Stone is a Common Thread for Texas Home
March 1, 2009
The recent construction of a private residence in Austin, TX, called for stone in unique combinations and patterns to make the home ultra custom. The project, which served as a speculative home for a “Parade of Homes,” was one of seven residences on the tour that was ultimately purchased.
Designed around a pool and courtyard, the home sits on a hillside with a “Texas view” and lends itself to a Southern European influence, according to James LaRue of James D. LaRue Architects in Austin, TX, which served as the architect for the project. “It is a unique, one-of-a-kind home that was designed for Heyl Homes Inc.,” he said.
Working with LaRue and the builder was Interior Designer Babs McMaude, ASID, TBAE of John-William Interiors in Austin, TX, which served as the design firm for the project. “We were trying to make this project an authentic Tuscan villa,” she said, adding that additional design assistance came from Interior Designer David Bravo, Allied ASID. “This was a collaboration.”
Since stone would be featured in both the interior and the exterior of the project, LaRue was careful to select stone varieties that would serve a range of needs. “You have to find a material that works for both,” he said. “And the material also needed to work with being wet because of the pool.”
â€œTrueâ€ masonry constructionTo provide a truly “one-of-a-kind” appearance for the project, the construction professionals went on a thorough search to find the right combination of building materials to clad the walls of the residence. This included the builder, Pat Heyl of Heyl Homes in Austin, as well as the mason, and they selected materials from a variety of locations.
According to Heyl, who has been an engineer and builder for 20 years, the company typically works closely with all subcontractors on a job, with the goal of achieving “Old World” craftsmanship for the finished project.
“The builder and the mason went to three different stone yards to choose the stone,” said Paula Ables of James D. LaRue Architects. “They were looking for a particular combination to find the perfect coloring.
Once they had a good selection, they brought them to the site,” she continued. “The builder and [LaRue] came up with the color patterns. They put in a lot of time and really customized it.”
In the end, a broad range of stone colors and sizes were selected for the walls. In addition to lighter shades of cream, tan and gold, the team selected pieces with soft gray and blue tones. All of the pieces carry a rough-hewn finish, which projects a theme of casual elegance that is found throughout the space.
True to classic masonry, the materials selected for the walls varied greatly in size. While some pieces are as large as 3 x 3 feet in size, others are as small as 2 x 6 inches - with all sizes in between. The wide variety of pieces used - in terms of color as well as sizing - relied on the skill and experience of the mason and architect to accomplish an installation that would be random, yet consistent. “In the beginning, [LaRue] was out there to help choose the pattern and color combination,” Ables said.
The rough-faced stonework is balanced by a number of carved stone elements from Materials Marketing of Austin. These included courtyard columns in Sienna limestone and reflecting pool caps in Leuders limestone.
Exterior pavingComplementing the stone walls is a broad range of stone paving, all of which came from Materials Marketing. In the front courtyard, the architect and builder went with an 8- x 16-inch Tuscan Mustard travertine for the paving in a herringbone pattern. The same pattern and materials additionally were brought onto the library and upstairs balconies.
The loggia floor consists of a combined 8- x 16-inch Tuscan Mustard travertine and Walnut travertine in a pattern combining 16- x 24-inch and 4- x 8-inch pieces. All of the Walnut travertine in the home features a “French Quarter” finish, which the designer described as “beyond tumbled” in terms of texture.
For the rear paving, the design called for a combination of the 8- x 16-inch Tuscan Mustard travertine and 16- x 24-inch Walnut travertine tiles.
Interior spacesKeeping with a Southern European influence, stone also carried into the interior. For the walls in the dining area and kitchen, the use of rough-hewn, random stone pieces provides continuity with the exterior design - in terms of the stonework as well as the dramatic archways that provide a signature element to the space. “The large stone walls in the interior really create that warm European feel,” said LaRue.
Also following the theme of the home’s exterior, the interior stone walls are complemented by stone flooring as well as a range of other architectural stone elements - all of with were supplied by Materials Marketing. “The living spaces - including the kitchen, areas of the ceiling and flooring - feature stone tile,” said the architect.
For the foyer floor, the design team went with a stone “rug” design that included Foundry Masters metal 4-inch decos, 4- x 8-inch pieces of Giallo travertine with a French Quarter finish, 5- x 8-inch panels of Giallo Royale in a mosaic pattern and 16- x 16-inch pieces of Walnut travertine. The border of the stone “rug” consists of 24- x 24-inch tiles of Walnut travertine, while the same material in 4- x 8-inch pieces was employed for the thresholds.
The home’s entry also features a groin vault ceiling, for which McMaude opted for Giallo travertine with a rock-face finish, complemented by Foundry Masters 4-inch decos as well as Café Noir travertine corbels and groin ribs.
In the kitchen, hand-carved Sienna limestone is found in the entryway, and it also frames the stove. The floor in this space is comprised of Walnut travertine, while Copper Canyon granite countertops complete the look of the room.
For the master bathroom, McMaude created a “pinwheel” floor pattern of 4- x 8-inch Walnut travertine and 4- x 4-inch Giallo travertine. The highlight of this space, however, is the tub with a built-in, hand-carved fireplace made of Giallo travertine surrounded by 8- x 8-inch Gold Sand Classic travertine tiles with Los Clavos bronze Rosettes. “There were major issues with the way the tile was installed in the master bathroom,” said McMaude. “We used 1- x 1-inch mosaics over the bathtub, and there’s a huge full radius opening. Tile goes from the deck on one side across the radius, so that was a challenge.”
McMaude, who was there supervising much of the installation along with a contractor and superintendent, explained that other than the master bathroom, there were no other major challenges that arose during construction.
The finished home received several awards from the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, including “Best Architectural Design,” “Best Innovative Design” and “Best All-Around Home.”
“The interior designer did an excellent job,” said LaRue. “The public loved it. Our clients loved it. We have signed two to three other custom homes because of this house.”
Architect: James D. LaRue Architects, Austin, TX
Designer: John-William Interiors, Austin, TX
Builder: Heyl Homes, Austin, TX
Stone Supplier: Materials Marketing, Austin, TX (stone flooring and paving; architectural stonework, except wall cladding)