HOME ON THE RANGE
By Williams Mills.
Photography by Daniel Nadelbach and Coles Hairston.
Wanting to skirt the hustle and bustle of Houston, one couple decides to roam with the buffalo in Wimberley.
Referring to a group of structures as a compound often comes with an uninviting connotation. A cold, prison like feel takes over.
But at the High Ridge Ranch compound just outside Wimberley, that description couldn't be further from the truth. The cluster of four buildings making up the residence sitting high on the ridge overlooking 83 acres is warm and welcoming, especially to the nearby wildlife.
Dana Foster and husband Storm Lippman split time between the compound and their home in Houston, but their goal is to eventually live in Wimberley full time. Although Foster isn't a fan of the local rattlesnakes and tarantulas, she was pleased to meet one of her new neighbors shortly after building.
"I'm by the fence," she recalls. "Right then I hear something move, and of course I always think it's a snake. But I look, and it's a buffalo. I couldn't even talk. I was just petrified."
A wild, rustic vibe carries at the ranch - designed by architect Rick Burleson and built by Micky Maness of Coachman Homes - along with an overwhelming theme of brining new life to old, reclaimed materials. The interior walls of the main house are covered in aged, blemished red barn wood. "it's my favorite element of the whole house," says Foster, showing off photos of the barn in Montana from where the wood came.
"I got really hooked on reclaimed stuff because I just felt like a new home in this setting needed to bring in a little bit of history," says Foster. She also enjoys the rustic old interiors for their durability, which is important with three adult children, a son-in-law, two grandchildren, six dogs and the couple all using it.
The entrance to the pantry in the kitchen is a deep turquoise screen door. Chicken wire replaced the cabinet doors, and much of the lighting comes from overhead metal porch lamps. Cowhide and leather are in no short supply here, either. "The land dictated our interiors," says Foster. She fancies herself an animal rights supporter and was eased into the idea of two leather recliners with cowhide backs. She similar had to be convinced of the humane procedures behind the antler chandelier.
The master bedroom is arranged so that when Foster and Lippman sit up in bed, they're staring straight through big glass doors that look out to the landscape. One morning they were startled to see a majestic herd of blackbuck antelope.
Foster doesn't shy away from color. Plenty of bright works of art decorate the walls, such as Sage Gibson's patriotic color splashes in paintings of stars and the Texas flag. Also adorning the wall is an image of her husband at 17 with a banjo. "This is my husband, who was a hippie," she says. He still plays, even occasionally on the porch with the rest of the family, who all play different instruments.
The quaint studio space above the garage was the original idea for the property, a cozy getaway from the city. "We thought we wanted a little weekend home," Foster says. "It was going to be the Bird's Nest." The design there is more whimsical, and a little less Texas. Bird artwork and figurines line the shelves above the small kitchen. An armoire by furniture maker David Marsh is a prominent fixture of the room. He uses toys and other found objects to enhance and create a new piece that's all its own. "He claims himself an old dumpster diver," says Foster.
A breezy dogtrot connects the main house to the bunkhouse. There, a long wooden table with sturdy leg beams is the perfect spot for alfresco lunches. "You can sit there any time during the summer and never get hot," she says.
Under a reclaimed tin roof from the same Montana barn used in the interior of the main house, the bunkhouse is bathed in vibrant reds and rustic browns and divided into cowboy- and cowgirl-themed halves. "This is a little more yee-haw," says Foster. You'll find vintage Roy Rogers artwork and memorabilia and metal lunchboxes. There are also a few mixed media art pieces using reclaimed materials by Vintage Sculpture, like the broken rulers and bottle caps forming the shape of a cowboy in a wall sculpture titled "Measure of a Man."
In the "party barn" between the high ceilings and shining concrete floors, a pool table and ping pong table share center stage with a blue, old times gutted Chevrolet that was once a prop in a Waco Old Navy store. Colorful works of art can be spotted here as well, as in the stunning countryside chalkboard sketch created by Phoebe Johnson MacDonald.
Upstairs, a long sleeping loft with small, cowboy bunkhouse-style beds lining a wall features an exit to one of Foster's favorite outdoor spaces. From the inside it's a metal-lined semicircular enclosed deck with windows, but from the outside it's a small silo offering a cool architectural bonus. Like the rest of the property, it's perfect for sharing with a huge tribe of revelers or for peaceful reflection.
"It's crazy quiet here," she says.
"When you're outside, you can hear the electricity going through the wires."