Local materials and fine craftsmanship come together in this new ranch house and speak of the region.
Designed by Texas and Oklahoma architect, Steve Chambers, this ranch home published in “Southern Living” in 1998 is undergoing renovation and an addition. The purpose of this second home for an active Dallas family is to ‘belong’ in the Hill Country and provide a casual place for friends and family to gather and enjoy a rural setting. See the conceptual sketches below for the additions to the home.
In the Texas Hill Country, spring appears in brilliant shades of blue. Warmer days arrive with a tide of bluebonnets stretching across meadows as far as the eye can see. Amid this vast countryside, a house stands proudly on a gentle knoll in the distance. Its posture is positively Texan.
The house is new, yet its purpose reaches back to another era. “Our daily routine in the city is hectic and fast paced,” says the owner. “We wanted a retreat where we could slow down, relax and have some fun, but we also wanted the house to look like it belongs.”
The task of translating this historic Texas style to an open and inviting getaway for an energetic family fell to Dallas architect Stephen Chambers. “The Hill Country has a strong tradition of design,” Stephen says. “It seemed right to use local materials and echo familiar forms of the region.”
In this corner of the world, local means limestone, and familiar forms translate into steeply pitched metal roofs, deep porches, and wide overhangs. To create the look of a ranch house that has evolved over the years, Stephen broke the house into a series of wings. Varied rooflines, window configurations, and dormers enhance the feeling of an ongoing expansion.
This rambling arrangement of a central core and flanking wings defines the major spaces and belies the fact that the main section of the house encompasses less than 2,700 square feet. The configuration also carves out a welcoming courtyard terrace positioned to capture prevailing breezes.
Inside, the living/dining room soars with light, volume, and a spirit of fine craftsmanship. The design reflects the talent of the architect; the construction reveals the art of builder Byron Bottoms. Timber trusses crafted of recycled longleaf pine with old-fashioned mortise and tenon joints and oak pegs support a 17-foot-tall ceiling.
A limestone wall enlivened with an arched fireplace, raised hearth, and massive mesquite mantel commands attention. A floor of bluestone in a range of colors complements the limestone finishes.
Attention to detail and a sense of openness extend throughout the house. Handcrafted kitchen cabinets of longleaf pine recall the exposed trusses. A large island provides storage and counter space and creates an efficient work triangle; a peninsula offers space to spread out casual buffets. The handmade stairway features an unadorned balustrade and newel post based on simple farmhouse designs. Bedrooms open off a glass gallery with views to a pool terrace.
Texans contend that everything is bigger in the Lone Star State. And from the porch of this ranch house on a warm spring night, the fields of bluebonnets, the just-set sun, the rising moon, and all the stars in the sky sure seem to be.
BY LYNN NESMITH
PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY MINTON
Interior Design: Phyllis Ransopher-Nottingham, Dallas
© 1998 Southern Living
Used with permission