When Patti and Steve Kubala first moved to Austin, they lived at Slaughter Lane and South MoPac Boulevard because that was what they could afford.
"We were not suburban," Patti Kubala says. Having lived in Houston, Patti Kubala's goal was to move somewhere inside "the loop." In Austin's case, that would be between Interstate 35 and MoPac Boulevard and Ben White Boulevard and U.S. 183.
They lived in that South Austin house for five years. Even though they had just redone the yard, Patti Kubala says she knew that if they didn't make the move, they never would.
"I thought she was crazy," Steve Kubala says.
They found a cute 1,082-square-foot 1939 house with a Federalist-sytle front in the Brykerwoods neighborhood. It had its challenges, like the washer and dryer shed that was home to an opossum. It also lacked storage, which meant keeping Christmas boxes up high and hoping one didn't fall on your head as you pulled them down. The two bedrooms shared a small bathroom. When guests came, Steve Kubala says, "you felt like you were sleeping in the same room."
Oh, and when it rained, water came into the house through the front door and damaged the oak floors.
Yet they lived in it for 18 years before seriously exploring remodeling it. At one point they considered selling it and finding another place that would better suit them, but then a real estate agent told them a bitter truth: "Your home is a tear-down," Patti Kubala remembers. They couldn't let that happen.
Saturday and Sunday, the home, which is now 1,720 square feet, is one of 10 on the Austin chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry's Tour of Remodeled Homes.
Clint Garwood of Garwood Architecture designed the transformation, and Jonathan Traylor of Meridian Custom Homes brought it to life. Tait Moring did the landscape design.
Garwood reimaged the home's layout and feel completely. "We couldn't have come up with it," Steve Kubala says. "He listened."
Garwood did not scrap everything. He kept some of the cool elements of the home's design, like the brick simple front and the carved fireplace. Some of the walls' original shiplap now skirts the base of the kitchen island. Other places, like the foyer wall and the master bedroom headboard wall, are notched to look like shiplap.
The Kubalas were definitely on a budget, so Patti Kubala did her homework to find less expensive but nice-looking cabinet pulls on Amazon and ceramic tile with a floral white and gray design from Home Depot that is in both bathrooms and the laundry room.
The plans called for a window wall that would open up to a courtyard, but pricing that made it seem out of reach. They found local vendor Presidio Steel Doors & Windows, which came up with an affordable option.
With careful thought and planning, they ended up within 6 percent of the original budget and done in 13 months, which included some challenges with rain.
"You got a beautiful done home within your budget," Garwood said.
One of the things the Kubalas wanted was a formal dining room. Garwood redesigned the front living room into the dining room, but anyone could transform it back into a living room or an office with a change of furniture. Tray ceilings and the ornate fireplace give the home a touch of a French look that Patti Kubala wanted.
Other features in the home such as the white and gray palette, clean lines, quartz counters and the wall of windows in the living room give it the more contemporary feel that the Kubalas also wanted.
The floors are a wider plank oak than the original floors, which they would have loved to keep, but previous refinishing and water damage made them not salvageable.
Some of the best advice Garwood gave them was to purge the home of all the stuff. The Kubalas had an estate sale and only brought back things that had meaning to them, like the dining room table, which as the first piece of furniture they bought together, and artwork.
They wanted to have the clean look in gray and white while letting the artwork provide the color and character.
Garwood provided statement ceilings in many of the rooms. The living room and bedroom both have vaulted ceilings. The living room's ceiling features wood that extends the look of the courtyard's porch ceiling. He also created tucked-in spaces such as two alcoves that serve as offices. Steve Kubala's is in the hallway between the living room and bedroom, and Patti Kubala's is off the master bedroom.
The guest bedroom is now completely separate from the master bedroom and has its own large bathroom that doubles as the powder room. While the master bedroom has a large, well-appointed closet, Garwood maximized space in the guest bedroom by having a wall of cabinets instead of a traditional closet.
Garwood enclosed the former carport and created a laundry and storage space that no longer plays host to opossums. It does have a stuffed animal one that neighbors gave as a joke.
In their new house, things are just easier. "It lives really, really well," Patti Kubala says.
"There is nothing we would change," she says.
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