We’ve chronicled the philosophy, foundation and framing. Now that the structure is erected, the delivery systems installed in the walls, and the thermal/moisture barriers complete, it’s time to start the finishes. Throughout Di Lusso, details matter, and must live up to the reputation. As the Hughes Villa nears completion, take note of the fabulous finishes described herein.
CREATING THE CANVAS
Drywall seems simple but is often overlooked in its importance. While sheetrock itself provides a canvas that fixtures and accessories adhere to, its function is equally important and provides the additional benefits of increased fire rating and sound proofing. When it comes to sheetrock, common practice is to install ½” on the walls and 5/8” fire rated on the ceilings only. The difference in cost is minimal, so in keeping with the Di Lusso luxury brand, 5/8” fire rated is used everywhere.
The 5/8” sheetrock also provides more mass, which is paramount when it comes to sound dampening. Pasadera takes the entire wall assembly into consideration. 2×6 framing, 5/8” sheetrock and installation of sound batts (insulation) in wall and floor systems are many factors that help minimize sound transfer through walls and floors. They also complement and enhance the very sophisticated sound control systems that go into each villa.
MILLWORK AND MATERIALS
With the intricate details of wiring, plumbing and sound proofing enclosed with sheetrock, support fixtures and other functional materials like cabinets are ready for installation. The style and construction of the cabinet should be consistent with the quality found in the rest of the home. Pasadera selects stain grade cherry, but choosing a luxury species does not preclude quality. The box should be sturdy, so backs are included to all millwork on the job. The drawer box construction should be as nice looking as the face of the cabinets. The detail of the cabinet doors is accentuated because of the reveals. The reveal refers to the space between the edge of the door or drawer and the adjacent next door or drawer. While a solid stock frame should match the finish of the doors and drawers, the frame isn’t what provides the beauty of the cabinets, so it gets covered up. 1/8” reveals or spaces are used between all the adjacent doors and drawers. The full overlay look with virtually no frame showing behind the cabinet creates a unique canvas of millwork that looks like furniture. Inset door and drawer construction places the face of the door and the drawers in the same plane as the solid stock face frames, and creates the same beautiful canvas, but only if the reveals are tight. These close calibrations also positively affect the soft closing guides for the drawers. All of these details in appearance and functionality make the difference between a nice kitchen or bath, and a great one.
The millwork is topped with stone slab counters quarried from around the globe. These stone selections range from mineral black soapstone to Rouge Gris limestone to Lagos Azul. All are unique in their character and appearance in adding to the finer appointed interior finishes.
The details of the cabinet drawers and doors are carried over to the interior doors and base trim. Generous ceiling heights throughout the villa beckon for standard door heights that are eight foot tall. This height standard creates a properly scaled opening element to each room and wall condition. The doors are solid wood, 1-3/4” thick. With doors, this detail matters more than any other because given the heights of the doors and the nature of wood itself, the structural capacity is increased by the extra mass of the wood. Doors built to thinner standards have more “movement” (twisting of flexing of the entire door). By constructing the interior doors to 1-3/4” thick, the movement in the wood is minimized. The added mass also provides a feel of quality and security that thinner doors cannot provide. Thicker doors also allow for more detailing of the panel design because there is more wood to shape with profile knives, while still maintaining the structural integrity of the door. The end result is that the depth of the reveals in the door panel is more pronounced and noticeable. Far too often doors are overlooked as part of the architectural canvas. In the Di Lusso Villas, the doors are an integral component of the interior elegance. The same concept applies to the interior trim details. Thicker wood base trim produces a more appealing finished product by starting with a full ¾” base board that is 8” tall and adding another trim detail on top of that base piece. The height is critical because Pasadera places the electrical wall receptacles horizontally in the plane of the base board itself. This detail gets rave reviews because the usual clutter of electrical outlets is removed, providing a much cleaner look to the walls.
FROM FLOORING TO FIREPLACE
Abutting the millwork are natural stone tiles and tongue and groove wood flooring. Selected from around the world, the stone tiles are laid in a mud-set installation process that minimizes the use of grout. A mud-set substrate is finished as true to level as can be achieved as opposed to laying tile directly to the foundation surface which might appear level to the naked eye, but is not. When tile flooring is laid on a level surface, tighter grout joints are possible without fear of reading the unevenness of the floor through the tile edges. With stone tiles practically abutting each other, the tile itself becomes a canvas versus the pattern of the grouted joints.
