Neither David Webber nor any of his associates at Webber + Studios Inc., could quite pinpoint the original style of the 1930s brick home that the firm redesigned for a growing family in the Bryker Woods section of Austin, Texas, so Webber contrived a name that was descriptive of its mixed styles — Cape Cod Eclectic Revival. Today, after having completed a total remodel of the home using energy-efficient and green materials, as well as doubling its size from 1,600 to 3,500 sq. ft., only a single word needs to be added to Webber’s description: Modern Cape Cod Eclectic Revival.
So complete is the transformation that very little of the resulting home bears much resemblance to its previous form. The single remaining exterior touchstone from the original home is a brick archway in front. The rest is a pleasing mix of new and old.
Most strikingly, the new home is now much taller than it had been. It has two full floors of living space and an unfinished third-floor attic for a planned future expansion. To ensure that the new, taller structure fit with the older, smaller-scale homes in the neighborhood, Webber designed enormous matching gables running two and one-half stories high, up from the front of the home and down the back. The gables accomplish two goals. First, they help the home read to passersby more like the one-story cottage it once was. Second, the gables’ dramatic massing, (complete with a sleek metal roof), provide an unmistakably modern flair.
To Webber, whose team leans toward ultra-modern styles in its new construction projects, this remodel was about providing the client with solutions that fit their needs (i.e., four small children and a desire to live in a greener more sustainably built home). It was not about experimenting with new forms. But in the end, Webber says the project has garnered more favorable attention than they expected from their clients, the design community and from neighbors.
“I have been very happy that this project has gotten so much positive response. It is more than I anticipated, frankly,” says Webber. “I think what most people appreciate are houses that are comfy and homey. And this is a pretty comfy house. It is a good, solid, beautiful house. It works on those merits alone. It is not trying to be anything bigger than that. As architects, we are always thinking that we want something to be bigger and more important. This one is an artwork, but it is more of a functional, cozy piece of artwork.”
An Open and Cozy Floor Plan