While most people think of architecture as a structure with interior rooms, the owners of this Austin home wanted the outdoor spaces to take precedence over the house itself. Architect Burton Baldridge was happy to oblige.
“Architecture can be so serious, and here I had this upbeat couple looking for an in-town oasis,” says Burton. “That’s when we became serious about being playful.”
In addition to a focus on outdoor spaces, clients Katie King and Matt Parkerson also requested a simple, modern form that wasn’t just another basic box. The project started as an austere minimalist design with flat roofs, but as it progressed, Burton was taken with the idea of a simple floating gabled form. “We started working with what was almost a child’s drawing of what a house looks like, and that became the real design driver,” says Burton.
Central to Burton’s work is his belief that once he’s declared a central idea, it needs to solve everything, which was the case here. “Placing so much program on the cantilevered top floor allowed for the landscape and pool area to take on the prominence that Matt and Katie wanted,” he says. “The spaces at the ground floor are all directly connected to the outdoors, allowing Matt and Katie to feel like they’re outside even on a 103-degree day.”
Much of this feeling comes from the many glass sliding doors and screened porch, but Burton was careful not to overdo the glass. “To achieve a truly bright interior, it requires bright finishes and intentionally placed openings, even small ones, on all faces,” he says. “Smaller banks of sliders punctuated by areas of solid wall tend to provide a brighter atmosphere than a giant wall of glass.”
In addition to its bright interior, the exterior has a warm look, achieved with vertical-grain pine that runs horizontally on the ground floor and vertically above for juxtaposition. Adding to the pleasing balance is how the interior is one large open space for kitchen, dining and living areas, while the outside spaces are more defined. “By providing a number of different scales and grades to the landscape, the spaces next to the house serve more like rooms,” says Burton. “There are just so many ways to experience the outdoors here.”