Austin Modern Home Tour

This year my wife and I decided to take part in the Austin Modern Home Tour.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, even in a trendy city like Austin, modern design is still in the minority when it comes to homes.  Usually while driving around, without expecting it, you’ll spot a random modern house just plopped in the middle of a neighborhood.  So, for us at least, it’s not a common occurrence to get to tour someone’s house that was built with steel I-beams, glass walls and roof top decks.  My wife and I are both fans of modern design, and would love to one day build one of our own.  Even in our current suburban home, we look into ways to replace the frilly with more clean modern lines when making and planning any upgrades.  We were excited to see a few of the homes were decorated with the same art we have on our own walls by local artist Jake Bryer.  We recently discovered his work at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar this past Christmas.

One thing that surprised me right off the bat, was that some of these homes didn’t really have much going for it in terms of landscaping.  Maybe a stone and gravel pathway, a line of mexican feather grass that was about it.  Although some of these homes were fairly new builds.  In fact some I think were just recently completed and still on the market.

One of the surprises on the tour ended up not being a house at all.  When we got to the fourth “house” on the tour and couldn’t find it, I recognized a few people from the previous houses and noticed they were wondering around Cesar Chavez as well.  All we could find was a real estate office.  Well, turns out that was the fourth “house”.  Looking at the standard downtown store front and feeling a little skeptical we went in.  They directed us to the courtyard.  Outside they had crated an entier outdoor office area.

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Instead of building on to the current building, they built little mini buildings/pods around the edge of the courtyard, each to act as a single office or conference room.

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This vine covered tower is actually the bathroom for the courtyard offices.  Anyone know what that miniature pine tree is?  I was mesmerized by it and once I find out what it is, I might have to find a spot for one in my own landscaping.

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And who wouldn’t love a nice shady hammock to take a short break from work stress?

Another house that caught my attention, well it was actually the previous house on the lot that I found really unique.  As we approached the house you actually had to walk through what looked like the stone walls of a previous home.  Inside there was a simple column water feature.  It created an outdoor space that was literally an outdoor room.  The designer built the house for his parents and I suspect the stone structure could have been a house they lived in for years and wanted to keep it around as a homage to the past.  Either way it was very unique entrance.

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Sometimes the simplest things make a huge impact.  A simple potted plant caught my eye as I was walking through the kitchen.  There was nothing fancy about it other than it had nice green foliage and was planted in an interesting looking pot.  Then after a second look, I realized it was a sweet potato that had sprouted!

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And finally just some random things that caught my eye enough to make me take out my cell phone and take a picture.

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A nice second story deck with a fun design, and a fan.  I’m always a fan of decks with fans in Texas.  Below the deck they had a chicken coop.

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An Austin classic, a sprawling live oak.

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Here I just like the simple oversized square pavers used as a pathway and border for a planting bed.  This house was still on the market, and had some of the most extensive landscaping when it came to the newly built homes.  I guess home builders leave the landscaping up to the home owners.

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When I first took this picture I liked it for the use of cacti.  But after I looked at it again, I realized there is a lot going on here, mostly in terms of color.  The rust color metal border, the green of the cacti and then the blue gray rocks really add a lot of color interest.  Then to bring it all together hand rails and banisters are painted the same blue gray color to match the rocks.  I guess that’s how it caught my eye, but I didn’t realize it until after taking a second look at the picture.

All in all, it was a fun unique event to take part in.  I’m now thinking I should have taken many more pictures, but for most of the houses I don’t even think pictures would do them justice.  The Austin Modern Home Tour website has lots more pictures and information about the homes.  Now to see where I can add some of those elements to my own home.