This couple’s house meets expectations and budget, with a rooftop yoga studio to boot.
“GREG NEEDED TO stand on his hands.”
Jill Rerucha, of ReruchaStudio, tosses that out in the skylighted yoga studio that pops atop Greg and David’s new Magnolia home, almost as if it’s a design requirement she hears all the time: “We’d like natural materials; an awesome indoor-outdoor connection; and, you know, plenty of overhead (overfeet) clearance.”
It works in context: Greg runs an acupuncture/yoga/massage practice and does yoga every day, and David really didn’t want to walk outside to reach their rooftop deck. So a transitional, transformative, upside-down space really was a must.
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Turns out, a daily handstand also works as a metaphor for their entire home-design and -building experience. “It really was a balancing act,” Rerucha says — of processes, and of options.
When Greg and David moved from their condo, also in Magnolia (a neighborhood they love for its quiet pace and friendly Magnolians), they had envisioned a modern home with traditional elements: quality fixtures, great but not expensive, not funky or trendy, lots of light, no wasted space. And they had a step-one “in” to realizing that, right in the family: Greg’s brother-in-law owns Mint Build, a contracting firm that specializes in speculative building. He brought Rerucha on board — and then everyone learned a lot.
“The task of implementing the vision on a modest budget was at hand,” Rerucha says. “I provided the design vision to try and accommodate David and Greg’s ambitions, and Mint Build provided a reality check on cost and how to build things economically.”
The happy realization: a beautifully modern, not-at-all funky or trendy, light-infused home with traditional elements and quality fixtures, all right, and lots and lots of strategic decisions.
“With a modest budget, you choose selectively,” Rerucha says. “It’s like an outfit. Prada shoes and a Gap T-shirt are just fine. You do not need all Prada.”
Here’s how that purposeful mixing and matching pays off, economically and aesthetically:
• The front grid windows, an impressively substantial part of the high-profile, zoned alignment of structure, materials, windows and casework, are from Sierra Pacific; more-economical Milgard windows live in back. “We spent money on the front,” Rerucha says — “the one zone of high-end windows you can see.”
• In the kitchen, a massive marble-slab splurge behind the range illuminates “and is a dramatic backdrop visible from inside and out,” Rerucha says, but the windows here are a little shorter, and some are standard sizes rather than custom.
• “We didn’t spend too much of the budget upstairs,” says David, an attorney (the lower level is the “public” zone; upstairs is decidedly more private). So the floor has carpet instead of hardwood (“That really saved money,” Rerucha says), and the guest-bathroom sinks are from Ikea, with tile from Discount Tile.
• Up on the rooftop, with its super-roomy yoga studio and ironwood decking, you’d notice cost considerations only in the things you don’t notice. “We didn’t do a dumbwaiter or a laundry chute,” David says, and the step-back eave eliminates the need for a “fussy railing.”
Separately, technically, symbolically, sure: It’s part Gap and part Prada. Together, though, it’s just one put-together ensemble: Shades of gray here and there, including several in the kitchen alone, morph along with the ever-shifting light into greens and purples. (“One of my favorite views is from the laundry room, looking over to the kitchen with the lights on,” says Greg. “It’s like that painting [Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawk”] of the cafe on the street.”) Cozy spaces, such as the TV room behind the kitchen, and the master bedroom (“It should feel like a nest,” Rerucha says), complement the greatness of the great room, which, David says, flows perfectly for dinner parties.
Even better, it’s totally useful, and used.
“You get so wrapped up in specific decisions,” Greg says. “In the end, it’s all beautiful. So much of that doesn’t matter now in the space. I don’t wish we had taller windows. And I’m glad it’s not bigger. At one point we had talked about a basement. Now, what would we have done with it?”
Like yoga, like designing, like building, maybe like everything … it all comes back to balance.
“Each choice we made made sense in the overall project,” David says. “(Mint Build) was laser-focused on cost. Jill didn’t compromise on design. It worked out excellently for everybody. We just all got along.”