Ron Rendon first saw his house in the early 2000s. He was driving around and wandered onto this street. He loved its midcentury modern vibe and its limestone rock wall, but it wasn't for sale.
After that, he could never find that street again.
Then, in 2004, as he was looking to buy a house, his real estate agent began sending him listings. When he saw the listing for this one, he says, he remembers thinking, "'I think it's that house.' I had to have it."
It was meant to be.
Rendon lived in the circa-1956 house for about a decade without making significant changes, but at the urging of his parents, who sometimes come visit and stay with him, he decided to undertake a remodel.
The result will be on display Oct. 27-28 as one of the 14 homes on the American Institute of Architects Austin Homes Tour.
Rendon worked with Matt Fajkus and Sarah Johnson of Matt Fajkus Architecture. Royce Flournoy of Texas Construction Co. was the contractor.
Johnson and Fajkus took Rendon's personality and his collection of pop culture and film artifacts into account when planning the house. One big goal was to make the space flow in a more efficient manner. "I enjoy the space much more than before," Rendon says.
Johnson added about 200 square feet onto the original floor plan that allowed the addition of a study and powder room, as well as redesigning the space to provide an open kitchen and living room and a modern laundry room instead of the add-on space that was the laundry room. That original laundry room might have been a side porch that was later enclosed.
They were not able to keep many of the home's original elements. The rock wall that Rendon loved wasn't structurally sound, so they had to re-create it. The roofline also was very low compared with today's homes; they raised the roof over the main house but kept the roof over the carport the same.
Popping up the main roof provided the opportunity to add clerestory windows to bring in a lot of light. The higher roof now presents a great look at the branches of the large trees that surround the property.
A chance opportunity arrived when the window company sent two large windows for the kitchen area instead of just the one. The planned window would face the patio behind this part of the house. For the front of the house, Johnson had planned to have just one skinny tall window and make the rest the rock wall. But this extra window begged to be positioned across from its counterpart.
The only problem? Rendon would be on display for the whole neighborhood to see in his kitchen. People walking their dogs and pushing strollers might see him making breakfast in the morning. For several weeks, they asked him, "How is it going to feel standing in your kitchen on a Saturday morning?"
The solution was a pocket shade for privacy that still lets light in. He thought the shade would be down 90 percent of the time, but after it took two months for the shade to come in, Rendon got used to not using the shade.
Now, Rendon says, he enjoys seeing the neighbors walk by, and the window is a great place for decorations at Christmastime.
"I love that window," he says.
In the kitchen, Johnson chose a simple palette of gray, black and white with gray cabinets, white Caesarstone counters, and a gray-and-white large-format tile backsplash. That tile is mirrored in the patio wall that visually extends from the backsplash in one line.
In addition to the rock of the front wall, more natural elements come into the house to soften it. Cypress wood planks stained like cedar cover the ceiling of the kitchen and patio as well as some of the walls on the patio.
One of Fajkus' favorite parts of the house is the hallway that connects the bedrooms, laundry room and study. As you walk down the hallway, there's a moment where it's very intimate, and then it magically opens up to the expanse of the living area.
Rendon remembers that feeling of awe that first morning when he walked down the hall into the living room and felt the space just open up. "Wow, oh, wow," he remembers thinking. "Having a home like this ... it's so gorgeous," he says.
Another place where Johnson played with parallels in the house is in the study and second bathroom. The windows and frosted glass doors in the study and second bedroom line up to create a line of light that moves from one side of the hallway to the other.
When Johnson and Rendon were stuck on which finishes to choose, they consulted with Joel Mozersky, who came up with the idea of turning subway tiles vertically in the bathrooms and using brass in the bathroom fixtures and drawer pulls.
The two bathrooms have similar features, and the outdoor shower uses the same tile found in the backsplash and patio but in a shade closer to black than gray.
Rendon says his favorite part of the house, though, "changes every day." At first it was seeing all the trees through the windows, he says. Then it was the master bathroom and the outdoor shower. "The list keeps growing," he says.
Neighbors have responded by thanking Rendon for keeping the look of the house the same and in keeping with the neighborhood. "The first thing everyone tells me: 'Man, it's so nice it doesn't look like it sticks out like a sore thumb.' I love this neighborhood so much."