This Architect’s Houston Home Promotes Play With a Clever Entry Courtyard

By Alia Akkam / Published by Dwell

Architect Shawn Gottschalk’s midcentury-inspired Pavilion Haus is an ode to childhood summer adventures.

Raised on a small, rural farm, Shawn Gottschalk remembers a childhood dominated by carefree activities: fishing, riding his bike, building tree houses, catching fireflies. When the the principal and partner at Houston–based StudioMET Architects and his wife Rachel—who was equally nostalgic for her own summers splashing around the pool—decided to build a new house for their growing family, access to the outdoors was a priority.

Unlike other new houses in the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston, the Gottschalks embraced a simple, functional pavilion.

Benjamin Hill Photography

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The gate, opening onto the entry courtyard, serves as the pavilion's front door.

Benjamin Hill Photography

Kids play freely in the contained front courtyard, while parents keep an eye on them through the glass panels. Glimpsed in the family room are bright, abstract, limited-edition Subway Diagram posters from SuperWarmRed Designs.

Benjamin Hill Photography

Prior to this, they lived in another home that Gottschalk designed for them. "[It was] a modest two-story in a transitional part of town that was undergoing significant re-development. At the time it was perfect for us, but we wanted a bit more outdoor space," he says. 

Blue, yellow, and pink accents enliven the living area, where guests relax on the *Gus Modern sectional sofa.

Benjamin Hill Photography

Beyond the large pedestrian gate, "which is really the home’s front door," says Gottschalk, "the house begins to reveal its strong indoor and outdoor relationship. Blurring the boundary between the two is a key design element."

Benjamin Hill Photography

They also desired a single-story abode this time around, and found an ideal location for it in central northwest Houston’s Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood, fittingly close to parks. 

The Eames Lounge Chair in the living area is appealingly positioned by the wall of floor-to-ceiling glass.

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"It was important to us that everyone be on the same level, connected to each other and the outdoors," says Gottschalk. "The most beautiful thing about our home is also the most functional: I can see our children from every space." 

The kitchen flows into the dining and living areas, punctuated by personal touches like a record player and a graphic, large-format print of pineapples created by the architect and his wife.

Benjamin Hill Photography

Dining takes place at the large custom-fabricated table underneath pendant lighting. Seating is a mix of Eames Shell Chairs and Real Good chairs from Blu Dot.

Benjamin Hill Photography

In contrast to the new super-sized dwellings sprouting around them, the Gottschalks took a less-is-more approach, opting for just 2,500 square feet of space conceptualized as a pavilion, with planes of light-colored brick juxtaposed with dark gray board and batten. 

Outdoor views fill the bedroom, which is simply furnished with the likes of matching bi-level nightstands.

Benjamin Hill Photography

The simple form of Pavilion Haus, reading from the street as modern and introverted, as Gottschalk describes it, is designed for breezy, versatile living. "We focused on quality, not size. We wanted flexibility from day to day and knew our needs would evolve as the kids got older," he adds. 

One of the children's rooms, equal parts clean-lined and playful.

Benjamin Hill Photography

An entry courtyard provides a safe, contained place for the little ones to play. Beyond the large pedestrian gate, "which is really the home’s front door," says Gottschalk, "the house begins to reveal its strong indoor and outdoor relationship. Blurring the boundary between the two is a key design element." 

Set against a freestanding wall, the bathtub is a zone of tranquility.

Benjamin Hill Photography

White and gray porcelain La Nova tiles give the bathroom a crisp, contemporary feel.

Benjamin Hill Photography

Floor-to-ceiling glass, for example, allows for abundant natural light inside and offers views of the backyard's expansive covered deck and pool. Influenced by midcentury style—"design that transcends time," Gottschalk points out—the interiors flaunt clean lines and an earthy palette that pops with touches of yellow and blue.

The plant-filled, covered patio leads to the swimming pool, a nostalgic feature that the Gottschalks were adamant about including in their new home.

Benjamin Hill Photography

"Concrete floors were a must for durability and ease of maintenance," says Gottschalk. "Our kiddos often use our great room as a racetrack for their tricycle and scooters."   

Pavilion Haus floor plan

Photo: studioMET architects

Related Reading: An Accessible Home Promotes a Lifetime of Well-Being For the Whole Family

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: StudioMET Architects / @studiometarchitects

Builder/General Contractor: Modern Concept Construction

Structural Engineer: Hendricks Engineers

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