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Find Free Weekends and Security Bonuses in Some Customized Electricity BundlesA Home Conceived in Australia Comes to Fruition in Houston with Finesse from a Local Architect
Article by Sandra Cook
Photography by Benjamin Hill

Houston residents John and Jennifer Warren were not always fans of contemporary architecture. Then, in 2012, they moved to Australia. During their three years of living down under, the Warrens discovered contemporary homes could embrace their natural surroundings, resulting in clean and orderly design infused with earthy vibes.

“Contemporary architecture wasn’t as popular in the U.S. before we left for Australia, but it was very common there and we sort of fell in love with the contemporary style. We found they did it a bit warmer there,” says Jennifer. 

The Warrens lived in Perth and later Adelaide, both cities located on the coast. They appreciated how many contemporary homes were built to highlight the natural beauty of the scenery, especially views of the sea.

Once they found out they would be moving back to Houston, the Warrens approached an Australian firm about designing their future home. Architect Alex Pritchard of The Galvin Group in Adelaide, Australia, created concept and design for their future home. And then, when they were back in Houston and ready to build, the Warrens presented their home’s design concept to Houston architect Greg Swedberg, AIA, of 2Scale Architects.

After evaluating the design, Swedberg developed and executed the plan to make it a reality. Swedberg worked out necessities, such as placement of the HVAC systems, incorporating drainage aesthetically and adding key functions like a butler’s pantry.

“We gave Galvin Group our criteria without being restrictive. We said we wanted a main-floor master bedroom, connection to the outdoors, open space, three bedrooms, three-plus baths and a theater room and really left the rest up to them,” says John.

To enhance the link between the elaborate outdoor area and the indoor living area, the couple worked with Swedberg to reimagine what would have been large windows as huge glass pocket doors that disappear into the wall when fully opened.

Since they moved in March, the Warrens have been very happy with the performance and feel of their new home, located in Lynn Park near Highland Village.

“I like that the house feels spacious, but not too big,” says Jennifer. “We wanted cozy rooms. Even though the space overall is large, we wanted smaller rooms that felt intimate. We didn’t want a cold white box. We wanted the house to be very organic with lots of warm textural elements. Having views of treetops through the high windows was important to us.”

“I’m very pleased with how it all works so well together,” says John. “There’s a good deal of common space, yet it flows so well. The squares all line up, the lines are well proportioned. It all makes sense as a whole.”

John goes on to explain that beyond the aesthetic rewards of the design, citing how the home is enhanced by the placement of the windows, which bring ample amounts of natural light while yielding plenty of privacy.

While the walls are all white and the general color palette is made up of muted natural hues, the couple says they enjoy watching how the shades of light change on the walls throughout the day. Highlights include seeing the warm glow of sunrises and sunsets and observing the shadow patterns of leaves on the walls.

Enjoying the outdoor space is easy to envision, given the dramatic pool, fire pit and outdoor kitchen, but addressing the extremes of Houston’s climate took more strategic thinking.

A civil engineer was employed to assess the site topography and underground drainage. This was done with a combination of catch basins and pipes, explains Swedberg. Instead of traditional exposed gutters, he devised a more aesthetic system of hidden gutters.

“The internal roof gutters were fun,” says Swedberg. “They are essentially troughs inside the edge of the roof. We basically built the gutters into the roof assembly, so the exterior edge is a uniform flat face, instead of just a flat face, such as the facia or eave, with a gutter screwed to the edge of it. This resulted in a clean, contemporary look.”

With the unique scenario of refining and completing the design for real-world living and functionality, Swedberg enjoyed the challenge of bringing the design concept into reality and concentrated his efforts on the practical details of living in this specific house.

“It is never too early to start thinking of the details, the functionality and the pragmatic solutions. Sometimes people get wrapped up in the concept, but they haven’t solved the basic necessities,” says Swedberg.

“Enriching a schematic design with real-world thought and care for the living condition, in my opinion, leads an architect towards a more compelling and successful design.”


AIA Houston

The Galvin Group

Greg Swedberg
2Scale Architects

Winfrey Design Build LLC

LG Viatera Quartz
Available locally through:
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Master bath vanity mirrors
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Elegant Additions
104 W. 12th St.

Tile in master bath and guest bath, laundry room and pool bath
La Nova Tile
Houston Showroom
(by appointment only)
2325 Fannin St.

Alamo Stone Co.

Appliances & design
Poggenpohl Houston
5002 Westheimer Road, Suite B

Kitchen island
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Chair King
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Western Window Systems

Lush Outdoor Living Inc.

Houston Stair Co. Inc.

2017 Annual AIA Houston Home Tour
Ten architect-designed houses selected by a jury of industry experts are slated for the annual home tour, happening Oct. 21-22 from noon-6 p.m. each day. Open to the public, the self-guided, two-day tour attracts about 3,000 people each year and operates with generous permission from homeowners, community cooperation, 200 volunteers and architects eager to share each home's design.
All of the homes on the tour are located within the Houston metropolitan area and are designed by an AIA architect and completed within the last five years. The criteria used to select homes for the tour include design excellence, quality and craftsmanship, innovative design solutions, use of materials and sustainability of design.
Find more info and advance ticket sales at Full-tour and single-house tickets can be purchased at any of the participating houses during tour hours and are good for both days of the tour.

Featured Houses and Architects:
• 4210 Whitman St., 2Scale Architects
• 1501 Laird St., Brett Zamore Design
• 1700 Haver St., Collaborative Designworks
• 1427 Waverly St., CONTENT Architecture
• 2411 Swift Blvd., Cusimano Architect
• 420 Oak Lane, Dillon Kyle Architects
• 721 Redan St., m + a architecture studio
• 702 E. 13th St., McIntyre + Robinowitz Architects
• 5280 Caroline St., Munoz + Albin Architecture & Planning
• 5007 S. Braeswood Blvd., studioMET Architects



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