Hill Country Style With a French Twist
Award-winning home showcases the outdoors with a fusion of style
A couple married for 30 years who had lived in their house for 23 years felt that they and their teenage sons had outgrown their 50-year-old ranch-style home. After a year of searching the housing market in their neighborhood, they found the perfect spot only two streets away to create an elegant and comfortable home. The couple wanted to stay in the area — they liked the neighborhood, especially the large trees, the public schools, and the proximity to the husband’s work and the family’s church.
They were open to remodeling an existing home or building new. They finally found a home in their neighborhood on the creek where their boys had gone fishing and exploring while growing up. Inspection showed the existing home had significant foundation issues. But because they loved the lot, the view and the sentiment attached to the ravine and creek below, they decided to build a new home there.
They assembled their team of construction and design experts from their own circle of friends. They’ve known the builder, Schacht McCollum, since their kids were in grade school, and have seen several of his custom homes. They were additionally impressed by the ideas and suggestions McCollum made early in the process.
The architect, Mark Swenson, understood what the couple wanted from their first meeting where they handed him their initial sketch of a floor plan. “Throughout the process, Mark was able to take our ideas and seamlessly translate them onto the blueprint, even when we presented changes,” the wife said.
Diana Walker, the project designer, has worked with the family for almost 20 years on a variety of projects, from buying furniture to a major remodel on their previous home, so they felt secure that she would remain true to their style and budget. Her understanding of their lifestyle and tastes was invaluable. Walker worked from the wife’s idea file — a collection of images that they wanted to incorporate into the new home design.
“Over the years, I’ve looked through design/decor magazines and saved pictures of things that I liked. I put them in a binder and referenced them while we designed and decorated our home. I had pictures of everything — windows, doors, flooring, countertops, cabinets, paint colors, furniture, fabric.”
Walker worked with her clients to select and detail each area and fine-tune the floor plan to contain unique areas while allowing for the best use of space specific to the homeowners’ needs. The wife expressed the couple’s faith in Walker: “We’ve always been happy with Diana’s work, and she’s saved me from some costly design mistakes.”
Having every room easily accessible to the kitchen — the heart of this home — was the driving force behind the couple’s design choices. Significant outdoor views to provide natural light and minimal separation between the downstairs rooms were also a must. Comfort, along with a timeless aesthetic, was also an essential element.
Because the couple loves to entertain friends and family, they also wanted to expand upon the professional cooking capabilities in their previous home. The range of available products was explored. A butler’s pantry and wet bar were also included in the design. Too, the family’s entertainment areas extend into the outodoor spaces of this new home, with its large yard, mature trees and views afforded in the back.
To keep the living areas uncluttered, significant storage space was also a design priority. Out-of-the-way spaces were cleverly used, such as under the stairs and at the back entrance and in the laundry room, where individual lockers for each family member make dirty clothes or game gear easy to deposit.
Both spouses wanted individual office spaces with natural light. Her work area looks out the back of the house; his out the front.
To enhance the flow of the open floor plan, the interior design plan includes a combination of materials and finishes throughout that reflects the couple’s love of traditional Texas Limestone farmhouses blended with touches of French country styling.
“These clients purchased items from their travels and shopping trips to bring to their new home,” Walker said. “We incorporated all of their art and collectibles, and then added some accents. We were able to include details such as lighting or niches for these special features. The result was a seamless installation.”
During the framing, details such as the stained interior touches on an old pantry door and gray weathered finishes to the wood were added. Ceiling beams and paneling throughout the home were incorporated and helped set the visual lines of sight from the entrance, to the office and along the length of the main areas, even into other spaces.
Because of the house’s abundant natural light and outside views, the desire to bring the outdoors inside influenced the home’s color palette. Earthy gray-greens are paired with neutrals and natural walnut to create a warm interior palette that mimics the stone used on the exterior walls. Window treatments and wall colors follow the same tones found in the slate and exterior tile accents.
The wife’s favorite rooms are the kitchen, great room and game room because of the view along the back of the house. She says that looking out and seeing the trees with the creek below affords her the chance to relax and breathe. “Plus it makes cooking so much more fun!”
The husband’s favorite room is his functional and enjoyable study. He loves listening to music while working on the computer, and he enjoys the view of the front yard and trees. His workspace is also very personalized, reflecting his passions — hunting, gardening and exercise.
The designer’s favorite is the living room with its new and old furnishings, “which combined make the perfect balance of colors with the finishes.” She also appreciates the way the entire first floor flows, allowing the family to live in and enjoy all aspects of their house.
Challenges to the project included working within the limitations of the lot due to the ravine, creek and trees, and providing everything that the family wanted on the main floor. Patience and creativity were required. “For example,” said the husband, “because the house had to be situated ‘just so’ on the lot, there was only so much space allowed for the ground floor. We ended up taking six inches from one room here and put it in another room there a couple of times.” The kitchen and breakfast area were a top priority for space.
“What made this project work was that the clients relied on the expertise of the team to guide them and were patient with the process of building something from the ground up,” Walker said. “They really appreciated the work it takes to make a dream come to life, to give the client what the team has to offer.”
Simple and functional elegance along with a blend of styles make this award-winning home a comfortable, livable space. It offers the family a cohesive environment bathed in natural light that showcases the view and the careful attention to every detail.
Text by Cheryl Alexander Photography by Miro Dvorscak Design by Diana S. Walker ASID, Diana S. Walker Interior Design Architecture by Mark Swenson, Bunker Hill Design Co. Construction by McCollum Custom Homes
TOP IMAGE: An abundance of light flows throughout the home creating slightly different hues as the day passes. A cathedral ceiling with exposed wood beams gives the room dimension while the room’s interior color adds a calm feel of being surrounded by the outdoors. Over the fireplace, an ornate mirror and a custom TV cabinet provide a focal point. The artwork on right wall is by Edgar Medina.