A Rustic, Mid-Century House in the Austin, Texas Hill Country
October 04, 2018
This week’s home is especially personal. It’s the home I grew up in!
I spent the better part of last year flying back and forth from Austin, overseeing my parent’s renovation. I took on the project knowing it would be a ton of work, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. As a lover of design, it’s rare you get to play with that many rooms. I also knew there would be something fundamentally profound about renovating my childhood home. The symbolism of breathing new life into old ground was never lost.
My mom is a talented lady. On top of being District Attorney, she plays guitar in a band, paints beautifully, and cooks delicious meals. She even has a black belt in Tae Kwon Doe. However, interior design isn’t her thing. Her wish for this project was the turn-key moment at the end every HGTV show when the music swells and the owners say, “Oh my God! This is amazing!”
My parent’s house is tricky. It’s mid-century, with cedar and limestone elements that give it an additional rustic, Texas-in-the-70s vibe. Over the years, it has gone through several incarnations of the traditional and none of them have felt quite right. Fresh, trained eyes needed to be brought in and I knew just whose: Meghan Rostovsky and Sari Lehrer of MSR Interiors.
Sari and Meghan immediately understood the aesthetic that needed to take place. Terms like “quirky elegance,” “earthy,” and “natural” got thrown around the most. Commune Design inspired many of the choices. What resulted fits my parents to a T. It’s unique, colorful, mid-century and earthy. It incorporates their art collection, family photographs, heirloom pieces, travel souvenirs, and love of books. It’s “them” with a fresh coat of paint and ready for the next chapter.
Annie: What was your experience of the home before you renovated?
Mom: Well, let’s see, I had been unhappy with a number of areas in the house that didn’t work well. We had gotten the kitchen redone a while back. That had made a huge difference, but that just made the places that weren’t right more obvious. Most important was our master bath and closet area. It was in terrible shape and badly needed remodeling. I thought it was time to go ahead and use some of the equity in the house and get things fixed up.
Annie: Do you feel like you got what you wanted out of it?
Mom: I think it was an extraordinarily successful undertaking. A lot of things came together that made it better than I ever dreamed. I never was happy with the decor of the house. I’m not very talented at that, so over the years I’ve had people come in and do things. I never thought it worked. So, on top of getting the things fixed in the house that needed to be fixed and some pretty significant remodeling, we also got a whole new decor that is just perfect for the house. For the first time since I’ve been in it, which is about thirty five years, I like the house. I love to come home to it. I love to be in it.
Annie: How have your needs, in terms of the house, changed since becoming an empty nester?
Mom: They’ve changed a lot. Downstairs, we took an area that had been a suite for teens, and modified it. Now, it’s a wonderful space for me to use as my “she shed.” I have my musical instruments in there. I have a tv that I can watch. It’s hard to say, but it might be my favorite area in the house now. Honestly, when we set out I didn’t know that was going to turn out that way. Becky, our builder, came up with the idea to create a niche for the sofa. That was transformational.
Annie: What’s it like going back to work at 70?
Mom: I feel that I am extraordinarily blessed because I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t plan on it. District Attorney was a job I always wanted, but had long thought was not in the cards. To get to come back and do it at an age when I was and should be retired is amazing. You don’t often get to come back and do a job after you’ve learned how to do it. Most of the time, you’re succeeding into a position you’re learning. Now, I feel like I’m coming back when I know how to do this. So, that gave me joy. I know it’s not going to be forever, so I can savor each moment and do all the things I thought ought to get done. Then, I get to come back to a lovely home that I can paint and play music in and play with my grandchildren in. It’s the best of all worlds.