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May 12, 2017
Parade Homes Stand the Test of Time
Mid-Century Modern Home Featured in 1962 Parade of Homes™ Gets a Refresh
By Katie Agness
Nestled in the Northwest Hills neighborhood of Austin is one of the area’s few remaining authentic Mid Century homes. When the home was first built, it was part of Austin’s 1962 Parade of Homes™. Presented by the Texas Capitol Area Builders Association, [now the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin], the annual event showcased the latest trends and developments in home designs, building techniques and new products.
Over the past 55 years, the home has welcomed multiple owners and seen drastic changes to its surrounding community, yet has remained authentic and unique to its original design.
Built in 1962 by Lloyd McLean, the interior of the 3,000-square-foot home was designed by Armor Forwood and furnished by Louis Shanks. Boasting four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a spacious floorplan, the modern, Asian-inspired style can be seen throughout its design and architecture, from the landscaping in the entry courtyard to the interior limestone columns to the unique, brass fixtures and hardware.
Today, the home is owned by Mitchell and Emily Hibbs and their two-year-old son, who purchased the home in September 2016. “We had been looking for a new home on and off for several years,” says Emily. “We wanted a home with character in an established neighborhood that we could put our personal touch on. I didn’t expect to buy a 55-year-old house, but this one far exceeded our expectations.”
Prior to the Hibbs’ ownership, the home had been occupied by the same family since 1964, who had purchased the property from the original builder. “With the exception of some painting and the addition of the breakfast nook, the home was virtually untouched since it was built,” Hibbs says. “It still had the original wool carpet, which was surprisingly in decent shape considering the home’s age.”
Upon taking ownership of the home, Hibbs made updates to the electrical system and heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. “We realized that getting the infrastructure up to date was critical,” Hibbs says. In addition to the infrastructure modernization, cosmetic changes were also made, including painting, wall retexturing, ceiling scraping and carpet replacement.
While these renovations and upgrades helped bring the home out of the ‘60s from a functionality and style perspective, Hibbs says they have one big project left to tackle—the kitchen. According to the 1962 Parade of Homes brochure, “the kitchen is a feature story in itself and, among other things, has all modern appliances, plus antique white-and-gold cabinets, a free-standing, island cabinet with double sink and chopping-board top.”
Unconventional and modern for its time, the Hibbs family intends to keep the open feel of the kitchen. While they plan to install new appliances, Hibbs says they want to stay true to the era by incorporating mosaic tile into the backsplash and re-use the original brass cabinet hardware.
“The kitchen will be the largest upcoming renovation project,” Hibbs says. “My husband and I are fairly handy and love to tackle little jobs. However, we agree on the importance of hiring design and construction professionals for large projects.”
For Hibbs and her husband, the Mid Century style and architecture of the home, coupled with its Asian influences and original, unique design elements, made it instantly attractive. “There are so many things we love about the home—the Asian-inspired entry courtyard, terrazzo flooring and original hardware,” Hibbs says. “To me, the most amazing element is the wall of windows cascading across the living and dining rooms.”
Referring to it as the “third living area,” Hibbs says the backyard and oversized pool were a big selling point for their family. “Every room along the back of the house opens to the backyard, and when we got the keys to the house, the first thing we did was jump in the pool,” she says. “Aside from updating a few decorative tiles and re-plastering the pool, the pool is completely functionally, making Austin summers much more bearable.”
Yet, there’s more to the home than simply being identified for its Mid Century style. “Mid Century Modern in an obvious reference, but I don’t necessarily want it to be a time capsule,” Hibbs says. “I’m very interested in playing up the unusual Asian undertones in the home and would love for the courtyard to be a Zen garden once we restore the fountain.”
While the home hasn’t seen many drastic changes throughout the past few decades, its neighborhood and the surrounding area certainly has. Located off Mesa Drive, the home is in the Northwest Hills suburb, bounded to the south by RM 2222 and to the north by Spicewood Springs Road.
Until the late 1950s, a significant portion of Northwest Hills was owned by Texas Crushed Stone, which ran a limestone quarry. Then, throughout the late ‘60s through the late ‘70s, David and Edward Barrow developed 2,000 acres of land.
Today, the neighborhood, in addition to its proximity to the city, is sought after by for its exemplary schools, ample lot sizes and established trees and greenery. However, not all properties in the area have maintained their original character and unique style. In recent years as Austin has seen an influx in residents, homeowners and developers have been purchasing homes in the area more for the plot of land than for the property itself.
“It’s heartbreaking for me to see architecturally significant homes in the neighborhood demolished,” Hibbs says. “Our home is just as relevant today as it was 55 years ago. The structure and foundation is solid, and the materials are timeless.”
Recently, the Mid Century modern style has made resurgence in design, architecture and fashion, and its admirers and supporters are actively implementing these style elements, even in brand new developments and designs. Yet, these historic, original homes still exist. “I would love to see a Mid Century homes tour initiated in Northwest Hills to showcase the many Mid Century gems.”
As the Hibbs family makes plans to upgrade and renovate their home, staying true to its Mid Century style is of the utmost importance. “I love to integrate old and new modern throughout the home,” Hibbs says. “My hope is that this house fosters in our son an interest in both architecture and preservation. I want him to know that this house has a story and legacy independent of us. We plan to live in the house for a very long time.”
This article originally appeared in the 2017 Parade of Homes Magazine.