By Angela Rabke :: Photography by Beth Coyle
When Gary and Mary Whittington decided to build their second home, they were each looking for different things. Gary, a successful business owner with accounting firms in Corpus Christi and Alice, was interested in acreage. Mary, on the other hand, wanted to find a spot with community opportunities, as well as amenities like tennis and golf. After a friend recommended Cordillera Ranch, they knew it was the perfect solution.
“I was born and raised in South Texas,” said Gary. “I played football for Southwest (now Texas State University), and when I lived in San Marcos, I really fell in love with the Hill Country… but after graduation we returned to South Texas to put down our roots. Moving to the Boerne area was an opportunity to get back to the Hill Country. My wife is from Pennsylvania, and we both knew that we wanted to be close to an international airport.” Cordillera Ranch, with its proximity to San Antonio, as well as to their established life in Corpus Christi, was an ideal location that provided the ranch environment that Gary was interested in, along with the sense of community that Mary was looking for.
The couple chose Cordillera Ranch Preferred Builder Damon Christofilis and his team to help them create their dream home. “When I first came to look at the area, our realtor took me by Damon’s home,” said Gary. “He was out in the yard and I was able to meet him, and when Mary came back she also met him in passing. It was coincidental and turned out to be a great personality match for us. We just felt really comfortable with him and his team, and we never looked at using anyone else.” They worked with Damon to find a gently sloping lot next to the golf course, and then designed the home for the lot.
The couple had extensively remodeled a home before, but this was their first time building from the ground up. “A lot of folks our age want to downsize,” shared Gary, “but we had the viewpoint that ‘If you build it, they will come.’” They looked at several homes in the area to help refine their plan, and set out to construct a central Texas gathering spot for their loved ones. Architect Gustavo Arredondo, who often collaborates with Christofilis, helped turn their ideas into workable blueprints, and with plenty of space to work with, they started construction on their dream house, a warm and comfortable place to accommodate plenty of family and friends.
The home blends many different styles, and the couple was inspired by looks ranging from Tuscan to Mediterranean to South Texas Ranch. “In a way, this house had been evolving in my mind for years and years,” shared Gary. “Mary and I both had our own priorities, but by and large we were on the same page.” Both wanted the house to have a nice flow and an open floor plan. Mary served as the point person during the construction process, traveling often to check the progress in person while Gary continued to work full time down south. Her design priorities included the creation of an amazing outdoor living space that would take advantage of the sweeping views. A large infinity pool captures a stunning view of the golf course, and includes a unique step that allows swimmers of every height to perfectly perch their beverage on the ledge. Surrounding the pool area are giant sliding doors that create a seamless transition from indoors to the outdoor spaces, which were designed and implemented by John Hackett of Dynamic Environments. A rainy spring slowed down the pool construction a bit, but the wait was well worth it. Big copper fire pots, inspired by those at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, provide visual and literal warmth on chilly Hill Country nights.
Throughout the 5,900-square foot home, Used Chicago brick is featured prominently. The couple worked with interior decorator Barbara Burger to achieve the look, which threads throughout all of the interior and exterior surfaces of the home. Mary and Barbara spent countless hours traveling to market and selecting the pieces that turned the house into a home — with a lot of personal touches. Gary was also involved in the process, and personally designed a unique and fully functional home office that enables him to stay fully integrated with his two accounting businesses. With five generous bedrooms, the couple has plenty of space to accommodate their two grown daughters, Ashley and Amanda, who both have successful careers in Houston. The home also includes a comfortable “man cave,” where the décor integrates precious mementos and memories of their son Ryan, whose life was lost in a car accident. While the home is new, personalized details throughout give a sense of history, personality and warmth.
The couple has been pleasantly surprised by many things about the home. Utility and property insurance bills have been much lower than Gary anticipated, and Mary was thrilled with the amount of brick work Christofilis was able to work into the design. “Damon and his team just went over the top. We showed them some photos at the beginning of the process and he really exceeded our expectations. There is probably 50 percent more brickwork that we anticipated, and it really ties everything together.” They love everything — the location, the flow, the view, the outdoor amenities and the way it is decorated — what started out as a house, has evolved into a dream home. Damon insists that the Whittington’s were an amazing couple to work with. “They had plenty of ideas that we led them through in the spirit of building a truly ‘custom’ home.” He also credits long-time Project Manager Jason Hurt for having the ability to verbalize, think through and pull off meticulous details that demonstrate his passion for his craft.
Although the couple still splits their time between Cordillera Ranch and Corpus Christi, they are looking forward to completing their transition soon. “Everything about this process has completely exceeded our expectations. 100 percent of the people we’ve met are warm and welcoming, and we can’t wait to live here 100 percent of our time.”
Christofilis Custom Homes
210.373.7768 :: www.christofilishomes.com