AIA Houston 2021 Home Tour Showcases Thoughtful Designs that Beautifully & Functionally Connect Indoor/Outdoor Living
The weekend of October 23-24, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Houston will hold its 2021 Annual Home Tour featuring eight area homes selected by a jury of industry experts to represent the finest in new residential architecture. The two-day, self-guided tour is open to the public and offers attendees a rare opportunity to walk through and view an impressive assortment of privately owned residences designed by accomplished Houston architects. Open to the general public, the tour attracts approximately 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.
“The annual fall AIA Houston Home Tour is back,” says Home Tour Chair Bob Robinowitz, AIA of McIntyre + Robinowitz. “The tour is a unique opportunity to see first hand, and go inside, a wonderful range of high quality homes. The ultimate success of each home is the result of an intense collaboration between each individual homeowner and their architects and builders. We especially want to thank the homeowners for opening up their homes to the public. AIA Houston architects will be present at each house to answer questions. We look forward to seeing you on the tour!”
This year’s selection committee is Rebecca Comeaux, AIA (Comeaux Architects), Craig McMahon, AIA (Craig McMahon Architects), Jim Poteet, AIA (Poteet Architects), and Tobin Smith, AIA (Tobin Smith Architect). The criteria used to select homes for the tour include design excellence, quality and craftsmanship, innovative design solutions and use of materials, and sustainability of design. The selection committee reviewed all submittals and made the final selection of homes to include on the tour.
"It’s one thing to pass by and admire these stunning homes from the outside, but an entirely heightened experience to step inside and be captivated by the remarkable thought and talent that went into each design,” adds AIA Houston Executive Director Rusty Bienvenue.
Watch a video overview of the AIA Home Tour.
1. Natalye Appel + Associates Architects: Vassar Street Garden House
Design Honors Noteworthy Oak, Expands Garden Space and Incorporates Nature, Relaxation and Entertainment Spaces
1323 Vassar Street, Houston, TX 77006 - 1,000 square feet, Natalye Appel + Associates Architects
The desire to preserve an exceptional live oak tree next door and to add garden space to the owner’s primary residence planted the seed for the Vassar Street Garden House. Careful site planning joined new and existing outdoor spaces to create an enclosure focused on outdoor living. Devoting a minimal footprint to interior living and sleeping preserved space for a greenhouse, potting shed, exercise pool and planting beds for a kitchen and flower garden.
At the front of the site, the greenhouse serves as the primary feature and is as equally prominent as the home. Passing through the main entry, the whole environment feels like a porch, a retreat for the senses with an emphasis on nature. A custom gate by artist George Sacaris opens the main entry to views through the house that showcase the magnificent oak tree, with accompanying views and access to the pool and garden spaces. Hardwood floors with custom-raised grain enhance the nature theme with a sense of touch in tune with the tree.
All interior spaces fixate on the durable Texas limestone and Galvalume-roofed exterior, with covered porches allowing indoor/outdoor living in any weather conditions. To further blur the distinction, indoor/outdoor furniture is utilized inside and a Bulthaup kitchen blends into wall materials in the minimalist living space. The thoughtful selection and placement of unique painting, sculpture and fixtures further convey the feeling of a nature sanctuary, while technologically advanced greenhouse skylights offer energy savings through automatic weather-sensing operation and shade. A steel fire pit and natural boulder seating around the centerpiece oak complete the outdoor-centric oasis.
2. Collaborative Designworks: “House 2344”
Thoughtful Design Celebrates Overseas Living Experiences and Complements Evolving Lifestyle
2344 Sunset Boulevard, Houston, TX 77005 - 4,144 square feet, Collaborative Designworks
A reflection of the owners’ unique personalities and their recent expat tour in Malaysia, House 2344 is the third project designed for this repeat client. The home was infused with elements acquired from living overseas and combined with materials and qualities from two previous projects. The result is an extraordinary home that was accomplished on a tight budget.
A series of inwardly sloping butterfly-type roofs are organized along a central spine above the circulation zone of the house. Main common areas and bedrooms key into this axis and are telegraphed up to the roof planes above. Complementing the owners’ lifestyle, the two-story structure flips the common arrangement of spaces, locating the living, dining and kitchen areas on the second floor, granting more privacy—even with large glass expanses. The soaring dynamic ceiling scape helps to define the open plan spaces below. The family's bedrooms are situated on the more serene and restful ground level. An abundance of natural light contributes to an airy atmosphere throughout the home, creating an ambiance that is clean, simple and modern.
