Picture the scene… a luxurious newly built weekend retreat with views of the Frio River in Texas Hill Country. Not only that, but it's surrounded by hills – of course – and three acres of waterfront gardens. Sounds perfect? Well, nearly.
The lucky owners of the idyllic seven-bedroom property wanted to use it as a place to relax and unwind, a place to share with their children and grandchildren. And the key challenge was that the high-end interiors should still have an accessible and casual feel – so that everyone who stayed here would feel at home.
The results truly make this one of the world's best homes. Its smart combination of modern luxuries with characterful antiques and salvaged materials fits the brief exactly.
And the person responsible for meeting that brief is designer Blair Burton of Blair Burton Interiors (opens in new tab).
Family living room
Living room ideas for the family room needed to be flexible above all else. It's open plan to the kitchen and would be in for plenty of use.
'We used all durable velvets and leathers. It’s a big space and we didn’t want the lighting to feel lost in there, so we hung the Paul Ferrante chandelier to make it feel intimate,' explains Blair. 'The thought is that if there’s just two of you in the space, it doesn't feel like you’re waiting for the rest of the party to show up. The doors between the screened in patio and this space pocket into the frame, so the entire area is open.'
The fireplace in the family room was a big design element. There are TVs behind the antique doors above the fireplace.
'The homeowners didn’t have furniture to outfit a second home going into this project. One of the major challenges was to buy all new pieces that still felt soulful and collected,' explains Blair. 'We shopped for their furnishings for three or four years. It was a labor of love. The homeowners didn’t push us to finish, they wanted it done correctly. It was a nice pace.' Among the furnishings selected for the family room are custom sofas and wingback chairs by Lee Industries, an ottoman covered in Holly Hunt Great Plains faux leather and the custom Paul Ferrante chandeliers.
Anyone looking for kitchen ideas will find food for thought in this impressive space. The wooden beams for the kitchen – and elsewhere in the house – were reclaimed from an 1800s Vermont barn. 'This definitely added a ton of character to the house,' says designer Blair, who also sourced an antique walnut counter to create the dramatic island preparation space. Wooden stools by Theodore Alexander complete the scene.
'There’s not a recessed can light in the house, so making sure it was lit properly and functional was a feat,' she adds. With that in mind, she designed a pot rack, custom built by Two Hills Studio with integrated shades and pendant lights from Northeast Lantern.
Stone floors were also a must-have. A material that can take some wear and tear is essential in this big room in which you could cook, eat, and even play a game. It opens to the living room so everyone can be together in the space. 'You can have 25-30 people in that space and it wouldn’t feel crowded, or you could have two people and it wouldn’t feel empty. With the scale of the room, it never feels too empty or too cluttered,' says Blair.
In the dining room, all Blair's antique and salvage hunting really paid off. The ceiling is made of reclaimed antique flooring and there’s antique stone on the walls.
'We looked for months for a table and finally found it from a dealer in France. The antique wooden buffet was found at Marburger Farm Antique Show,' says Blair.
Dining room ideas worth a steal from this smart space include the graceful chandeliers, which lend a touch of luxury but definitely no glitz – the perfect choice for this country home's more rustic vibe. The stone flooring continues into the dining room, keeping to the earthy natural textures elsewhere in the home. Note the way the boarded ceiling adds warmth and intimacy to the space – great qualities for a dining room where you want your guests to enjoy a cozy gathering.
This screened in patio room is an extension of the family room and is an important area for this weekend home where indoor and outdoor living merge.
This space has a ping pong table, a sitting area and a dining table. 'The fireplace was the big design element for the patio,' says Blair. 'It’s a wood burning fireplace made with antique stone. The porch is at least 20 feet deep, and the Frio River is always cold, so you always have a great breeze off the river all year round. This is the best place to be when you’re out there.' The long wooden table and benches were from Marburger Farm Antique Show. The chandeliers are from Chateau Domingue. The sectional in the background is from Anthony’s Patio.
You enter the house through a big front porch, and into this hallway.
Hallway ideas include sepia-toned reclaimed flooring used for the ceiling, which provides a good contrast with the crisp white shiplap panels. An inviting wooden bench adds to the very warm welcome you're assured when you step through the front door.
Steel bridge addition links to the new bedrooms
A glass link extension, with steel framed glass panels links the original building (finished in 2013) with a newer three-bedroom addition (completed in 2015). The owners call it their 'bridge', and through the full-height glass walls there are wonderful views of the riverside surroundings and hills beyond.
The primary bedroom, in the new bedroom wing, features shiplap walls and reclaimed beams. There are plenty of enviable bedroom ideas in this space, not least the picture windows, reclaimed French limestone flooring, and a corner fireplace (not seen).
'This is the only bedroom without a loft or bunks as the owners wanted a private space for the two of them,' explains Blair. 'We put in a fireplace to make it especially cozy. There are no TVs in any of the bedrooms – the idea is no one hangs out in their room.'
Guest room with mezzanine bunks
All three bedrooms in the original section of the house have a king or queen bed with a loft above with additional sleeping space. The flooring and beams are reclaimed. This was the original master bedroom in the older section of the house. The bed is from Pottery Barn, the nightstands and lamps are antiques, and the reclaimed terracotta flooring is from France.
The outside view
Even the exterior of this new-build property has had the salvage yard treatment. The roof was new, but the beams, columns and lintels were all reclaimed. The whole property is a triumph of careful, curated sourcing – both inside and out.
Interior design: Blair Burton Interiors (opens in new tab)
Architect: David Shiflet Shiflet Richardson Architects (opens in new tab)
Builder: Dalgleish Construction Company (opens in new tab)
Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.
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