Architectural lines from the South of France translate beautifully in Texas hill country.

By Sally Finder Weepie and Adam Fortner
May 07, 2021
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Wander through cut-stone archways and under massive old wood beams. Pause to take in a lifetime's worth of collected pieces—furnishings, art, objects. Pass through intricately hand-carved doors to a stone-tiled patio where azure water laps near gently swaying fan palms. Absorb the best of old-world Mediterranean beauty—half a world away in the hills near Austin.

exterior stone house driveway tile roof
Credit: Dror Baldinger

"The homeowner, Sharon Michie, is an avid traveler, and this home is inspired by her experiences and the places she's fallen in love with in France and Spain," architect Ryan Street says. "The scale and proportions are all drawn from what you'd expect in a Mediterranean hill town. But this is also Texas. It wouldn't work to copy a home on the Mediterranean coast and plop it down in Austin."

Instead, Street began with a vision of honestly raising a new home from the Texas soil. "It's always about how a house lays out on a piece of property," he says. "I respond to what's there. Here, that meant working around existing old oak trees and the hilly setting so the house feels like it belongs to the land."

ornate stone entryway tile roof
Credit: Dror Baldinger

Street created a home featuring an evolved take on Mediterranean architecture that works in the modern world.

open stone patio water views
Credit: Dror Baldinger

"Ryan designed the most beautiful keystone archways—the perfect frames for views," Sharon says. Cozy chairs and a limestone fireplace encourage lingering on the covered patio.

The footprint rambles along like a little village in the hills of Europe with expansive windows and glass doors opening to bucolic views. "It's really like we were creating a garden with a home in it," Street says. "Each room connects with the outdoors."

interior stone house large window bench
Credit: Dror Baldinger

Modern steel windows contrast old beams and rough-hewn stone walls in the entry.

The architect's approach nods to old-world construction—the house feels like it could have been built when there was no electrical lighting or air-conditioning—while it also speaks to today's very real desire for a home that welcomes abundant sunshine and fresh breezes.

"It's about understanding why old homes were built the way they were," Street says. "The key is not copying Mediterranean architecture because we love it but to understand why the things we love are the way they are. Natural light and ventilation were important then, and they're important now."

ornate stone hallway red runner rug
Credit: Dror Baldinger

Reclaimed doors, antique furnishings, and art pieces, along with a lively patterned rug, bring warmth to a passageway defined by a groin-vault ceiling and graceful archways.

stone living room wood beam ceiling
Credit: Dror Baldinger

"I wanted to create an environment that encourages you to relax and stay a while," Sharon says of the living room. "Ryan provided a classic backdrop of stone walls, antique French limestone fireplace surrounds, and Venetian plaster that makes any style of furnishings feel perfect and welcoming."

Similarly, while Street was inspired by Mediterranean construction, he felt no need to reach across the sea for building materials. He employed local stone and reclaimed wood for the brawny block walls, burnished floor coverings, and warm plank-and-beam ceilings. "Everything from the flooring to the plants fits the place," Street says.

ornate wood library desk
Credit: Dror Baldinger

The beauty of wood unfurls in the library, which overlooks one of the property's beloved old trees. Along with items from Sharon's travels, the home features antiques that she and Street handpicked from Pittet Architecturals and Country French Interiors in Dallas.

"Sharon has a passion for collecting art and architectural elements," Street says. "She was very involved with shaping the personality of this space based on things she's collected."

window seating overlooking garden patio
Credit: Dror Baldinger

Antique furnishings, art, and architectural objects grace each room, providing places for body and mind to linger. Street was careful, though, to resist the temptation to pack rooms full of Sharon's treasures.

"There's so much potential to overdo it," he says. "Editing is the hardest part of creating a house like this. It's important to be very deliberate with how the decor settles into the architecture. We made sure to give elaborate art a clean canvas for display. It's a gallery-like setting—there's no competition with other things."

dining room table chairs by window
Details on fixtures and furnishings speak to old-world artisanship.
| Credit: Dror Baldinger

That approach illustrates the modern edge that Street brought to old-world architecture. Clean-lined elements—including sleek new sofas and a wealth of black steel-framed windows and doors—juxtapose the ornate. Comfort and airiness supplant dated and dusty. Fun replaces fussiness.

kitchen wood beamed ceiling steel cabinets
Credit: Dror Baldinger

A La Cornue range and cabinetry infuse French flair into Sharon's cooking space.

arched walk-in wine cellar
Credit: Dror Baldinger

The latest wine preservation technology safeguards favorite vintages in a space that also offers notes of the time-honored wine cellar.

bedroom high ceiling wood posts
Credit: Dror Baldinger

The delicate lines of a four-poster bring elegance to a well-appointed sanctuary.

open stone bathroom tub at window
Credit: Dror Baldinger

A hand-carved stone bathtub stars in a delightfully indulgent private retreat.

grey hand-carved stone bathtub
Credit: Dror Baldinger

Another stone tub boasts flowing contemporary lines that give it a sculptural effect.

real view sprawling estate pool
Credit: Dror Baldinger

"The Castle," as Sharon's grandchildren call her home, is a destination, a place where memories are made.

stone infinity pool overlooking water
Credit: Dror Baldinger

Mediterranean style meets modern Texas living at the pool, which visually connects to the lake beyond.

"It's a house that lives well," Street says. "It's beautiful, but it also works for a modern family. We were honest with what we were creating. We're not trying to fool anyone and say this is Italy—the house is not a caricature. It's an evolved take on Mediterranean style. That makes it feel authentic. It makes it one very special house."

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