Francisco's Warm Modern Aesthetic

Francisco's Warm Modern Aesthetic

Chris Perez
May 3, 2012

Name: Francisco Arredondo
Location: East Austin, TX
Size: 1300 square feet
Years lived in: About a year and a half

Francisco wants to see a return to the ideals of modern design's golden age — simple, functional, accessible to all. This midcentury spirit lies within the home's frame and extends its reach to the interior with resourceful finishes and handmade decor. We take a tour through the architect's open, maximized space and gather plenty of tips for achieving a charming, elevated sense of style with a simple relaxed feeling of home.

Francisco moved to Austin about 15 years ago to study architecture at UT and has never looked back. Starting out at the renowned Dick Clark architecture firm, he had the opportunity to work on several big-budget projects that gave him the flexibility to explore several aspects of modern design. Now the owner of his own architectural firm — North Arrow Studio — Francisco aims to incorporate those warm and custom aesthetics in his practical, attainable designs.

Practicing what he preaches, Francisco was able to apply these principles to his own home. By focusing on dramatic elements — open spaces, high ceilings, natural light — and omitting expensive designer details — such as high-end italian appliances and exotic woods — he was able to keep the budget intact. The space definietly delivers on the drama as large sliding glass doors frame a beautiful panoroma created by the creek and large oak trees. Working with a resourceful builder, Richard White of Abode Modern Homes, also helped save costs, as they were able to reuse extra wood from the living room insets to create kitchen counters, backsplashes, and staircase steps. Large pieces of polycarbonate, typically found in greenhouses, are also used in the stairway as an affordable solution to windows.

Hand-made decor solutions include repurposing an old wooden drafting table into a headboard in the bedroom, and crafting dozens of cement pigs himself out of a mold he picked up at a flea market. These crafted touches,not to mention the tree stump tables and coffee bean bag ottoman, blended with classical elements like the Eames daybed, give the space a balance and personality we can't get enough of.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic modern.

Inspiration: I was inspired by 1950's design; beautiful, affordable and utilitarian, deceptively uncomplicated.

Favorite Element: The back yard view framed by the sliding doors and the quality of light of the living spaces created by the row of skylights

Biggest Challenge: One of the biggest challenges was to create a sense of privacy while designing a multiple dwelling unit, like a duplex. The solution was to organize the spaces in such a way that the public areas are located along the common wall and the private, more quiet spaces, like the bedrooms, are position along the non-shared walls

What Friends Say: "I didn't know there was a creek back there?" Most people don't know that the neighborhood has this little creek running through it. Early in the deign process we decided to make the creek the focal point of each unit by framing a portion of the creek with each living unit. In addition, we intentionally chose not to trim, cut or clear any of the overgrown vegetation that was originally there. My favorite spot in the house is sitting in the living room with the sliding doors open and looking out at the beautiful mess of nature that is my back yard.

Proudest DIY: Probably the bench in the living room (that I am using as a TV stand), I had it for many years. Originally it was an awful chocolate color. I stripped it down, stained the top with Danish oil and painted the rest green. The simplest DIY project I have done, but the bench looks so much better now. It even looks straighter.

Biggest Indulgence: I own a couple of PK91 folding chairs. If you stare at those things long enough you will learn every thing you need to know about furniture design.

Best Advice: Take your time finding the right stuff and if it takes to long to find it,
add a coat of paint to what you already have. Paint is your best friend.

Resources of Note:


    • Almost everything is white. Shoji White from Sherwin Williams.


    • the pendant is custom made and fabricated by the electrician with home
    depot building products.We had a tight budget for constructions and finishes, so the idea for the hanging light bulb pendants came out of necessity. I tried to make a beautiful decorative gesture out of common day building products: electrician wire, sockets and bare bulbs. A little design thought and a good electrician can go a long way.


    • Pendant: custom
    • Record player: crosley
    • End table: minotti
    • Coffee table, poof, records storage: DIY
    • Eames daybed couch
    • Furniture and Art Selections: Kasey McCarty of Kasey McCarty Interior
    Design Studio


    • Panton Chairs


    • Range: Jenn-air
    • Oven, refrigerator, dishwasher: Kitchen Aid
    • Faucet: Dornbrach


    • Folding chairs: pk91 by Poul Kjærholm's
    • Headboard: DIY
    • Desk fans: vintage general electric & emerson
    • Mirror: ikea


    • Faucets and sinks: Kraus
    • Glass mosaic tile: hakatai

Thanks, Francisco!

(Images: Chris Perez)

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