If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then designers are the visionaries and keepers of design. And while there are trends that span home styles in general, the Cordillera Ranch homeowner is one of unique and discerning taste.
By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen
“Cordillera Ranch has a lot of people who travel all over the world. They have an eye for history along with an appreciation for resort lifestyles,” says Jim Terrian, owner of J Terrian Designs, who recently designed the new Cordillera Ranch Visitors Center and collaborates with Cordillera Ranch Preferred Builder Garner Homes. For that reason, says Terrian, “We’ve been seeing the latest trends of both heirloom quality and modern finishes. Our clients want a historical, lasting value, yet modern function and pizazz.”
Mike Marsh, President of MAI | Marsh & Associates Inc. and the designer responsible for the Cordillera Ranch Clubhouse as well as many other resorts and clubs in the hospitality industry, finds that to be the case in many forms for their custom luxury home clients. “People coming to us are generally looking for something completely different. Modern is the often-mentioned style we hear requested, to which my first question is ‘Modern what? Modern German Hill Country, Modern Farmhouse, Modern Texas Hill Country?’ the list goes on . . . I have to admit, it does bring a smile to my face because taking a traditional style and giving it a modern facelift is a lot of fun for an architect.”
Owner of A-Design, Gustavo Arredondo’s clients also have an aesthetic in mind. “They are looking for more sophistication and want timeless homes. Most of my clients come to me with an idea of a lifestyle they want; an adaptation for the home they are needing now.” Arredondo’s career spans over 20 years and his home designs can be found throughout luxury communities in San Antonio and Cordillera Ranch, where he often works with Preferred Builder Christofilis Custom Homes.
New homes in Cordillera Ranch are transitioning to the less is more aesthetic.
“Our clients have had their furniture from when they raised families and are now wanting a less cluttered lifestyle, so clean finishes seem to be popular,” says Terrian. Arredondo finds his Cordillera Ranch projects address this preference as well. “A lot of timeless transitional design, but clean. They aren’t looking to the past, so not a dated look, but more towards farmhouse contemporary or Santa Barbara style.”
Mixing materials is a design element that new homeowners enjoy throughout.
More often, building materials used are native to this area, promoting responsible building practices and sustainability, while enforcing a Texas Hill Country aesthetic. Arredondo explains his approach, “I incorporate clean lines with the use of wood to create a cozy but inviting feel, often infusing some metal elements.” He sees a growing demand for the use of reclaimed wood and also stone that is laser cut and dry stacked. “Those materials are used a lot as they work well in giving a transitional farmhouse feel.”
Terrian also implements the trend, saying, “Stone and wood walls on the interior afford an interesting background for special furniture, fixtures and art, often with light enhancements. Stone and/or marble mixed with metal is a good architectural detail as well.” Terrian believes the fireplace is a good place to play with these materials, as well as a wall inside a wine room or behind a bed, creating focal points and architectural interest. Incorporating materials, typically reserved for exterior finishes, in an entry way provides a natural transition from outside to inside. He adds, “I’ve noticed a movement to a home that has both a warm home feel mixed with a commercial finish. Kind of like a building that was once a commercial use being converted into a home.”
Ceiling treatments are being implemented in all forms.
Regular stepped ceilings aren’t as custom as they used to be. “While simple wood paneling clouds with perimeter lighting are common, they can also include various drywall details with elements hanging downward,” explains Terrian. Here, too, there can be mixed materials using combinations of metal and wood. “I’ve also designed clouds over the kitchen island that were a boxed wood grid hanging with metal rods that had lighting both downward and upward, and even some hanging lights. Additionally, ceilings being set at multiple levels to define spaces are popular. These ceilings can be treated in different ways as well. We need to add something a little special and architectural. LED lighting helps these ceiling details pop and are exciting.”
Home design is finding new uses for glass.
“Glass can be a modern yet functional finish. We are using it for wine rooms, and for simple divisions between the wet area of a master bathroom and vanities to create a spa feel,” says Terrian. It can also be used for definition. “Glass inset into doors transitioning to other rooms can allow light to reach a hallway.” Terrian frequently uses metal in windows with horizontal dividers and patterns that are set directly onto the floor and measure ten feet or higher and as wide as possible. These long expanses offer unfettered views without a lot of support structures between them. “It’s not uncommon to have a 25-foot span under one structural header. Another way to achieve this look is by using large sliding glass door units.” An architectural detail complementary to Hill Country design and that also bridges the traditional to transitional movement is windows and doors recessed on stucco walls. “Windows set into stucco walls at least two inches are nice and give a historical look,” says Terrian.
Smart home technology is the norm in new home building.
Sometimes the things you can’t always see can make the biggest impact on daily lives. The three designers agree that wiring for smart home features is standard these days, as homeowners can control everything from lighting to window shades to home security and more with the simple touch of a tablet button. Another popular concept: climate-controlled storage to protect your valuables and other items like holiday decorations when boxed up for months at a time.
Clients want to maximize natural assets.
Site orientation not only maintains and respects the beauty of the surrounding landscape, it also contributes to minimal impact on the environment and significant energy savings when expert architectural details like strategically placed windows are utilized. Marsh explains, “We take pride in making our buildings fit the site, not making the site fit the buildings. Cordillera Ranch clients have come to us because they didn’t want trees on their site ignored. The Murdock’s, for example, wanted to save their oaks and design around them. Honestly, their oaks were not conducive to a simple design, but the end result incorporated them as an integral part of the plan.” Currently in Cordillera Ranch, Marsh is designing his own personal home while also designing a home for a high-profile couple. “It’s interesting in that they wanted privacy, but an open plan with lots of expanses of glass. It’s exactly the same thing that my wife and I wanted, but we are 30 years older. Their home will be a Modern Farmhouse style while ours is Modern German Hill Country.”
Texas Hill Country design is timeless design.
Internationally recognized, MAI mainly specializes in commercial buildings, especially clubhouses. They are also responsible for the Lexus at Dominion dealership. “Clarence Kahlig wanted a dealership that was completely different from any other. It looks like anything but an auto dealership. The residence we designed for the Fielding’s in Cordillera Ranch was similar. They wanted a design that did not look like anything else in Cordillera, but still belonged there. Interestingly, both buildings were inspired by clubhouses, which we designed almost a decade ago,” says Marsh.
Terrain sees the inspiration for uniqueness coupled with informed clientele. “Our clients are smarter about design than ever before. They can research new finishes and ideas faster than I can. They’re tech savvy and yet love the older values of materials and craftsmanship. My approach is to listen and allow them time to discover these new ideas. My goal is to design a home that makes them proud and comfortable everyday and when entertaining others.” Arredondo acknowledges the genesis. “Design is rooted in the ages, and really everything ‘new’ is a different, interesting interpretation of what has come before.”
A-Design By Gustavo Arredondo
210.499.4700 :: www.adesignbyga.com
J Terrian Designs LLC
210.269.8631 :: www.jterriandesigns.com
MAI | Marsh & Associates, Inc.
720.266.2582 :: www.mai-architects.com