Fit for a Family

When Matthew Dussling and Michelle Adams got married, they instantly became a family of six and needed a home that would comfortably accommodate all of them while providing them with the lifestyle they were seeking.

Putting it all together was a little bit of a logistical challenge,” recalls Dussling of the process of relocating Adams and her three children to Austin to join him and his daughter, and finding a home that would work for their newly expanded family. Armed with a clear vision of what they wanted and the right architects, they were able to reshape an existing home on a spectacular double lot to fit their family which includes four children, now ranging in age between 8 and 16. 

“We wanted a house that served three purposes,” Dussling explains. “One, we wanted to be close to downtown. Two, we wanted privacy. And three, we wanted large open spaces where we could all be comfortable, whether it is just Michelle and I or six or seven or eight of us hanging out and spending time together.” 

It’s evident they got everything they wanted and more with the help of Jobe Corral Architects, which transformed a previously dark, disjointed and dated 1980’s Westlake house into an open, warm and contemporary home. Situated on a creek on a spacious private lot just over an acre, a home once riddled with distracting geometry and 45-degree angles is now defined by clean lines, sunlight-filled open spaces and an innovative use of unique materials. 

“They really liked their location and they loved the lot,” says project architect Ada I. Corral, AIA. “But everything in the home was very broken up and it wasn’t taking advantage of the site at all. The home had very small rooms, tiny windows, it lacked natural light and had no view to their beautiful yard which is one thing they really loved about the house. Plus they didn’t have enough bedrooms for the kids.”  

Dussling says the question soon became: “How do you take a house that is compartmentalized and create an open space where we can all hang out?” The solution required a complete interior and exterior renovation which included the addition of a detached garage, conversion of old garage to living space, extensive front and backyard landscaping, a new outdoor kitchen and screened porch, fire pit and pool resurfacing. The family moved into the house in September 2012 and Corral began working on the initial phases of the project until she and Camille Urban Jobe, AIA, merged their companies in 2014. As one of their first collaborations under their new firm, the redesign included opening up the existing layout, taking advantage of beautiful backyard views and cleaning up the 1980’s floor plan by creating a stronger, more fluid connection between interior spaces and minimizing vertical changes throughout the home. 

“At the firm we talk a lot about finding opportunities for interesting design –– about making something interesting out of a challenge,” says Corral. “We needed to design a space that worked for all of them without making huge rooms, and at the same time give them different areas of the house they could retreat to.” 

An addition took the previously 3,820-square-foot home to 4,340-square-feet (plus a 520-square-foot garage) by incorporating an extra bedroom, a playroom and an office. Most of the walls of the interior living areas were demolished and reconfigured to have straight lines and the bathroom between the great room and the kitchen was eliminated to expand and connect the spaces. The previously sunken living room had a huge stone fireplace at the end which blocked the view to the outdoors so it was removed and replaced with an oversized window which brings in enviable backyard views. The family lived in the home throughout the staggered construction phases, giving them a first-hand look at the transformation process. 

“The biggest task that we have with these massive renovation projects is not adding things but removing things,” says Jobe. “It is constantly editing out the distraction and the mess that comes with 80’s architecture and paring down the space.” 

For example, the living room had angled walls, a sunken floor and an octagonal recess in the ceiling. “Every time you had one of these strange geometric forms, they were covered with layers of trim and materials and detailing and decorative elements,” Jobe says. “We had to strip all of that out. Part of that was leveling out the floors and evening out the ceiling.”

Now white walls and cabinetry create a neutral palette while visual interest is created with conventional materials like steel and wood used in slightly unconventional ways to provide richness and texture. Timeless elements include concrete countertops in the kitchen, steel detailing on the book shelves and wine glass racks, and the use of shou sugi ban (burned wood) throughout the home’s interiors. The walnut ceiling detail in the sitting area ties into the walnut floors that flow throughout the house. The kitchen, complete with an expansive sinker cypress island large enough to seat all six family members, creates an ideal everyday gathering spot for mealtimes without interrupting the function and flow of the space. 

“The day of the photo shoot, we brought dinner over for the family and we had all of this food at the island and we were watching all of them sitting and talking and eating and laughing,” says Corral. “It was really great to see how they get to do this on a daily basis, which was the whole point of this house.” 

For larger dinners, charcoal painted paneling and charcoal wallpaper with gold embellishments wrap an intimate, elegant dining room that houses a 10-seat custom black walnut and steel frame dining table designed by Bryan Jobe of Jobe Fabrications. 

Halfway through construction, in the middle of an unusually cold winter, the couple decided they wanted a fireplace so the architects added a ventless fireplace which became a stunning focal point in the home, recalling elements found on the exterior and interior such as stucco, steel and Shou Sugi Ban. 

“It gives them the functionality they wanted without interrupting the views and provides visual interest as well,” says Corral. 

The home’s original exterior mimicked what was inside with an outdated 80’s look that distracted from rather than enhanced the beautiful surroundings. The exterior was given a facelift with natural, honest materials such as stucco, ipe, steel and flatwork consisting of large irregular limestone pieces dry set without mortar. A three-level deck consists of a top level extending directly from the living and sitting area, a middle area for dining and a lower area for outdoor cooking and poolside entertaining. Jobe Corral Architects recruited local landscape designer and ecologist David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting to create a native design that was clean and modern but also looked like it was part of the creek and the surrounding environment. The deck and interior of the pool was resurfaced to create softer curves, giving it a more natural presence enhanced by Mahler’s use of large limestone terraces and native plantings. Whether inside or outside, the home provides a relaxing refuge for a busy family of six.

“It is very calming,” Jobe says. “And I think in a family of six when you have all that going on and you are coming and going at so many times with so many different activities, this really says something. It’s like a welcoming home base.”

From their centrally-located home, getting downtown is a breeze and the kids can walk to and from their schools. Each person has a bedroom where they can retreat to, but the communal spaces are now large enough for everyone to gather together for a conversation, meal or movie night.

“At the end of the day, this is a comfortable place for all of us,” Dussling says. “Michelle and I both travel a lot so on the weekends we just wanted a retreat. It’s definitely that.”

ARCHITECT Jobe Corral Architects

512.499.1591 |

BUILDER Woodeye Construction and Design

512.494.4294 |