In Austin, Texas, a 1955 ranch house receives a major renovation, adding a new second level that cantilevers over its existing limestone-clad base.
Named Treetops House because of the canopy perspectives it effortlessly captures, this Texan home was originally designed by Page Southerland Page. Typical of its locale and era, the old dwelling was a nondescript, sprawling, single-story residence clad entirely in Texas limestone and fitted with small windows.
Yet in 2017, Specht Architects, a firm with offices in Austin, Dallas, and New York, treated the home to a full overhaul, transforming it into a 5,500-square-foot modern residence with four bedrooms and five baths.
Scott Specht, the firm's founder, notes the project presented him and his team with the question of how to balance preservation with change.
"The new composition is one which is clearly of its time, but also respects and reflects the time and place in which the original house was created," he states. The team retained the existing limestone perimeter-wall in it’s entirety, and used it as a stable plinth to support the new second level.
On the upper level, the fully glazed main living/media room overlooks the double-height entryway. A master bedroom with large glass walls looks out to the pool, and another bedroom is located down the hall.
To circumvent the costs of new piers, the architects did not expand the house’s footprint at all, but instead cantilevered the new second level out from the existing structure.
"This strategy not only allowed for the house to be within budget, but also gave it a distinctive dynamic expression. The different materials and profiles of the first and second floors emphasize the house’s horizontality and create another kind stratum that is visual and expressive," Specht continues to explain.