This Modern Austin Home Hides An Amazing Engineering Feat


Ripple Effect

Natural elements and watery hues imbue this resort-like home on Lake Austin. Limestone and smooth acrylic stucco cover the home’s main body, while the second story is clad with zinc panels. A cantilevered roofline adds another dimension and shades the poolside patios.

Courageous Cantilevered Roofline

“This home is all about the lake lifestyle. It’s almost like a resort.” – Principal architect, James LaRue

A cantilevered roofline creates variations in this Austin home’s geometric lines, while warm wood soffits and zinc panels from Quality Roofing break up its stone-and-stucco massing. A custom steel-and-glass door fabricated by
Dynamic Architectural Windows & Doors in British Columbia allows in sunlight and creates a sightline through the home to the backyard.

Neutral Living Room with A View of Lake Austin

Throughout the home, interior designer Kelle Contine incorporated calm shades reminiscent of the home’s tranquil surroundings. An aqua silk-and-wool rug in the living room creates a soothing canvas for a sleek sectional sofa and a sculptural swivel chair. When the area’s large lift-and-slide doors open, the space unifies seamlessly with the exterior patios around the elevated swimming pool. “It creates a viewing plaza that buffers you from the landscape,” LaRue says. “You don’t see the grass, so it fools the eye into thinking the water comes all the way up to the house.”

In the living room,
Sahar Carpets' Fresco rug from Black Sheep Unique complements Kevin Greer art from Metropolitan Gallery. A Palecek side table joins a de Sede chair, a Minotti sofa and a B&B Italia coffee table from Scott + Cooner. Susi’s Workroom created pillows using fabric from collections by Architex along with Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks and Chivasso by Jab Anstoetz, both from Stockton Hicks Laffey.

Blackened-Steel Railing Showcase

“It took a village to figure out every single detail and how everything transitions,” says interior designer Kelle Contine, who collaborated with project designer Erin Judge. For example, Contine shared CAD files with LaRue’s office and even joined builder Matt Shoberg and the owners in meetings with both Steel House MFG and millworker Joseph Zambarano of Sea Hill Custom MFG to coordinate the custom stair railing and millwork, respectively.

Steel House MFG built the entry’s custom blackened-steel stair railing, showcasing M3 Glass Technologies glass from Anchor-Ventana with an integrated LED light strip imparting a soft glow. The faceted pendant with mirrored finish is by Pallucco and from Scott + Cooner; flooring is by Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company.

A Dining Room with Blue Touches and Fireplace

The interiors combine modern and natural elements in reference to the lakeside setting.

Terzani’s Argent chandelier from Scott + Cooner illuminates the dining area’s
Molteni&C table and chairs from Urbanspace Interiors; the bar’s HanStone Quartz countertops and AKDO backsplash are from Architectural Tile & Stone. Meredith Pardue art from Metropolitan Gallery joins B&B Italia chairs from Scott + Cooner and a custom Kyle Bunting rug for a cozy setting fronting a Montigo fireplace from Parrish & Co.

Unique Metallic Mosaic Tile in Modern Austin Kitchen

For continuity, wood also appears in the kitchen, where a custom-stained oak border lining the cabinetry contrasts with the modern white lacquer finish as well as the marble mosaic backsplash inlaid with a mix of clear and smoked glass squares. “While it doesn’t have color,” Contine says, “the smoky mirror creates shadows and depth.”

Holly Hunt’s Corona pendants embody the kitchen’s elegant yet casual aesthetic, while Emtek hardware decorates the custom cabinetry by Joseph Zambarano of Sea Hill Custom MFG through Shoberg Custom Homes. The Matrix counter stools are from Wayfair; the Rohl faucets are from Ferguson.

Easy Entertaining with Views of Lake Austin

The surroundings also factored into the processes of building and landscaping. Faced with a high water table that would eventually erode a standard foundation, Shoberg brought in a diesel-powered machine to drive more than 100 steel pilings deep into the earth below the water. “It’s a cast-in-place, pile-supported concrete foundation with piles seated in bedrock,” he says, noting building near the lake requires specific construction techniques. “While the pool and home foundations are integrated, there is a gap between them that funnels water out into the landscape and keeps it out of the foundation.”

Lunada Bay Tile’s mosaic tile from Materials Marketing lines the pool. A Harbour Outdoor sectional and chaise lounges, a round Janus et Cie daybed and Seasonal Living cubes create places for easy entertaining with Lake Austin views. The upper-level windows are from Exclusive Windows & Doors of Austin, and the Hinkley Atlantis sconces are from Lights Fantastic.

