Wilson & Cullen’s Acre on Austin’s Greenbelt

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(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)

Name: Wilson & Cullen Hanks, Annie and Henry the dogs, Aeva the cat, Sweetpea and Peapod the peacocks, 8 chickens, 4 guineafowl, and a rescue tortoise named Teddy
Location: Barton View; South Austin, Texas
Size: 650 square feet
Years Lived In: Less than one (began construction September 2014, moved in January 2015, officially/unofficially complete August 2015); Owned

Both Wilson and Cullen’s personality and vision come through in their 650 square foot home; her architectural discipline and his naturalist convictions marry in an extremely comfortable living space that showcases the best qualities of a friendly and welcoming communal setting. The kitchen’s clean lines, whites, brass, and dark shou-sugi-ban cypress work beautifully with the antique woods and classic furniture in the rest of the space. From the handwritten spirit labels on a well-stocked bar to the intimate escape in the rafters, it’s a place anyone would enjoy.

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Exterior: wood trim with standing seam roof and corrugated siding (Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)
(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)

Wilson and Cullen had a specific vision for the property they purchased as a young married couple. They found an acre lot in South Austin with a 3000-square-foot home from the late ’70s. This would be their site for a reduced and more considerate way of living in one of Texas’ most rapidly vertically-expanding cities. Land is still prime in the Lone Star State, and the couple were savvy in scooping up this rare perch over the capital city’s beloved Barton Creek greenbelt.

Wilson and Cullen decided to rent out the main residence and start fresh on the slab of a storage house from years past. Designing and building what they needed allowed them to have a space of their own while hosting a family of tenants and everything from dogs, chickens, guineas, and peacocks to the occasional coyote pack or rattlesnake. With everyone chipping in when needed, a sophisticated urban commune was created.

After some time with Austin’s well-known Dick Clark Architecture, Wilson has struck out on her own with Waxwing Design Studio, and her attention to detail and impeccable taste shine in the design and decor. She did a terrific job incorporating things that are important to her and to Cullen. Vintage Hermès scarves that belonged to her grandmother are wonderfully presented alongside artifacts from Cullen’s travels.

The outdoor living space is an equally inviting part of the home. Having dinner on the deck overlooking the garden and the greenbelt beyond makes the property feel like a hill country refuge in the middle of the city. The outdoor shower and tub are a functioning work-in-progress that make for a great indulgence under the stars; plans include encaustic tile and green walls in the outdoor bath. Another addition is a vintage Airstream trailer that will be a future guest suite. The chicken coop even has a mural that was a wedding gift from Wilson’s friend and colleague Justin Kyle. The property is an evolving space, and we hope that you are as excited as we are to check back in on their progress sometime soon!

(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: For me, it’s all about simple luxury and meaningful curating. For Cullen, it’s about functionality (and birds, bows, and arrows).

Inspiration: My grandmother’s Hermès scarves. Cullen’s travels in Latin America doing fieldwork. Bright colors. Textiles. Nature.

Favorite Element: The bathroom. It’s so moody. I love it.

Biggest Challenge: Staying within budget. It really forced us to be really creative!

What Friends Say: They love our deck. In a way, it’s the heart of the property. On any given evening, friends drop by to drink a beer and watch the sunset. We partake in the pastime of “porch sitting” and “chicken TV” (the act of sitting in lawn chairs, drinking beer and watching the chickens — it’s weirdly therapeutic) and we host a lot of dinners al fresco. There’s nothing better than dining under the stars!

Biggest Embarrassment: Not listening to my husband. As a designer, I thought I was more qualified to make the decisions. As it turns out, he had some of the best ideas.

Proudest DIY: Installing the shou-sugi-ban wood wrap-around on our kitchen island from Delta Millworks. The wood was burned, brushed, and finished all by hand. It’s stunning.

Biggest Indulgence: The kitchen countertops (or as Cullen likes to call them “grownup countertops”). It was by far our biggest splurge.

Best Advice: Listen to your friends and family. They know your style (sometimes even better than you do!) and can help you make good decisions.

Dream Sources: Anything well-made or meaningful.


(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)


  • Credenza: IKEA with custom ¾” walnut plywood countertop
  • Framed vintage Hermès scarf: inherited
  • Sconces: West Elm
  • Kilim: purchased while on our honeymoon in Istanbul
  • Lamp: IKEA
  • Wassily Chairs in Belting Leather: designed by Marcel Breuer, available at Design Within Reach
(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)


(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)


(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)


(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)


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Thanks, Wilson & Cullen!