Feature Article: Austin Outdoors Issue

The Space Between
These four Austin homes blend indoor lives with the world outdoors.

by James Ruiz

Springtime in Austin is a fleeting moment of transition between mild winters and scorching summers. Like our strange and wonderful weather, our outdoor living areas reflect a life lived both indoors and outdoors. Here, we take a look at how designers created beautiful living spaces to marry the amenities and style of a home interior with natural elements and outdoor activities.

Multi-Level Entertaining Space

After an architect convinced a couple in their early thirties to redo their outdoor living space in lieu of adding an addition to their Travis Heights home, the couple reached out to their friend Stephen Breaux, principal at Breaux Design Group. During their initial conversations, the homeowners explained that they wanted a versatile place to entertain, but also an intimate space where they could relax.

Austin homes
Designed by Stephen Breaux, Principal & Landscape Architect Breaux Design Group Photographs by RICHARD CASTEEL

The Design Approach
“We tried to make a strong connection between living spaces, inside and out,” says Breaux. Since the topography of the property was heavily terraced, the final design featured three different levels, each with their own unique purpose. Breaux designed the closest space to the house to retain a level of intimacy, while most of the entertaining space (which is one level above) is adjacent to the pool.

The Execution
“It’s not so much [what materials] you use; it’s how you use [them],” explains Breaux about utilizing hardscape and softscape materials, the majority of which were sourced within a hundred miles. The look and feel of the outdoor living space directly outside the home is restrained, but with each inclining level the landscape becomes less refined and much more wild. The homeowners now enjoy a tiered space that transforms into a wild oasis that is intimate yet sprawling.

A Quiet Sanctuary

The homeowners travel frequently, and use their Bouldin home as a sanctuary in which to relax. The couple asked for an outdoor living space that could comfortably fit a small gathering, but could also transform into something much more intimate and secluded.

Austin homes
designed by Craig Hoverman, Principal DIG: A Photographs by Tom Coplen

The Design Approach
“It is one of the big reasons why the outdoor courtyard was internalized,” says DIG:A Principal Craig Hoverman, of the clients’ desire to create an intimate escape. Since the homeowners also like to entertain, two large pocket doors were installed between the kitchen and living room which open to create one large open air space for guests. Along opposite sides of the courtyard are two private spaces, a small den and the master suite, both of which get plenty of sunlight and a view of the courtyard.

Austin homes
The design took advantage of the five heritage oaks on the property.

The Execution
Hoverman’s design took full advantage of five heritage oaks on the property. (In fact, he created a structural floor plan that afforded every room a view of the majestic trees.) Art and furnishings for the home were sourced from the Russell Collection, Four Hands Home and Blanton Design & Staging. “Although [the property] feels so open, it is actually incredibly private and secluded. You can drive down the street and miss it every time,” says Hoverman.

The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

In 2013, owners of the popular eatery The Grove, Betsy Clemons and her husband, Reed, decided to revamp their Edgemont home’s backyard. The restaurateur couple knew they wanted to create a gourmet outdoor kitchen, as well as install a putting green for Reed, an avid golfer. Betsy, designer and manager of her own landscaping company, Dig Austin, had the unique advantage of designing for herself.

Austin homes
Betsy Clemons, Owner, Dig Austin Photographs by Travis Hallmark

The Design Approach
Because the swimming pool and deck area were already in place before the project was started, Betsy turned her focus to the three-hole putting green, which, though labor-intensive to install, requires very little maintenance. “[Artificial turf] is a great solution for an area where you want grass,” explains Betsy.

The Execution
The outdoor kitchen, which boasts a gas grill, a refrigerator and a Big Green Egg — an oval-shaped ceramic grill that’s perfect for smoking meat — is Reed’s domain. The avid chef is a graduate of Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now called the Institute of Culinary Education). But when he’s not boiling large pots of lobster for guests or smoking barbecue, Reed spends his time chipping around the putting green.

A Nest for Newlyweds

Interior designer Robin Colton first collaborated with her clients when they were newlyweds living in a condo in The Austonian. When the time came for the couple to purchase a single-family home, they once again tasked Colton with the design. The client’s wish list included a lawn for their dogs and a pool since for the husband, an avid swimmer.

Austin homes
Robin Colton, Owner & Principal DesignerRobin Colton StudioRobert Leeper, Landscape DesignerRobert Leeper LandscapesPhotographs by Ryann Ford

The Design Approach
“We needed to turn [the property] into a living space as opposed to just a beautiful outdoor space,” explains Colton. When the couple first purchased the Tarrytown home, most of the backyard was gravel surrounding a tiny patch of grass. But since the clients frequently hosted dinner parties, Colton sought to create multiple spaces for entertaining, including a fire pit area adjacent to the swimming pool.

The Execution
To help facilitate flow, Colton designed a screened-in porch to provide a seamless pathway for guests to move from the kitchen into the backyard. For the landscaping, Colton collaborated with designer Robert Leeper, who worked with the home’s previous owners. Together they created an outdoor living space that’s inviting and multifunctional


Read more from the Outdoors Issue | May 2016


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