“We built this house for the family,” says Sue Boyd, “So everyone can be here at once. We have four kids, ranging from sixteen to thirty-one. And our first grandchild is due in March.”
Sue and John Boyd had been living in Denver for nine years when John’s work in the oil and gas industry transferred him to San Antonio. He says, “I knew about Fredericksburg and Kerrville, but I didn’t know much about Boerne. Then I discovered Cordillera Ranch and just loved it right away, and Sue did too. It’s a combination of Hill Country acreage and low taxes. And only a twenty-five minute commute to work. It has everything we like – the clubhouse, golf. It didn’t take us very long to decide this was it. We interviewed four builders and liked all of them but we felt a special connection to Talashia Jansen and Ray Stadler (from Stadler Homes). We were impressed by how personal they were and how they handled everything. They were actually the first people we talked to.”
“Talashia took me all over,” says Sue, “to look at fixtures, plumbing, tile; everything you can imagine. I’d been saving photographs from magazines of what I like and Talashia knew where to go. Most of the interiors came from Class, Covers and Colors in San Antonio.” She points to the suspended ceiling fixture over the central kitchen island, and adds,”This is based on a photo I saw.” The original custom fixture,constructed of dark wood beams and embedded with small tract lights is the central focus of the room.
“And the cabinets,” John adds, “after they were installed we put in a change order and added the glass cabinets on top for some of Sue’s collection of vases.” The kitchen is certainly a key element of the home. “I can’t wait to cook Christmas for the family,” Sue says. “This is my prep sink,” ultra-modern, rectangular, stainless steel, embedded in the granite counter top. Opening a cabinet under the sink she takes out a cutting board and shows how it fits neatly over the sink. “And here are the prep bowls that you can set along the edge and then just move them to the stove,” a beautiful six-burner gas range. Other features of the kitchen include a drawer microwave, two ovens, a steam oven and a built-in coffee maker. The woodwork is dark with clean, with crisp modern handles –a cook’s dream.
A large curved dining room window looks out into the front of the property through clusters of native oaks. “We’ll be able to seat the whole family in here,” Sue says happily. She explains the unusual ceiling, known as a groin ceiling — a term that means two overlapping barrels — has a Venetian plaster finish which gives an old world charm. Besides the formal dining room, there is an eating alcove in the kitchen that overlooks the backyard. Next to it a granite counter functions as Sue’s desk and place to display her blooming Christmas cacti.
“I’d say this style is more contemporary-Tuscan,” says Sue. “Some of the older homes have the dark burgundy walls,” as opposed to the soft neutrals she chose, and travertine tile flooring. A wine-room and “casita” (sometimes called a mother-in-law suite), with a private bath, kitchenette and entrance from the front of the house, complete the first floor. Upstairs there is a game room, a bedroom with a balcony for their sixteen-year-old daughter, a student at Boerne High School, and a bedroom for their nineteen-year old son, a college student in Austin.
The living room has celestry windows that add light and dimension. And none of the windows have treatments which give a clean, modern look and gives a relaxed feeling of being inside and outside at the same time. John explains, “In Houston we had to close up the windows because of neighbors but here no one can look in, so we don’t need them. We only have drapes in the bedroom.”
“Ray and Talashia took us to other homes they had built and the people were so happy to let us come in and look,” Sue says. ”We went to one house three times,” says John,” and that’s how we decided on some of this.” An L-shaped black leather couch faces a corner stone fireplace, with a dark wood mantel and over it a flat screen TV. Sterling Technologies supplied state-of-the-art media throughout the house. Large windows overlook the back yard with a covered patio for dining, a corner fireplace and complete outdoor kitchen.
A flagstone patio leads to a Champlain Premier pool and spa designed by Oscar Flores. Barely noticeable fencing keeps out deer. “I know some people want to live on a hill, for the views,” John says, “but I love the privacy here. When the trees are leafed out you can’t see any other homes. And Swede Creek, which backs up to our home, runs all year. It even kept running in 2011 which was a really dry year.” He shows where native grass seeds have been planted. “We like that the landscaping has to be mostly natural. It really feels like living in the country. And it’s so quiet.”
“In a few years I imagine grandkids squealing and splashing in the pool,” says Sue. “We added a powder room off the outdoor living space so wet swimmers don’t have to go into the house.”
Another unique feature is John’s finished shop complete with a hydraulic lift for vehicles. My dad was a mechanic,” John says, “And I like working on cars – changing the oil, working on brakes. Sometimes my job gets stressful and this is a way for me to mellow out. Eventually, I may do other things like work with wood.”
John points out that the house is very green, “It’s a foam house, they injected foam insulation. It’s really very energy efficient.”
Sue’s getaway is their serene bathroom suite. “His” and “Her” sides are connected by a glass-walled shower. Recessed lighting, a modernistic chandelier, built in TV and fireplace all add to the peaceful spa feeling. The free standing Kohler tub looks like a piece of art, a white ceramic vessel to relax and revive in. Sue keeps in shape working out on her upright punching bag in her private workout room.
“John was kind of worried about me,” Sue says. “I was a city girl. I grew up in Redondo Beach, and lived in Chicago, and Houston and Denver. I’d never lived out in the country. But you know, it’s really easy to get to Boerne, or La Cantera. I don’t feel I’m missing out at all.”