Posts tagged Casa Marrakech
Backyard goals.

Perhaps one of the most ironic parts about our house is that the focus from the very beginning has been the inner courtyard, and yet somehow it has been the last thing to be finished.

Because of budget reasons the pool and all our landscaping for the back yard didn’t get completed with the house. That doesn’t mean that we weren’t planning ahead though. Our guest house is at the exact level as the main house, which meant until now it has been sitting awkwardly above grade. The pool that we added a year ago was also at the same level, meaning it too stuck above grade making it look like an above ground pool. There were also stub outs for gas and electric to go to the back yard.

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What it costs to build a pool

Let's just start this post off saying that I've wanted a pool since I was a little kid. My wife would probably argue that I am still a kid which is maybe why we have had a pool at every house we've lived while in Austin. You can see a few prime examples below. How much did they cost? Cheap. How long did they last? Not long enough. Did I love them? Abso-fucking-lutely. 

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Finding your space

Last year I was fortunate enough to have some talented friends over to help document our house and capture a few of my thoughts about what makes a good space. If you haven't already seen the gorgeous photos taken by Andrea Calo stop what you are doing right now and check them out here

Special thanks also goes out to Sisterwolf for getting me in front of a camera and picking my brain a bit about why I love architecture and the work I do. 

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Casa Marrakech

A house is never really done, and ours is still a long way from being finished, but we finally got to the point that we felt comfortable having photos taken of the space. Huge thanks to Andrea Calo for making a pretty good looking house look even better. Thanks also to Bercy Chen for the amazing house (architect and builder), Sasha our project manager, McCray & Co for the help with interior design, Westshop for help with landscaping, the Ankor boys and Clar for the custom couch, and all the other amazing people that helped out on the project. 

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Building a house : Looking back

I know a lot of you have been patiently waiting for photos of my house finished. There are a few tiny projects I'm finishing up still and then I promised I'll share. In the meantime we are finally at a good stopping point were I think it would be fun to stop and look at how far we've come. The two biggest questions I get about my house are how long did it take, and how much did it cost. So let's start with the first. I've broken down a rough timeline below of major milestones and noted where we could have moved faster. Cliff notes: it takes a long time to build a house.

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Progress report

It's crazy to think the last update was all the way back in February. Since then a lot has changed. It's still not much to look at from the street, between the dumpster, the fence and all the scaffolding. We're just waiting for the rain to pass so we can do our last coat of stucco. It's a white stucco with integral color, when finished it almost looks just like white concrete. With that and some metal screens that we have planned over the windows it should be looking lots better soon. You can see now that thanks to it being set below grade it doesn't look too imposing, despite being two stories. I parked my classic Range Rover there to help you with scale. :)

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Taking shape

I just looked back at my post from a month ago when our house had just gotten framed up, and I'm surprised at how much progress we've made. It's that awkward time where almost every day something new happens, but it doesn't feel like we are making any real progress. The reality is things are moving right along. All the rough plumbing is done, as is all the rough HVAC. Three of our sliding glass doors have been installed and the big pocket sliding door should go in next week. The roof is done, and the walls have been sheathed and waterproofed. When I list it all out like that it seems like a lot has happened. Most exciting though is the fact that the house and the spaces inside are starting to take shape. Let me give you a little tour.

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Update : Framing

The crazy thing about building a house is that some things happen really really slow, and others seem to happen really fast. We designed and schemed for over a year, waited for permits and bank approval for months, and in a matter of weeks our house has gone from a bare foundation to framing in the shape of our dreams.  We can actually wander around the space and imagine what the rooms will feel like and what it will be like to live in this home we helped design. Mind. Blown.

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Demo days

This week marks a monumental step in the progress of our house project, one that is met with mixed emotions. Our little house in east Austin is gone. In it's place is an empty lot full of dirt, a special pecan tree and most of all the promise of a dream come true. 

Designing and building a modern home has been a dream of mine for over 10 years. I started in 2005 to document my journey towards that goal, and after many starts, stops, reboots and full on failures I find myself now on the brink of the beginning. It's thrilling, terrifying and most of all exhausting. 

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The (true) cost of building a home

This post has been a long time coming. So long in fact you may have forgotten where we started from. So let's do a brief recap.

Two years ago my wife and I decided we wanted to build a modern home in East Austin, and we started looking for land.

