Stenger Renovation – Stuart Sampley


In Progress:

Nice photo set of before and after pictures of this Stenger renovation on Ridgewood.

Design by Stuart Sampley.

A bit of a side note:  I’ve seen a number of houses referenced as AD Stenger’s personal home.  I know of at least 6 off the top of my head.  That represents at minimum 5% of the homes he build.   Based on stories I’ve heard, I get the sense he was in and out of a number of places due events in his personal life with some longer than others.  The place I count most significant of his ‘personal homes’ is his first place on Arthur but that is easily up for debate.  I tend to rank all the homes that area above the later period Stenger with the exception of the pilot house on Ridgewood.

15 thoughts on “Stenger Renovation – Stuart Sampley”

  1. This is a great set, Ben. Thanks for finding and posting. What a find, and what a gem of a renovation. I love the Heath Ceramics in the kitchen and the unusual tile in the bath areas. The new entry area works for me better than the original framing. I’m also pleased to see the consideration for the trees on the lot.

  2. That would be a dream come true home for me – just BEAUTIFUL! The ONLY thing I regret is the covering of inside beams – would have been stunning to see the same all wood treatment from inside to out. Looks like they had to do some serious “frankenstein-ing” of the beams during the rebuild which I suspect made that next to impossible. Again – BEAUTIFUL renovation and I am SOOOOO thankful the owners/architect put soooooooo much heart and respect (not to mention big bucks) into the project – BRAVO!

    1. Another consideration on the beams is that on many of the Stenger places there was no real insulation on the roof. I talked with one women who said that by covering the beams and filling the gap with insulation they saved over 30% on their electricity bill. I love me some exposed beams but I can’t argue with that trade-off.

    1. It’s certainly one way; and I personally struggle with the choice of how to approach midcentury modern renovation; “Preservationism” vs “Renovationism”? – I think this debate should be considered and this is a fine place to stage it.

      I really like the new commercial glazed front on this house, and much of the clean “neo modern” flavor this particular home now presents to the world (in some ways I envy it!).

      I’ve been involved in historic preservation work on occasion over the years and have come to appreciate the “correctness of things” (even when they challenge my ideas) and as a consequence have developed the ability to see things for what they “are”, rather than what I personally might be inclined to transmorph them into. In Santa Fe, we were forced to take a conservative approach to any structure more than 50 years of age… said structures automatically fall under a blanket of historic review standards, both good and bad. Interestingly, here in Austin, many Stenger homes are more than 50 years old and show their age in both good and bad ways, many are marked by degradation and neglect, but on the upside some have a nearly inimitable “vintage midcentury modern” flavor that is important to recognize, champion and distinguish from “neo modern”. Early Stenger homes span a timeframe of having “classic period” MCM detailing, with later homes built in the ’60s evolving into a somewhat different expression.

      I first ran into the challenge of embracing this same age dynamic when viewing Luis Barragan homes in Mexico City… We expect Modernism to always be “clean” and “new”, but many of the Barragan homes show age related decline, even “patina”… the same patina I see today on some of the 55 year old woodwork in our Stenger home, this, along with dated ideas about cabinetry/layout priorities one also finds in Wright’s “Usonian” homes from a decade or so earlier… when extant, these differences might well be recognized and preserved, doing so actually elevates our understanding and appreciation of who A. D. Stenger was, the time in which he worked and legacy of iconic homes he has left us…

  3. Awesome job! I tell ya, Brady Lane (I THINK this is on Brady, correct?), one hideous remuddled Stenger, one awesome original Stenger, one amazing restoration, and over and over, etc., etc., etc…such a weird street. Too bad they can’t just Eichler-ize (well, there ARE a lot of teardowns, soooo…) that entire street at some point, such great Stengers over there (highly doubtful considering how much the remuddles sold for, etc.). Amazing job though, BRAVO!

  4. The place looked unloved, and this guy did a solid rescue job with what he had to work with; but I agree with the commenter above: so much of the patina gets scraped away by some of these high-dollar renovations that I wish there were more purists out there living in these houses. It seems like its either people who don’t care or people who go overboard trying to make them look like a showroom.

    I’ve always admired the few who manage to resist the pressure to go with contemporary or trendy fittings and finishes. I know it’s a bitch to pander to a house, and expert and careful preservation is not as easy and instantly gratifying as newing up a place, but a preservation is always going to have more soul than a slick renovation. Anyone who’s walked around a Frank Lloyd Wright house knows what I mean.

    I read an article recently about one of the preeminent Porsche restoration houses somewhere in New Jersey. Their protocol when it comes to restorations is to try to work with what is there, including rubbing the oxidation out of the paint and brightwork rather than repainting/re-plating. It’s far more laborious, but the idea is that in 100 years, there may be no complete reference example of what a truly stock Porsche looked like from various periods of production if they strip them down and make them showroom new.

  5. AD Stenger is a lost relative of mine. Can someone direct me to anyone related to him? I need to make a connection for family records. I appreciate your help.
    Beth from Minnesota

  6. Mannnnn, When I first started looking at the before pictures I got so excited. What an incredible example of MCM detailing, and then with every click of the next button my heart sank a little deeper. I am so tired of wood floors, sheetrock, and recessed lighting being the answer for what makes a house modern. Taking something original and forcing it to take on moments you can find in any downtown condo is a crime of design : )

    1. I am curious what examples of MCM detailing you saw in the original that were lost. What would you use instead of sheetrock for the walls? And you’d have kept the tile floors or replaced them with similar tile? I’d like to see some examples of this type of restoration to get a better feel. It seems like this type of remodel is ‘safer’ economically, because it has updated features that buyers in Rollingwood/West Lake Hills expect.

  7. Fascinating project. We have provided electrical wiring and lighting installation for a number of renovations over the years. Although unanticipated challenges are often encountered, it is always gratifying to see an older home given new life, especially when it has potential like this.

  8. This is very nice renovation project with strong potential in the structure, as well as the home site for future landscaping. The presence of mature trees is a huge plus, and it was gratifying to see the level of care involved in protecting them during the renovation process.

  9. re. AD’s “personal homes”….i bought his original, very first ever home he built and subsequently lived in. on Arthur Lane.

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