Bringing the Lake Home

Time — or the lack of it — and distance made it difficult for an Austin family to get full use out of their second property on a nearby lake. So, they sold the lake house and asked architects April Clark, AIA and Ed Richardson, AIA if they could “bring the lake home.”

The project developed from their desire for a versatile outdoor living space custom designed and built as a complementary extension to their existing home while maximizing all the experiences possible at the site — from entertaining, watching games and preparing meals to swimming and sunbathing, or just having a morning cup of coffee while enjoying a spectacular view.

“They were interested in creating a home environment where their older children would enjoy hanging out at the house with their friends and where other social gatherings could take place in the natural beauty of their property,” the design team of Clark|Richardson says. “The clients desired a multi-use space that could be utilized throughout the year. To that end, we’ve provided a pool and sun deck for the summer months. The hot tub portion of the pool can be used year-round and is partially shaded by the cantilevered roof above.”

Formally, the structure is a steel canopy floating among the trees, sheltering a series of refined Lueders limestone masonry volumes forming the fireplace, grill and perimeter walls. The limestone creates a mood of enclosure, organizing the space into sitting, cooking and eating areas. The floating steel canopy rests gently on the ground on minimal steel points. The pavilion’s horizontality echoes the low hills towards the east. 

“The use of the narrow steel columns allows the structure to be more or less out of the way,” Clark|Richardson says. “The limestone volumes help frame the space while also providing privacy from neighboring properties and concealing functional elements like the pool equipment. The substantial cantilever on the steel canopy required thoughtful design on the part of the structural team and careful coordination with steel elements.”

To the opposite side, the canopy extends just over the edge of the pool, linking them spatially and visually. The existing land on the property sloped and, being fairly low, did not open to the stunning views beyond. Providing a minimal limestone plinth helped the transition from the high deck at the house to the lower areas adjacent to the pool and pavilion. “The pavilion consists of a fireplace and entertainment area for both family and guests and a simple outdoor kitchen/grilling area with a sink that opens up to the covered dining area,” Clark|Richardson says. “The broad, floating roof provides shade during the summer months and protection from inclement weather. Built-in flush heating elements keep the space comfortable during cooler weather with the help of a wood-burning fireplace.”

The outdoor kitchen provides ample counter space for prep around the grill. A wine fridge and ice machine adjacent to the grill and the sink allow the kitchen to double as a bar area for entertaining. Simple, recessed lighting in the floating ceiling plane provides functional light while two suspended elements — a large fan in the living area and a dining pendant — provide visual features to encourage gathering and use of the spaces. 

Shop-cut Lueders limestone panels were meticulously assembled on site with minimal quarter-inch deep grout lines. By connecting to an existing exterior stair and enlarging it, the pool deck provides an expanded outdoor living space. The use of dropped steel planters enabled the project to meet the International Building Code’s guardrail requirements while eliminating the visual obstruction of a steel guard rail and providing unobstructed views.

Materials were chosen to function for outdoor use, but also to be naturally beautiful as they weather over time. “The locally-honed Lueders limestone attains a patina that matches the tone of the earth and varies in appearance depending on the weather,” Clark|Richardson says. “The oxidized steel panels at both the kitchen and fireplace/TV area will also patina over time.” By integrating the prosaic requirements of wood storage for the fireplace as an elegant design component, function becomes beauty. 

“As a whole, our design for the project was to provide a place of prospect for the owners,” Clark|Richardson says. “They wanted the space to be able to take on both formal and informal entertaining opportunities.” Now the family can entertain on a large scale or simply enjoy breakfast while gazing at a limestone-framed sunrise just beyond the live oaks. 


ARCHITECT   Clark|Richardson Architects

512-636-7653  |


BUILDER   Buildworks, LLC


512-920-3439  |