Megan & Stephen's Off-the-Runway Estate

Megan & Stephen's Off-the-Runway Estate

Chris Perez
Mar 6, 2012

Name: Megan and Stephen
Location: Austin, Texas
Size/Room: 4,480 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years

Megan and Stephen jokingly call themselves the "Engi-nerds." Their uber-modern estate has the prominent industrial feel of downtown Chicago framed with the svelte lines and finish of Scandinavian design. Step inside as we take a look at the aviation-inspired features, including a jetliner-themed home theater that's ready for lift-off...

Professional engineers, Megan and Stephen, wanted someone known for the precise detail at the helm of their dream home design. Enter Kevin Alter and his Alterstudio, the firm responsible for the deft work utilizing light and space to present intimate hillside views, while offering privacy and separation from the surrounding neighborhood. The residence is shaped like a U on the main level with the vestibule of the entryway connecting twin corridors on each side — the bedroom quarters on one end, the living and gathering areas on the other.

The home has several features reflecting an aviation theme. A hydraulic lift swings open the garage door like the hangar of an airport, and the ceiling of the entry hall is lined with lights to resemble a runway. A series of portraits whose subjects appear to be clouds spans the wing leading to the kitchen and living areas. A motorized vertical door-lift reveals (or hides) the coffee nook, while the kitchen is Megan's pride, with sleek sky-blue colored cabinets and top-of-the-line Miele appliances — including an induction cooktop that gets things fired up in an instant.

Down the stairs from the living area, lies perhaps the most unique aspect of the home: the jetliner-themed home theater. Walk in and you'll immediately feel like you are in your own private jet — complete with overhead bins and airplane wall panels with window views. The inspiration was born from Megan and Stephen's realization of how great a first class airline seat — with a recliner and fold-out seat tray — would be as a home theater chair.

The pair collected pieces from retired aircraft to turn the space into what it is today. A 17" monitor is seated behind each of the twelve airplane windows. The monitors will soon be connected to simulate flying through Austin, TX — each display showing its own view through a synchronized feed.

Apartment Therapy Survey
My style - Mid-century modern

The inspiration for my home theater - Stephen has been around aviation his entire life and we both love travel. Stephen saw some first-class airline seats for sale many years ago at EAA Oshkosh and thought that these would make great seats in a home theater. Eventually, we bought some different seats, wall panels and overhead bins until we had the cabin of an airliner in our own house.

Favorite element in your space - Kitchen (Megan), and Media Room (Stephen)

Biggest challenge in designing my space - Detailed plans (everything had to fit in very tight tolerances) in order to maximize utility/space on our lot while maintaining a view. Alterstudio had to also incorporate some environmentally-friendly features like (provisions for) photovoltaic panels and a 10,000 gallon rainwater collection cistern.

What friends say about my space - Peaceful, airy, uncluttered

Area where there is room for improvement - No future projects are planned other than adding photovoltaic panels to the house. Room for future projects in the garage - was built in a way to possibly construct an airplane one day. Proudest DIY (do it yourself) project - Water gardens in the front were difficult to construct and get to operate properly. It required a lot of re-do's in plumbing, etc. We also had to research, repair, and recoat the steel fin which is an integral part of the water gardens - we did this ourselves. We're also proud of the magnetic paint we one of our daughter's wall so she can pin and place her many drawings and creations. Biggest indulgence with respect to my space - Megan - kitchen cabinets (including Auton lifting garage door) and appliances; Stephen - media room, Swimex pool, and Hydroswing garage door Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into the home - Go with a reputable firm who is detailed oriented and sweats the small stuff. And, do your research carefully about the equipment you want to use.

Dream source for stuff - 1st Dibs

Tech Hardware (Home Theater)

  • Media room projector from A&B TV
  • Oppo reference blu-ray player
  • Newcastle 7.1 receiver
  • NHT speakers (7 channel system with two 12" subwoofers powered by remote NHT amp and crossover network)
  • Home theater will eventually include two computers with 8 video cards each to drive 17" Dell LCD monitors mounted behind airplane windows.
  • Chairs in media room came from Delta Air Lines L-1011 aircraft
  • Overhead bins and wall panels with windows came from Quantas 767 aircraft that eventually became Google's corporate jet
  • Airplane wallpaper came from Given Campbell
  • additional fabrics and wallpaper came from Knoll, Kravet, and Calvin Klein;
  • Vantage lighting control systems from Dynamic Integrations
  • Dynamic Integrations also did all the home automation (Control 4) and set up all the A/V throughout the home.

Furniture & Accessories

  • Eames chair and ottoman (Design within Reach)
  • Minotti sectional and side table
  • Hans Wegner dining chairs (1st Dibs)
  • Bruksbo bench (Orion Objects)
  • Barcelona ottoman


  • Miele induction cooktop
  • Miele refrigerator
  • Miele steam oven
  • Miele coffee system
  • Miele oven
  • Miele speed oven from Harway Appliances


  • KL Lighting (Jeff Mendrala)

Organizing Tools/Accessories:

  • Downsview cabinetry (kitchen only) by Palmer Todd

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