Heather & Katherine's Meant-to-Be Remodel

Heather & Katherine's Meant-to-Be Remodel

Chris Perez
Aug 8, 2012

Name: Heather & Katherine
Location: Duplex Nation - Austin, Texas
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: Heather bought the house as a duplex in 1999. We converted it from a duplex into a single-family home in 2009 – 2010.

Heather and Katherine took a 1948 home in the middle of Duplex Nation— a small community of about 60 duplexes in central Austin— and turned it into the modern, open space of their dreams. Proving even cinder-block construction can be remodeled, the home now has enough space for them to relax, cook, and entertain. We got the House Call back in May, and now we're finally ready to give you the full tour Apartment Therapy-style — with details, pets, and even a dinner party.

Sometimes the home of your dreams is the one you're already living in. That's what Heather and Katherine discovered after searching for a new house for nearly 2 years. They liked the neighborhood they were already living in —its accessibility to downtown and other Austin hot spots— but their current living situation in a divided and un-inspired layout left much to be desired.

After seeing enough successful remodels throughout the city, they thought, "Maybe we can do our own." So with the help of Ryan Burke and Eric Barth of AParallel, they carried out their plan. The architects were chosen for their vision and hands-on approach to the daily happenings of building construction, a big concern for Heather and Katherine. Using tear sheets from Dwell magazine, Heather and Katherine built a notebook of spaces they liked and didn't like. They immediately saw eye-to-eye with their architects' aesthetics, and the remodel began. Out went walls and in went a large kitchen with light wood cabinets — Heather and Katherine wanted a more timeless appeal, as compared to darker varieties. For the oak flooring they went with a cheaper grade because it had more character — less uniform and more knotty — and the decision turned out to match the original wood flooring better as well. Everything was rethought and reconfigured to allow more freedom and flow.

The result? A bright, clean layout that allows your arms to stretch and your mind to breathe. Katherine loves cooking in the new space on the induction stovetop that Heather chose because of its cleaner energy (as someone who develops renewable energy projects, she knows a thing or two in that arena). When I stopped by to take a few photos, the two made and event of it, inviting over a couple of good friends, and as we dined on Katherine's beautifully presented three-course meal (which included an almond gazpacho and a gelato with figs, basil and bee pollen), we also had some great conversation over wine and spirits (Katherine, who works in wine sales, was excited to share some of her favorites). The evening was as colorful as the bright yellow painting created by Heather's own mother Billye, years before the remodel. It's a painting that fits so perfectly on the large wall above the sofa you'd think it was made specifically for it, and maybe somehow it was. Like life, you can't always predict how your home will evolve, but sometimes things align in such a way that it all seems meant to be.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern and minimal, yet warm (at least that's the goal).

Inspiration: No single design inspiration, but the inspiration for the remodel was to have a big kitchen and room to entertain. Katherine loves to cook and now we have space to share her cooking with our friends. The old kitchen is now the master closet (it was a tiny kitchen).

Favorite Element: How the light moves throughout the house over the course of a day. And, Heather's Mom's big yellow painting — which also is interesting to watch as it changes with the light. The painting fits the space perfectly — we had to buy it off her Mom's wall. To us, it feels as if it were painted for the space.

Biggest Challenge: Turning a 1948 upstairs/downstairs duplex with small choppy rooms into a modern open space while at the same time maintaining the unique nature of the neighborhood. There are approximately 60 duplexes in this neighborhood, all looking relatively similar from the outside. There are certain elements on the outside that might tip one off to the changes on this inside, but not enough to make the house stand out from the neighbors. Upstairs the floors are the original oak floors, and we tried to match them downstairs to lend some continuity and openness to the space.

What Friends Say: Will you help us with our house?

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the cat scratched furniture/the sticky tape corner protectors on what's left.

Proudest DIY: We designed the guest beds and built them with Heather's Dad.

Biggest Indulgence: Toss up between the appliances and the pool.

Best Advice: If you can, splurge on a couple of pieces that you love. We probably spend way too much time deliberating on each piece, but ultimately are happy with our choices.

Dream Sources: Hive Modern, Unicahome, Propeller SF

Resources of Note:


    • Interior main rooms - Sherwin Williams Shoji
    • Bedrooms - Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray
    • Exterior - Sherwin Williams Adaptive Shade


    • Yellow painting by Billye Otten
    • Catania Kilim Rug by Gandia Blasco from 2modern
    • Barstools by Studio Dunn out of Rhode Island
    • Risom lounge chairs and Platner side table with smoke glass from Hive Modern
    • Custom made console table by local artist Ryan Anderson of RAD Furniture (behind the blue couch)
    • Terrarium from Pigment in San Diego
    • Jonathan Adler table lamp


    • Saarinen chairs purchased on ebay
    • Art work by Billye Otten and friend Joseph Bradley from San Diego, CA
    • Louis Poulsen pendant light


    • Egg Crate Photograph by Katherine - taken at a grocery store in Paris.
    • Miele appliances
    • Quickmill espresso machine. Couldn't live without it.


    • Artwork by Billye Otten - one is a painting of Heather's 16th birthday dinner.
    • Custom made bed with charred wood headboard from Ryan Anderson of RAD Furniture
    • Console table from Modernica
    • Eames orange fiberglass chair - ebay
    • Copeland bedside lamps by Knoll


    • Dining table and chairs from Room & Board
    • Katherine put together the succulent arrangements.
    • Green Fermob table and lounge chair that we picked up at the end of the season from Extraordinaire here in Austin.

Thanks, Heather, Katherine, and Billye!

(Images: Chris Perez)

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