Design Excellence Awards

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Residential Design Excellence Award
Presented to Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
Llano Retreat
Mason, Texas

Project Description:

Located on a remote stretch of the Llano River and first found from years of fly fishing, this property was originally used as a campsite for family weekend retreats from Austin. After years of getting to know the ranch land, the family chose a site for their home at the top of a hill overlooking the river, only accessible through a low water crossing. The design is a result of the knowledge of the landscape and the desire to retain the connection to nature.

The home is centered around a relaxed living room, flanked by expansive windows that provide unobstructed views to the landscape and open to the outdoor entertaining areas. Deep overhangs above the glass allow the sun to fully penetrate in the winter for passive heating and shade the interior in summer months. Operable doors and windows are designed to allow the natural southern breezes to flow through the house during the summer.

Building materials were also carefully chosen to complement the landscape. Locally sourced limestone combines with warm douglas fir structural wood and rich shou sugi ban siding to form a rustic, yet refined palette that transitions from inside to out. The raw strength of steel is elegantly expressed in design of the stair, completely self-supporting and the focal center of the home. Balanced by warm woods, white walls and concrete floors, steel appears throughout also in the custom fireplace and even in the kitchen cabinetry detailing.

The selection of the furniture further reinforces the desire to bring comfort, grounding and a connection to the landscape. In the dining room, a custom live edge walnut table combines with chairs upholstered with vintage military tents dyed into a weathered indigo. Soft gray upholstery, hand woven rugs and rich leathers compliment the interiors for a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere overlooking the rustic hill country landscape.