When it comes to building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in Austin, Texas, it’s possible to go big. To accompany a client’s existing 1960s ranch-style home, designer Matt Garcia could have maxed out the ADU’s size to Austin’s allowable limit of 1,100 square feet—but that didn’t feel right. "The challenge was to keep the scale appropriate to the existing house, to be really sensitive to the property," says Garcia. "I wanted to make an architectural statement, but not a loud one, and do something rigorous and thoughtful."
When siting the new building, Garcia had to preserve a lot of the mature oak trees where he wanted to build. "All of the trees on that side of the property were protected by the city of Austin, so we couldn’t touch them," he says. "So that was part of it, getting it nestled into that oak grove." A clever cutout in the ipe deck, mirrored in the roofline, is a gesture to that constraint.
For the interior, the goal was to give the client "a small footprint that someone could live in for about a week," says Garcia. "He’s really involved in the music scene in town and he wanted a spot for buddies to come and jam and have a place to stay during South by Southwest."
Shop the Look
To that end, Garcia anchored the main room with a wall of custom cabinetry that features an integrated full kitchen and Murphy bed. The material palette was then considered as carefully as the building’s form. Garcia combined white walls and cabinets with rift-sawn white oak floors and blackened steel accents. The steel lines the floor in the kitchen and entry, and forms the shelf in the kitchen and a countertop outside the bathroom.
The focal point of the main room is a backsplash composed of two perfectly aligned slabs of Kenya Black marble. "There’s a metallic sheen to the veining, so depending on the lighting, it can really change in a dramatic way," says Garcia. The bathroom is a counterpoint to the kitchen’s drama, with an all-white backdrop that reflects sun from the skylights above.
With floor-to-ceiling glass and decking that appears to hover over the gravel, the petite 540-square-foot ADU projects a sense of airiness. "The building just seems to float," says Garcia.
Structural Engineer: JM Structural
Landscape Design: Evergreen ATX
Interior Design: Nicole Marshall/Matt Garcia Design
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