High Ridge Ranch
A Wimberley ranch offers a look at the past -- and future -- of the state's indigenous and reclaimed materials.
The Wimberley ranch
designed by architect Rick Burleson for clients Dana Foster and Storm Lippman uses reclaimed wood and local limestone to unite with its surroundings. Sitting atop a 43-acre plateau, the home consists of a main house, a dogtrot connecting to a bunkhouse, and the Bird’s Nest, an apartment with the only second-level view of the property.
Wide open spaces broken by hills and ravines, washes and canyons: this is the Texas land that sits in the triangle defined by Austin to the north, San Antonio to the south, and desert (a whole lot of it) to the west. The region surrounds the once-sleepy village of Wimberley, an area hard up against the Devil’s Backbone. The outcropping of rock and boulders and wilderness could have been the site of an Old West movie, once upon a time. It is here—on a 43-acre plateau roughly five miles west of the town—that Dana Foster and Storm Lippman have built a beauty of a home and ranch. Complete with panoramic views of Hill Country valleys to the north and west, there is no doubt that when you are in this home, you are in Texas.
Called High Ridge Ranch, the home is designed to capture the elements of the site, most notably the dramatic view and prevailing southeastern breeze. The home evolved from a weekend getaway. “We are recent empty-nesters, so we were interested in a home that was more modular in concept so that we could use only what we needed,” says Foster, a retired registered nurse from The Woodlands area near Houston. “Above all, we wanted the home to be a casual place for our family and friends to gather through the years.”
** The living room, wrapped in reclaimed barnwood, is casual and warm with comfortable sofas, hair-on-hide recliners, and a coffee table made from a map of old Texas cattle trails. The main fireplace is topped with a mesquite mantel that was hand hewn in Johnson City. **
“The house has two axes,” says architect Rick Burleson of Burleson Design Group in Wimberley. “The great room and kitchen are aligned with a particular hill to the north, and a cross-axis connects the master bedroom with the bunk house, going across the dogtrot. A gable to the north is unexpected upon first encounter, creating a nice surprise once inside.”
Burleson’s design work is shaped by three elements—client, climate, and land. “I believe it is important to start from scratch to create the best design,” Burleson says. “Each Hill Country site is unique, and the magic of good design can only happen with a clean slate and an open mind. The best design is always heavily influenced by the location on which it’s built. This maximizes a home’s ability to be comfortable (inside and out), enjoyable and efficient.”
Burleson says his clients were interested in having a well-designed home and did not have too many preconceived floor plan ideas. “They collaborated with us in a very positive way and did not impose their will, but provided many inspirational goals which we endeavored to meet,” he says.
** Facing Page: A large contemporary painting of the Texas flag painted by San Antonio artist Sage Gibson hangs in the main house entry. The dining room immediately emphasizes the breathtaking view, accented by a faux-antler chandelier and encased in barn board, reclaimed beams, and Texas limestone. **
“Armed with magazine clippings and our top-ten list, Rick listened to all of our wants and wishes,” Foster says of their first meeting with the architect. “Many meetings occurred at the home site with Rick (who always had his compass in hand) to assure that the exact view was captured.”
One particular idea from Foster and Lippman that was a starting point: a porch with transom windows above. The plan was ultimately shaped by the views to the north, the solar path (minimize western exposure), prevailing breezes (from the southeast), and the desire to accommodate guests with the proper level of community and privacy.
** Facing Page Top and Center: The kitchen features a large working island, barstool seating, cabinets accented with chicken wire, and a farmhouse sink. A large window over the sink overlooks southern views. An old screen door, found in Waco, accents the open-air pantry. **
** Facing Page Bottom: The family room's ceiling is clad in rusted, corrugated metal. The roadhouse bar is a gift from the builder; it is constructed of barn board and white oak. License plates represent the birthplace and year of each family member. **
“The exterior is shaped by the climate and the history of the region,” Burleson says. “Long overhangs protect the walls from sun and rain. The metal roof resists penetration of heat into the attic, and simple agrarian forms fit to the land to reinforce the sense of a home in the country that is very different than a home in the city.”
The house is a classic Hill Country style, using limestone, cedar beams, and a metal roof with wide overhangs to provide shade for the porches and dogtrot. Native Texas stone and board-and-batten siding are appropriate to the region, tying the home’s exterior to its surroundings. Green-design features like unventilated, insulated attic space and on-demand water heating also ensure a decreased impact in the land in the form of reduced energy consumption.
** Facing Page Top: The master bath features a Texas-made cowhide sink cabinets with coordinating mirrors. A sliding glass door leads to a private patio. **
Facing Page Center and Bottom: A few steps across the dogtrot take guests to the Bunk House. With a full kitchen, the area grants privacy from the main house. The home's patios and outdoor spaces flow seamlessly into the landscape. **