Mediterranean Style Meets Modern Living in This Texas Retreat
Architectural lines from the South of France translate beautifully in Texas hill country.
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.
"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."
Street created a home featuring an evolved take on Mediterranean architecture that works in the modern world.
"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."
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."
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.
"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.
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."
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."
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.
A La Cornue range and cabinetry infuse French flair into Sharon's cooking space.
The latest wine preservation technology safeguards favorite vintages in a space that also offers notes of the time-honored wine cellar.
The delicate lines of a four-poster bring elegance to a well-appointed sanctuary.
A hand-carved stone bathtub stars in a delightfully indulgent private retreat.
Another stone tub boasts flowing contemporary lines that give it a sculptural effect.
"The Castle," as Sharon's grandchildren call her home, is a destination, a place where memories are made.
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."
- The original brown vaulted ceiling warms a spacious room with plenty of volume to hang two large chandeliers of abundant candlesticks, display paintings, and show off a mélange of fabrics in patterns that appear to be borrowed from the sea.
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