When recent architecture grad Michael Viviano was commissioned by his parents to design their new home, he didn’t see it as simply a family favour. Instead he embraced the project challenges, creating a wonderfully unique and modern home to accompany the newly purchased site.
The brief was to design a home that would accommodate his parents’ busy lifestyle, and also serve as a hub for their close-knit family. Positioned on a busy and constricted corner block in a bustling part of Houston, Texas, the internal and external spaces needed to cultivate a quiet sense of calm. As well as having both his parents as clients, Michael also had the added dynamic of his mother, (an interior designer herself with years of construction experience) who was undertaking the project build.
The narrow site location encouraged the building to sit on the furthest side away from the road, and open itself alongside a linear garden of orderly planting to act as a natural screen. Both levels of the house were organised along corridors at the garden’s edge so interior light and views were maximised, washing the home in natural light all day round.
Part of Michael’s challenge was easing his parent’s tradition from a series of more traditional homes to a more modern setting. To satisfy both classic and contemporary tastes, the design includes a familiar gable façade and is a nod to the European and American vernaculars to which the parents were partial, while the building’s striking exterior exudes a raw, modern aesthetic with custom concrete bricks at ground level, and tongue and groove larch exterior cladding above. The elongated bricks sit horizontally to give a contemporary linearity, softened by a slurred mortar and muted appearance. The larch cladding is left in its natural state to weather to an imperfect silver.
The interior is restricted to white gypsum, concrete, white oak and a few variations of natural stone, staging a clean and streamlined backdrop to house the family’s sizeable collection of antique and vintage furniture alongside new contemporary additions. The living and kitchen zones created are gallery-like, creating the perfect interior canvas to work in and alongside. A soft palette plays out through the simplistic and raw concrete floors, expansive white walls and ceilings, and mass of oversized windows and light-filled spaces.
Wood flooring features in the second level bedrooms and bathrooms, with the continuing palette giving a minimalist and European feel. The clever master bedroom design offers separate bathroom options and walk in robes. Wonderful high, gabled ceilings give a true lofty feel, with generous windows creating a treetop vista.
The talented family enmeshment of architect and interior designer brought on by the project has sprouted a cohesive design-build practice where mother and son now work together. It could be said this project was a true success in more ways than one!