A New Home Honors a Historic Neighborhood

A New Home Honors a Historic Neighborhood

“Everybody who visits this house believes it’s been here for 100 decades,” says builder Chris Risher of RisherMartin Fine Homes. While he enjoys old homes, he and his wife started from the ground up for this one, building a new home full of modern amenities but with an antique feel.

Risher discovered a vacant lot in Travis Heights, a recognized community in Austin, Texas, also constructed a house that blended right in with the neighboring homes, which were constructed between 1910 and 1950. “I looked to the older homes of New Orleans for inspiration, using their fundamental hallways and double-decker porches,” he states. Here’s a look at how conventional details can make a house look like it’s been about a century.

in a Glance
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: Approximately 2,400 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms
Year constructed: 2009
Architect: Rick O’Donnell

Rick O’Donnell Architect

Reclaimed Chicago brick will help give the house real patina — those bricks are over a hundred years old. Three collections of glass doors open onto the front porch.

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The main entry is the set of doors. Risher calls this house a house because this fundamental hallway lines up using the door. (The original meaning of “shotgun house” meant one could shoot a bullet through the front door and out the back door)

The entry feels very open due to several features — the glass doors and their large transoms, the French doors that lead to the study, the white grooved shiplap siding and the 8-foot doors and 10-foot ceilings. “I chose the French doors for the study so I could close out the sound when necessary but still keep that visual link,” he states.

French doors: Supa Doors

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The kitchen has a superb feel, yet it is still up to date. Beadboard walls, a subway tile backsplash, crown molding, slim brick flooring, a cherry breakfast bar counter tops, vintage-style stools, schoolhouse pendant lighting and traditional millwork give a nostalgic feel. The high ceilings, white paint, stainless steel appliances and vent hood, pot filler, Caesarstone counters and glass-front cabinets make it feel fresh.

“The best cabinets reverse up and are fantastic for display,” says Risher.

Beadboard: Nantucket Beadboard; range and stainless backsplash: Thermador; counters: Caesarstone

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“My wife discovered this piece of furniture, and I modified it to function at vanity elevation,” says Risher. Height is added by employing a vessel sink helps to reclaimed furniture dressing table.

Vessel faucet: Kohler; faucets: Rohl

RisherMartin Fine Homes

“The U-shaped stairwell is small and tight, so we opened it up using a 6-foot from 10-foot window,” Risher states. “It makes it a very nice space to maintain.” His father, John Risher, created the stained glass portion, a different element of older houses in the region.

“I chose red bamboo flooring to use throughout the house, since it is precisely what you’d see in an older home,” Risher states. The railroad is cherrywood.

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“When you’re trying to provide a new home an older feel, it is all in the details,” Risher states. In the master bath, these details include a two-paneled doorway (used throughout the house), beadboard wainscoting, glass doorknobs, an octagonal-tile floor and a claw-foot tub.

RisherMartin Fine Homes

Black Corian counters, compact cabinets, glass doors and simple drapes give a more modern look to the bathroom, while the tile information and arch before the window give vintage style.

Three sets of double doors echo the doors below and direct to the upper porch, giving the second floor lots of outdoor access. “The upstairs has excellent views of a greenbelt that runs through the area,” Risher states.

RisherMartin Fine Homes

Out back Risher was careful to maintain a giant live oak tree that provides a great deal of colour to the house and patio. A detached two-car garage has additional space for his woodworking tools.

Risher and his wife have since proceeded because of their growing family and have passed their dream home onto a different family.

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