Classic Tuscan-style home in Austin gets a sleek, modern makeover
A young professional couple bought this Austin house for the location, which they love. But after years living in a Tuscan-style builder home, replete with elaborate faux finishes and ornamentation, the couple sought a simpler, more modern aesthetic that would better fit their lifestyle.
“The house was filled with turrets, twists, and turns,” designer Patrick Ousey says. “They wanted a home instead that reflected their youthful, sophisticated personality and love of nature, with honest, simple materials.”
The project began by turning the entrance into a modern front porch with limestone floors, metal roof, glass canopy, and steel columns. A limestone and gravel path leads from the street to the front porch.
The Corbusier-style living room is a composition of forms that are tranquil yet sleekly muscular. Tucked behind the fireplace and in front of the curved wall is a staircase that leads to the basement. The dark plaster helps the curved wall recede from the brighter living space and echoes the furnishings’ ebony finishes. A square window brings in valuable light. The fireplace surround was kept low so that sunlight could reach the stairway to the basement.
A white oak cabinet divides the kitchen from the living room, allowing the areas to feel separate while maintaining a nice flow between the spaces. The kitchen features Calacatta Gold marble mosaic tiles — similar to those on the living room fireplace — which run from countertop to ceiling. A skylight next to the custom range hood brings in light that makes the tiles sparkle. The perimeter white countertops are Calacatta marble, and the central island is topped with a local limestone. The floors throughout the house are white oak.
The kitchen also includes a breakfast nook. The designers didn’t alter the architecture, but they added a new upholstered sofa and chairs, a shell chandelier, and a Saarinen table to modernize the space.
In the dining room, the design team squared off an arched alcove. Rift-sawn oak boards are juxtaposed with an ornate Italian mirror, a 1940s-era console, and gold Murano sconces. Modern, leather-upholstered dining chairs with black backs and legs continue the bold color theme, which includes ebony, white, and gold, throughout the house.
In the master bedroom, a cream-toned midcentury leather chair and ottoman encapsulate the sense of comfort and lightness generated by light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows and the muted color palette.
In the master bath, floor-to-ceiling windows replaced glass-block windows behind the new freestanding tub. The contoured tub sits on a diamond-pattern mosaic floor of Calacatta Gold marble tiles.
The house is now open from front to back, with the front porch visually leading to the rear porch. Located off the kitchen, the back porch includes a grill to one side. Steel columns support a ceiling of Spanish cedar. Modern glass railings provide unobstructed views. Limestone tile covers the floor. The glass doors lift and slide.
“Our goal was to bring a sense of authenticity to the project by erasing the cliche elements of the original house and replacing them with a materials palette that strives to surpass the trends of the day,” Ousey says.