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Austin Homes Tour: Q & A with Restructure Studio

By Ramya Ramachandran

Photo by Leonid Furmansky

The AIA Austin Homes Tour is an annual event that highlights 14 of the best homes within the city of Austin, Texas. A collaboration of work, it’s a unique opportunity for both designers and architects to showcase their talents. The homes showcase a range of styles, techniques, construction, materials, and execution.

I had a chance to visit several of the homes to learn more about the collaborative work between the construction team, designer, and architect, as well as the owner.

The first of the series is the Lockhart residence by Restructure Studio. Restructure studio is a small female team of five, who specializes in custom residential work with a focus on sustainable and green building practices. Carina Coel is the founder and principal and has been practicing architectural design since 2003. The Lockhart residence is a great example of her work and the firm, highlighting the design of sustainability with smart home features, energy star design, modern finishes, and affordability.

The AIA Home Show describes this home as:

“…a single family home situated in the centrally located Travis Heights neighborhood. Sustainable design was considered in every decision and the home is on course to achieve a 5-star Green Building rating with Austin Energy. The home is equipped with many smart home features including smart locks on all exterior doors and a Lutron smart lighting system. The goal was to provide a home that combines excellent  design, sustainability, and smart home features while meeting the client’s budget.”

I sat down with Carina to chat more about the behind the scenes work. Here is what she had to say about the magnificent home.

Photo by Leonid Furmansky

How did this project begin? Did the client find you?

“Yes, we were invited to an interview by the clients. They found our firm online, and during the interview process it was discovered that we had a mutual friend from college!”

What was it like working on this project and with the client?

“This project was a joy to work on! The clients were very engaged throughout the whole process, which I have found to be one of the main factors in a successful project. From the beginning, the clients asked for a 5-star green rated home that could also be a potential candidate for the AIA Homes Tour. It was a great challenge.”

How long did this project/construction take to complete?

“We started to design at the end of 2015. Construction started about a year later in the fall of 2016. The owners moved into their new home in October of 2017.”

What are the key design/architectural elements and details that are prominent in this home?

“The owners were interested in a contemporary look for their project, but also wanted the space to feel warm and welcoming. Natural light was a big part of the design, as well as integrating the sustainable design elements necessary to achieve a 5-star Green Building rating with Austin Energy Green Building program.”

Did you collaborate with other trades/vendors/contractors, what was it like working as a cohesive team?

“Yes, I worked very closely with the general contractor on the project. I think it’s very important to have a tight-knit team between owner, contractor and architect. This way the communication is smooth, and expectations are in line for everyone.”

How does this home fit within the client’s lifestyle?

“This was the first custom home for these clients, and they have told me that they want to live in it for as long as they can! The clients are only in their 40’s, but we thought about aging-in-place concepts in the design of the house, so that it could continue to accommodate their needs as they grow older.”

Photo by Leonid Furmansky

Does this home blend in with the Austin/Texas lifestyle?

“I think it does. The lot for this project is very small, and one of the things that we were able to accomplish with the design was making the spaces feel open and airy, even though the overall square footage of the house was not very big. We also took care to integrate the outdoors into the house with a well-placed screened porch, as well as cozy back deck.”

What were some of the challenges/obstacles that you had to overcome to complete this project?

“It was very important for the clients to have a well-designed home, which also met their budget. It was a fun challenge to incorporate thoughtful ways to keep the home interesting while not breaking the bank.”

Any tips/advice you would like to give future homeowners?

“Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to hire an architect and go through the design process on a new home or remodel, but I promise it is worth the time and expense! You will end up with a space that truly meets your needs and is also inspiring. Your home is something that you engage with every day, and making it a beautiful, functional space is priceless!”

Restructure studio continues to push the boundaries of design, by creating innovative and sustainable homes. While we look forward to seeing what’s new and upcoming with this firm, you can learn more about Carina and her team at  www.restructurestudio.com, as well as on Facebook and Instagram, @restructurestudio.

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