Stone World

Texas limestone attracts upscale buyer

September 6, 2012
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Although designed as a spec house, a private residence in Austin, TX, was built with a high-end client in mind. The team at James D. LaRue Architects created a highly customized design — dressing the home’s exterior and interior walls with Austin White limestone.

“We had an imaginary buyer in our mind,” explained James LaRue, AIA. “The house was built around that. It was a highly educated profile. The builder, [Greg Reynolds of Reynolds Custom Homes], had an investment buyer who had an all-new target market.”

With an open floor plan and a generous amount of outdoor living and pool area, regional limestone was a natural choice to create a sense of rustic elegance for the approximate 6,500-square-foot home. “The stone was ultimately chosen by the builder, but it was our vision to have a clean, contemporary look to the design,” said Emily Marks, Associate AIA, who worked along with LaRue on the project. “We wanted the stone to be a backdrop for the building, instead of being overpowering and making too much of a statement. This way the forms and massing of the house were expressed.”

Varying sized pieces of Austin White limestone — with some selected to protrude in and out — bring texture and depth to the home’s exterior facade as well as its interior walls. “We hadn’t seen Austin White limestone in such a long time,” said LaRue. “It was the builder’s idea. On this house, the other [varieties of] limestone didn’t seem to fit.

“It’s a contemporary house with a nice neutral palette,” the architect went on to say. “People can come in and decorate how they like — add pops of color with a rug or furniture. The landscape really pops against the white [stone].”

Complementing the Austin White limestone is Lueders limestone, which was employed for the outdoor living areas, including the pavers, as well as the fireplace mantle and hearth. “We chose Lueders because it is a material we really enjoy in Austin,” explained LaRue. “We use it on a lot of horizontal surfaces. We love it for patios, pools and hearths.

Marks added that it was also important that the Lueders limestone provide a non-slip surface around the pool. In addition to the limestone, a hint of shimmer was created in the pool with iridescent glass mosaics.

According to Marks, this was a fast-track project. “It was a very quick process,” she explained. “We started drawing in May or June. It took three months for design — that’s really moving.”

The project commenced in September 2010, and it was completed in July 2011. “The builder and the investor, who was also the interior designer for the house were thrilled,” said LaRue. “The homeowners bought it right before it was completed.”