These Tiny Houses in Austin Are Sustainable and Chic

published Apr 26, 2019
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(Image credit: Leonid Furmansky)

Just off South Congress Avenue, one of the most highly trafficked streets in Austin, lies an apartment community that is just as eco-friendly as it is Instagram-worthy. La Dueña, which was originally constructed in 1973, was remodeled in 2018 by Jeanne Schultz Design Studio and now contains 10 400-square-foot fully furnished units.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

“In general, the construction industry is very wasteful and accounts for most of what goes to the landfills,” Founder and Principal Jeanne Schultz tells Apartment Therapy. “But, utilizing the existing structure and only replacing what is necessary is one way we are trying to contribute to a more sustainable model.”

With so many ongoing construction projects in the Texas capital, it’s architectural designers like Schultz who are taking a stand and giving their time to these labor-of-love projects.

“When the structure was acquired, it was in a dilapidated state with a lot of rotting wood and old insulation that just wasn’t performing,” she remembers. “We replaced the existing plumbing system and brought all the materials up to a higher level of performance which was a major sustainability component.”

In addition to mitigating construction costs and cutting down on project waste, Schultz felt it was important to uphold the fabric of the neighborhood.

“We maintained the aesthetic of the building and [it’s place in the neighborhood],” she says. “When people go through and demolish and build some new monstrosity, it’s insensitive to the physical character of the neighborhood. I think it was very much appreciated due to the sensitive building environment we have here.”

La Dueña is also able to provide accessible housing in the most expensive zip code in Austin. At a time when the cost-of-living has reached an all-time high, housing options like these are more important than ever.

The units, which are designed for both short- and long-term living and also come with concierge services, feature a dark and moody color palette that’s “masculine, yet comfortable,” says the designer.

The all-black matte kitchen has some space-saving features, like a 20-inch wide sliding summit range and compact dishwasher.

“The custom dishwasher fits on a shelf and only holds four or six full place settings,” she says. “Again, it’s going back to the fact that these are compact units and are only meant for a couple people at a time. You have all the convenience of modern life, but you don’t really need a full dishwasher.”

In the living room, a velvet navy couch is a nice complement, along with a sleek coffee table, plenty of plants and curated art work, while the bedroom features crisp white bedding, a rattan headboard and dreamy views of downtown.

It’s funky design details like the custom cabinetry, the sophisticated color palette and enviable location that make La Dueña dreamy. And for the designer, it was a project of a lifetime.

“This is one of my favorite projects I completed,” she says. “It really reflects a lot of my studio values and ethos.”