written by:
photos by:
January 23, 2016
Originally published in The New American Home
as
New Territory
In a South Texas border town, a family introduces a bold aesthetic.
Modern Texas home with concrete beam overhang at entrance.

When renovating a house in McAllen, Texas, for his brother-in-law’s family, architect Luis López designed an overhang with concrete beams that protects the front entrance from the area’s frequent rain. A large front window was inserted to provide views through the house to the backyard.

Photo by 
1 / 10
A playful office that includes a Saarinen chair and an Eero Aarnio Puppy.

The office space doubles as a play area, so the parents can keep an eye on the kids while they work. The Saarinen Plastic Back side chair from Knoll was a gift from a friend. 

Photo by 
2 / 10
Pops of color make a bedroom perfect for the couple's young daughter.

The bed in Sara’s room has been in the family since the early 1900s.

Photo by 
3 / 10
A concrete path wraps around the landscape and leads up to the front door.

López insisted on a concrete pathway that winds through the trees, so visitors don’t have to enter through the driveway.

Photo by 
4 / 10
The family relaxes in Eames chairs and enjoys a meal under a collection of pendant lights.

In the dining room, the family gathers beneath a cluster of IKEA Ranarp pendants. 

Photo by 
5 / 10
A spacious living room mixes vintage and modern furniture.

The living room features a vintage credenza by Jens Risom, a Room & Board loveseat, and a CB2 coat rack. By raising a portion of the ceiling in the center of the room, “the idea was to create a big visual door to the inside,” López says.

Photo by 
6 / 10
A pine deck with IKEA chair extending from a master bedroom.

An IKEA PS Vågö chair sits on a small treated-pine deck off the master bedroom. 

Photo by 
7 / 10
The family gathers around a sleek kitchen with Caesarstone countertops and modern appliances.

In the kitchen, the existing cabinets were updated with a coat of paint and topped with new Caesarstone countertops. The refrigerator, dishwasher, and mixer are from KitchenAid and the cooktop is GE. 

 

Photo by 
8 / 10
Main patio with metal roof of modern Texas home.

To save money, the main patio was updated with fresh decking, but the metal awning was kept intact. 

Photo by 
9 / 10
10 / 10
Modern Texas home with concrete beam overhang at entrance.

When renovating a house in McAllen, Texas, for his brother-in-law’s family, architect Luis López designed an overhang with concrete beams that protects the front entrance from the area’s frequent rain. A large front window was inserted to provide views through the house to the backyard.

Project 
Hibiscus House

Ten miles north of the Mexican border, in South Texas, the city of McAllen is a continually evolving metropolis. The largest city of Hidalgo County, it’s home to a growing mix of Mexican and American cultures and increasingly contemporary architecture—the result, in part, of an economic boom that has amplified in the past few decades. Located in the city’s central neighborhood formally known as Old McAllen, the home of creative director Hector Sanchez and his family—a starkly modern box flanked by the region’s traditional ranch-style homes—is one such project that has served as a pioneering force.

Called the Hibiscus House, the residence was designed by Hector’s brother-in-law, Luis López. The local architect envisioned the structure as a midcentury-modern spin on the architecture of Rio Grande Valley, a vernacular characterized by simple Mediterranean- and Tuscan-style homes translated to a South Texan aesthetic. “This area is unlike the rest of the state,” Hector says of the fastest-growing region in Texas and its proximity to Mexico. “It’s kind of an independent country where the architecture is changing because the Mexican migration is demanding more sophisticated design solutions.” Serial, mass-produced constructions, he adds, have continued to dominate the area as recently as the early aughts.

A concrete path wraps around the landscape and leads up to the front door.

López insisted on a concrete pathway that winds through the trees, so visitors don’t have to enter through the driveway.

López has used the area’s unique architectural vantage point to open up the conversation about contemporary design in South Texas. Incorporating features that speak to his progressive outlook, he has quickly become a leading figure of McAllen’s growing design scene, though he’s lived in the city for less than a decade. Born in Mexico, he started his architecture practice, López Resendez Studio, in 2010, with two offices—one in McAllen and the other just 16 miles south, in the border city of Reynosa, Mexico. López, along with former partner Kazuya Katagiri, is credited with designing the first contemporary house in McAllen: the Casa RS, one of the firm’s earliest designs, built in 2007. 

