Houston Lifestyles & Homes November 2009
Artist Cara Barer is known for taking a common object and giving it new shape and
purpose through her unique brand of art. So it
’s fitting that her home evolved from that same sense of adventure and
On the face of it, it’s a home. But this dwelling is much more. It’s a museum-quality space for Cara and her physician husband, Jorge, avid art
collectors; and it
’s part home studio, an incubator for Cara’s evolving artistic journey.
With elevated views of Memorial Park, this modern space—two interlocking boxes, one of stucco and the other of metal—combines museum-quality strategies to accommodate the couple’s art collection. Cara’s studio is separated from the main house by an outdoor courtyard but connected
by the guest quarters that lie along the north side of the site, creating a
“I think Chung is a genius. He really is,” she says of their architect, Chung Nguyen of MC2 Architects. The way he puts it
… it’s like a puzzle, but he makes it all work. He has the mind for the actual
architecture but has the creativity, too. It
’s evident throughout the house.”
Expansive walls that accommodate large pieces of art combine with wide-open
spaces for an airy, uncluttered feel. Clerestory windows over walls infuse the
space with daylight.
“We designed the house keeping in mind the quality of light so the art is always
” Nguyen says. “We wanted it to be the perfect backdrop for their art collection.”
Paintings and sculptures pop against an architecturally neutral background, with
the second floor making up the main living space
Two intersecting volumes—one stucco, the other metal—make up this home with elevated views of Memorial Park. ˚ An iconic Eames lounge chair shares space with a sleek sofa from Roche Bobois in
the main living room on the second floor. At right, a stunning bronze sculpture
by world-renowned artist Francisco Zuniga.
˚ Steps of granite lead to the third floor. The dining room is a vision with
built-in vitrines holding Cara
’s collection of Steuben glass. ˚ An expansive wall and
wide-open spaces provide a gallery feel for the couple’s art collection. The colorful oil is by Dick Wray. A piece by Cara hangs near
the Saarinen table and chairs. The large bronze sculpture is by artist
kitchen, dining room, living room and a large display wall void of electrical
outlets, less they detract from the art.
“Chung’s idea,” says Cara. “All the electrical outlets are on the floor. It makes a difference, but most
people probably wouldn
’t think about that. Chung thinks of everything.”
A floor of granite sweeps through this space, cut in large squares in keeping
with the scale of the room.
Front-facing walls of glass offer unobstructed views of Memorial Park for a tree
house feel. The third floor with master bedroom and Jorge
’s study, located on an interior balcony open to the second floor below, also
takes advantage of this incredible vista.
“We wanted the living room to be open but still have privacy,” explains Nguyen. “It allowed us to bring the park into the living room without seeing the street.”
The ground floor of the main house contains a media room, exercise room and
along a hallway that connects to Cara’s studio. But the clever positioning of her studio—in another building separated from the main house by a pool and hot tub—makes it possible to welcome clients without having them wind their way through
“Occasionally I have people who want to come see the work here, and I don’t need to invite them in through the front door. It just makes sense that they
have this separate entrance,
” says Cara, whose work is represented at several galleries across the U.S. This
day, she is busy preparing for a show that opens Nov. 7 at De Santos Gallery on
Richmond, her local gallery representation.
“I spend a lot of time in here, believe me,” she says of her studio. next page
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