Friday, November 9, 2012

Open Days Garden Tour: The Lake|Flato House

The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Tour in Austin showcased a diverse group of gardens.  Today's featured garden is an example of that range.  In fact, this stop on the tour wasn't as much about the gardens as it was about the house and the art in the garden.

Of the six gardens on the tour this was the one I most wanted to see.  I've been a huge fan of architects David Lake and Ted Flato's work since the moment I saw one of their homes on the cover of Metropolitan Home magazine more than 20 years ago.  The architecture was clearly Post Modern, yet I knew at a glance, without reading the article, that this house was in Texas.  Vernacular architecture at its best.  Lake|Flato is based in San Antonio so I have seen several of their local commercial projects, but have never visited one of their residences.  This house is listed on their site as the Lake Austin House.

This stop on the tour, listed in the brochure as "Austin Private Garden" was more about the site and art on display than garden design and plants.  We had access to a list which provided the names of the artists, but not the names of the pieces or the materials used.

Through the front gate set into a limestone wall along the road, very little is visible from the road.

Across the lawn we encounter our first piece of art in front of the guest house.

This piece is called "Excavator Dig Site" and is by Sterling Ruby.  Found objects from a construction site encased in bronze.  According to the dealer's website this is one of three.

Farther down the driveway, weeping atlas cedars drooping into the lawn and a stone sculpture between the guest house (back right) and main house.

The same sculpture against the back of the main house.  Here you begin to get a sense of the LakeFlato style.

Horsetail reed in an L-shaped corner beside the garage.

The small garden beside the garage also hid mechanical equipment for the house.

A look back up the driveway to the street, very green and lush.

Across the lawn to the canal which runs along the edge of the property with a boardwalk.  The island has a smooth bronze sculpture reminiscent of Henry Moore.  This view looks back toward the street and the main house is on the right.

Sculpture set in an inlet of the canal

A stainless sculpture/seat on the nearby deck with a twisty mesquite for a frame.

And then the big moment, this screen porch was open to the public for a walk through!  A chance to admire the details of the interior.

Ceiling details

To the front of  the house and the long sweep of lawn draws your attention to the view of Lake Austin.  Note the chair on the left, which is an art piece we shall see repeated again and again.

The main rooms of the house face the lake and this porch connects the house to the lawn and the pool near the wall.  The precarious chair is intentional.

Loved this stonework sculpture circle set in the lawn

A view across the lawn to the pool and outdoor kitchen pavilion.  More art in view around the lawn.

Then this indoor/outdoor chair caught my attention and I noticed the matching chair inside the house.   The pool wall is reflected here also.

The inside out chair from another view

A few moments later I discovered these two in the corner by the bedroom.  The hunt was on.

Two more in the outdoor kitchen.  What's that just beyond by the lake?

It's the chair tipped back in the lawn in front of a bald cypress seen earlier in the full view of this lawn.

Another appears in the lake by the steps

Was that all the chairs?  Possibly, I looked around a bit more.

A cone shaped piece set into some small trees, that might be an Arizona Cypress.  This made me want to sit on the lawn with an ice cream cone.

This metal sculpture looked like bull parts arranged in the juniper.

The fireplace in the outdoor kitchen matches the one on the screen porch.

A look back through the pavilion across the pool to the bedroom.

A unique spa filler

These boots are made for planting horsetail reed

I walked back toward the house and indulged in a few more moments in the porch space looking out at the lake

As I was leaving the screen porch, I saw a chair in the canal which I had missed on the way in.

Did I find them all?  I might never know and that's the fun of it.

I loved seeing this house and the art, the placement of which reminded me of a trip earlier this year to Benini Sculpture Ranch.

For a look back at the Christine Ten Eyck and Gary Deaver garden click here.  The Garden Conservancy Open Days supports the preservation of special gardens like Peckerwood Garden near Houston.

There are two more gardens we toured and I'll post those next week.


  1. I have really been enjoying your series on the Garden Conservancy this house and while the chairs are fun I could do without the rest of the art. I'm such a bah humbug!

    1. Thank you DG! These were such a great group of gardens and I immensely enjoyed the tour, along with the fun of spending a day with the Austin garden bloggers.

  2. Many of the photos are not showing up for me, but the ones I can see are thought-provoking. Some of the art leaves me cold, but other pieces I like quite a bit...just like a visit to a showing of modern art in a museum. These folks obviously have very sophisticate taste, and a sense of humor to boot.

    1. I hope you tried again Ricki, that happens to me when reading blogs and if I return later all photos show up fine. I have no idea why though.

      Their sense of humor was fun to experience, especially related to an iconic house and property.

  3. What an interesting place. I love art but some of these pieces were lost on me. Maybe I needed a larger context. I like the idea of hunting for the chairs. :o)

    1. I don't think the pieces were meant to be liked by everyone or even most of the visitors. It's an expression of the owners.

  4. Fun place to visit! I couldn't live there as it would get junked up with all of the plants I'd want to grow in your climate. Who would clean the dog slobber off of all those windows? The human figure/spine is my favorite stand alone piece and the chairs are lots of fun!

    1. I did think that piece was the best in terms of an art piece.

      I know the discipline it takes to do this is impressive. I'd junk it up with bits of Talavera mixed with Blue Willow and some shiny, whirly things that caught my eye at the thrift store.

  5. LOVE this house and the whimsical artwork. Love the Japanese/ Northwest Piney Woods look , all the straight lines and trimmed gardens juxtaposed with the "outside the lines" artwork. Thanks for the pictures!


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