A Place In Time

Historical renovations can be tricky. How to honor and preserve the past while making a cherished dwelling livable in the present and ready for the future? An Austin architect, builder and homeowner did just that.

The Tudor Revival-style facade of the three-bedroom, two-bath cottage built in 1938 on a .21-acre lot in the Old West Austin Historic District conveys a romantic appeal complete with steeply pitched gable roofs, decorative stonework and dormer windows. Originally built with two bedrooms and a bath, an addition in the 1950s enlarged the footprint.

Known as the Lolla Peterson House — named for Austinite Peterson who bought the house in 1957 — the house has been designated a City of Austin Historic Landmark and as such comes under strict standards by the Historical Landmark Commission, including “contemporary design for iterations and additions to existing properties are appropriate when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant historic, architectural, or cultural material....” [Source: Historical Landmark Commission, Application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, Lolla Peterson House, September 26, 2016]. In April of 2019, the house will available for viewing on the Austin NARI Tour of Remodeled Homes.

“We took great care not to damage or change the front elevation of the home while remodeling the interior,” says Greg Hayslett, LEED AP, project manager at Fazio Architects in Austin. The builder on the project was Avenue B Development of Austin.

The home’s interior, says Hayslett, was a different story, and extended far beyond simply cosmetic. “The interior was gutted to the studs. Many walls were moved, removed or changed.” A highly efficient HVAC system and an open cell foam insulation package was installed, along with new, energy efficient windows throughout, with two exceptions: the two windows on the front façade of the house. Red River Restorations replicated the historic large arched transom window and the diamond-paned window out of Sipo mahogany, preserving the original leaded glass diamond panes.

Hayslett and the owner spent a great deal of time developing the style and design of the home to bring out all the new parts and pieces they wanted while savoring the influence of the past. “Much of the success of the project was a direct result of the client’s sophisticated sense of style and vision. And, of course, the contractor is the one who had to do all the hard work in order to bring that vision to life. It truly was a collaborative experience,” says Hayslett. The design evolved during the project allowing many new modern elements to be incorporated.

Those modern elements are everywhere, starting with the basics that form a backdrop for the rest of the improvements: wall and trim paint in Sherwin-Williams® Anew Gray; and gorgeous flooring throughout in Valencia Hardwood in Bora Bora.

The kitchen gleams with features and conveniences that could only be dreamed of in the 1930s: Refrigerator by KitchenAid®; stove and oven by Lacanche French Ranges; and countertops in Torquay quartz by Cambria with backsplash Architectonics tile by Waterworks in Pumice Glossy Crackle. The faucets in Satin Brass by Waterworks complement the burnished brass cabinet pulls by Restoration Hardware. Perimeter cabinets painted in Sherwin-Williams Eider White add contrast to the kitchen island in Sherwin-Williams Black Magic. Overhead, Hollis Pendants by Hudson Valley Lighting illustrate a unique take on the traditional lantern.

In an effort to preserve the original façade of the house while allowing more opportunities to brighten the home with natural light, Hayslett explains, “We wanted to bring in more light to the deep living space, but because the house was originally built within the side setback of the property, adding additional windows would have had a negative impact on the privacy of the home. The solution was these spectacular skylights that flooded the entire living space with light and provided additional views into the massive tree canopy.”

The dining area just off the main living area is an elegant mix of old and new with a traditional style dining set illuminated by a Darlana Large Linear Lantern modern chandelier by Circa Lighting, along with the soft glow from a fireplace framed by Honed White Stone from Materials Marketing.

Leading to the gym floor over the semi-attached garage, a decidedly modern staircase of solid oak treads were cut to allow a small LED tape light to fit in the overhang on the risers. The floating look was achieved by painting the risers solid black.

The master bathroom exudes a spa-like ambience with Vallelunga Memento Thala ceramic and porcelain tile from Stone Solutions, beautifully set off by a Caesar Wood Tile Wall in Walnut. Countertops are Caesarstone in Fresh Concrete Matte and the shower flooring is River Pebbles from Island Stone. The decorative light over the tub is from Hubbardton Forge Lighting.

One of the owner’s requests was for the back of the house to feel open to the backyard. “We used a custom vendor to design and install the floor-to-ceiling steel and glass walls with doors to meet this requirement,” says Hayslett.

If this 2,279-square-foot house could talk, it would likely tell touching tales of kindhearted Lolla Peterson’s almost three decades’ association with the Travis County Welfare Department as a staffer and later serving as director for many of those years. Some called her “Godmother to the poor,” while others dubbed her “fairy princess to the needy of Travis County” — a fitting title for the inhabitant of a charming storybook cottage with timeless appeal.


ARCHITECT   Fazio Architects

512-494-0643   |   www.fazioarchitects.com


BUILDER   Avenue B Development

512-585-6097   |   www.avenuebdev.com