High Ridge Ranch - Burleson Design Group, the Hill Country Architect


By Jennifer Adams.

Photography by Coles Hairston.

Local limestone was a key component in developing a design for a Texas residence that captured the essence of the country hillside.

Perched on a plateau five miles west of Wimberley, TX, a private residence offers its owners sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country.  And to create the rural feel that fits with the surrounding landscape, an extensive amount of native Texas limestone was combined with distressed wood for the design.

"Our design process is very much driven by site conditions," said architect Rick Burleson, AIA, of Burleson Design Group, Inc. in Wimberley, TX.  "Most of our work is done on high acreage property.  The design goal for this residence was to really capture the northern views of the house, and also design so we were taking advantage of the southern breezes and sun orientation.  With our climate here in Texas, you can enjoy summertime outdoors if you are capturing the breezes, so it is intrinsic to our design approach."

"We broke the house up into three difference components," explained Burleson.  The "Main House" includes the master suite along with the primary living areas.  The "Casita," connected to the house by a dogtrot (breezeway), consists of two bedrooms, a living area, and a kitchen.  And finally, an apartment above the garage is designed as an efficiency and features a second floor deck overlooking a western valley.

"The main house is in the middle and the bunkhouse is on the right," said Burleson.  "The breezeway on the left is called a 'dog trot.'  It was coined by the early settlers in the region, when they would build the sleeping quarters from the kitchen."

The architect went on to explain that the home was designed to reflect the essence of the old ranch homes that were built in the area 100 years ago.  "They were interested in something that had a rural look to it," he said.  "It kind of evolved from there.  From a design point of view, we wanted to do something that reinforces a look of something that has been there a while."

When it came time to select material, there was not a hesitation to choose local Texas limestone.  "From a design stance, stone is important to us," said Burleson.  "We like to use stone indigenous to the area.  It's a great material from a green building perspective, and secondly, it fits with the landscape."

According to the architect, the homeowners were receptive to using stone in the design of their new house.  "We always encourage our clients to use regional material," he said.  "we find it to be a great product in general.  I like the aesthetic of the stone.  Again, we are in the Hill  Country region; it is a material that early settlers used because it was on the land.  It reinforces that the house belongs.  You can't create that kind of history with new materials."

The stone, which was supplied by Bobby D Enterprise of Dripping Springs, TX, was quarried about 200 miles away from the property in the Del Rio area.  The material was extensively used on the exterior facade.  Additionally, a metal roof was installed to reflect the sun, and wide overhangs provide shade.

The flat stone pieces are random in size, ranging around 18 inches, and vary in thickness from 3 to 4 inches.  "Not much sorting was needed," said Burleson.  "The mason worked with what was sent and did a good job in blending the colors."

Although the majority of the interior design features barn wood, a substantial amount of Texas limestone can also be found throughout the home.  "We used enough in the interior to pull the outside in," said Burleson, adding that the homeowner was very involved in choosing materials for the interior design.  "Dana did all the interior decorating.  She did a wonderful job with the tile, countertops, colors and furnishing."

Wooden beams form the ceiling in the Great Room - giving it a real feel of a barnyard, according to the architect.  The wood is complemented by a floor-to-ceiling fireplace and hearth made of Texas limestone - completed by a rugged wooden mantle.  Additionally, two stone columns are positioned in the corners as bookends to a large arched window, which offers scenic views to the north.  Burleson explained that placing the stone columns in the corners was a way to extend the interior to the outside.  "It gives a really nice effect," he said.  "I feel those details really make the stone an important part of the design."

The kitchen also exudes a rustic look, with distressed barn wood used as wall panels.  The material was also combined with limestone to form the base of a center island, which is capped off with a Silestone countertop.  Silestone was also used for the additional countertops in the room.  Tumbled travertine tiles - set on a diagonal and accented by a mosaic border and a stained concrete floor - complete the look of the kitchen.

In the master bath, travertine tiles were used for the shower wall and vanity backsplash.  The material is complemented by a decorative border piece in the shower stall.  Stone is also carried into the master bedroom, with another floor-to-ceiling fireplace made of Texas limestone.  The material combined with the wooden ceiling conjures a feeling of warmth and rustic elegance.

From design to construction, it took approximately a year and a half to complete the Texas residence, according to Burleson.  "The builder, Micky Maness of Coachman Homes, Inc., is an excellent builder," he said.  "He has great attention to detail.  [Also], the clients were great.  They were pretty adventuresome.  They gave us about a two-page list of their design goals, but they were really trusting in terms of letting us accomplish their goals."

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