Rammed-Earth Walls Connect A Modern Home In Texas


modern exterior pool

Rammed-earth walls connect a modern house with its Hill Country surroundings.

modern exterior landscape

Architects Camille Jobe and Ada Corral, working with builder Branson J. Fustes and project manager Kyle Melgaard, designed this Hill Country home to have a strong connection with its natural surroundings. The front door features a copper patina by Thomas Studio & Foundry, complementing the rammed-earth walls by Enabler and stucco by Acropolis Stucco. The standing-seam metal roof is by Straight Solutions.

modern living room neutral palette...

Drophouse Design made the faceted-copper living room fireplace featuring a patina by Thomas Studio & Foundry. The Fenton & Fenton leather sling chairs, across from the Flynn Sofa and coffee table--both from The Renner Project--top a vintage rug from ABC Carpet & Home. The Standing Man sculpture near the fireplace is by Fred Calvin Marshall.

modern dining room brown with...

Fashioned from found elk antlers, the dining room chandelier bespeaks the home's locale. The vintage dining table from The Renner Project is surrounded by chairs from West Elm. Flitch fabricated the bar cabinet.

modern brown kitchen white cabinetry

Thomas Studio & Foundry fabricated the kitchen's copper backsplash and range hood. Møller counter stools from Design Within Reach pull up to a Brown Silk granite countertop from Architectural Tile & Stone. The Dornbracht Tara Ultra faucets are from Ferguson.

modern white bedroom green accents

In the master bedroom, a Brendan Ravenhill Studio pendant illuminates a custom headboard by Enabler upholstered in Garrett Leather by D. George Refinishing, along with attached bedside tables by Flitch. The Julee Taylor painting, rug from ABC Carpet & Home, RH bedding and Philippa armchair and stool by Busetti Garuti Redaelli from Danish Design Store inject color.

modern bedroom gray bed stone...

A platform bed from West Elm, custom metal side table fabricated by Enabler and Kaufmann Mercantile bedside lamp help create a cozy yet simple guest bedroom. The stone flooring is Lueders limestone from Arcon.

modern bathroom neutral outdoor shower...

Rammed-earth walls in the master bathroom extend to form an outdoor shower enclosure featuring Signature Hardware's Mancelona freestanding stainless-steel outdoor shower panel. Inside, honed Basaltina from Architectural Tile & Stone surrounds the Kallista tub from Ferguson. Enabler fabricated the mirrored medicine cabinet and the freestanding vanity, for which Jobe Fabrications made the custom stool.

modern exterior pool and sitting...

Sliding doors by Reynaers open to the patio, where Gloster Bay lounge chairs overlook a courtyard by landscape designer David Mahler. An underground cistern for rainwater storage built by IWS and commissioned by Harvest Rain supplies the house, pool and spa.

In an increasingly urbanized world, untouched wilderness is the ultimate luxury. So it’s no surprise that the natural beauty of Texas’ Hill Country helped motivate a pair of physicians to purchase more than 200 acres in the area. “We’ve tried to build a buffer around us,” one of them says, “because the surrounding property is selling like hotcakes.” Having worked with architects Camille Jobe and Ada Corral several times, the clients enlisted the duo again–along with builder Branson J. Fustes and project manager Kyle Melgaard and landscape designer David Mahler–to design a new residence honoring their love of the land. “Our task was to figure out how to build a modern home that feels like it belongs on a ranch,” explains Jobe.

To establish a connection with the acreage, the architects collaborated with design team members Sarah Hafley, Kevin Keating and Chris Minor to establish rammed-earth walls as one of the house’s defining features. “They appear to come up out of the ground,” Corral explains. The team used a rigorous process before finalizing a pattern for the walls, constructing mock-ups with various colors and aggregates before settling on wavy horizontal stripes and soft earth tones that will become even more subdued with age. “It is very powerful and organic-looking,” Corral notes. Once complete, the walls inspired the remaining material palette, including white oak, limestone and copper, the latter of which will also change in appearance over time as it patinas. “The copper is very reflective, and rammed earth is very light-absorbent, so there’s a little bit of play between those surfaces,” Jobe says.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the rammed earth plays a functional role, helping to create a more sustainable residence. “It keeps the home cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter,” says one of the owners. Walls with narrow vertical windows protect the front façade from the harsh western sunlight. Likewise, in the rear of the L-shaped structure, a wing on the south side–which houses a guest suite, an outdoor kitchen and a fly-tying studio–shelters the courtyard from the elements. Here, the architects positioned the outdoor kitchen in an opening centered on a spectacular view of one of the property’s many majestic live oak trees, further linking the house to the land. “We didn’t want to turn our backs to that tree,” Jobe says, “so we created a gap in that wing.”

Because the rammed earth does not lend itself to being cut in large sections, it influenced the layout and design as well. For example, the architects chose to situate the kitchen, which is connected to a sunset-viewing porch, in a low-slung area with few windows. “It’s meant to be a little cozier,” Jobe explains. “We need dark and cool spaces for respite.” Elsewhere, the den has only a slot window, while a clerestory window brings natural light into the guest bedroom. Driving Jobe’s point home, the master bedroom headboard and integrated side tables are recessed in a wall niche painted a dark hue that sets it apart from the light-colored walls.

The master bedroom overlooks a courtyard brought to life by the architects in collaboration with Mahler, known for his expertise in designing native plant gardens and creating naturalistic water features. In favor of a sustainable landscape, Mahler decided against fertilizers altogether and used all Central Texas native species, including an ash tree and rose mallow, and even transplanted several from the ranch. “Native plants are the backbone and the support of all our native wildlife,” he explains. “It’s a very lively area with butterflies and birds–it’s fun, interesting and intricate.”

Also in the courtyard, the outdoor water feature serves the dual purpose of attracting wildlife in need of a drink and producing a pleasant splash sound heard from the fire pit in the center of the courtyard. Mahler and his master stonemason, Jorge Martinez, pieced together large local limestone slabs to create the courtyard flooring and the adjacent steps and terraces. “Almost none of it is mortared,” says the landscape designer, “but the pieces are cut and fitted together so well that they don’t move.” This more organic-looking design serves as a transition between the linear formality of the modern house and the rural terrain beyond.

The owners are enthralled with not only the natural setting but also the way in which their new home’s architecture and landscaping complement and respond to it. They enjoy grilling in the outdoor kitchen, savor the views and often encounter wild turkeys and deer while leaving the property on the way to work. “It’s heaven,” one of them says. Adds her spouse, “There is no question that this house reflects our taste. It blends with the land and fits in with the rustic environment.”