The mass of the house is intentionally pushed away from the street side of the lot, allowing the pool and yard area to act as a buffer for the interior and to guarantee the exterior will always be open and sunny without any adjacent buildings. The owners enjoy a large pool featuring an “endless” lap jet, cultivate an extensive roof garden with herbs, vegetables and fruit, and maintain a chicken coop to ensure fresh eggs for use in eclectic home-cooked meals. Typical manicured lawns and feature trees were avoided in favor of natural wildflower landscaping that changes with the seasons.
3. Collaborative Designworks: Woodhead Double
Serene, Comfortable “House Pair” Champions Privacy While Sharing Corner Lot, Common Functionality and Green Space
4411/4415 Woodhead Street, Houston, TX 77098 - 3,460 square feet (4411); 4,750 square feet (4415), Collaborative Designworks
4411 Woodhead Street, Credit Benjamin Hill Photography
4415 Woodhead Street, Credit Joe Aker
Woodhead Double is the third exploration into “house pairs,” an alternate way to increase density within Houston’s urban center that is sized between the four townhouses that would normally be built on similar property and a single home occupying a large lot. For improved usability, this strategy employs a single common drive, shared mechanical area, and expanded yards achieved by swapping typically unusable setback space.
Modern, clean and simple, the exterior is composed of natural finish stucco, with accents of shou sugi ban charred cypress siding and textured brick walls and screens. The interior capitalizes on natural light and conveys an open feeling. Upon entering the north unit, visitors first notice the integrated koi pond that wraps from the entry to a private screened courtyard off of the dining space. Inside, they are greeted by terrazzo ground concrete floors and cork flooring. The vertical arrangement of the north unit allows for a split-level living, dining and kitchen area on the second floor, with the extra height in the living made possible by right-sizing the garage. Bedrooms at the top have large north-facing glass and balconies with downtown views. The top floor also features a children’s reading nook.
The corner house was purposefully arranged around a large, old oak tree to preserve its roots and offer views into the tree canopy from most of the primary spaces. The yard gate is operable to expand the children’s play area under the tree and is finished with water-jet-cut perforated aluminum panels in a pattern derived from the pixelated image of the tree’s limbs.
4. McIntyre + Robinowitz Architects: Lawrence Street Residence
Expansive Views, Abundant Light and “Moments of Richness” Reveal Distinctive Quality
3007 Lawrence Street, Houston, TX 77018 - 4,300 square feet, McIntyre + Robinowitz ArchitectsPhotos, Credit Benjamin Hill Photography
This home is situated in Garden Oaks, a centrally located neighborhood just north of Loop 610 and east of Shepherd Drive. The neighborhood’s original housing stock consisted of small, simple homes dating back to the 1940s, which are rapidly being replaced with two-story spec homes of varying styles, quelling a distinct flavor to the neighborhood. In response to these changing conditions, this contemporary home references mid-century designs found in surrounding neighborhoods.
The 80’ x 240’ lot is unusually deep—twice the depth of an average residential lot. The two-story massing is stepped back from the front of the house to align with other two-story homes on the block-face.
Acoustics played a major role in the building’s form. The U-shaped plan is designed to block noise within the pool courtyard from the heavily trafficked street one block to the west and the freeway two blocks to the south. The courtyard is on the north side of the house, providing views of the neighbor’s stately oak trees, and uses the two-story bedroom wing to shade the infinity-edged pool.
The glass exterior canopy, the large pivot door and expansive view greet visitors upon arrival, all within a defined entry area. The entry trellis, dining room ceiling, interior brick core, and screened porch were developed as “moments of richness,” characterizing the way they enhance the home’s design within an overall modest construction budget.
Reducing negative environmental impact, the home achieves sustainability by minimizing west fenestration, maximizing north windows, sealed construction, and high-efficiency air conditioning equipment.
