TEXAS HOME AND LIVING
Architecture by Rick Burleson
Interior Design by Kimberley Dart
Photography by Daniel Nadelbach
Written by Tavaner K. Bushman
starting from scratch
A hill country architect turns a difficult site and a rustic dream into a western ranch-style house for two.
Like so many relationship these days, this one started from an Internet search, which lead Nancy and John Loftis to Hill Country architect Rick Burleson of Burleson Design Group.
Originally from Texas, Nancy and John had been living in Colorado and were ready to come home and settle into an equestrian community near Horseshoe Bay.
** Opening spread: The great room is open, on both sides, to the outdoors taking advantage of natural light, a heavily wooded lot and the Hill Country's rustic beauty.
When designing houses, Burleson has a philosophical process he calls, "client, climate and land." The clients' needs are the top priority, then the climate is taken into consideration and the final piece of the puzzle - the land - is worked into the equation as well.
Nancy and John, who are empty-nesters, knew they wanted a rustic-style, ranch house home, Burleson said. The two had been collecting Western art and artifacts for years and they knew their home should be an extension of that passion.
Burleson, who was on the project from day one, helped the couple select the lot where their home would be built, which was heavily wooded and called for a house with a northwestern orientation to the rear yard. The lot was rich in large oak trees, and only one or two had to be removed to make room for the structure. Burleson was careful to design around the ancient trees.
To take advantage of natural ventilation, Burleson positioned the 3,700-square-foot home, which actually has 6,000 square feet of covered area, to capture the southeasterly breeze. A dog trot, or breezeway, allows for the gentle wind to blow through the two elements of the house - the main house and the guest quarters. Open windows to the south allow in as much light as possible, and long overhangs and porches protect the house from direct sun.
** Left: The home's concrete floors were polished prior to staining.
The house is entered from a southeast courtyard into a great room open to the outdoors from both sides. The great room connects visually to the kitchen. However, from the great room, which is the main living area, the other parts of the home - the master bedroom quarters and guest wing - are invisible.
The kitchen has a unique double-island design. Nancy wanted an open kitchen, Burleson said, but she didn't want the prime activity area to be close to the living area. A second island, made of reclaimed wood from a fir tree, acts as a buffer from the bustle of the kitchen and the relaxation of the great room.
Nancy and John desired their home to have a sense of history to it, which led to the use of reclaimed materials, such as wood and windows. The walls of the kitchen are reclaimed barn wood siding, and a rescued screen door closes off the pantry. Old barn beams were used in the kitchen as well.
** Right: To divide the open great room and kitchen into living and working areas, architect and client decided on a two-island kitchen design. The island closest to the dining table separates the great room from the kitchen.
** Right: With its tall and numerous windows and rustic tin roof, the sleeping porch provides a sleeping experience as close to nature as possible without sleeping outdoors.
"You can't duplicate that sense of history with a new material," Burleson says. Reclaimed wood is a very warm material because of its age, and more attractive to look at than a new wood, he adds.
Burleson referred Kimberley Dart, who is known for her rustic Western, yet upscale look, to the clients to help with the interior aesthetic details. Dart and Burleson had worked together several times before.
"Nancy had a real strong direction," Dart says. She loves antiques, and is always searching for primitive-style furniture, Dart adds. The couple purchased most of the furniture for the home themselves, and Dart simply helped "pull everything together."
It was important to Nancy and John for as much of the material as possible be from Texas. The granite and stone are even from the Horseshoe Bay area, Dart says. Everything was to be as authentic and true as could be.
Of the few elements that were purchased new, were some leather furniture and window coverings, which are natural fiber to blend in with the rest of the home, Dart says.
** Left: The breezeway, also known as a dog trot, physically separates the main house from the guest wing. It also allows for light breezes to help keep the house naturally cool. **
Dart, who is also a faux painter, went to work on the kitchen cabinets. To achieve the old barn look Nancy and John wanted, she literally took a hammer and ice pick to bran new cabinets to achieve a distressed look.
"They look so authentic," Dart says. "With faux painting, you make something look like it's not."
But for some things, nothing can replace the original. Three windows from the homestead Nancy grew up on in North Dakota rest in a second-floor stone gable wall above the dining table.
** Left: To make the kitchen as authentic as possible, the pantry door is an old screen door, reclaimed barn siding lines the walls and the cabinets were skillfully faux painted.
The guest wing, separated from the main house by the breezeway, has a living area, small kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sleeping porch, which has a rustic tin ceiling. Most of the furniture for the unique room was purchased at Round Top, a major shopping destination for any antique lover.
Nancy's den, the great room and kitchen, and the master bedroom and bath, which are tucked away for privacy, compose the main house, complete with a rear-covered porch.
Nancy and John love the outdoor porch for catching the Hill Country breeze on a warm day and watching spectacular Texas sunset, Dart says.
In addition to the heavy use of barn wood, and the home's indirect lighting, Burleson is most pleased with how the great room turned out, he says. He loves "the feel of that room and how it is open on both sides." It was a tough site, he says. But he feels the home is a good response to it.
** With a love of horses and riding, the Loftises selected a Hill Country equestrian community that offers various amenities for their horses as their home.
** Above: The great room, from which the house is entered and is the main living area, separates the private master bedroom wing from the guest house.