Words On A British Roadway Inspire A Relaxing Hill Country Getaway


Great room game table area.

This great room pairs contemporary Palecek chairs in Perennials indoor-outdoor fabric with a Visual Comfort floor lamp from Taylors and a vintage rug from Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries. Views of the rugged environment contrast with the sleek zinc metal top on the Arteriors game table surrounded by chairs from Brendan Bass.

Dining room detail

Texas cream limestone walls in the dining room provide a textural backdrop for an abstract painting and vintage white-washed console, both found at Brendan Bass.

Outdoor living area with a...

Generous overhangs create comfortable outdoor seating areas like this porch featuring teak furnishings with Perennials fabric. John S. Troy, Landscape Architect Inc. designed both the hot tub and the landscape that melds with the austere surroundings.

Great room seating area with...

Evident in the Vanguard Furniture sofa and reclaimed wood coffee table by Sarreid Ltd., the great room’s color scheme and textures derive from the surrounding oak trees and brush. The swivel armchairs tout Arc-Com performance fabric and the chandelier is from Made Goods.

Dining room with expansive windows.

Maximum seating was a priority in the dining room, which features chairs from Brendan Bass around a custom dining table with a white-oak top and solid walnut base. The flat-weave wool rug by Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries was shaped to fit the space. A Conrad window shade from EC Dicken controls heat and glare.

Kitchen with statement backsplash and...

The kitchen quartzite island by Caesarstone from Delta Granite and Tabarka Studio tile backsplash from Palmer Todd mimic hues in the surrounding hillsides, while custom-colored pendants by The Urban Electric Co. in Charleston, South Carolina, enhance the quartzite’s green tones. The barstools are Palecek.

Bedroom with four-poster bed and...

Benjamin Moore’s Sea Pine connects the main bedroom walls to the lake visible outside, while the custom iron four-poster bed doesn’t obscure the view. Rounding out the space are Fabricut draperies, a leather bench by Vanguard Furniture and Thibaut armchairs upholstered with Donghia performance fabric.

Outdoor seating area overlooking a...

A blend of old and new defines this outdoor living area, where low-maintenance furnishings are in keeping with the home’s architectural design. Here, chairs by Summer Classics surround a coffee table from Brendan Bass constructed from old railroad ties on a metal base.

Traffic Calmed Area” and “Heavy Plant Crossing” are among the charming yet ambiguous British traffic signs amusing tourists tooling around the English countryside. But it was one signaling “Changed Priorities Ahead” that got a Texas couple on a London holiday snapping pictures. Indicating a change in the road layout, it proved an inspiration—so much so that a sign emblazoned with those words now hangs at the entry to the Hill Country retreat they built two years later. “To them it means put your phone away, enjoy Mother Nature and change your priorities while you are here,” says interior designer Debbie Baxter. These words would challenge her to create mood-altering interiors for the couple, their four high school and college-age children and their guests.

“They wanted a casual, no-fuss interior but with a certain sense of chicness,” explains Baxter, referencing the owners’ directives for the residence designed by architect Roy Braswell, who, sadly, passed away during the course of this project. With its Hill Country cream limestone walls, Braswell’s architecture melds with the local vernacular while the wall-height windows with frames painted to resemble steel offer a contemporary twist. Stained concrete floors throughout also lean modern while providing a smooth textural counterpoint to the hand-hewn ceiling beams.

The addition of a lake to the property prior to the home’s construction, which was implemented by builder Robert Allison, dictated the placement of the main house and four casitas Braswell designed. “The residence has a large kitchen and serves as the gathering place for friends and family,” Baxter adds. “These clients are ‘the more the merrier’ type.” At the same time, the tranquil water views paved the way for a design direction that was less ranch aesthetic and more lakeside retreat. “The native oak trees and green undertone of the water served as the jumping off point for everything,” says Baxter.

With blues and greens signaling relaxation, Baxter’s first selection was the kitchen island’s eucalyptus-tone quartzite. Elsewhere, a ceramic blue lamp here and aqua pillows there serve as background players while soothing water-esque wall tones dominate in the main bedroom. And in the large powder bathroom—where three compartments include a dressing area to slip on a bathing suit before heading out for a swim—the wallpaper is an explosion of flowers and cacti in a full spectrum of verdant hues. Meanwhile, Baxter employed punches of stark white for a playful kick throughout. “It became the major accent color,” the interior designer says, pointing to the plaster dining room chandelier, milk-white kitchen globes and linen-weave cafe curtains in the main bathroom as illustrations. Despite the locale, strategic choices such as these kept the furnishings looking anything but rustic. “The use of white draws in that very contemporary edge for a crisp, modern and young interior while injecting a sense of sophistication,” Baxter explains. 

The same is true throughout, particularly in the great room, where wood chairs with rush seats and backs with cushions are organic complements to the soft upholstered sofa and armchairs. “They are very rectilinear yet textural,” says Baxter, noting she strategically placed an antique table between the seating and added a hand-woven Oushak rug to warm up the sleek concrete floors. And in the dining room, supple chocolate leather chairs offset a white-oak table with a natural black-walnut base. “I love the juxtaposition of texture with slick, old with new, the yin with the yang,” the interior designer adds.

A smattering of well-placed antiques and collectibles further ups the interest level. Citing the hand-painted Hungarian carpenter’s chest in the entry, Baxter recalls, “It’s been in my inventory for 15 years waiting for the right project.” And in the dining room, a whitewashed chest with an unknown history proved the perfect foil for an abstract painting serendipitously capturing the home’s palette. “The artwork even has that goldenrod coloring of the limestone—as if we had commissioned it,” she adds.

But in the end, the residence—from eucalyptus leaves spilling out of a vintage box in the entry, to the reclaimed wood great room coffee table, to the hand-painted kitchen backsplash tiles—points back to Mother Nature. “When you come around the bend and see the lake and casitas it all just makes you want to sigh with relaxation,” says Baxter. “And hopefully when you step inside, you’ll experience yet another relaxing sigh and your priorities really will change.”