Outdoor living has never been easier, thanks to smitharc’s Jason and Signe Smith. To get the scoop on these Dallas digs, we chatted with Jason.
“There’s some physics behind the pavilion form-making here, and the openings in the porch roof,” explains Jason Smith, “so they can enjoy their backyard even when there is no breeze.”
The Concept The homeowners are empty nesters who were recently married and essentially starting their second lives together. They wanted to create their own shared space, and they found this great corner lot. They really wanted to live on one level, but wanted space for when their kids and grandkids came to stay. So, we planned the house with all the things they would need on the first floor, and then a second floor for guests and family. They wanted to spend a lot of time outdoors, so it was really important to create an absence of boundaries in terms of where the interiors stopped and the exteriors began.
The Team Signe’s and my firm, smitharc, designed the house. The builder was Kienast Homes, who we’ve worked with on a number of projects. The interior designer was Jean Liu, and the landscape architect was David Rolston.
The Materials We used western red cedar and Lueders limestone for the exteriors, and white oak for the floors. That was pretty much it, other than glass and painted steel. They wanted a glassy-feeling house, which is why the pavilion has such high windows, and they wanted a very clean, neutral palette.
“The interiors have a blond, Scandinavian open-plan feel,” notes Jason. “From the first floor, you can pretty much see any other part of the house because of all the windows.”
The Challenge The lot had some really nice, mature trees on one end, which we wanted to stay away from. One of the trees we had worked around ended up dying within six months. And they had named it too—Elmer, it was an elm. It was unfortunate, but what they replaced Elmer with looks even better.
The Outcome Both the husband and wife are native Texans, and they wanted a modern home that felt warm, so we ran with the idea of creating a modern version of Texas vernacular. Essentially a third of their livable square footage is outside, which was important to them. Because they wanted to be outside a lot, we designed the house as a series of pavilion forms that step up and rotate as they move toward the back of the lot, which looks cool but also serves the purpose of moving breezes through the porch.