I Want This House: Marfa Edition

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I want this house, for three reasons: Location, location, and location.

Or maybe I should just say: Marfa, Marfa, Marfa. I'm referring to the tiny town in West Texas that's hard to get to, and even harder to leave.

There's something about Marfa -- about the light, the air, the landscape -- that artists find irresistible (but also, sadly for those who haven't been there, indescribable). Donald Judd, the minimalist sculptor, arrived in 1971, and stayed. His works fill several large industrial buildings in the center of town, and hundreds of acres on the outskirts.

Every object Judd created has a stunning simplicity.

This house is listed for $180,000 -- about average for Marfa. (There aren't a lot of comparables in a town of just 2,100 people.) If I bought it, I would try to give it a Judd-ian simplicity. So it doesn't matter that I'm not crazy about the house's faux-colonial decor. I like its solidity, its symmetry. And what I don't like would be easy to remove.
I don't believe in tear-downs. This would be a tear-out.

I already know someone who could help me. Barbara Hill, a Houston interior designer, has a weekend house in Marfa. It used to be a dance hall; now it's a single, serene living space that feels uncluttered and elegant. Barbara stripped it down to bare essentials. (See below.)

Barbara estimated that it would cost $100,000 to gut the house, plaster its walls and ceilings, and install second-hand fixtures. (It's hard for her to be more specific about the price; because she never knows exactly what she'll find behind a wall or cabinet, her work involves a bit of improvisation.)

With Marfa's magic -- and a little bit of Barbara's -- this could be the house of my dreams.

In my mind, it already is.

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