Situated on the edge of a multi-acre parcel, this house and barn nestle up to a series of descending terraces overlooking a steep embankment and creek in West Austin, TX. The main house (accompanying outbuildings) and barn are strategically located on the site based on their individual functions and their interactions with one another.

The Main House

A conscious blending of new and old, the home’s interior weaves natural textures of reclaimed white oak, local field stone, sawn limestone, copper and exposed steel against a backdrop of crisp white plaster.

The main living areas of the house: family room, kitchen and dining room  open to one another at the heart of the home. Outdoor porches — both screened and open — surround this core, linking rooms to the landscape and corresponding views. The master suite and other “away” spaces anchor the north end offering privacy and their own distinct views of the landscape.

Entertainment and sleeping areas for guests gravitate to the south end of the home, isolated from the main living quarters. A detached sports bar along with game room, garden room and pool extend this wing outdoors forming an entertainment area to this
8,500-square-foot large compound.

Critter Barn

This five-bay multi-purpose studio and shop had a previous life. After sheltering the couple and their five kids for two decades, the house was initially slated for demolition to make way for the family’s new home. That is when the idea came — let’s repurpose and relocate the existing structure preserving the spirit and memories embedded in this place.

The new building features spaces for art projects, repairs, vehicle maintenance and storage. A mezzanine was added to take advantage of the existing height within the structure and segregate activities.

Rocks quarried from the site compose the two end gable walls. A cantilevered steel brow protects the five aluminum and glass garage doors. With the addition of two large dormers, natural light filters deep into the space. The reuse of Douglas Fir siding from the original walls reinforces the memories of the previous home in this new 2,300-square-foot building.

According to Gary Furman, the founding principal of Furman + Keil Architects, located in Austin, TX, the homeowners were looking for a durable, solidly constructed set of structures that fit comfortably into the landscape. Buildings that accommodated existing stands of trees while taking advantage of the abundant views of nature were guiding principles. The veneer stone used for the walls is a field limestone quarried mostly from the site. “We were looking for a material that would feel strong, have authority over lighter, more delicate constructions, such as glass and steel, and have very few maintenance requirements,” said Furman. After exhausting the supply that the site offered, the stone mason, Richard Llewellyn of Richard Llewellyn Masonry, was able to find a perfect match elsewhere.

The stones were typically used in a natural found state. “They never left the site and had minimal manipulation,” said Furman. “There was some minimal shaping of the edges and backsides of stones, but more often, they were simply puzzled together to work with their existing shapes.” Roughly 800 tons of stone was used for the project.

The home’s design also features solid one-piece cut Leuders limestone, supplied by AJ Brauer Stone of Jarrell, TX, used for stone columns. The Leuders limestone was quarried within 50 miles of the home’s site, and it is one of the harder denser limestones of the area which cuts smoothly, according to Furman. For the veneer wall stone, the fact that the stone was “of the site” resonated with the homeowners and the design team. “Additionally, several meandering site walls existed on the site prior to construction of the house and the team was enamored with the puzzle-like construction of these irregular stones fitting carefully together,” said Furman. “They directly inspired the stone used for the house and the barn.”

Because the stones were irregular and had natural edges, if cut or broken, stones did not fit the pattern and stood out. The masons spent much time finding natural shapes that fit together forming joints, corners and openings with a minimal of working the edges of stones. “We did observe the installation of the stonework often,” said Furman. “We were lucky to have a quality mason and quality general contractors that understood the intent early in the process. We did look for and critique the consistency in pattern and size.”

The project was finished in four years and the homeowners have cherished their new home since its completion. “Everyone loves the barn,” said Furman. “The reaction to the spatial qualities inside the barn has been so positive that there is talk of using it for more than shop and studio space. Its future use most likely will also include event space and parties.”