Ridge Oak Residence

Austin, Texas

Built in 1950, this home is situated on the crest of a 150-foot bluff in the Highland Park neighborhood of north Austin. Overlooking views of Lake Austin, the Texas Hill Country, and Austin’s iconic Pennybacker Bridge, the house was originally designed by prominent Austin architect Howard R. Barr, FAIA, as his family home. New owners were drawn to the large lot, the expansive views, and classic mid-century design which had been left largely untouched over the years. The modest 2,176 square foot home, however, required much needed modernization.

Barr’s original design, a low-slung brick ranch-style home, featured a central hallway with bedrooms off of each side. The house also included 10-foot ceilings throughout—an unusual, though innovative characteristic in the ‘50s—that were maintained in the renovation and carried through the addition. The design preserves the front façade of the home, its horizontal painted brick coursing with broad spacing, wood siding, and punched opening proportions, but expands the home’s existing footprint and reorganizes the floor plan to create a flow of modern living spaces.

The additions transform the original linear plan three-bedroom, two-bathroom house to 3,696 square feet by enlarging openings between spaces to enable each room to seamlessly transition from one to the next. Tucked discreetly behind each end of the existing house, the additional 1,500 square feet includes a kitchen, living room, and family room on one end, and a generous primary bedroom suite on the other end. Each space opens to the back yard to make the most of the site’s views. Reworked areas of the existing house now become en suite guest bedrooms, responding to the owners’ wishes to be able host visiting family members and guests.

The expansion used a cantilevered concrete foundation to protect the critical root zone of a large, centrally located heritage oak tree and centerpiece of the back yard. An infinity pool and adjacent deck are located along the ridge at the back edge of the property, offering unrivaled views.