When Hector and his wife, Alejandra, decided to plant new roots in the region, it seemed only natural to call upon López’s expertise. The couple and their kids—Sara, 10, and Mateo, 7—have moved cross-country numerous times and, prospecting the site of their next home, had grown accustomed to touring neighborhoods by car in order to experience the local scenery firsthand. Looking for an area in which they could introduce a fresh, new aesthetic, they decided upon an existing 1,700-square-foot residence on a quiet block lined with traditional homes owned by a community of older generation, long-term dwellers. With its simple, rectangular shape and layout, the house presented the perfect structure for the family’s renovation plans.

A spacious living room mixes vintage and modern furniture.

The living room features a vintage credenza by Jens Risom, a Room & Board loveseat, and a CB2 coat rack. By raising a portion of the ceiling in the center of the room, “the idea was to create a big visual door to the inside,” López says.

López was also particularly drawn to the vegetation surrounding the property, which Hector and his family purchased in early 2014. A lemon tree, an orange tree, a grapevine, mesquite trees, and a grapefruit tree—a sweet nod to McAllen’s reputation as the home of the ruby red—fill the front yard with a lush expanse. 

To enhance this natural beauty, López enacted a series of interventions to open up the home and create a seamless connection with the outdoors. Working on a budget, he creatively repurposed many of the home’s original features to cut down on costs while also maintaining its basic box structure. He transformed the existing garage into an office, replacing the door with a window frame from the master bedroom, opening the space to outdoor vistas. He also extended and built an enclosed front patio, using salvaged brick that had been removed from the living room to enlarge a window. There were some elements he kept, including the original kitchen cabinets, which were left intact and refreshed with a new paint job. 

The entire exterior was also updated with a new color palette. After initially considering an all-white treatment, López and Sanchez decided to paint the house black, a simple move with a stunning result that even they had underestimated. The new hue made everything pop with life: The grass felt greener, the door looked whiter. Everything became bolder. 

Main patio with metal roof of modern Texas home.

To save money, the main patio was updated with fresh decking, but the metal awning was kept intact. 

The result—a welcoming, transparent structure with an expansive, front-facing window—provides an unabashedly refreshing contrast to the surrounding homes that have been guarded and fortified as a measure of security due to the nearby Mexican border. In a powerful subversion of the community’s in-grained architectural approach, the home, with its inviting visibility, telegraphs a warm welcome to the community, rather than shutting it out. 

Hector supported his brother-in-law’s design ap-proach, and, having previously lived in denser, more urban parts of the country, considered it an ideal transition for his new home. “What we are doing here is difficult because people don’t understand—it’s unfamiliar,” says López. And yet, to their delight and surprise, the neighbors, with watchful eyes, have been largely complimentary of López’s design choices. “Everybody who drives by the front of the house goes very slowly to see what’s going on inside,” says López. “It’s exposing the neighborhood to the way they live—it’s become an opportunity for people to [interact].”

In November 2014, the family moved into the completed space with their latest addition to the clan, a Labrador retriever. Inside the home, a series of vintage and antique furnishings slowly culled over time warmly reflects the many places they have lived, each item acting as a precious souvenir. They purchased the vintage lounge chairs in the living room from a resale shop in Chicago, and a grade-school map of the United States in Atlanta; among the family’s more prized finds is a Jens Risom credenza, found in an art and antique shop in Michigan. “They speak more about our career, where we’ve worked, and where we’ve lived,” says Hector. “I like to look at it as a collection of the Midwest—Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit—and beyond, a nice reminder of where we’ve been.” In the master bedroom, a white rocking chair, which Hector won in a contest hosted by Design Within Reach by fashioning a chair design out of champagne corks, wire, and foil, is a memento of a small triumph—as well as the arrival of his daughter, Sara, born that same year, in 2005.

Pops of color make a bedroom perfect for the couple's young daughter.

The bed in Sara’s room has been in the family since the early 1900s.

While some locals argue that contemporary style is a passing trend in McAllen, the Hibiscus House abandons architectural precedent as a long-term response to the way Hector and his family live. López’s outlook on residential projects is intimate and demanding. Each project has different challenges, and he explores how people want to live and how contemporary life translates into architecture. “In the end, architecture is the optimistic view of who the family wants to be,” said López. “It’s a contagious thing to see how a family lives in a new space.” In the case of Hector and his family, the contemporary style has caught on. 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016