With the mantra of “location, location, location” running through our heads, we gave ourselves a pretty limited search area when we came to Austin in 2009 on a house–hunting mission. We knew we wanted to be walkable to all the fun distractions on South Congress and South First Street, and that while you can easily improve your property it’s a bit tougher to add on to the lot size. With our lot size and location parameters in place, then, we found our choice limited to three homes. We chose the ugliest.
As an interior designer I was anxious to put my stamp on our home, and this place was the perfect project house. It was new enough that we didn’t have to worry about getting systems such as plumbing and wiring up to code, yet old enough to be in need of a cosmetic freshening up. We also wanted to tweak the layout on the first floor, which featured a huge (and underused by us) formal dining room off of a tiny kitchen. We love to cook and entertain, so the closed–off, dysfunctional kitchen just didn’t cut it. There were also two closets awkwardly located in the very middle of the first floor. Those definitely had to go.
Because of the scope of the work, I knew I wanted an architect involved, but it was important that she or he be open to my ideas for the space. We met Christy at the 2009 AIA Austin Homes Tour, at the “Under Tree House” she had designed, which was on the tour. My husband and I enjoyed talking with Christy and knew right away that she was the person we wanted to bring in to help tear down some walls.
As often happens with remodeling projects, what started out as a major kitchen and master bath remodel turned into a full remodel of the entire first floor. With the assistance of Christy and our contractor, Jason Williams of Shoal Creek Construction, we were able to do so much more. They helped us figure out where we could trim costs in order to accommodate all of the “must-haves” on our list.
We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. My husband is a neuroscientist and fond of telling me about the various psychological studies he comes across in his line of work. One of my favorites involves happiness—that we derive more happiness from experiences than things. We’ve decided that although our remodeled house is a “thing,” we’ve had so much fun experiencing the new space, whether entertaining friends and family, cooking in our fabulous new kitchen, watching movies, or just hanging out, we find ourselves pretty darn happy.