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The client’s primary goal in the design of this new home was to downsize to a single level, low maintenance, high-efficiency home. The owners wanted two studies on separate sides of the home: one with a provision for a large library of books; the other for computer research and ample wall space for art. Site drainage was an issue. The family has interests in: Texas regional style; screen porches; gourmet cooking, indoors and outside; a hot tub that relates to a natural setting; cooled porches for entertaining; privacy in the backyard entertainment areas; natural, indigenous, low-maintenance landscaping; daylighting; relaxed, open plan for indoor entertaining, with the great room connected to kitchen; master bedroom on separate end of home from guest bedrooms and baths; storm shelter/wine cellar; natural, low-maintenance yard area for dogs; large carport; master bedroom looking out to privacy of outdoors at back and near the hot tub. These features were very important to this family. In addition, the landscape for this home has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a refuge for migratory animals and butterflies. To find out how to certify your own garden, go to the NWF website using this link.

Protection of the environment, provision of a habitat for migratory birds and butterflies, and conservation of the site’s natural resources were also important elements as we progressed through the design process. The garden was also chosen by the U.S. Garden Conservancy as one of America’s “Best Private Gardens” in Dallas, Texas. The Conservancy writes on their website, “This modern Texas garden is a model for sustainability in the urban environment. Through capture and re-use of natural rainfall, propagation of native plants and use of honest, appropriate materials, this garden succeeds in reducing its footprint on the environment. Bold, simple detailing and architectural approach to site design result in a variety of micro-environments, and the seamless integration of interior and exterior spaces.”

Key Challenges

• Establish the natural amenities of the site; then, preserve and respect them.
• Find a way to allow the topography work for the design and not against it. The previous home on the site and the site grading allowed storm water from a poorly drained city street to overrun the front of the lot and up to the front door. Water also ran like a river down the old driveway on rainy days.
• Designing a home that was light, bright, casual and open, yet highly energy-efficient
• Save and protect the valuable specimen trees and present a solution for their utilization into plans for natural lighting, solar shading, cooling, and overall aesthetics.


We positioned the home in a manner that preserves the major trees on the property.

This home uses a 1,650-gallon galvanized steel cistern that serves a real purpose in providing supplementary landscape irrigation by collecting rainwater from the roof. Symbolically, it reminds us of how important water is as a resource. But, in reality, it reduces the dependence on city drinking water that is normally used by homes for landscape irrigation, as well as provides a way to absorb the storm water generated on the site.

Other sustainable features of the home are:

Use materials and businesses in the locale of the site to reduce energy and transportation costs. Stone quarried within 300 miles of Dallas. Also used were:

• Highly renewable and short-growth resources: end grain pine block flooring.

• Retention of as much of the water as possible on the site to reduce runoff and limit the impact of urban/suburban flooding and allow for absorption into landscaping. Use a drip irrigation system; minimal water use landscaping; low maintenance grasses and no lawn; site grading and pond to reduce water runoff and encourage absorption.

• Geo-thermal heat pumps or high-efficiency air conditioning equipment to reduce cost of utilities and dependence on fossil fuels.

• Located windows in order to take into account the path of the sun with deep roof overhangs and a loggia to limit direct sunlight but to allow daylighting of the home.

• High-efficiency open cell foam insulation to reduce infiltration as well as increasing insulating values.

• Hot-dipped galvanizing to protect exposed structural and architectural steel and to limit future maintenance.

• Low/Zero V.O.C. paints and finishes.

• Recycled, recyclable, and reclaimed materials such as steel roofing and reclaimed timber beams.

• Heat-reflective exterior materials.

• Low-flow plumbing fixtures.

• Radiant barriers.

• High-efficiency appliances and ceiling fans.

• High-performance/high-efficiency windows and doors; operable windows and layout allow for cross-ventilation.

• Exterior materials that limit the need for painting.

• Client registered home site with the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.