A Translucent Modern Masterpiece in Austin Goes on the Market for $1 Million

In Texas, the sun is both a blessing and a curse. It boils the land during the summer, but throughout the year it lights up that unending spread of brilliant blue Texas sky. Often, it's best enjoyed on the other side of a window, with air conditioning. But why use a window when you can see right through your wall?

That's one of the distinctive features of this modern house in Austin, TX, which is up for sale at $1,095,000. Designed by architect David Webber for himself and his partner, Ransom Baldasare, the award-winning home is a light-filled standout among the more classic offerings of its Hyde Park neighborhood.

"The most remarkable things about the home are the quality and amount of light it gets throughout the year," says Baldasare. "The house works like a machine. If you open the house up -- windows and sliders -- a breeze will flow through naturally. You feel connected to the outdoors, visually and physically. "

The home isn't an entirely a new build. Built in the 1940s, it was originally a small Craftsman. Webber and Baldasare, who run the architectural firm Webber + Studio, transformed the structure into the 1,600-square-foot modern guest suite it is today and added the 1,700-square-foot main living area in 2007.

The two buildings are connected by a bridge, which creates a dog-trot inspired breezeway. According to Baldasare, the bridge casts a cooling shade over the backyard in the late-day sun.

Parts of the eastern and southeastern sides of the home make use of translucent polycarbonate sheeting from Polygal. (Those areas take less sun throughout the year.)

"It gives a gentle light throughout the day. Really a lovely way to wake up in the morning," Baldasare says.

The exterior of the home is wrapped in a metal siding, which acts as a protective layer against the elements, Baldasare says. Other exterior walls are made of cypress, a native wood known for its hardiness and its "eventual silvering over time," he explains.

Inside, the five-bedroom home makes extensive use of pecan wood for the wall paneling and the floating, open staircase -- "pecan boxes," Baldasare calls them. The hardwood floor is a pecan-hickory mix. There's more pecan on the outside, too, in the form of trees that can give about 75 pounds of pecans in a good year, he says.

The two are selling their home because they want to downsize to a new, smaller home project -- "something less than 2,000 square feet," Baldasare says. "It's time for a programmed house for two people and a dog."