EAST COAST DREAM
Southside Place Expansion Transforms Traditional Home Into Farmhouse Modern
Story by Natalie de la GarzA | Photos by Jeffrey Djayasaputra, Bayou City 360
Who says you can’t take it with you? Not contractor and builder Franco Albarran, AIA of design-build firm Albarran Architects LLC. When a couple of Connecticut transplants approached him about recreating the look and feel of their previous home, Albarran knew exactly what he needed to do: Bring a little East Coast-style to Southside Place, Texas.
Albarran describes the five-bedroom home his clients bought as traditional in style, typical of homes built in Houston around the mid-1990s, and “very choppy” with a story-and-a-half living room in the back of the house with a sloped ceiling. He knew the space would need reshuffling, and he soon found his inspiration: a big, beautiful oak tree in the back yard.
“The living room was already backing up into it, so you could see it,” says Albarran. “I thought that it would be nice if the master bedroom had a direct view of that tree, too.”
Albarran envisioned a two-story, 1,500-square-foot addition that included a larger and completely redesigned kitchen, living room, family room, breakfast area and outdoor porch downstairs, and an all-new master suite (bedroom, bath and closet) upstairs that would feel “like you were in the middle of a treehouse.”
With the idea to push everything back and toward a view of the back yard, Albarran says they got rid of the living room in the front of the house and the study in the middle, converting the space into one big party room with a pool table and shuffleboard. Adjacent to the living room is the outdoor porch, which Albarran sees as an extension of the interior room.
“It flows,” says Albarran, “and even though it’s an exterior space, it’s really connected to the living room.”
The kitchen, Albarran found, was not only “very small, very narrow and condensed,” but “you had to cut across it multiple ways to get around.” This made circulation, or how you move through a space, a priority. So, in addition to creating a peninsula with an oversized island in the middle – one that is a larger version of what the homeowners had in Connecticut – Albarran created new pathways around the kitchen. And because the homeowners liked an East Coast traditional look, the cabinet doors are inset, reminiscent of what you would see in the 1800s.
Just beyond the kitchen, a breakfast room juts out, windows on all three sides. Albarran says there was an initial concern because instead of being backed up to an outside wall with a window, the kitchen sink overlooks the breakfast area, which overlooks the backyard. But they found that “even though you’re ten, 12 feet away from that glass, it feels like you’re there.”
Upstairs, the new master suite features a vaulted ceiling with an exposed, stained mahogany beam in the middle and one large center window, flanked on both sides by two smaller windows.
“We’re big proponents of natural light, and I think it really opens up the space,” says Albarran. “And even though that wall faces west, it’s shaded by the tree.”
Albarran says the homeowners wanted more of a modern look in the bathroom, which he accomplished with white walls and off-white trim. Though clean and refined, the details in the cabinets, base trim and moldings hint at something a little more traditional, while the addition of marble adds a chic touch.
The old master bedroom, located in the front of the house, was converted into a bedroom for the homeowners’ daughter, and the bathroom and closet were redesigned and made smaller, allowing Albarran to add a laundry room and an eight-by-12-foot storage space that also houses the water heater.
And lastly, the entire house was painted white, giving it “a more modern farmhouse look,” says Albarran, with the black of the windows adding a bit of contrast.
Looking back, Albarran admits that the project was challenging, both in terms of dealing with existing conditions and a three-month setback due to change orders and Hurricane Harvey. But as his is a design-build firm, he can even better appreciate the house’s transformation.
“We see it as it’s being ripped apart, and then we see it as it’s being put back together, and then we see it when it’s done,” says Albarran. “I think the part that always amazes me is that for as much technology as we have, at the end of the day houses are still built by people. People’s hands put houses together.
“I think that’s what makes every project unique. It’s the people who put it together.”
Albarran Architects LLC
(Contractor, designer, architect)
4306 Yoakum Boulevard, Suite 325
Andersen Windows & Doors
(Windows, patio doors)
The Detering Company
(Custom front door)
Ferguson Enterprises, LLC
(Lighting, plumbing fixtures and hardware)
4211 Richmond Avenue
Morales Brothers Construction Services, Inc.
(Custom millwork, cabinetry)
1116 Radio Lane, Suite 207, Rosenberg