Every house has a story to tell, but the unique decoration inside and outside this century-old Austin bungalow is more than usually the result of the residents’ personal history. Indeed, what started life as a duplex built by two gentleman ranchers to house themselves and their wives when they came to the city is now one of the most expressive properties in Old West Austin. “We’ve been absolutely ruthless with this little house,” notes Berthold Haas, who with his wife, Emily Tracy, have been living in the house for the past 10 years. “I don’t think there is a surface we haven’t engaged.”
Berthold built the ersatz palm trees at the street gate using “holey stone,” as the native karst rock is nicknamed. These perforated lumps of limestone litter the ground in areas throughout the Hill Country. “I made the front grotto first,” he explains, “but then I suggested to Emily that she add a shell mosaic. The dynamic between the formal shell centerpiece and the informality of the rough-hewn look of the karst stone surround is especially pleasing.”
Photographs by John Granen
Text by Ethne Clarke
Landscape designer: Berthold Haas Design, 618 Lavaca St., Suite 11, Austin, TX 78701; 512/236-9645, bertholdhaasdesign.com.
Shell art: Emily Haas, Shells on Twelfth, 512/740-1668, shellsontwelfth.com.