A home featured on the cover of Life magazine as an affordable dream home in the 1990s is on the market in Austin, TX, for $1.3 million.
The architect and designer Michael Graves created the home on Shoal Creek Boulevard in 1996, as part of the magazine’s desire to showcase affordable designs for modern home buyers.
“Michael Graves was one of the main architects for the postmodernist movement,” explains the listing agent, Salena Gutierrez. “It’s just a classic, refined design—and that’s what people in Austin like.”
Graves passed away in 2015, and was well-known not only for designing buildings but also for designing products for companies like Alessi and Target. His 9093 teakettle for Alessi, with its bird-shaped whistle, is an iconic piece of product design.
This coverworthy home he dreamed up has four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and measures 3,151 square feet.
Life magazine commissioned a series in the 1990s asking architects to design dream homes for the average price of a new home at the time—about $200,000. This home graced the May 1996 cover of the now-defunct magazine.
“I have multiple copies, so we have them laid out in the house, and I think that’s really cool,” Gutierrez says.
“Personally, as a buyer, I would love that, and it’s a little bit of bragging rights for the buyer to tell friends and family when they come over.”
The list price does include a copy of the magazine.
In interviews, Graves was quoted as saying that he liked homes with character, symmetry, organization, and formality, where guests enter and know which way to turn.
That’s certainly the case in this home.
“When you enter the home, you’re greeted by a water feature that is so awesome,” Gutierrez says. “It’s just different, and I think that’s what is missing today. I think people will appreciate it.”
Gutierrez says that while many tract homes today look similar, this property is unique.
“Graves has this beautiful rotunda that is upstairs,” she notes.
This has a little niche area with a skylight above. The rotunda below, on the second floor, also has a skylight, with a design that goes down to the first floor, letting in a lot of light.
The home is open in the living and dining areas, but offers other well-defined spaces—a plus for buyers during the pandemic.
“This was ahead of its time. It does have a built-in, two-person office with filing cabinets, right there off the kitchen,” Gutierrez explains.
The kitchen has high-end Viking appliances and is a large space with plenty of cabinets, granite countertops, an eat-in area, and an island.
The master bedroom is on the main floor, another feature that was nearly unheard of two decades ago.
“I think this design was ahead of its time, with the owners’ retreat downstairs,” Gutierrez says.
She adds that the downstairs master is a key feature for a buyer in search of a home with options for multigenerational living.
The bathrooms could use a bit of an update to match a new owner’s personal style, but everything is in good working order.
“All that is easily changed. At this price point, someone is going to make it their own anyway,” Gutierrez explains.
The garage is already plumbed for a garage apartment, so a new owner could add even more space if desired.
The outdoor areas are low maintenance, with plenty of parking on the side, a rarity for the neighborhood.
“The yard is mainly in the front. It’s easy maintenance in the back and is really private and secluded,” Gutierrez says.
There is also an RV hookup on the side. Gutierrez says this house will appeal to a buyer on the hunt for something different. It’ll also take a buyer who’s willing to take on minor makeover changes, without straying too far from Graves’ original dreamy design.
“It’s not cookie-cutter. I think the right buyer will be looking for this, and will make it their own a little bit.”