Lakeside Roof Shading Outdoor Living Space

Landscape architect John Hall, working with his company president, Rick Scheen, incorporated plants that would tolerate the high water table and rainy weather and designed drainage pipes that jog around the natural dams created by the cypress tree roots. “We worked diligently to preserve the critical roots, as required by Austin’s tree regulations,” Hall says. “Plus, they add real value to the property.” Construction project manager Ann Akiu installed a mix of grasses and several non-native plantings such as Creeping Jenny and fragrant white star jasmine, which balance the darker surrounding foliage. “We created a newer look by borrowing from several plant palettes,” Hall says. With the goal of bringing the clients’ vision to life, the team developed their own arrangement of plants based on the owners’ taste to create an aesthetic that was unique to their new home.

A cantilevered roofline shades the outdoor living space, housing a custom console designed by
Kelle Contine Interior Design and built by Zambarano of Sea Hill Custom MFG through Shoberg Custom Homes; an industrial fan hangs overhead. Lollygagger lounge chairs by Loll Designs rest on the pool’s sun shelf, while Herman Miller’s whimsical Spun rotating chairs from Workplace Resource perch on the grass. Atex Boat Docks helped builder Matt Shoberg place pilings used in the foundation.

Well-Decorated Austin Office with Lots of Light

A custom-stained oak-paneled cabinet system conceals hidden storage in the main living areas, including along the open steel-and-glass staircase and in the couple’s office. Also in the office, grayed glass appears on the new top of a desk base and on the sliding, contemporary barn-style door. Matching chartreuse chairs introduce a splash of color. “They add a fun pop and another layer,” Contine says.

In the office, a desk from
1stdibs features an M3 Glass Technologies top from Anchor-Ventana; the shelving holds a Fiandre porcelain slab from Graniti Vicentia. A Crate & Barrel rug grounds a Bernhardt Design desk chair from The Basnight Group and Milo Baughman guest chairs from Design Within Reach. The Rebecca Rothfus Harrell artwork is from Big Medium’s East Austin Studio Tour.

Mostly Glass Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom’s sliding door—featuring M3 Glass Technologies glass from Anchor-Ventana and Krownlab hardware—opens to custom cabinetry, an Artistic Tile backsplash from Architectural Tile & Stone and Ceramiche Campogalliano porcelain-tile flooring from Schroeder. Tech Lighting sconces from Lights Fantastic flank the mirror, and the Kohler sink and faucet are from Ferguson.

Hotel-Like Guest Bedroom Aesthetic

For a hotel-like aesthetic, the guest bedroom features an accent wall with handcrafted paper from MDC and patterned Nourison carpeting from Schroeder. The bed—wearing Romo fabric—and nightstand are both Bernhardt from Kaiser Hospitality; the sculptural Meeka pendant light by Tech Lighting is from Lights Fantastic.

“This home is all about the lake lifestyle,” says principal architect James LaRue, describing the rectilinear structure he designed for clients on a tree-lined street facing Lake Austin. “It’s almost like a resort.” The homeowners—real estate entrepreneurs with three daughters—are longtime friends with the parcel’s former owner and quickly scooped up the coveted waterfront property when it became available. “We enjoy wakesurfing, paddleboarding and jet skiing,” the husband explains, adding they wanted their new home to strike a balance between comfortable and modern.

Local building codes forbid removing trees of a certain size, so LaRue began by designing the L-shaped structure around the site’s mature pecan trees. “This building could have overwhelmed the site, so we tried to break down its mass,” says LaRue, who worked with project architect Rez Lankerani.

Like the exterior, the interiors combine modern and natural elements in reference to the lakeside setting. “It took a village to figure out every single detail and how everything transitions,” says interior designer Kelle Contine, who collaborated with project designer Erin Judge.

Inside and out, the residence maintains a modern feel while remaining comfortable and complementing its natural setting—a feat achieved through the close collaboration of everyone involved. “It’s a fairly modern building, and the warm materials make it a very livable house,” LaRue says. To celebrate the success and completion of the multiyear project, the homeowners hosted a housewarming dinner for the entire design team. “It was our way of saying thank you and celebrating this beautiful home they all had a hand in creating,” the wife says. “There was a beautiful harmony of all these great minds coming together to design this space.”

–Tate Gunnerson