A 400-Year-Old Oak Tree Shades a Revitalized Midcentury Ranch Home in Austin
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A 400-Year-Old Oak Tree Shades a Revitalized Midcentury Ranch Home in Austin

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By Lauren Jones / Photos by Chase Daniel
A 1955 home is brightened up and reimagined by Austin-based Lemmo Architecture and Design.

After a year of searching, San Francisco transplants Liz Armistead and Bill Broome found their dream home—a 1,400-square-foot ranch house in Austin’s Travis Heights neighborhood. The residence was outdated, but the 400-year-old live oak tree on the back of the property was just too enticing to pass up. They fell in love with its potential and reached out to Stephanie and Ryan Lemmo, the principals of Lemmo Architecture and Design, for a full remodel and contemporary master suite addition. 

The existing patio was updated and stained. Neutral furniture matches the interiors and plays against the black-framed windows.

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"The house was in pretty good shape and had been renovated not too long ago, but was very dark and closed off," Ryan Lemmo explains. "The spaces were chopped up, there was no real master bedroom, and they had few closets and little natural light."

The real stars of this 1950s ranch home are the two giant live oaks that live in the front and back yards. To let the landscaping stand out, the Lemmos painted the exterior Woodland White by Benjamin Moore and matched the front door to the beautiful blue master bathroom vanity.

For the homeowners, it was all about being able to live in their very own oasis—one that was light, bright, and airy and that provided shelter from the sweltering Texas summers. Thus, they also requested a pool inspired by their favorite Austin hangout: Hotel San Jose.

The first task the husband-and-wife architects tackled was the lack of natural light. They added more windows and removed the grey paint covering the entire interior, replacing  it with a clean and crisp white. 

The couple had spent a lot of time in Palm Springs, as well as at Austin's Hotel San Jose, and they knew they wanted a pool to provide relief from the Texas heat. Ryan Lemmo sketched out the pool location so the couple could enjoy the live oaks and landscaping during their daily summer swims.

 "We opened up the big wall in the living room, which makes the entire space pop, and we punched in a bunch of skylights that allow the homeowners to look up into the tree canopy," Ryan Lemmo says.

Natural light floods in from both sides of the home thanks to the Marvin Integrity black-framed windows. The living room features updated hardwood flooring. The marble coffee table is the Plinth Low by Menu, and a Blue Dot Dang 2 door/2 drawer console stands against the rear wall.

To make the existing layout more open concept, they took down a large supporting wall that separated the kitchen, dining, and living areas and replaced it with a 40-foot steel beam to support the roof.

The kitchen is painted in Setting Plaster by Farrow and Ball. The Fibre bar stools and Ambit pendants are from Muuto.

In the adjacent kitchen area, the architects left the layout as is while adding cabinetry, extending the island, redoing the counters, and stripping and painting the existing cabinetry. Because the house was in decent shape, the homeowners performed a light kitchen remodel to help keep the overall costs in check.

For this area, the homeowners looked to playful, spring-inspired pastels from one of their favorite Austin boutiques, Nanny Inez. They brought the idea to the Lemmos, which sparked the entire home’s palette. "When clients have incredible taste it just makes our job easier," Stephanie Lemmo says.

The interior paint color is Extra White by Sherwin Williams. It acts as a blank canvas for the moments of color to shine.

The simple dining room features a Landala table by Emma Olbers for Tre Sekel.

The kitchen cabinetry is painted a light salmon pink, which pops against the blacks and whites in the main space. Neutral furnishings, lots of greenery, a marbled coffee table, and a painting by local artist Patrick Puckett finish the look in the living room. The dining area features a wooden tamboured buffet from Anthropologie and a Landala table by Swedish designer Emma Olbers for Tre Sekel. 

 "What was so fun for us with the project was that there wasn’t an interior designer," Ryan Lemmo says. "The homeowners [took on that role] and were excited to get involved with everything from the colors to the furniture to the art. The home is relatively simple, but it’s their enthusiasm and interest that brought it all together."

The homeowners chose this large, richly colored painting by Austin-based artist Patrick Puckett to be the focal point of the master bedroom.

The modern master suite addition lies toward the back of the home. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame beautiful views of the landscape—the reason why the couple bought the home in the first place. To further connect the interior with the exterior, the architects incorporated black-framed windows, and they brought wooden cladding from the outside in to cover the ceiling, adding more warmth to the room.

In the master en suite, the homeowners had the exciting idea to create their own custom tile pattern using Clé tile. The black-white-and-blue crescent moon–shaped tile plays off the Tiffany blue–painted double vanity.

The master bathroom uses black-and-white finishes to enhance the home's pastel palette.

The lot provided plenty of inspiration for the backyard, and the architects preserved the existing bamboo, trees, and gravel while incorporating the pool. Just as there was no interior designer for this Rebel Road remodel, there was also no landscape architect, so the homeowners took it upon themselves to make DIY planters.

The homeowners were more than happy to get involved in any way they could, and they did their own landscaping on the weekends.

"With such a large project, the budget is always an issue," Stephanie Lemmo says. But it was great how they were excited to take things on themselves, much like with the interiors."

The revitalized backyard—complete with the existing deck and Palm-Springs-meets-Austin pool—ended up being the perfect sanctuary and enhancing the interior design. 

The backyard is now the most beloved spot in the house. It's great for summer entertaining or family get-togethers, and it's also kid- and dog-friendly.

In the end, Lemmo Architecture renovated close to 1,000 square feet of this Austin home and added approximately 600 square feet.

Related Reading:

An Imposing Oak Tree Serves as a Living Sculpture in This Texas Home 

This Breathtaking Ranch Home Was Constructed Without Felling a Single Tree

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Lemmo Architecture and Design / @la_n-d

General Contractor: Distinctive Remodeling ATX

Structural Engineer: Fort Structures / @fortstructures