Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
In PrintIn StyleIn BooksIn MediaIn the KnowIn House


Here’s a preview of photographer Casey Dunn’s and my new book TEXAS MADE TEXAS MODERN! It’s out Oct 16, and I will be showing some of the projects featured in it between now and then. And don’t forget to come to the launch party NOV 1 at the Better Half at 406 Walsh (lots of parking available!).

A weekend retreat is usually synonymous with escape, but in the case of the Robinson family, their home away from home is where life has meaning. For this out-going clan consisting of two grandparents, two sons—Ryan and his wife Carrie and Robby and his wife Kelly—and two children each (plus many friends and their extended families) being together is the most fun they can imagine. It’s what their lives are all about. Nearly every weekend for the last 36 years the family has cooked and shared meals together there, talked around the kitchen table til late at night, wakened at dawn to fish for bass, and continually made improvements to the 400-acre spread in Cash, Texas (pop. 56). When it came time to expand the living arrangements at their weekend compound they did that together, too, with the help of Dallas architect Bentley Tibbs.

The 2300-square-foot, native stone-, cedar-, and metal cottages consist of a series of stone “boxes” and screened porches. Ryan’s is made up of five boxes that wind through a grove of oaks, some of which were saplings when the boys transplanted them decades ago. Robby’s house is made up of three boxes.

The family turned to Tibbs to develop a way for the lively group to live both together and separately at their ranch. The general sentiment in the family opposed separate houses, but the notion kept asserting itself. When Tibbs found two sites that overlooked the lake, the architect knew he had the solution: “I designed both houses to be about the basics–sleeping and bathing,” Tibbs says.

Tibbs made the 20-feet-by-45-feet living, dining, and kitchen area in the houses focus on what’s going on outside, implicitly encouraging all who pass through to keep on going. In both houses, the living rooms open directly onto screened porches, which are part of the progression outdoors.

Interior walls are the same native stone as the exterior walls; there’s drywall in the children’s bedrooms. Leather sofas, sisal rugs, and glass-, wood-, or metal-topped tables can take abuse and still look good. White oak floors are no-nonsense in a scenario where rogue fishing poles, kids wielding camping equipment, and muddy dogs racing around are a constant threat.

Tibbs intentionally made the master bathrooms in each cottage spacious and spa-like. The free-standing tub in Robby and Kelly’s bathroom is flanked by clay tiles under a cedar plank ceiling so that it feels like a separate and special space

And there’s always the option to bathe outside.



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