Mid-Century Modern in Austin

A rare gem designed by Austin architect and builder, A.D. Stenger

On a property tour this week I had the uncommon opportunity check out an absolutely stunning, mid-century modern home designed by famed local architect and builder, A.D. Stenger.  Although each one of the 100 or so homes built by Stenger from the 1940s to 1990s was unique, they share a few common characteristics in addition to their simple, modern lines, such as low pitch gable roofs, the use of clerestory windows and expansive stonework both inside and out.

2302 Rundell Place

Stenger homes are mainly found in the Austin neighborhoods of Rollingwood, Zilker and Barton Hills.  Because they were built in some of the most prized (and expensive) areas for Austin real estate, many have been torn down over the years by folks looking to build larger, more contemporary and/or functional homes, though this has led to conflicts with the city’s Historic Landmark Commission.  (Not to mention earning the ire of Stenger enthusiasts; Stenger homes enjoy an almost cult-like following among Austin architecture buffs, and with good reason!)

With only a few dozen or so of them left standing, these homes don’t often come on the market — so when they do it tends to make kind of a splash.  The one I toured this week was just listed by one of our top agents and sales manager, Dorothy Palmore.  It has been thoroughly and thoughtfully renovated very much in keeping with its mid-century modern aesthetic, but with contemporary conveniences and design touches added.  It’s listed at a cool $1.5 million, and to my eye worth every penny — it’s out-and-out gorgeous!

Although I only had my iPhone camera with me and my limited photography skills, I think this home’s unique beauty and style still shines through:

Stenger home hallmarks: fireplace and rock wall, with clerestory windows
Bringing outside in — notice how the rock wall continues from exterior to interior?

Although not original to the home, I love the dining room light fixture and the cool pattern it casts on the ceiling:

Another stylish lighting fixture in the bright and airy kitchen, and more clerestory windows:

High ceilings and clean lines, and awesome marble counters with waterfall edge

In the center of the home is a private zen-like atrium, open to the live oak trees above.

Tranquility abounds

Or if you’re feeling more like entertaining than meditating, the home features a wet bar nestled in between the kitchen and living room:

This property really is sublime.  If you’d like more information about it or to schedule a showing, please contact Dorothy Palmore at 512-925-0045.

Kitchen Renovation

Curse you, HGTV!

You know that feeling when you’ve been watching too much HGTV and you suddenly find yourself in the mood to undertake some major home renovations?  Well, that was me this past weekend.

While my husband has since talked me down from that particular ledge (for the time being anyway), I find I’m still craving a little bit of that fix.  So after fondly perusing a bunch of the before and after pictures from our home renovation projects last winter, I decided I’d at least blog some more about it and recreate a little of that feeling of “Look!  It’s so shiny and new!”  It’s obviously not the same, of course, but it helps placate the reno beast a little bit.

For now.

So, to that end…

In addition to making over our living room and fireplace as I wrote about previously, we did a full renovation of our kitchen and dining rooms, as well as installing new flooring throughout the whole living area.

We started out by opening up the kitchen to the rest of the living space.  Our house was built in 1979 and featured a closed-off galley kitchen, which was cute its own awkward and dysfunctional way, and came complete with washer and dryer (because who doesn’t love having their linens and towels smell like last night’s dinner?), upper cabinets that didn’t fully close (and were topped by an ugly bulkhead looming pointlessly above them) and an awkward and shallow ceramic sink not big enough to wash my pots in.  Oh, and faux wood vinyl flooring — because 1979!

Step one was actually relocating the laundry out to the garage.  We did that project first, then left the space as-was for a few months, keeping the fabulous accordion doors in place and creating a makeshift pantry/mop closet behind them.

When it came time to really tackle the kitchen, I couldn’t wait to knock that wall down and kick the ugly accordion doors to the curb.  I cannot stress enough how frustrating it was to come in from the garage and run smack dab into those doors (if you didn’t shut them just right they would pop back open and then wait there to trap the unsuspecting upon entering).

