Updating the Lodge
A first-rate team of builder, architect, and landscape designer remodel an oddly built stone cabin.
Last spring, I visited Austin, Texas, home of some of the best architects and builders around, and therefore lots of smart and stunning new homes and remodels. The project I was in town to photograph was a remodel designed by Furman + Keil Architects and built by Risher Martin Fine Homes. The landscape design, a significant aspect of this project, was done by Mark Word Design.
The finish home is less transitional—a term used to designate a blend of traditional and modern design—and more eclectic. Notice, for example, the way the original stone walls stand next to, and in contrast with, modern steel-and-glass-boxes; see how the rustic stone fireplace shares the same wall with the crisp lines of plaster returns at the windows and door. It’s really a design in which less is more.
I wrote an article about the house called “A Remarkable Remodel” in issue #272. The first draft of the article was titled “Who Doesn’t Love a Challenge?” And what a challenge this project was, from site restrictions to out-of-square walls, “This project had more problems per square foot than we’d ever seen,” said Jeremy Martin, one of the principals at Risher Martin Fine Homes. You can read the full story here, and in the meantime, check out the slideshow below.
The original lodge was a seemingly simple structure with a cross-gable form. And like many old homes, a bunch of additions were tacked on over the years as the owners needed more space. The stone walls seem to have been built by an amateur and had a number of problematic conditions including varying thickness. They were also not square. Photo courtesy of RisherMartin Fine Homes.
The original stone walls were largely rebuilt; not an easy task for many reasons, including the protected old-growth oak tree sitting right at the corner of the house. Retaining walls were used to terrace the sloped site. The steel walls are considered “removable,” which allowed the builder to install them over a municipal drainage easement.
The glass-and-steel bump-outs are meant to have a furniture-like quality, according to architect Philip Keil, while the grey stucco cladding on most of the new parts of the house is intended to provide a subtle backdrop for the more interesting architectural details.
Builder Jeremy Martin explained that the decorative bands on the board-formed concrete walls were among the more challenging design details to execute. Stripping the concrete forms without breaking the bands was no easy task. One of the solutions was to bevel the forms so the concrete bands didn’t key the forms into place.
The rustic lodge now has many modern details, including the inset flat-panel cabinetry, modern Haiku ceiling fan, and plaster returns instead of window and door casings.
A built-in bookcase acts as one barrier at the top of the entry stairs. A steel handrail brings a practical modern touch to the entry. Most of the house is lit with recessed cans, while decorative light fixtures are use sparingly.
The white-oak cabinetry used throughout the house has a wire-brush finish chosen to carry the rough texture of the original stone fireplace into the rest of the interior.
The carved Viking head and unfinished Nordic plaque are original details in the chimney. The limestone mantel is new.
The master bedroom, located in an all-new addition to the house, is all modern in design. The steel-framed glass bump-out provides a cozy reading nook with a great view.
Here you can see two ways the architect brought the outside in. First, the glass box that creates the dining-room space offers views of the landscape. Second, the steel-framed cedar ceiling brings exterior details into the house.