When you have seven record-breaking, legend-making yellow Tour de France jerseys to adorn your walls, what?s a mere Francis Bacon?
A lot, it seems, to Lance Armstrong?self-described ?amateur art collector??whose walls in his spectacular 8,000-square-foot Austin, Texas, home happily trumpet the glory of art over sports. ?You?re not going to walk in here and immediately get hit with championship trophies, because, frankly, I don?t like having my stuff displayed,? admits Armstrong, whose trademark jerseys are discreetly tucked away on the walls of an upstairs media room where ?very few venture,? he says. ?Other than some bikes in the garage, you wouldn?t know who lives here. My kids and I certainly never discuss all that. Obviously, they know Dad was a bike racer who won the Tour de France, but they also know that my main job now is cancer advocate?which is how I?d rather have them see it.?
Still, it was eight-year-old Luke and six-year-old twins Grace and Bella who two years ago motivated the record holder to buy the 40-year-old structure smack in the midst of a remodel. ?In the past, I lived six or seven months a year in Europe, training, traveling. But now, being here more than ever before, I wanted a family home where the kids and I could be comfortable and spend time with friends and extended family.? ?Family? includes his ex-wife, Kristin Armstrong, with whom he has amicable joint custody. ?Being a big part of their lives?and mine, too?she?s here a lot,? he says. ?My dream was big open rooms...people sitting on the floor...the kids having friends over. The greatest sound in the world is children laughing.?
?Other than some bikes in the garage, you wouldn?t know who lives here,? remarks Armstrong.
The other component, he adds, was ?lots of green, outdoor space where kids can run and roll in the grass. I?m always telling my own, ?Go outside. Let?s kick the soccer ball, throw the football, swim.? ? When it came to landscaping all that green, Armstrong had definite ideas. ?I wanted things on an axis, so we created probably 10 different points from which you can look out on the line. Standing in the family room, you stare straight into the fountain; by the pool cabana your eye gets pulled all the way down the row of Italian cypress trees, and you think, I need to walk down there.?
To mastermind his new family base, Armstrong hooked up with Roy W. Materanek, his partner-in-design-crime since 1995, when the pair worked together on Armstrong?s first house (following up with homes in Spain and New York, a Texas ranch and, currently, a getaway in the Bahamas). ?Roy was one of the best decisions I ever made. Once you get the right team together, I always assume it?s not a good idea to change.? (That includes the architectural firm, Ryan Street & Associates, which has also worked on many of his houses.)