Located in Spicewood, 45 minutes from downtown Austin, two artists take a chance on a real estate listing with a photo of only a for-sale sign and the word “view.”
“We almost didn’t look at this land because the listing didn’t show anything except the sign, but as soon as we hiked up the hill, we knew this was it,” says homeowner Alyson Fox. She and her husband Derek Dollahite purchased the land six years ago, designed and built their own house and moved in a year later. Its construction was a family affair, with Derek’s father and brother lending a hand.
As first-time house designers, Alyson and Derek drew upon their education – her degree is in fine arts, his in art history – and creative sensibilities. “We’re so similar in our aesthetic that it was fun to build a house together,” says Alyson. “It was a nice way to reevaluate our relationship.”
The house is set on a hill overlooking the Texas Hill Country, a rural area west of Austin, dotted with historic towns and wineries. It’s constructed of simple materials, and most of the budget went toward floor-to-ceiling windows. “It was all about the view, and we wanted as much glass as possible,” she says. Even in the master bathroom, they opted for a picture window over the sink rather than a mirror. “You’ve never seen a thunderstorm until you’ve seen one from this house. You see it coming for miles.”
Alyson refers to herself as a “professional rearranger” and prefers to keep the furniture minimal so she can move things and allow the space to constantly evolve. This clean aesthetic can also be found in her work as an artist and designer, which centers around textiles but also includes rugs, clothes, dishes, jewelry and shoes.
“Being out here in Spicewood, removed from a lot of noise and distraction, really helps my creativity,” she says. “I have a very overactive mind, and the quiet allows me to think about things more. Sometimes I wonder how different my work would be if I were in the city.”
Derek is also creative and likes to write when he’s not busy being the director of experience for Austin advertising firm GSD&M. He and Alyson are both Texas natives with a lot of family here, so when the couple finished grad school 15 years ago, they decided to trade Boulder, Colorado, for Austin.
“Everyone’s out here to be slower paced, and I think my husband likes that the most,” says Alyson when discussing how Austin differs from other cities. The couple was also drawn to the people here, as well as to the momentum of the city and its variety of outdoor activities.
“We also really love tacos,” she says. “La Cocina de Consuelo makes the best breakfast tacos, hands down. They catered our wedding.”