Set in Blanco, TX, is a 4,350-square-foot, L-shaped residence, built for a couple that wanted their dream retirement home. The homeowners and architect Lou Kimball, AIA, did not want a traditional Texas farmhouse look, but a contemporary design that would respond to the Texas climate and Hill Country landscape.

The home’s unique construction — three buildings consisting of the main house, the guest house and the garage — wraps itself around the pool and was sited to collect the southeast breezes that occur in Texas. The home – constructed by Grady Burnette Builders — is set on a part of the 26-acre site that offers terrific views of the Hill Country, a pond and wide open space. Natural stone and tile material, including limestone, granite, quartzite, slate and an assortment of tiles, were used to connect the home to its Texas landscape and to achieve the specific design goals of the owners and architect.

A range of options were considered before making a final decision of what stone and tile to use. After spending a half day looking through many different selections, the homeowners decided that they wanted the colors they would use to be on the “warmer side.” So with that color scheme in mind, they went ahead in making their decisions.

Choosing a local variety

The home’s walls, including the courtyard wall in the front of the residence, are built with Palomino Granbury limestone. “The stone was of primary importance to the clients,” said contracted builder on the project Grady Burnette of Grady Burnette Builders.  “We spent extra time finding just the right combination of color and texture, and the end result speaks for itself.”

The stone comes from the Tolar Quarry in Tolar, TX, which is owned by Arnold Stone. The limestone is unique in that it has blue coloring running through it. “This is unusual because limestone is usually cream colored,” said Kimball. “The clients also really wanted limestone blocks that would vary in size.”

Moreover, the homeowners had dreamed of having the exterior of the house be that particular blend of Palomino Granbury limestone. “The couple is from Dallas, and that is where they became familiar with that particular stone,” said Kimball. “The walls of their Blanco, TX, home are double-thick rock walls. They are 5 inches thick on the inside and 5 inches thick on the outside, with a stud wall between the two. The limestone material helps in coping with the Texas heat and makes it feel cool on the inside.”

Just inside of the courtyard wall — leading to the entrance of the home — is the courtyard path. The same Palomino Granbury limestone is used as flagstone for a path leading from the wall of the courtyard to the home’s open breezeway. The path has a smooth topped surface, but is irregularly shaped flagstone that was installed using mortar. Continuing into the back of the home, Palomino Granbury limestone makes up the wall of the backyard garden.

The pool area of the home utilizes a second type of Texas limestone, with a deck, wall and wall cap of Lueders limestone, which was quarried in Lueders, TX, and supplied by Materials Marketing in Fort Worth, TX.

In addition to limestone, the pool is lined with Alys Edwards Haute Glass Blend mosaic tiles, supplied by Architectural Tile & Stone of Austin, TX. “The color of the tile is ‘Proud As A Peacock,’”said Ryan Steele Rymer, Vice President of Sales, at Architectural Tile & Stone.” Each tile measures 5/8 x 5/8 inch, are 60% iridescent and 40% non-iridescent.”

Private Residence

Blanco, TX

Architect: Lou Kimball, AIA

Builder: Grady Burnette Builders

Stone Supplier: Tolar Quarry, Tolar, TX, owned by Arnold Stone (Palomino Granbury limestone); Materials Marketing in Fort Worth, TX (Lueders limestone); Architectural Tile & Stone, Austin, TX (quartzite and Black Pearl granite countertop); Abbey Flooring Center, San Marcos, TX (backsplash, slate and stone pebbles)

Tile Supplier: Alys Edwards (glass mosaics)

The great indoors

Just inside the entryway of the main house, the Palomino Granbury limestone continues along the walls of the staircase. “We wanted the materials to blend well from outside to inside for aesthetic purpose,” said Kimball. “We wanted to feel little boundary between the inside and the outside of the house.”

Also located in the entryway of the main house — below the staircase — is a bench topped with polished 3-cm Volcano quartzite, which was supplied by Architectural Tile & Stone of Austin, TX. “This particular quartzite is among the hardest stones we’ve ever cut, harder than any granite,” said Steele Rymer. “The slab was 62 x 106 inches, and it had a flat, polished edge.” Moreover, the stone complements the white painted surface of the entryway.

Meanwhile, the kitchen is a very modern space with 3-cm polished Black Pearl granite from Brazil for the center island and perimeter countertops. This stone was supplied by Architectural Tile & Stone. “The perimeter counters had a flat polished edge, and the island had a 30-degree knife edge around the perimeter,” said Steele Rymer. “The slab sizes were approximately 76 x 122 inches.”

Across from the island, the backsplash of the kitchen stove — supplied by Abbey Flooring Center of San Marcos, TX — is a blend of 5/8-inch glass and stone pieces. Adding a subtle contrast to the darker stones used throughout the kitchen, the fireplace is made of Palomino Granbury limestone.

Moving to the upstairs guest bathroom of the guest house, stone pebbles were selected to line the shower. Honed agate pebbles — set into 12- x 12-inch mats and grouted into place — line a strip of the shower wall and the shower’s entire floor.

“The stone pebbles were selected for the shower because the clients agreed that the stone pebble floor feels nice underfoot,” said Kimball. “We matched it with 12- x 12-inch slate pieces from  the manufacturer Emser. The name of the Emser Collection used was Autumn, and we chose to use the color Lilac, which matched the pebbles nicely.” The slate and stone pebbles were supplied by Abbey Flooring.

A place to call home

Construction of the home took about one year in total. The architect did not run into any particular challenges in regards to the stone and tile work. Kimball did spend time on site supervising the installation. “About once a month, I was flying down to Texas from my home in Maine,” he said. “I also had an associate who would go out for me from time to time.”

Since its completion, the reaction to the residence has been fabulous. “Everyone loves it,” said Kimball. “The couple is soon to be retired, and their kids are grown and gone from home, so they have a lot of visitors over. The couple absolutely loves the home and it is perfect for them. They wrote me a nice thank you note.”