for clearly communicating those goals from the outset. “A client with vision is a critical component to the success of any great project.”