Texas Hill Country Home Features A Bit Of History


contemporary exterior landscape

The architects sited the house on a wooded bluff, where it integrates beautifully with the surrounding natural oaks and massive outcroppings of Texas sage. From their home's raised vantage point, the residents enjoy views of the Nueces River valley and Goat Mountain.

contemporary exterior entry glass door...

The team at Lake Flato Architects designed this Hill Country home with a chopped Sisterdale limestone veneer from A.J. Brauer Stone. T. Becker Masonry Construction fabricated the "German smear" mortar joints, while the copper roof is by Heyco. Landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck introduced mostly native, drought-tolerant plantings, including Damianita daisy.

contemporary living room velvet couch...

Solid Douglas-fir timber beams and reclaimed cypress barn wood form the ceiling of the living room, where a George Smith sofa in mohair-velvet joins Frontgate's Bimini armchair around an antique German chest-turned-coffee table from Cupboards & Roses in Sheffield, Massachusetts; an 18th-century Brazilian cupboard stands nearby. Christina Brown of Studio Lumina oversaw the home's lighting design.

contemporary hall limestone portrait mahogany

The same limestone used on the exterior flows into the living room, where an inherited portrait of the wife's mother hangs above an antique mahogany console purchased at an estate sale.

contemporary kitchen peninsula countertop brown

The location of the kitchen allows a visual connection to the dining space, with only a peninsula countertop separating the two areas. Stools with pitchfork backs and ax-handle legs line the counter topped with honed Lueders limestone from Alexis Granite Design.

contemporary kitchen wood cabinetry glass...

The kitchen's ample fenestration allows for expansive views of Goat Mountain. Cabinetry by Kohutek Cabinets wears hardware by Rocky Mountain Hardware from Allen & Allen Co. Lumber & Hardware, and the KitchenAid range is from Factory Builder Stores.

contemporary dining room glass doors...

Open to the southern nature view and an outdoor porch to the west, the dining room features an Ironware International drum chandelier from EC Dicken that hangs over an antique table. The surrounding antique William IV mahogany chairs are from The Morristown Armory Antiques Show in Morristown, New Jersey; they sport Osborne & Little fabric.

contemporary study area aluminum windows...

The architects designed a small nook for reading, reflecting and watching wildlife through custom aluminum windows with a dark bronze finish by Custom Window by Wausau. Fumed-white-oak shelves by Kohutek Cabinets and a Persian rug complete the space.

contemporary bedroom white bed red...

In the master bedroom, a bed from One Kings Lane dressed with Eileen Fisher bedding faces the limestone fireplace designed by Lake Flato Architects, over which hangs a landscape by Matt Morris. The 17th-century wool rug by Michaelian & Kohlberg is from Woven Floors in Mendham, New Jersey.

contemporary bathroom square bathtub neutral...

A Japanese Ofuro cedar soaking tub from Roberts Hot Tubs in Richmond, California, is a focal point of the master bathroom; it features a Sigma floor-mounted tub spout and wall-mounted levers, all from Allen & Allen Co. Lumber & Hardware. The Hunter Douglas roller shade is from Mike's Floorcovering. Benjamin Moore's Mascarpone paint complements the limestone wall.

contemporary antique door limestone

An antique door salvaged from the wife's family home opens to a mechanical room; nearby, an old sugar sack hangs framed on the wall. The cut-limestone flooring from A.J. Brauer Stone echoes the exterior paving and the site's natural limestone.

contemporary exterior rainwater system neutral

Steel kettles once used for boiling sugar were salvaged from the wife's childhood home in Louisiana and reinterpreted as water catchment containers for the rainwater system by Ten Eyck. Jack Harrison of Structural Design Consulting handled the home's structural engineering, while HVAC was done by Ray Butler of Southwest Mechanical Services.

contemporary exterior landscape pool

The north edge of the pool is above grade, as the land slopes down into a ravine, offering swimmers dramatic views of Goat Mountain at the water's edge. Here, Ten Eyck's landscaping includes Flame Acanthus and Spanish Lavender.

contemporary exterior walkway to steel...

Climbing White Lady Banks Rose covers a wood-crafted arbor that leads to the steel entry door from Portella Steel Doors & Windows. Reminiscent of the wife's life in the South, the arbor provides welcoming shade.

