The Decatur Street House, built in 1894, is located in Houston’s Old Sixth Ward Historic District. The structure spent the last several decades in a state of dilapidation, listing at six degrees, until a young couple sought to reimagine the neglected property as their first home. The project was subject to design guidelines enforced in the historic district.
The design honors the original house by simply extruding its façade profile toward the back of the lot, replacing previous ad-hoc, lean-to additions, out-buildings, and a forlorn rear yard. A change in floor level distinguishes the old and new parts of the structure (approximately 900 and 700 SF respectively). Adding to the house in this way retains the original scale and character of the property viewed from the street. The addition is engineered to support a second-story, future expansion.
While the exterior maintains original materials and detailing, the interior reflects the owners’ contemporary lifestyle. Programmatically the design supplants the traditional back-to-front (public-to-private) organization with a side-to-side scheme comprised of three parallel strands. The private and supporting spaces are aligned along the west side of the house. The living areas occupy a single open volume along the east side of the house. The third strand, a large deck and side yard, mirrors the interior living area and adds to the livable area. Each of the compartmentalized spaces in the western band expands visually and physically into the adjacent open strands. What was once a warren of small dark rooms is transformed into a bright and expansive new home.