Built for a couple with children already grown, this home’s design abandons the requirements of the typical suburban family house to create a residence suited to these empty-nesters’ contemporary lifestyle. The home’s West Lake Hills location provides the best of both worlds: though just ten minutes from downtown Austin, the house feels as if it is in the woods, surrounded by trees and perched on a steeply sloping hill.
Conceived as a one-level dwelling to provide easy mobility for the couple over time, the home is elevated above the crest of the trees to capture views of the surrounding hills. The main house, which looks north over the valley, includes the living and dining rooms, kitchen, home office, and master suite. A separate guest apartment, which can be shut down when vacant, provides comfortable, private accommodations for visiting friends and family. The apartment includes a bedroom, full bath (also accessible directly from the pool), kitchenette, and its own outdoor patio.
The design expresses an unimposing horizontality, which is reinforced by the single-plane roof that extends across the breezeway, connecting the guest suite with the primary living area. Over the pool, the roof opens into a 24-foot diameter oculus, complementing the home’s horizontal composition by creating a vertical connection between sky and water. While the house flows parallel to the hill, the breezeway creates movement in the opposite direction, moving air through the house and drawing the eye away from the hill to the valley beyond.
Due to its location, the project presented the challenge of building a one-level home on a steep, wooded site without disrupting the land. To minimize excavation, the main level was elevated, while the floor plan follows the curve of the hill, preserving the maximum number of trees and opening the house outward. Inspired by the design’s exemplary siting on the land, the City of West Lake Hills intends to use the house as a best-practice model for future projects.