16 months ago, we bought the house we are currently living in. Mostly we bought it for the lot, and the amazing tree, but we figured we would do a quick superficial remodel to it so we could live in it and save money while we designed our home. You can see the before and after photos of the remodel here

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Morocco Recap : Part 1 - Marrakech

If you remember from my earlier post, the whole point of going to Morocco was to gather inspiration for the construction of our home this summer. I fully expected to go there and find new inspiration I would want to incorporate into our house. Instead I found the backstory to all the design cues that Bercy Chen had incorporated into our design. I can honestly say I left the country with way more appreciation for the work Bercy Chen has done.

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Blackshear : Inspiration & First Renderings

If you get my newsletter, you know that last week we sat down with our architect Bercy Chen and took a first peek at the renderings and floor plans for our new house. I'm going to dig into them in a second, but I wanted to give you a little bit of history as to how we got to where we are. 

When we first met with Thomas Bercy, we had a decent sized list of requirements for our house. It must have a main house between. . .

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How to pick an Architect

As you may know by now, my wife and I are venturing down the path of building a new home. It's been a dream of mine for a long time now to design and build a home custom tailored to my life. Of course a big part of achieving that goal includes finding the right architect. 

When choosing an architect the question isn't "Who is the best architect in Austin", rather it should be "Who is the best architect in Austin for me?". Sure, on the most fundamental level you need to find someone with talent, who has a aesthetic that is similar to yours. I've compiled a short list of some of the most talented (in my opinion) modern architects in Austin that you can check out here.

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Blackshear Project : Before & After

After a few weeks of lingering projects, we've finally managed to wrap up most of the big things on our house. During the last week we made a big push and got some floating shelving with lighting installed in the kitchen, as well as some hanging Plumen lights for general lighting. I took a few minutes yesterday to take some photos of the (almost) finished project, and I thought it was a good time to share some before and after photos.

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Blackshear Project: Pool Time!

I like water. A lot. When I was a kid I could spend an entire summer day splashing around in a pool, and things haven't changed much. So when it comes to my house, I've always wanted a pool. Of course with the current temporary project, there is no way we could justify the cost of a real pool, unless said pool was a 30" deep 10'  wide kiddie pool that we picked up on clearance last year for $35. That is totally justifiable. Combine that with the large pile of sand that was mysteriously sitting in the middle of our back yard, and our outdoor game has totally stepped up a level. 

Turns out when it comes to doing childish things like cannonballs and handstands, 30" is all you need. Swim party anyone?

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Ikea gets a facelift

I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but in a former life, I used to build custom modern kitchens (check out Modern Union to see some of my past work, and the amazing work my old partner continues to do). Unfortunately after a stint of that, I became a certifiable kitchen snob. So when it came to a kitchen in my new house, I couldn't stand the idea of doing something bland or typical, even if I do plan on tearing the house down in a year. In order to try and balance cost and style, I decided to go with Ikea Akurum cabinets with custom walnut doors and drawers. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

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Blackshear Project : Moving time

Things have progressed quickly at our house project in the past few weeks. The kitchen is mostly installed, we have modern day conveniences like hot water and air conditioning, and out roof only leaks a little during heavy rain storms (ou vey!). This last week we started moving over some of our art, and a bit of furniture. The wall unit shown above is a piece I designed and built with my wife a few years ago. It's modeled after the classic Danish modular wall units, but I built it with supporting feet so it could be used free standing instead of attached to the wall. Something that was important as we moved from rental to rental.

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Blackshear Project: A (nearly) blank slate

It's been a few weeks since I've given any updates on our house remodel, but it's not because nothing has been happening. In fact a lot has been happening over there, and I'm finally ready to share a bit of the progress I've made. Before I do that, let's do a quick recap. Basically, I bought a house that I can remodel, live in for a year, and tear down. For the full details, check out my last post.

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Blackshear Project : The begining


Bucket list item #1. Build a new home. 

It's been on my list for a long time now, and I'm finally one step closer. Building a new home is a bit like eating an elephant. It's a seemingly impossible task, from finding where you want to live, understanding the ins and outs of the various different financing options, finding an architect, designing building and on and on and on. While it seems overwhelming, especially if finances are limited, where there is a will there is a way. The path I'm leveraging is all about baby steps. 

First, I knew I wanted to live in East Austin, so the next big issue is where I can actually afford to build. High home prices in Austin make finding affordable lots nearly impossible. On top of that financing a lot is quite a bit more difficult than financing a home, you typically need 20% - 30% down. My solution was to buy a house. More specifically the cheapest, must undesirable house I could find. An that's exactly what I did. 

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