UrbanAdventure

When Sumit and Yvette Bhutani moved to Houston a few

years ago, they had definite needs since they were starting

a family. Three bedrooms, all on the same level, were

important to a home design. And access to the freeway for Sumit’s

commute to the north side was equally high on their list of wants.

“And let’s just say that we’re not ornate. We’re probably the opposite

of ornate,” explains Yvette, of their preference for a modern homes

awash in light that could accommodate clean-lined furnishings.

The couple researched several architects and spec homes but

came up empty. “We were kind of in the middle range where townhomes

felt a little cramped. And budget-wise and time-wise, we really

couldn’t buy land and build custom,” explains Sumit. “We just didn’t

have time for it. Long story short, we couldn’t find anything we liked in our

price range and in the areas we wanted.”

But fate intervened in the form of Houston’s AIA show where the couple took note

of a home designed by husband and wife architects Russell and Rame Hruska

(Intexture Architects). They liked the architect’s uncluttered, less-is-more style. Friends

also had good things to say about the architect couple.

Of particular intrigue was Intexure Architect’s new urban project, Southmore

Terrace, a community of freestanding modern homes built to LEED standards and

replete with plenty of outdoor living space and connection points for community

gatherings.

“It seemed perfect for us and the style we liked. And getting the custom design we

wanted was wonderful. Our architects Russell and Rame Hruska are so easy to work with,”

says Sumit.

“We offer a hybrid,” explains Russell Hruska. “We work with clients to build custom

and meet their needs like in the traditional role of an architect. But we’re also

developing the concept of community. We have land available. We don’t do the

homes as spec. We get the client first and then work with them on design. And it’s a

community with common areas like a garden and play spaces.”

For the Bhutanis, it was a perfect fit.

These days, they’re soon to be a family of four. Their young daughter will soon

have a sibling. The growing family appreciates having three bedrooms — the master and the children’s rooms — on the same level. But, then,

this couple appreciates every element of this 3,600-squarefoot

modern dwelling.

“We really love it,” says Sumit. “We love the clean lines,

the expansive spaces. And it feels like our little neighborhood.

It’s just a great concept.”

In the case of the Bhutani home, it’s a graceful ode to

vertical living. The ground floor consists of a casual living

space and clean-lined guest room with a grassy side courtyard offering

additional entry to the home. Den, powder room, kitchen,

breakfast room and dining room make up the second level.

The bedrooms round out the third story with a small bonus

room on the fourth floor that is used for exercise equipment

and storage.

Geothermal air conditioning, reclaimed and recycled

materials and increased energy and water efficiency were

integral components to the home’s design. “Rame and

Russell build green and they’ve taught us a lot about what it

takes to be LEED certified,” explains Sumit. “Our utility bills are great! We were renting

a 2500 square foot place before and our bills were double what we pay here.”

The Hruskas offer a holistic approach to clients, helping in all facets of design from

landscaping to interior finishes and furniture selection and placement. They even

acted as consultants on art selections and helped the homeowners decide where

to hang certain works. The result is a more cohesive space.

“It all did seem to click,” says Yvette, who feels at home with white walls, using only

an occasional bold accent color in certain rooms. This makes for a serene look that

is easy on the eye.

A front door off to the side allows an extra touch of privacy from the street.

Once in, a casual living area to the left is awash in white walls with smooth porcelain

floors. The homeowner’s preference for an uncluttered look is apparent here

with a streamlined sofa from 2Modern mixing with clean-lined Malena chairs from Design

Within Reach. A pair of fun cork stools is the underbelly for a wonderful glasstop coffee table. Artwork by Tatfoo Tan adorns a wall.

On the second level, warm bamboo floors sweep

underfoot, connecting den to kitchen, breakfast and

dining room. Comfortable leather sofas mingle with a

pair of classic Hans Wegner chairs for a high-end look

in this living space. A Noguchi coffee table plays

anchor to the scene. A balcony connects to this second-

floor living space.

The kitchen is particularly striking in dark brown

maple cabinetry that contrasts with white countertops

in composite quartz. A backsplash is so faint in

color that it reminds one of water. “I love that!” says

Yvette. “My favorite tile.”

A breakfast room sits pretty in a Saarinen tulip table

and Globus chairs from Design Within Reach. “This

whole space in the kitchen area was well thought out,

very efficient,” Yvette continues. “And we followed the

theme of the faint colored tiles in the bathrooms as

well. Bright tiles? Not for me.”

A trio of pendants from Lighting Unlimited hovers

over table and chairs from Nusa furniture in the dining

room. And on the wall, a fun cluster of sculptural balls

by artist Gregory Story of Fort Worth.

“We buy art when both of us like it and agree on it,”

explains Yvette. “There have been a lot of times when

one of us has vetoed something. If the price is right

and we both just love it, we pull the trigger!”

The third-floor master bedroom is a vision in furniture

from Cantoni and Crate & Barrel bedding. A balcony

off the master brings the outdoors in. The

adjacent master bathroom has a spa quality with a

large, open shower, floating vanity and porcelain

floors.

A bit of fun color was brought into their daughter’s

room across the hall — an orange accent wall amid

built-in bookshelves and cabinet. Another bedroom is

being prepared for the family’s new addition. A Jack and-

Jill bathroom connects the two rooms.

Indeed, this modern house is well thought-out with a stair

tower window facing a side view instead of the street,

adding even more privacy to the home. In lieu of a

front fence, the architect team opted for a low fountain

wall and a zone of lush, drought-resistant plants for a softer effect from the street.

It’s truly modern home sweet modern home for the

Bhutanis, who love living in this unique

urban setting. The Russell and Rame Hruska are not only their

architects, but also their friends and neighbors.

Indeed, the Hruskas combination

home/studio is but a few paces from the

Bhutanis’ home. The two couples pluck vegetables

from the same neighborhood garden.

Their children play together, meeting

at the community sandbox.

“It’s a nice place to come home to,” says

Sumit. “A good decision for us.”

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