So those were eliminated first thing, and then the main wall separating the kitchen from the living room went, opening up the whole space.  My husband and I love to entertain, so our primary goal was to have an open floor plan where we (and by “we” I mean “I”) could continue to labor in the kitchen but still chat (and by “chat” I mean “drink”) with our guests.  After that, there was some shifting around of appliances (the stove/oven combo was replaced with a cooktop and the fridge was moved to the opposite wall, allowing for double ovens to be installed in its old spot), a complete cabinet remake, and the installation of a new stainless steel apron sink big enough to accommodate a Labrador Retriever, should we ever so desire.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.  First, the old kitchen:

The old galley kitchen
The old closed off galley kitchen.  At least it was colorful!

Followed by the new, open kitchen:

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And the other side:

Kitchen window, and the hated ceramic sinck
Kitchen window, featuring the hated ceramic sink and treacherous accordion doors.

Which was replaced with this:

New sink, no more accordion doors
Same window, but new sink, cupboards, countertops, backsplash, and no more accordion doors.

The view of the kitchen from the living room, previously:

The very old living room, with our fancy plaid couch. Don't be jealous.
The old living room, closed off to the kitchen, with our fancy plaid couch. Don’t be jealous.

Same view, including new couch, the tea table we brought back from China, and an updated color scheme:

Seriously, is this even the same room?
Seriously, is this even the same room?

And then there is the dining room.  We went from this:

We had already started renovations when this picture was taken, so the clutter was a bit more than normal
We had already started renovations when this picture was taken, so the clutter was a bit more than normal. But still.

To this:

08-after-08
Built-in buffet, bar area, wine rack and wine fridge. We are seriously set up for entertaining!  Not to mention we have curtains now.

Among the other little gems from the redo was our idea for open appliance shelves.  They are located next to the garage door so access is quite easy, but they aren’t visible from the living room.  I LOVE them! Not having to dig out the Cuisinart or my CrockPot from the very back of the lower cabinets every time I want to use them is such a blessing for my poor, put-upon lower back!

07-after
Open shelving for our large appliances = happiness!

Taking in the whole space, from the living room area:

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Looking at the newly open kitchen, including the new vent hood and pendant lights over the bar top counter.

Taking it all in

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We are delighted with how the project turned out, and I have to give a shout out again to our contractor, Karl Hanson at H & H Design & Construction.  It took about 11 weeks start to finish and it came out almost exactly like the plans we drew up beforehand. (We did our own drawings, picked our own design and finishes and did some of our own demo, but Karl and his team did all the hard work.)  It was a royal pain to live in a construction zone for close to 3 months and we went a little bit over our original budget, but for us it was well worth it in the end!

Now if I can just stop watching “Fixer Upper” we should be good for a while…

🙂

 

 

The Fireplace Project

1970s flagstone no more!

We’ve had dark and stormy skies in Austin these last few days.  Even though it hasn’t exactly turned cold, I’ve still been tempted to start a fire in the fireplace just to make the living room a little more cozy feeling… which then reminded me I need to post pictures of the fireplace renovation we did last winter, because it’s so AWESOME (if I do say so myself)!

Here’s what it started out like, our 1979 Texas flagstone fireplace and hearth, along with adjoining dark brown wood veneer built-ins:

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After yanking out the built-ins and hammering away all the rock facade and the bulky hearth (which was some heavy, dusty work) we got down to the brick firebox:

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Our next step was to frame out the fireplace surround with flame retardant cement board. Since our plan was to mount the TV over it, we ran the TV’s power cord and the built-in sound system wires through PVC pipes in the wall so we wouldn’t have any dangling wires:

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Once that was done and the drywall replaced, textured and painted, it was time to apply the covering, a gorgeous stacked stone product called RealStone, in honed white birch.  Isn’t it so, so PRETTY?  I’m obsessed with it!  (And I have to give props to our contractor, Karl Hanson at H & H Design & Construction — he and his crew did an amazing job of getting this laid out perfectly!)

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The final step was to paint the grate and the interior brick a neat black, and then we were ready for the new floors to go in, the TV to go up, and the decorating to begin.  Here’s how it all turned out in the end:

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Cozy, no?  We were absolutely thrilled with how it came out!  It’s about as far away from its original look as can possible be, and we don’t miss that a bit.  We wanted it to look sleek and contemporary, but still feel warm and inviting.

Speaking of inviting, I believe it’s calling me now.  I’m gonna go light a fire, pour a lovely glass of wine, and ride out the rest of this stormy evening.  Y’all enjoy yours!