Throughout the house solid plank wood flooring is installed giving the main living areas a look and feel of elegance. In the Di Lusso villas wood flooring is installed using a screed process which preserves the soft walking surface as well as the “knock” you expect to hear when walking across the natural surface. Even with the advances of engineered wood flooring, none of them are a soft walking surface. Wood screeds are installed first which elevate the wood planks above the foundation surface. That elevation from the foundation allows the wood walking surface to give under pressure, thus the soft feel underneath your feet and the characteristic “knock”. After the installation is complete each job is then sanded, stained and finished on-site. The colors are custom mixed to get the perfect look with the rest of the décor. When you combine this method of wood flooring installation, the custom built millwork and the mud-set tile installation, the canvas is close to completion.
Fire is an element of design as well as heat. The pumice stone fireplace units used have large openings that match the scale of the rooms they warm. These wood burning fireplaces allow for the stone surrounds to be sized to the opening and not just the interior wall space. Allowances are also made for the area above that mantle for displaying prized art and revealing the beauty of both with accenting lighting, which is the next subject of focus.
The goal of lighting is not to fill a room with an abundance of light, but to dress the finishes so they look their best in concert with each other. Di Lusso lighting is selected for the amount of light, the type of light, ability to direct the light, and the method in which it is installed.
Lighting is part of the design process. The only fixtures that should be noticed are the decorative fixtures themselves, the actual light from the fixture should be secondary. Interest should be in the beauty of the fixtures, not the lamps within. Pasadera achieves this by dimming levels that are appropriate for the room. The functional lighting comes from low voltage recess cans with apertures that only provide light to the intended areas, at the desired levels. The placement and amount of recess fixtures is carefully designed. The color and warmth of the light from a low voltage fixture cannot be achieved by other lamps and perfectly dresses the canvas. With a low voltage fixture the ceiling does not become another source of attention because the fixtures themselves are discreet. Note: Low voltage lamps use less energy and last considerably longer than traditional lamps.
External light is as important, so windows that complement the interior and provide the best view to nature are selected. The architecture at Di Lusso drives the overall look of each villa. That holds especially true for the exterior doors and windows. What does this mean? This discipline requires use of real wood exterior doors and windows that are architecturally appropriate to the design. No contemporary single pane doors or windows are used. One lite doors and windows are beautiful and functional, but don’t complement our Tuscan architecture. The placement and sizing of each opening is carefully planned to maximize flow, view and more importantly, interior light. Each villa has windows placed in architecturally correct locations. By no coincidence, these openings provide the best placed light to the living space. The wood windows and doors not only look great, but provide unsurpassed energy efficiency. The thermal properties of these units deliver the best protection against the elements throughout the year.
EXTENDED LIVING TO THE OUTDOORS
Outdoor living has been a priority for Di Lusso villa living since its inception. Multiple outdoor living areas on different elevations allow residents to take in the beautiful natural surroundings no matter what time of day or season of the year. In addition, stunning exterior materials and applications bring out the unique qualities of traditional Old World construction. Hand dyed stucco mottles over time into unique and beautiful colors. Ashlar cut cave stone from Texas quarries balance each edifice and produce varied color and texture through the many methods of stacking. Stone columns support classic tile roofs crafted from Italian-made clay tiles that shelter all from the elements.
The entrance to this gated enclave provides a true sense of arrival… creating great expectation for what is about to be encountered. Serpentine cave stone walls capped with creamy limestone, multi-colored pavers offset by native landscaping, and adorned gates distinguish Di Lusso from other neighborhoods. The streetscape continues in a variety of plantings bursting with color and texture. As you round the bend, you’re greeted with an infinity edge waterfall that flanks the stone entry path along the front façade. The waterfall encased pool provides the perfect finishing touch to the outdoor living. At one end is the attached spa and at the other a fire pit – both framing long, panoramic views of the Hill Country beyond. Between the pool and the villa is a flagstone courtyard leading to an outdoor kitchen and dining area shaded by a rough cedar pergola. All of these elements together create the perfect gathering area for many or simply a place of solitude.
Before it’s too late, see for yourself, the quality and craftsmanship of the Di Lusso villa created for Todd Hughes and chronicled in past issues of Cordillera Ranch Living. For a limited time, this Di Lusso masterpiece is available for viewing by appointment through the Cordillera Ranch Visitors Center. Please call 830-336-3570 to set an appointment. Learn more about the Di Lusso villas at www.cordilleraranch.com (click on “Villas”).