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Modern Family
by Marsha Canright

Photos by Leonid Furmansky

On a tree-lined street in the heart of the Heights, Amy and Josh Wolfshohl have built a serene, contemporary homestead fit for their active family.

Designed by Houston architect Jesse Hager of CONTENT Architecture™ to accommodate the lifestyle and aesthetic of the owners, the 4,000-square foot house has indoor-outdoor areas for entertaining, an open kitchen at its center, and three bedrooms floating above on the second level. All the rooms offer a view and feature abundant natural light.


It took almost two years to plan, design and build but now the couple, their son and dog Harley have been in the house for more than a year. It was a group effort between Hager and the homeowners, who were deeply involved.

“Josh and Amy enjoy being outdoors. They like to entertain outside, so we decided to orient everything to the north and create a large side yard on the south side,” says Hager.

A horizontal fence made of rich brown Brazilian hardwood encloses the space that contains a sleek pool, spa and an outdoor kitchen equipped for a special family pastime: smoking brisket.


A long covered breezeway flanks the south side of the structure.

“One of my favorite features is the porch and the long entry into the house. I love the sound of the wood deck as you pass the entire public space of the home. On a sunny day, everything is thrown open and it’s beautiful,” says Hager.

It also works well for a busy family. “When Josh and Amy come home, they are completely tucked away in their own private zone. They tell me they can look through the glass wall onto the expansive landscape and truly relax,” Hager says.


He says the family chose the Heights because they love the neighborhood. Such a new, contemporary structure might seem out-of-place in an enclave of classical revival and Craftsman-style houses, but Hager says his team of architects made a focused effort to blend the façade of the new house with surrounding homes. “Our goal was to make sure that it fit in,” he says.

They did a typical window pairing — one that echoes houses on the street — and used fiber cement siding on the upper floor, HardiePlank®, to connect to the neighborhood. The durable material is made more playful by varying its height.

“The house has been well-received by neighbors. They can see it's well done and thoughtful. That was important to us and important to the homeowners,” he adds.

On the ground floor the ceilings are ten-foot, four-inches in height, with nine-foot ceilings on the second level. The house has a neutral color palette and a well-considered storage plan that contains clutter.

The kitchen is more than a place to prepare food; it’s a common gathering area in the center of the house. “People always seem to gather in the kitchen so Josh and Amy decided to embrace it. They envisioned a social area that makes it possible to cook while participating in what’s happening around them on all sides. That’s why there is a wraparound peninsula instead of a wall that separates the kitchen from the living room.”

The kitchen is equipped with Thermador and Wolfe appliances and Silestone countertops in White Zeus Extreme.

Another useful space that “lives” well for the family is a mudroom adjacent to the garage that doubles as a utility room and study. “The room has an island where you can put your feet up and take off your shoes, and there are cubbies with cushions for the dog to sleep,” Hager says.


The downstairs flooring is sealed concrete throughout, finished by Dungan Miller Design. The upstairs flooring is white oak.

The stairway to the second story is based in the kitchen, while the stairs were poured by Amy's father who does industrial concrete work. He wanted to do something special for his daughter, Hager says.

The upstairs master suite has oversized windows that allow the couple to wake up with a view of the large live oak across the street. The suite includes a small exercise room and a spacious, comfortable bath.

“They can get up and do yoga or make coffee while they’re getting ready for the day,” he adds.