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Into the Woods: A Countryside Dream Home Becomes Reality
Story by Sam Byrd | Photos by Benjamin Hill Photography

When Mark and Amanda Basford were planning their home in the Magnolia area, just outside The Woodlands, Mark wanted a place that reminded him of his childhood visits to see family. After all, the couple had six acres available for their plans, so nearly anything was possible. After a few consultations they decided to give studioMET Architects the go-ahead to build their dream home in the woods.

The architect-led design-build firm normally works in Inner Loop neighborhoods so, for them, getting to work on a property like the Basford’s was a thrill.

“We do work typically in urban settings. You have a house to the left, right and behind you. If you get a corner lot, that’s exciting, but a rural setting gave us an opportunity to play with the siting of the home and how it interacts with nature,” says Shawn Gottschalk, principal and partner at studioMET.

The result was The Porch House — a sophisticated invention of modern living with simple geometric forms and strong horizontal lines that embraces the natural surroundings. It poses a juxtaposition of defining a protected, enclosed space while also balancing the untouched surrounds of that same building.
First came the challenge of finding just where to situate a path to the house that would cut down the fewest number of trees possible, a decision that led to a meandering circular driveway through the heavily wooded site, and where the house slowly expresses itself as visitors get closer.

Upon arrival, the house resembles a C-shape, with the driveway leading to a porte-cochère. The entrance in the middle of the C leads to the grand foyer. Rooms finished with natural sealed concrete fill the home. To the left is a four automobile carport, the kitchen, caterer's kitchen and expansive pantry. The kitchen countertops from Illusion Stone run 12 feet wide with an eight-foot-tall book matched porcelain backsplash, and the appliances were sourced from K&N Sales.

To the right is a full lounge, bar, wine room and the master suite. The space lends itself to hosting parties and events, which the Basfords are known to do. Other elements found throughout the home include tile from La Nova Tile, light fixtures from Light, and plumbing fixtures and hardware from Ferguson.

Designed for relaxed everyday living and outdoor entertaining, the house’s semi-circular shape places a focus on the internal courtyard. The covered patios are a modern interpretation of the Texas wraparound porch, perfect for southern outdoor living. The arrangement of the living spaces around the large, open courtyard helps bring the natural world into the heart of the domestic realm while still feeling protected from the natural surroundings.

“There’s a strong connection between inside and outside. It blurs the lines between the two. There are brick walls on the inside and continuing to the outside. It’s manmade and created, and nature is the backdrop. Whether you're in the master bedroom, or in the pool or in the living room, you’re looking at nature beyond you,” Gottschalk says.

Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a constant view of the wooded areas surrounding the home as well as the interior courtyard, the true star of the property. It features a pool from Cascade Pools and a large floating deck that helps extend the living space into the natural habitat. The courtyard boasts both a formal patio and a more casual day-to-day patio with an outdoor fireplace from Perfection Supply, as well as a hot tub and an outdoor kitchen.

The second floor provides space for family and additional bedrooms, creating a perfect spot for their son to call his own in the 7,600-square-foot home.

StudioMET Architects also made sure to position the house within walking distance of a workshop where Mark spends a good portion of his free time. “The homeowner has a shop out there working with wood and metal,” says Gottschalk. “The wife is a doctor, and he is in IT and, for the most part, he's behind a desk 8-5 and he needed some creative outreach so he does woodwork.”

For Gottschalk, the opportunity to work on a project like this not only gave him the chance to escape the urban and embrace the openness of the rural, it gave him the ability to “We’re designing a house for people and not just for ourselves,” he says. “It’s special listening to Mark's upbringing and his childhood experience, and then we’re taking those memories from his grandmother’s house and aunt’s house to create a place to raise his son in.”


studioMET Architects
2500 Summer, Suite 3112

Cascade Pools, Inc.
15502 Highway 3, Webster

4840 Gulf Freeway

Illusion Stone
7118 Killough

K&N Sales
1401 Shepherd

La Nova Tile
2325 Fannin

4202 Richmond Avenue

Perfection Supply
6742 North Eldridge Parkway 

Houston Web Design Company