Rancho Grande - Burleson Design Group, the Hill Country Architect

Casa Grande

By Laura Jackson.

Photography by Daniel Nadelbach.









Age old charm meets the beauty of modern design.

It's hard to define exactly what takes a well-designed home from an appealing and functional layout, to one that is not only truly beautiful, but full of a life and character all its own.


But you always know it the moment you walk through the door.  It's the home that seems to fit perfectly within its environment and easily reveal the warmth and charisma of its owners.


When owners Walter and Judy Fisher decided to build their dream house on a sprawling 400-acre ranch, they knew they wanted it to reflect the rich history of the area they both grew up in near the Texas and Mexico border.  Impressed by the style and fitness of the large variety of homes he had previously designed, the Fishers entrusted renowned architect Rick Burleson with transforming their vision into a breath-taking reality.


Burleson's starting point was based on the rich legacy of the first ranch home ever built in the New World over 300 years ago - the Mexican hacienda.  Through extensive research, he later found out just how closely the goals of the original Spanish ranchers matched with his own time-tested design philosophies.  The final result was a stunning home name Casa Grande reflecting the historical charm and romantic beauty of the hacienda, with all the benefits of modern convenience and architectural expertise."


The best-designed homes are shaped by site features and then artfully integrated with the homeowner's unique living patterns," explained Burleson.  The original objectives of the first haciendas were also based on creating structures that addressed the importance of land and climate.  In fact, much of our popular modern-day focus on the outdoor living concept goes all the way back to the days of early haciendas, where porches and courtyards were a vital part of the overall architectural design.  For the original ranchers, they represented a place of protection as well as comfort.  Case Grande's expansive courtyards present the perfect welcoming feature and provide seamless connections from exterior spaces to interior of the home.


Finding what Burleson describes as a property's "center of gravity" is another important step in his process.  A gorgeous oak tree spanning seen feet in diameter with an estimated history of over 250 years provided the perfect anchoring focal point.  "We actually found old, dilapidated corrals under the tree showing us that it had long been used as a central gathering spot, providing needed shade and respite from the heat during the days when the property served as a working cattle ranch so many years ago," described Burleson.


Orienting the home to the land's elements is also vital to Burleson's approach.  He explained that although the more traditional placement would have been south of the tree fronting the road, Burleson knew that would block the amazing southeast breeze and thus change the entire feel of the home.  "Letting the site drive things, even when that means departing from the typical can make all the difference to the long-term enjoyment of the home," said Burleson.  "Capturing the breeze coming in from the southeast required placing the house northwest of the tree for the best experience, also making a difference in the over cooling and heating of the home in the future."  His choice of a metal roof and longer overhangs also contributes to greater energy savings.


Amazing arches throughout the exterior and interior of the home, indicative of the grand hacienda style, add grace and beauty to the design and perfectly frame the views of the historic tree.  Thicker walls and taller ceilings create a feeling of strength and protection adding to the bold character of Casa Grande.


Large windows allow luminous light to stream across stained concrete flooring in the main living spaces.  The gorgeous colors and textures of the floors combined with their durable, almost bullet-proof characteristics make them perfect for their ranch environment.


The Great Room features a large Nana Wall, a folding glass door providing an enormous 12-foot opening onto the back porch.  Large glass doors in the master bedroom open up to views of the pool and the massive tree in the background.  The master's cozy sitting area and fireplace present the perfect opportunity for relaxing and enjoying the amazing views right outside.


One of the Burleson's favorite rooms is a small getaway space and bar area off the main living area where the owners can escape with friends or family for drinks and conversation.  It also conveniently opens right out onto another beckoning porch space.


Creating a masterpiece of this proportion involves just the right blend of architectural, building and design expertise.  Casa Grande clearly demonstrates the dedication and proficiency of all three.  Mickey Maness of Coachman Homes brought the building prowess, while his wife Dianne provided skilled interior design.


The rich, warm and traditional Mexican colors throughout the home are key to its Old World hacienda charm.  The designer even created an incredible custom design for the Talevera tile in the kitchen finding the perfect fit with its hacienda style.  Gorgeous hand-painted walls are made to appear worm with age, along with fantastic faux painting throughout the interior.  The texture of the rough sewn wood of the reclaimed beams in the Great Room adds instant history and appeal.


Burleson Design Group has found a unique design niche that fundamentally changes the perspective from the beginning of the project.  Most of his clients build on larger pieces of property, as opposed to building within neighborhoods that often come with a variety of codes and restrictions for the finished design.  Burleson explains that because of this distinction, many of his clients begin with a different common goal.  One of the things most important to them, as well as to Burleson as the architect, is creating a lasting connection and a deep respect for the land they want to build upon.  "Whether it's their prized ranch, or another piece of property that holds great meaning for them, that difference guides the entire process and frame of reference," explains Burleson.  For Casa Grande, the end result of that difference produced an inspired, jaw-dropping ranch retreat prefect for creating a lifetime of treasured memories - and its own new page of history.

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