Collection by Kelly Dawson

A Retired Couple Gives Their Home of Three Decades a Modern Renovation


This Austin house with views of Hill Country combines a diverse selection of wood with curving white walls and plenty of natural light.

After their three kids had grown up and moved out, a retired couple decided that they were finally going to get the property they had always wanted. They had bought their family house in the 1980s for the surrounding neighborhood, a tree-filled enclave in Austin, Texas, with elevated views of the Hill Country, and accepted its uninspired architectural details. But, decades later, the home’s dark rooms and outdated features—as well as more pressing structural issues in the foundation and staircase—called for a long-awaited change. The couple’s son had worked with Arbib Hughey Design as an engineer, and he introduced his parents to principals Ben Arbib and Ed Hughey. “To be honest, the house was in rough shape,” Arbib said. “If the budget allowed, we probably would have torn it down.” Perhaps it was because of those monetary restrictions that the home received what it had always lacked: creativity. Cloistered rooms gave way to curved walls and an open floor plan, tired carpets were replaced with shiny oak, and narrow windows were widened for more natural light. And to make the modern transformation undeniably clear, the couple painted their front door a neon hue.

“In the landscape, we used native plants recommended by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center,” Arbib said.
A galvanized standing seam metal roof reflects about 90 percent of sunlight and heat, keeping the home cool.
An Eames rocking chair sits across from an Avanti sectional couch from Copenhagen Imports.
The pine, clear-coated wall—which is accented by shelves in Benjamin Moore’s off-white Cotton Balls shade—hides a...
“We wanted to keep the color palette light and neutral by using a bright white for the walls and a subtle off-white for...
“We knocked out walls dividing the kitchen, dining, and living rooms, creating a nice open space.
A Design Within Reach table and Eames chairs create an open dining room off the kitchen.
“When you look out of the windows from the upper level you see trees for miles.
A custom mirror (and medicine cabinet) in the master bathroom was installed above Kohler Vox sinks and GROHE Eurosmart...
“Previously, most of the windows were tall and narrow.