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Outbuilding of the Week: Back Alley House by Tim Cuppett Architects


Outbuilding of the Week: Back Alley House by Tim Cuppett Architects

Michelle Slatalla October 30, 2015

In the historic Texas neighborhood of Old West Austin, clients asked architect Tim Cuppett to add sleeping quarters to a one-bedroom house (circa 1908). To avoid disfiguring the vintage facade with an attic dormer (or worse), Cuppett came up with a charming solution: the back alley guest house.

Photography courtesy of Tim Cuppett Architects.


Above: Cuppett knew the house well; he had remodeled the house for the previous owners. After the 1,747-square-foot house house sold in 2012, the new owners asked Cuppett to add bedroom space (for when their grown children visit).

Remodeling the attic was the first step (and added a second bedroom). But going further would have required a dormer or other disfigurement. Instead, Cuppett designed a freestanding guesthouse (visible through the kitchen window) alongside an alley that borders the back of the property.


Above: The guest house functions as a two-car garage (with entry from the alley) and has a one-bedroom apartment on the upper floor.

“We definitely did not want a Disneyland replica of the original house,” Cuppett told Austin Home. “That historic structure is representative of a particular place in time. While we want the new to complement the old, we should also be building something current to this time and place.”


Above: The guest house has a painted board and batten facade. Planks of cedar fencing mimic the pattern of the siding, creating screens and a railing for a roof deck.


Above: The guest house has a bedroom alcove with a dormer window (above the bed) which mimics and size and shape of a kitchen window in the main house (see below).


Above: From the kitchen in the main house, the guest house’s bedroom dormer is a prominent feature.


Above: The staircase has a framework of steel stair stringers to support ipe treads.


Above: The roof deck offers a view of the Austin skyline.


Above: The guest house replaced an old carport. From the alley, the view is distinctly modern.


Above: Clever sight lines allow a glimpse of the house in the distance.


Above: From the street, there is no hint of the modern guest house sited behind the main house.

For more of our favorite backyard guest houses, see:

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