This Cool Timber Home Features an Unusual Layout

EWP River House

When it comes to vacation homes, the outside is just as important as what’s inside. Indoor/outdoor spaces and outdoor living areas let us enjoy the setting, whether it’s the woods, the beach, a ski resort or a quaint village. The more decks, terraces and porches, the better, right? 

Eastern White Pine River House Deck

A family retreat with an unusual look offers a brilliant balance between bright, cheerful and comfortable indoor areas for family gatherings and all the outdoor space you could ask for. Designed by Austin architecture firm Low Design Office, the 2900-square-foot home features a wrap-around second floor deck, a third floor terrace with views of the woods and several covered areas under the house. All that, and it was completed on a tight budget.

River House living room

“River House” has its primary living areas elevated one story above the ground. The slatted timber volumes it sits on provide storage and give the home the feel of a treehouse. Low Design Office designed and built it for three siblings who wanted to use it as a gathering point for their families on the Guadalupe River Floodway in Texas, so the design is functional in other ways, too. It’s made of wood sourced from local timber suppliers.

River House kitchen

“The house is comprised of two generic rectangular forms rotated to weave around existing trees while maintaining river views. The rotated geometries act upon one another, defining living space and carving out porches in a fashion that strengthens both the connection between the two volumes (guest bedrooms and main living spaces) and the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces.”

River House bunk beds
River House bedroom

“Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors and exterior glazing over hardi panel serve as the connecting elements, wrapping the living space with transparency at the interior while reflecting nature at the exterior. Clerestory windows in the double height living space look onto a rooftop deck outside the ‘kids’ loft at the floor above. Serving as the builder for the project, we took advantage of deals on materials where we could find them; all the interior wood finishes are off the shelf products from lumber suppliers, and we collaborated with small Texas shops for affordable windows and sliding glass doors.”