Midcentury Renovation in Austin
The Houser family's journey to renovating their home in the Balcones neighborhood of Austin, Texas, began with a rental. After passing through the hands of its original owners, the Werth family, Sloan and Peggy Hamilton Houser's 1,816-square-foot home was nearly demolished by a next-door neighbor who wanted to extend his driveway. After purchasing the property with a mind to destroy it, the neighbor decided to rent out the house instead.
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The Housers eventually bought the house, and in keeping with its mostly-intact 1957 design (by local architect Barton D. Riley and his partner Emil Niggli), they decided on a modest renovation that would highlight the home's open feeling and amplify the midcentury-era colors of the kitchen. To this end, the architects Rick and Cindy Black made subtle floor plan modifications, retaining the overall arrangement of spaces familiar to the Housers. A destroyed wall and added window in the kitchen added natural daylight, while updated appliances and new cabinets turned the midcentury home into a modern-day showpiece.
The architects decided to retain the terrazzo flooring original to the Houser home: diamond-polished terrazzo, a mix of white, sand, and blue chips. Sloan Houser used his skills as a master plasterer to coat his home's interior walls and fireplace in a French plaster mix called Stuc Pierre.
Infused with color and light, the redesigned home reflects characteristics of its earlier life, as Peggy House learned in an encounter with a girlhood-resident of her current home. In that resident’s recollections, bright color and midcentury furnishings made for a vivid family environment. The turquoise, yellow, and bright white plaster connects the renovated Houser home with its past, and testifies to its status as a gem of Austin's modern design scene.