Tour the Entire House
A midcentury home is brought into present day with a renovation that removed walls to reveal the house’s spacious, light-filled potential and open living plan.
After 37 years in her Austin dwelling, homeowner Meredith Kawaguchi was ready for a change. She loved the house but had never felt that it was a true reflection of who she is or how she likes to live and enjoy life. What began as a plan to renovate the second-floor master bedroom and open up the kitchen to a larger living space evolved into a more ambitious remodel that resulted in a complete reconfiguration of the main floor to create the open concept the owner envisioned. “The back of the house felt chopped up and dark,” says designer Laura Roberts. “Early on, Meredith identified that the home needed to be warm, have lots of natural light, reflect nature, and most importantly, be peaceful and calm.”
Kawaguchi first turned to architect Hugh Randolph, whose work she had previously seen. “This project was interesting because there wasn’t a specific pragmatic need to make the change; Meredith just wanted to,” says Randolph. “That was very unique and freeing. It made the process more of an exploration. Our goal was to create a physical environment that was a true reflection of the owner.”
As a result, the home’s layout only vaguely resembles its previous compartmentalized blueprint. In fact, little more than the staircase remains the same. New square footage was added to the main floor for the addition of a master bathroom, which offered a flat roof that paved the way for a rooftop terrace off the remodeled second-floor bedroom; the master bedroom was moved to the first floor; the kitchen was completely revitalized and the area opened up to a new vaulted-ceiling living room that was once a small bedroom and dining area; and the entire house was treated to larger windows that allow the beauty of the surrounding nature to be visible at every turn.
“It was really working from the inside out,” says landscape designer Bill Roberts. “There was so much glass and so much visual axis from the inside to determine what we did on the outside.” Kawaguchi agrees. “I’m surrounded by lovely hills and scenery, but I’d never really been able to enjoy the view,” she says. “I wanted to open it up and have more light. Now I have these beautiful windows; it’s just transformed the entire house.” Concludes Randolph: “We strived to provide a visual connection to the natural site. It’s just as important to know what views to block as what views to reveal.”
The natural environment, visible through the new windows, also directed the color palette for the interiors. “The colors of nature are always inspiring,” Roberts says, “and when you have large expanses of glass instead of solid walls that line up next to your fabrics, art, tile, and furniture, they become the base palette for everything.”
The home’s decoration is a mix at every turn. Art that was part of Kawaguchi’s collection, or bought and commissioned, is met with contemporary furnishings and vintage pieces, as well as a few elements of particular personal and historical merit, such as the entry’s writing desk that belonged to Kawaguchi’s grandmother and the travertine limestone that was salvaged from a recent renovation of the LBJ Presidential Library and now covers the existing fireplace hearth in the library. “Everything needed to have a timeless feel that seemed restful and as if these items were always meant to be together in one area,” Roberts says. “The juxtaposition between contemporary furniture and antiques led to a very welcoming atmosphere. We also layered in high-end modern pieces that exude a sense of luxury and comfort and have a classic sensibility.”
Now, Kawaguchi believes her abode is finally complete. “It’s a very contemporary home, but also very warm,” she says of the redesign. “I really love that combination.” Adds Roberts, “Meredith was a dream to work with, and the project came together effortlessly. Every time I’m there, I feel peaceful, happy and connected in the environment—especially with such good company.”