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Matt Fajkus Architecture’s Inverse House Challenges the Expectations of a Two-Story Home

A renovated dwelling near Austin Country Club's golf course inverts the relationship between public and private spaces

Architects Matt Fajkus and Sarah Johnson faced a unique challenge when renovating this house, originally built as part of a 1980s Home Owners Association development. The dwelling, which they call the Inverse House, sits on the 14th hole of Austin Country Club’s golf course, so the goal was to invert the relationship between public and private. In doing so, the kitchen, dining room and living spaces are elevated to the second floor, while the private family spaces are tucked below it. And in lieu of looking out onto a private backyard, the house opens up to the public golf course, with large windows framing unobstructed views of green rolling hills.

“The view to the east over the golf course was an important starting point, but the main goal was to design comfortable and functional spaces,” explains Fajkus, the principal architect behind Matt Fajkus Architecture, which focuses on sustainable residential design. “This required creative ways to capture daylight from above through skylights, from the side through a new pocket courtyard and with expansive openings to the east, over the golf course.”

By implementing an open floor plan and lots of bold, clean lines, the formerly shadowy and segmented interior was transformed into a roomy, sunlit space while adhering to the HOA guidelines requiring opaque stone side walls. Fajkus and Johnson chose to pull the interior functions of the home away from the exterior walls to create both circulation space and light wells. And plenty of patio space — including a pool surrounded by built-in succulent planters — creates indoor-outdoor connections and many opportunities for gathering.

“Every custom residence design and construction process has challenges, since we’re effectively creating a one-off prototype that has never been done before,” says Fajkus. “However, we collaborated very well with Melde Construction Company and Lindsey Hanna Design to creatively solve every challenge, from the building assembly process to coordinating material finish selections.”

The Inverse House brings the outside in with its implementation of natural materials showcased through minimal design: Texas limestone walls, white oak flooring, stained maple cabinetry, plaster shower walls and unfinished brass fixtures contrast while complementing modern steel railings, metal panels and glass.

“The clients, Leah and Chris Petri, have said that they are so enamored with the final products, they wake up every day and have to pinch themselves for being so lucky to live in the house,” says Fajkus.