Slate proved to be a versatile material for the redesign of a 2,700-square-foot lake home outside of Austin, TX. The multi-colored textured stone was used as flooring throughout the interior of the residence as well as for the floor surface of the veranda. Its warm tones and natural cleft finish helped to create an elegant yet relaxing family environment.
According to architect Michael Antenora of Antenora Architects, LLP in Austin, TX, the 10-acre parcel of lakefront property originally had two existing homes, but one was torn down when the current owners purchased the land. “The larger of the two existing houses was kept,” he said. “The original owner was a spec homebuilder, and it looked like he took a set of stock plans, with no thought about the site, and built it. The front door - where people had to enter - was facing the water, but the driveway was to the rear and to the side. It was not a good design. It was very awkward.”
Antenora explained that his clients already owned a home in town, and this was more of a weekend retreat for them. “They have a large extended family,” he said. “Their children are college age, and some are grown-up with kids. This was for recreation.”
Originally, the homeowners said that they desired a design that resembled a lodge, according to the architect, who added that his client also worked with a designer on the interior of the residence. “To me, a lodge is skin poles and timber frames,” he said. “They were not looking for that. They wanted more of a plantation home or comfy manor. That’s where the veranda ideas came out of.”
When it came time for material selection, Antenora’s clients were seeking something that would fit in with their vision as well as a product that was practical for their lifestyle. “They initially saw another project that we had done, and they liked it,” said the architect. “They were looking for a material that was basically non-skid. Their grandkids will come to visit, and they will come in after swimming in the lake or being on the boat. Slate is excellent for that. Also, they wanted something that could endure wear and tear. Something that they could sweep up the sand - something unlike carpet.”
According to the architect, the homeowners were presented with about 12 samples of slate tiles that were different colors and thicknesses. “Ultimately, they chose multi-colored with mossy green and some purple,” he said, adding that the floor tiles were 12 x 12 inches.
Antenora went on to say that some of the color selection for the interior design was based upon the slate. “I always tell my clients, when choosing their colors and finishes, to pick the material with the least amount of flexibility first,” he said, explaining that the colors in stone are less flexible than say, paint colors, which are infinitely flexible.
“We also try to let our clients be aware of the amount of light absorption based on the color of the material,” continued the architect. “When we start selecting horizontal material such as flooring and countertops - anything that catches light - we make sure that they understand how much reflectivity the material is going to have. This translates how it will hide dirt and scuff marks.”
Antenora further explained that in the case of the lake house, the great room and kitchen face the water, and as a result, a great deal of natural light enters through the windows, so dark flooring is not an issue.
Slate was also used to clad the shower walls, floor and ceiling in one of the residence’s bathrooms. And a mosaic band added further detail in the shower stall.
Moreover, other stone elements were employed to enhance the interior design. A large fireplace made from pieces of “chopped” Texas limestone is a focal point of the kitchen area, and granite kitchen countertops also add to the high-end, yet natural, look of the space.
Transitioning outdoorsBecause of the slate’s durability, the material was also ideal for the stair treads and floor surface of the outdoor veranda. “Here is where stone is a really great material,” said Antenora. “You cannot use the same wood on the inside and outside - at least it would be very well advised not to. But stone goes very well inside and outside.
“One of the things we try to do in our work is create ambiguity between the inside and out,” the architect went on to say. “In Texas, everyone is outside a lot. So, to visually extend the interior of the home outward, we set the level of the veranda porch floor to nearly the same height as the interior. There’s only a ½-inch difference. You can hardly see the transition.”
The slate tiles were a combination of 12 x 12 and 18 x 18 inches. “For this climate, using stone the way we did, really makes a bonus addition,” said Antenora.
Complementing the outdoor slate tiles are textured chopped pieces of Texas limestone. The material was used for steps, retaining walls and pillars throughout the grounds of the residence. In addition, the limestone was used to build a large outdoor Rumsford fireplace/barbecue pit on the veranda.
“The original house did have stone on it, so we took that cue and expanded on it,” said Antenora. “The original was plain white Texas limestone. We added the stone on to the front of the veranda and facade, and we added a little more color.”
According to the architect, the chopped limestone pieces are in a random ashlar pattern, and have consistent widths with varying lengths. “We specified the amount of each color by percentage,” he said. In total, the renovation of the interior and exterior took about 13 months to complete.