Austin Smarter Spaces Tour 2013

In Austin, the Modern Homes Tour has a cousin and it’s name is the Smarter Spaces Tour. The tour will be in it’s second year this September 7th and I urge you to check out what it’s all about. It shouldn’t be in the 100’s anymore {let’s hope, right?} and a great time to soak in what’s “smart” in home living from our fellow Austinites.

From the visionaries behind Launch787, founders, Matt Swinney and James Leasure believes that a “smart” space is all about “right” sized living. I had the chance to interview Matt Swinney on how this tour came about.

1. What was the catalyst for you to launch a Smarter Spaces Tour?

Actually, this tour was conceived from our own personal experience. We have a 1950 1600 square foot home in Central Austin. It’s a 3 bedroom and we have 2 kids. We started looking for bigger homes, but found we really couldn’t afford to move up significantly and stay in Central Austin. Location was more important to us than space, so instead we worked with a designer (Thoughtcrib and then you Maureen!) to edit our layout some. We ended up shrinking our master bedroom and adding a second living space. Our home is exactly what we wanted and we didn’t expand our footprint at all — all for about $10,000.

During the process, we talked to lots of friends in similar situations and we found out we weren’t alone in our thinking. A smaller, more intimate home in the location you want is a common trend in Austin (and throughout the US). The idea of the “American Dream” being a suburban home with 4000 square feet, 5 bedrooms, a game room and 2 dining areas isn’t what most Austinites are wanting today. We wanted to create a home tour that showed how to take the average square footage (2500) and smaller in Central Austin and create uniquely designed homes that are both “smart” and incredibly beautiful.

smarter spaces tour austin


Alan K. Barley


2. What do you think are the Top 3 things that makes a home smarter?

First and foremost is the way space is used. We’ve all been in large homes that feel small and small homes that feel large. Square footage is just a number. How the home is laid out for a family’s needs is significantly more important than numerically how big it is. “Smart” to me is how one can take a vintage home and re-design it within the same footprint but to fit our modern lifestyle.

Technology is also key. And I don’t necessarily mean that an iPad controls everything in your home. I mean things that save space like adding tankless water heaters in older homes — that almost always gains a closet without expanding footprint. And while it’s not space-saving, adding things like a Nest to your home so you can control your HVAC from a smart phone is almost no-brainer. It’s low entry cost and pays for itself in probably a year. It’s money-saving but also environmentally more conscious.

Finally, I always advocate for using a designer once your space has been created {Can I just say a big YES to this?} In the U.S., we tend to buy really big furniture and more times than not, it just clogs up space and doesn’t really add to one’s lifestyle. Designers can help space-plan in a way the layperson can’t. Some people are great at it, but having that third party pay attention to how you live can give a unique perspective and help that small home feel larger than it actually is.

smarter spaces tour austin
Alan K. Barley

3. The Modern Home Tours has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years; is your vision for the Smarter Home Tours the same as the MHT? Go national or even global?

I’m not sure. The Modern Home Tours have gone so well nationally and even internationally that we’re really focusing the out-of-Austin growth on that. That said, it’s clear that the trend in America is for smaller, uniquely designed residential spaces. Since it’s a popular tour here in Austin, we’d be crazy to not at least consider trying to grow it in other cities as well.

smarter spaces tour austin


D. Crain


Thank you so much Matt!

So what do you think everyone? I hope to see you there. Get your tickets here!

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