MADS home tour a showcase for modern design in Houston

Sandy and Andrew Ray had been casually looking for a new home for six years, attending open houses on weekends and, ultimately, assessing every place as one room short of their needs. They had taken notice of some homes under construction nearby and learned that studioMET Architects had designed them.

After finding an architect who designs and builds homes that they liked, their next decision was easy: It was time to build a home with everything they wanted.

Architect Luisa Aurrecoechea had designed a home for her own young family when a neighbor asked if she could hire Aurrecoechea to design one for her, too.  Aurrecoechea had been working at Studio Red Architects and focusing on commercial clients — one notable project was the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land — and she knew this house would be an opportunity to pivot in her career: start her own firm, focusing on residential architecture.

The Rays’ home in Hilshire Village and Aurrecoechea’s newest home in nearby Spring Valley are two of the six homes on the March 25 Modern Architecture + Design Society’s 2023 Modern Home Tour, with sites spread throughout the Houston area, in Montrose, Bellaire, Sugar Land and the city’s west side. The tour’s sixth site is actually a tour of a prefabricated accessory dwelling unit, still sitting in its Boxprefab factory in EaDo.

The Rays describe their prior homes as nondescript, typical traditional homes. Their new, 5,000-square-foot home, which they moved into in the fall of 2021, is one they call “warm modern.” Its monochromatic exterior includes black wide-plank siding and black-gray brick in an elongated midcentury profile. Engineered bamboo planks add warmth on soffits and other exterior accents.

Inside, the tan/gray palette includes white oak cabinets and door panels in the main living area, with light neutral tile and gray concrete floors. Quartzite on the long island is also a creamy neutral with gray-tan veins running through it.

Sandy and Andrew Ray have been married 25 years, and Sandy jokes that she lives with three large people. Andrew is tall and both of their sons, ages 14 and 17, are over 6 feet tall. Add to the mix a pair of dogs, a small pug and a very large mastiff, and Sandy, 54 and a San Antonio native, can easily explain why she loves the durability and visual forgiveness of concrete floors — as well as the two dishwashers that get a workout in the kitchen.

One key thing Andrew wanted was a mancave, where he could have a home office and music room in one. In this home, it has theater seating, so it also functions as their media room and can be immediately out of sight by closing a big sliding door made of white oak. Andrew, 52, and a lawyer in the energy industry, has played in a variety of bands and has several guitars out, ready to be played.

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 25

Homes: Hyde Park home, by 2Scale Architects; Spring Valley home, by LEAM Design + Build; Hilshire Village, by studioMET Architects; Venetian Lake home in Sugar Land, by studioMET Architects; newly finished accessory dwelling unit in an EaDo factory, by Boxprefab; Bellaire home, by RefuGe Design Studio

Tickets: General admission, $45; children (ages 10-17), $15; admission for two, $80;


Sandy wanted a large, functional kitchen with a chef’s pantry/kitchen where she could keep things out, bake and do other prep work without having a messy main kitchen area. She also didn’t want a formal dining room as well as a breakfast area, so they created a single dining area off of the kitchen with an L-shaped banquette and white oak paneled walls — the wood is rift cut for a strong vertical grain — that make the space look like a luxurious booth in an upscale restaurant. It’s a long table that can seat their extended family for holidays, but when it’s just the four of them, they can eat at one end and play games at the other end.  

The couple, both Texas natives, have lived in San Antonio, Midland and Houston, settling here for good in 2008.

Sandy’s father is an architect and her parents always had modern furniture in their home. The Rays have a pair of iconic, black leather Barcelona chairs alongside a large sofa in the living room. There’s also a pair of another iconic midcentury chairs, the Wassily chair, split between the living room and primary bedroom.

 Aurrecoechea’s home — where she and husband David Mutis raise their three children, 7-year-old Emilia, 5-year-old Martin and 2-year-old Tomas — is all about function, durability and sustainability. She’s 38 and a native of Venezuela who earned a bachelor’s degree there in architecture, then earned a master’s degree in sustainable furniture design in Argentina. She met Mutis — a native of Colombia — when he was in college at the University of Oklahoma and she spent a year there as an exchange student.

Her home finished construction in April 2022 and has seven bathrooms, five bedrooms and four living rooms, as well as a retractable staircase that leads from an upstairs balcony to the ground floor patio.

She incorporated plenty of storage space into her home and designed a ground-floor shed around a tall shade tree so she wouldn’t have to cut it down. That tree also extends through an opening in a small, front balcony.

Before the pandemic, Aurrecoechea had been working from rented office space, but she planned extra office space at the front of this home so she and two employees can work from there permanently. The primary bedroom has a place for her husband to work from home and two built-in desks upstairs provide a place for her kids to someday use for homework — or even school from home if that becomes necessary again.

While much of the Aurrecoechea-Mutis home’s interior has a light, monochromatic palette, the materials are warm: European oak, limestone and porcelain tile or natural stone inside and an exterior with painted cast stone, stucco and Brazilian teak.

She designed her daughter’s room with feminine touches: a pink upholstered headboard and pink watercolor-like accent walls and iridescent bathroom tile that reflects the pink in the bedroom. The boys share a room with a larger bed on the floor and a pair of twin loft-style beds that they tend to use more for play than sleep.

Two second-floor balconies and a large backyard patio with a swimming pool provide plenty of places for the family to play and entertain.

MAD tour

The March 25 MAD Modern Home Tour showcases the work of studioMET Architects (two homes), Aurrecoechea’s LEAM Design + Build, 2Scale Architects, RefuGe Design Studio and Boxprefab, whose owners, Rame and Russell Hruska, also design full modern homes through their Intexure architecture firm.

Tourgoers will get to meet the architecture and design teams and contractors, as well as see great examples of new-construction modernist homes in the city. There are interesting combinations of exterior and interior materials — often wood, brick, tile and stucco, though in applications and color palettes that are more modern and less traditional — along with the kind of home furnishings that work well in modern homes.

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