Bringing Light Into a Modest 1940s Bungalow in Austin

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By Anna Jones / Published by Dwell
Plagued by dim rooms and low ceilings, a typical midcentury bungalow in Austin, Texas, is remodeled into a contemporary, light-filled living space for an editor and her filmmaker husband.

The desire to uphold the discreet architectural character of the Austin setting, while being able to create open and modern spaces, led to a study in how materials, space, and light could interplay with simple construction means. 

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Murray Legge Architecture removed a maze of small rooms and raised the ceiling height to create a single volume for dining, cooking, and living. Working with the existing building components, the new design continues the use of traditional stick frame construction, yet accentuates its simple beauty by using the open structure as a finished product that adds shape and warmth to the interior. 

The front elevation of the home remains modest in appearance with a simple vertical addition, maintaining the typical Austin bungalow aesthetic.

The front elevation of the home remains modest in appearance with a simple vertical addition, maintaining the typical Austin bungalow aesthetic.

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To maintain the aesthetic form of the exposed structure, a balloon framing technique was used to support the roof, allowing a multitude of window components, insulation, and fasteners to be concealed within the layered roof system.   

Interior details are clean and meticulously well thought out. Tom Dixon pendant lights, green cabinets, and midcentury modern furniture accent the interior space. 

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No.1 Douglas Fir adds warmth to the space.  Custom clerestory lighting that wraps the interior allows light to fall deeper into the room.  Large, sliding glass doors connect the interiors to the outdoor deck.

No.1 Douglas Fir adds warmth to the space.  Custom clerestory lighting that wraps the interior allows light to fall deeper into the room.  Large, sliding glass doors connect the interiors to the outdoor deck.

Continuous built-ins provide plentiful storage. 

Continuous built-ins provide plentiful storage. 

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A tall, slender window in front of the sink creates a built in light well, allowing daylight to reflect further inward. 

A tall, slender window in front of the sink creates a built in light well, allowing daylight to reflect further inward. 

The plywood roof deck is left exposed as the finished ceiling product. A pickling stain has been adhered to lighten the tone and subdue the grain pattern, thus providing a reflective surface and a warm, natural element.

The plywood roof deck is left exposed as the finished ceiling product. A pickling stain has been adhered to lighten the tone and subdue the grain pattern, thus providing a reflective surface and a warm, natural element.

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