This Austin Home Looks Like a Traditional Craftsman. The Back of It Is Anything But.

 This Austin Home Looks Like a Traditional Craftsman. The Back of It Is Anything But.

High on a hill above the trees, but within walking distance of downtown, sits a house that epitomizes the city of Austin’s radical transformation.

On one side, it is a simple, white, traditional craftsman with columns and a dormer, facing a still-funky, historic neighborhood. On the other side, it is a glass-lined contemporary with a low-sloped roof, an infinity pool and a view over the constantly changing Austin skyline.

“You wake up and you know where you are,” says Sylvia Sharplin, 58, a real-estate agent who renovated and built the 3,600-square-foot, four-bedroom house with her husband, Dan Sharplin, 58, an entrepreneur.

It took the Sharplins more than four years, over $7 million, and lots of tea to create their new home.

It started in 2015, when their youngest daughter was a senior in high school. They wanted to replace their large house in the Austin suburbs with something smaller within walking distance of stores and restaurants. They wanted to buy in Clarksville, a neighborhood west of downtown, where they lived when they moved in 1986 from Monroe, La., to the University of Texas at Austin for graduate school.

They were checking out a small, rundown duplex when Mr. Sharplin glanced up the steep, weed-covered hill and saw a woman outside another small, rundown house.

“What’s that house?” Mr. Sharplin asked the broker. He hiked up and approached the woman, Joan Huntley, who is 81. It turned out she was the owner of both homes, which had been in her family…

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