Project House Austin’s casita is ready to be revealed! Builder Michael Wray, owner and founder of MidCentury Custom Homes, LLC, and designer Christine Turknett of Breathe Design Studio have been collaborating to bring the vision of a retro, Mid Century Modern-inspired casita to life.
“It’s punchy, vibrant and playful,” says Christine. “With the help of vintage-inspired décor, classic patterns and iconic designs, this new build has all the charm of an authentic period home.
Project House Austin Casita: A Multipurpose Build
Just off the main house, this casita can serve a few different functions. “It’s more than just a guest house,” says Christine. “Ever since Covid, Michael has been imagining it as a work-from-home office too.” The bedroom is outfitted with a desk, and the living room and bedroom both have daybeds that can be used for sleeping or simply relaxing with a book.
This hybrid office/guest house is small at 512 square feet, but the floor-to-ceiling windows and abundance of natural light make it feel more spacious. “Particularly for smaller spaces, floor-to-ceiling windows create a much more open living experience,” says Michael. And, of course, they capture the indoor-outdoor relationship found in most mid century homes.
Post and Beam
But that’s not the only nod to bringing the outdoors in. Michael added tongue-and-groove paneling to the underside of the Project House Austin casita roof’s exterior as well as the interior ceiling to create that seamless transition. And he decided on a traditional post-and-beam structure inspired by the Cliff May Ranchos. “Black post and beam is a classic mid century look that happens to be fairly on trend,” says Michael. “Where classic and trendy intersect, it’s a good place to be.”
The roof creates an overhang for the extended patio, where a number of materials are at play. The white stucco walls and black wood beams are a stark contrast to the warmth of the Thinline paneling from Eichler Siding surrounding the Escon front door. “I struggled with choosing a color for the front door,” says Christine. “I ended up finding inspiration from a book by William Krisel and noticed a baby-blue shade that I liked. I don’t normally associate that color with Mid Century Modern, but you see a lot of turquoise, so I thought I’d choose a color in between the two that hasn’t been seen yet.”
Compared to the main house that has an MCM blend, the Project House Austin casita pulls from classic retro style, featuring iconic mid century pieces, patterns and colors. “We were trying to think about the use of the space and match that spirit and vibe,” says Jickie Torres, editor of Atomic Ranch. “It was a fun opportunity to be more lighthearted, vibrant and fanciful, which felt like an appropriate direction for this kind of structure.”
Committing to the idea of a more saturated color palette, they incorporated a bright yellow Womb Chair-inspired chair and a multicolored sideboard from Kardiel, robin’s egg-blue kitchen appliances by Elmira Stove Works and a custom backsplash inspired by the George Nelson ball clock. “I saw the tile and was happy to make the connection and have the backsplash reminiscent of such an iconic clock from that period,” says Christine.
But she took care to balance the more vibrant pieces with neutrals. “I wanted a neutral sofa and rug, because the furniture pieces I chose were pretty bold,” she says. The chrome features in the legs, the range and the cabinet hardware also aided in toning down the brighter hues. “I needed to show some restraint because it’s one big room,” says Christine. And that line of thinking applied to the kitchen as well. “I thought about making all of the appliances blue, but I thought it would be too much,” she says. “I wanted the refrigerator to be the star, and I didn’t want anything competing with the tile.”
With the perfect balance of retro and modern, the casita successfully brings mid century style into the present, allowing us to appreciate the past while enjoying modern comforts.
Impressed with the Project House Austin casita? Wait until you see the main house in its entirety! Get ready for the Project House Austin full reveal in our Summer 2022 print issue! Pre-order your copy to see the Project House Austin final reveal in print!