Most would agree a spectacular setting enhances a home-building project’s success, especially if it involves approximately 500 acres on a wooded bluff in Texas Hill Country with views of the Nueces River valley and Goat Mountain. Add to that a grove of mature oaks, ample outcroppings of Texas sage, abundant wildlife and a migratory fly zone any birder would envy, and the raw natural beauty alone of one such locale is nirvana.

But when it came to designing a residence here for an empty-nester couple with previous ties to the area’s aptly named Goat Mountain Ranch, the team at Lake Flato Architects–which included partner Karla Greer and associate Rebecca Bruce Comeaux, along with principal Ted Flato and project architect Trey Rabke–wanted to do more than just frame the best views and determine the optimal solar orientation; they also wanted to make a strong connection to the rugged surroundings. “The wife’s father purchased the property in the early 1980s, and the couple started making regular trips there shortly thereafter,” Greer says. “Because they were so closely aligned with the land, we wanted to figure out how to draw both local and personal history into the project.

It was those ideals that first attracted the couple to the Lake Flato team, whose reputation for crafting homes that connect with the environment preceded them. “We saw a house they did in a magazine and liked the attention to detail, their green philosophy and the fact that their buildings fit with the surroundings,” the wife says. “When we found out they were in San Antonio, I thought it must be fate.”

In accordance with the firm’s philosophy, and as a way to relate to the region, the architects used the same stone that German immigrants had mined to build their domiciles nearby in the 1800s. After all, Hill Country is limestone territory and, according to Greer, many of its early homes featured thick stone walls with small windows. “We evolved that idea into a modern interpretation that included a lot more glass to engage with the landscape,” she says. Though the materials are more traditional, the forms are modern.

The finished home features two block volumes–the main living areas, including the kitchen, face north while the master suite and library look east–connected by a vine-covered, wood-crafted arbor that provides a shady respite for all who enter. “The wife grew up in Louisiana, and the breezeway has a romantic quality reminiscent of the South,” says Comeaux, who employed shed roofs with overhangs to provide additional protection from the harsh summer sun.

Perfecting the stonework on the parapets demanded skilled craftsmanship, so project manager Kelly Steele of Kelly Steele Construction Management–hired by the now-retired builder, Jud Prince of Prince Construction–assembled a seasoned crew with three generations of masons. “The walls are one of the most significant features and totally native to Texas,” says Steele, who, as the early settlers did, used a dry burlap rub on the walls for an authentic finish. Prince later enlisted Robert Holmes of Holmes Homes as project manager to complete the work and oversee final details, such as applying the exterior paint. “With the wife’s direction, I’ve also since added a stoop roof over the back door,” Holmes says.

Completing the materials palette, reclaimed cypress planks and timbers salvaged from the wife’s childhood plantation home grace the ceilings and some of the interior walls, while steel kettles once used for boiling sugar serve as water catchment containers for the rainwater system. “There were lots of old buildings on that Louisiana property that were falling down, and over the years we salvaged and stored the wood,” the wife says.

Old cypress planks weren’t the only recycled materials; the couple also incorporated furnishings and artwork that they collected through the years. “Whatever we had seemed to work,” the wife says. “I tend to like warm colors, so I centered everything in the living room around our brown sofa and stools with pitchfork backs and a circa-1800s antique dining room table surrounded by mahogany William IV chairs match the setting perfectly. “It was important that everything fit with the nearby nature,” she adds.

The final piece of securing the structure’s connection to its dramatic locale fell to landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck, along with colleagues Kent Sundberg and Cassie Bergstrom. Ten Eyck utilized limestone pavers, retaining walls and steps to make the transition from the house to the landscape. “I wanted the architecture to melt into the garden,” she says. Her plan introduced more oaks and sage along with native Hill Country plants such as yuccas and agaves to fill in the blanks around the house.

Now the homeowners heartily appreciate how beautifully their home integrates with the landscape. “Thanks to the thoughtful floor plan, the sun follows our progress and there’s a natural flow to our day that includes a seamless transition from inside to outside,” the husband says. His wife adds: “It’s wonderful living in a solid house that feels like it’s always been here and will always be here.”