TO THE PARTY BARN!
By Sue-Ella Mueller.
Photography by Daniel Nadelbach.
With their kids grown and living all across Texas, one empty nest couple finds a way to bring the flock together for weekends.
Five years ago, Dana Foster and her husband Storm Lippman had the perfect house built in a little community called High Ridge Ranch in Wimberley, Texas. They loved the design that architect Rick Burleson of Burleson Design Group had created and that builder Micky Maness of Coachman Homes had made a reality. The house became their escape from Houston, with trips made to their new 43-acre, country home site every weekend. It was perfect. And then Storm bought a tractor.
The tractor, of course, needed to be stored somewhere. And it they were going to build a storage facility, it might as well have a workshop, too, was Storm's mindset. But Dana had plans of her own brewing. The couple's three children from their combined family were now all grown and scattered across Texas. While all three kids, Thomas, Bryan and Michelle, who now had a husband and baby of her own, were frequent visitors to the weekend getaway, Dana wanted to make sure she could keep them coming back. A party barn was her answer.
"We all live up and down Texas Highway 35, and the house is a place where we can meet in the middle as a family on the weekends," says Foster. "When Storm bought the tractor, we decided we needed a barn and I knew I wanted it to match the house. I also thought it would be nice to have one side of it be a place the kids, and hopefully more grandkids, could enjoy. It just sort of evolved into one, massive party barn."
For Foster and Lippman, the easiest part of the plan was rehiring Burleson and Maness. "They are just an unbelievable team. Rick has incredible vision and Micky is able to make it happen so seamlessly," Foster says.
"It's not often that we have an opportunity to work with clients twice. Most of them build their dream house and they are not going to build another one," says Burleson. "It was a great opportunity to work together again as a team. The clients are great. They get excited about creative approaches and they have great ideas, and Micky is talented at executing the construction."
Maness adds, "I've worked with Rick on several projects and I've stayed in contact with the owners, so I was pretty excited. We just all work really well together."
With the team back together again, they took their time with the design. "It was important that we tie the barn into the house but make sure that it didn't dominate the estate or look out of place," says Burleson. "The clients had specific needs; they wanted a game room, a kitchenette, a media room, a bunkum and at least one full bathroom in addition to eh storage and workshop area."
Burleson created a building oriented to complete a U-shaped compound with a southern courtyard between the house and barn, using many of the same building materials that were in the house such as a limestone brought in from Del Rio. "We wanted the structure to complement the house but still look like a barn, to give it the sense of an older barn structure that was rehabbed for current use," said Burleson.
When Foster brought up the idea of a second tory balcony, her husband wasn't immediately sold on the idea. That is until Burleson added a silo to the building that was perfect for the balcony as well as giving the barn that old, traditional feel they were looking for without making it too "ranchy."
"Dana calls herself a city girl. The house has a very rustic feel with lots of barn wood throughout the interior. Dana wanted the barn to have a more industrial feel. In the end, it looks cool; it's still rugged but in a different kind of industrial way," says Burleson.
Exposed air ducts, exposed concrete floors and factory-like stairway contribute to the overall feel of the party barn. "We put horseshoe prints in the foundation, but left the original finish with just a past wax over the concrete. Upstairs, we used a pine for the floor with different size boards randomly placed that gives it a unique look," Maness says. "We also put in custom made pipe handrails on the stairways with hog panel (galvanized metal mesh gates) in between the top and bottom rails for both the interior and exterior stairways."
"I wanted the barn to have a more contemporary feel for the kids, with cleaner lines and bright colors," says Dana. "Our son, Thomas, also wanted to be involved in the design and decorating. So upstairs we just have one bunk room with four big beds and it was Thomas's idea to have each bed be a different color. He told me he could see [future] grandkids running upstairs saying 'I want the blue bed, I get the green bed,' He brought a lot of good ideas to the table."
Downstairs, the game room is encased between two walls of glass. Glass windows fall between the media room and the game room while the other far side of the game room features large, overhead, glass garage doors that open up to the porch and the courtyard. A small kitchenette is just off of the game room which is large enough to house a pool table, a ping pong table and a decorative, full-size, 1953 Chevy pick-up truck.
"I'm a big eBayer and a few years ago all these Old Navy trucks started coming up [for bid]. Called our local store and found out all the stores were getting rid of the decorative trucks," Foster says. "I finally found a store in Waco that still had one. The guy I talked to said if you can get here by 7am, Sunday morning you can have it free." Foster turned the back of the prop truck (which doesn't have an engine) into a day bed of sorts and faced the back towards the media room.
"The truck was really the starting point of the [interior] design," says Burleson. "The idea was that the truck would be the centerpiece of the game room and you could sit in the bed of the truck and watch TV. It's wired for sound so it's like you have your own personal drive-in theater."
Another integral piece to the project came with the installation of the barn door. Massive heavy siding barn doors were painted bright orange and tie the contemporary meets rustic theme all together. "When I told them I wanted the doors orange, not all the guys were convinced that was the best color," says Foster. "And it's funny. I can usually tell who the Aggies are because they usually walk in and say I like everything but the orange doors." But Foster, who along with Thomas, is responsible for decorating the party barn, takes interior design in stride.
"Decorating is not brain surgery. No one is going to die if we get it wrong. It's just paint. If you don't like it, you just redo it."
Outside of the color, Maness says the doors presented other challenges for him. "We had to figure out how to integrate these really big, sliding barn doors. We wanted to get as tight of a seal as possible, but still make them easily operable," he says. "This structure really presented some unique things like the barn doors, the glass garage doors and fitting a round silo into a square structure. But I feel lucky to work on these types of projects where I'm still learning something every day."
For Burleson, the project gave him an opportunity to incorporate unique design ideas. "I like what we did on the main porch, creating heavy stone portals that support the porch roof," he says. "The idea there was that instead of a porch with small columns, we'd give it more of a structural mass. It makes it feel as if the porch was at one time part of the interior of the barn. It's a different feature that makes it more interesting."
Not surprisingly, their weekend home has become their family's haven and Foster says they are at the Wimberley house now more often than not and so is the rest of the family. "We truly enjoy each other. Whether we are sitting on the porch listening to the kids play music on their instruments, competing in a family ping pong tournament or just watching a movie together, every weekend we're aching to get there."
And who wouldn't be? After all, where do party animals go for a good time? To the party barn, of course!