5. CONTENT Architecture: Allston Residence
Contemporary Design Connects with Outdoors and Captivates Through Brilliant Use of Color
1427 Allston Street, Houston, TX 77008 - 3,434 square feet, CONTENT ArchitecturePhotos, Credit Leonid Furmansky
Located in a historic neighborhood within Houston Heights, the Allston Residence seeks a balance between contemporary character and the traditional architecture of neighboring bungalows. A classic gabled roof, horizontal siding and deep front porch create connections to the surrounding context while subtle anomalies establish the house’s modern identity. At the second floor, the facade tapers back at an angle to create a sense of depth. Recessed outdoor spaces provide depth at the north and south facades, pulling natural light and green spaces into the fun, bright interior.
At the ground floor, two parallel bars define the interior: enclosed private programs and a continuous sequence of open spaces for gathering. The porch creates an entry threshold that carries the open space through the house to the rear porch overlooking the backyard with a small pool. The seamless connection between kitchen, living and dining space fosters togetherness, fitting for a young family with a penchant for entertaining. Adjacent to the kitchen and comparable in size, a large bar facilitates the owners’ enjoyment for crafting exotic cocktails.
Subtle hints of color at the house’s exterior give way to vibrant saturated rooms as visitors move to more private areas. Green highlights the window trim and soffits outside, becoming more apparent where the facade folds playfully. On the ground floor, brightly colored boxes are integrated into millwork pieces. As visitors move upstairs, vertical surfaces for the stairway and skylights take on bolder colors. Daylight strikes these surfaces, projecting those colors onto adjacent walls and ceilings that reflect these hues with a sense of lightness.
6. studioMET architects: Jackson Residence
Unmistakably Modern Home Co-mingles Simplicity with Sophistication
1116 Jackson Boulevard, Houston, TX 77006 - 3,120 square feet, studioMET architects
Located in Montrose, a neighborhood known for its own unique urban vibe, this home features a design focused on quality of space. The open-concept layout is just over 3,000 square feet with expansive windows connecting the home to the outdoor covered patio and pool area, ideal for summertime in Houston. The home’s exterior boasts strong horizontal lines with a simple composition of brick, wood and cement siding.
Upon entering the home, visitors are captivated by a two-story living space that is both dramatic and calming at the same time. The focal point of the room is a single large agave, centered perfectly in the middle of the entry courtyard and serving more as a sculptural piece of art than simply landscaping.
The kitchen and family room comprise the central core of the home, located at the rear of the house. An inviting covered patio and its own outdoor summer kitchen are easily accessed and perfect for Houston’s characteristically hot, humid days. Defining the main courtyard, a narrow lap pool is visible from every space on the first floor.
The second floor is all about keeping things simple, efficient and budget-conscious. The main bedroom suite of the home is located at the rear of the property to take advantage of the pool views and allow for separation from the public street at the front of the property. Two bedrooms and a shared bath along with the utility room complete the second floor spaces.
7. studioMET architects: Tangley Residence
Reimagined, Elevated Dwelling Delivers Focus, Functionality and Uplifting Atmosphere
2325 Tangley Street, Houston, TX 77005 - 4,885 square feet, studioMET architects
Located on an urban lot in the Southampton neighborhood and within walking distance of the bustling Rice Village shopping district, the Tangley house is organized around an internal courtyard for privacy and entertainment. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Houston City Council passed overhauled regulations for new homes or existing homes being expanded in the 500-year floodplain. As a result, this structure was the first on its street to be elevated. The construction phase itself took place during the pandemic—uniquely creating additional challenges.
The newly elevated first floor was viewed as an asset and allowed a series of terraced elements from inside to outside to connect the dwelling to the site. Complementing the empty-nest owners’ lifestyle, the interior courtyard features a pool and accompanying water feature that serve as the central focus of the layout. Even the family dog’s lifestyle was specifically accommodated, with a windowed sleeping area and pet door for easy exterior access. The trendy impulse for open-plan living was also questioned. Instead, the modern but comfortable home consists of a series of warm and inviting spaces that serve various functions and offer a variety of moods and atmospheres, while maintaining a sophisticated, timeless appeal.
8. Inflection Architecture: Windemere Residence
Fresh, Bright and Welcoming Modern Home Dazzles with a Touch of Drama
2343 Sheridan Street, Houston, TX 77030 - 4,675 square feet, Inflection Architecture