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Photos: Whit Preston

Hallways often are treated like a morning commute—get in, get out. Though circulation spaces serve a vital function in getting us from the kitchen to the front door, rarely are they seen as spots in which to spend a spare second. This window seat is an invitation to sit down and think again.

Step through this Texas ranch house to find an alcove tucked between the kitchen and master bedroom. Facing a recessed bookcase, glulam frames a wide bench window that’s built out, making a perch that adds a modern take on a traditional detail. A similar bay finished with glulam was built in the kitchen and served as the original inspiration, and the mudroom also features a bench crafted from the laminated wood.

For a house with a rustic yet sophisticated appeal and residents with a lifestyle to match, creating vistas onto the property was important. Architect Gary Furman, principal of Austin, Texas–based Furman + Keil Architects, was looking for a way to extend “the perception of pushing the interior toward the outdoors and making a connection between the two.” The resulting pop-out brings natural lighting to a slender corridor and opens up the hallway, now the perfect spot to set down your grocery bags or finish your morning coffee before leaving for work.

“Circulation spaces are so important to the way a house feels,” says Furman, who stresses that they are crucial to our overall impressions of how a house lives. “Circulation spaces set the tone.” Here, a simple window bay brings in light and turns a narrow hallway into a reading nook and a lovely place.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Austin, TX.