Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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MARFA LIGHTS

More from our upcoming book TEXAS MADE TEXAS MODERN!

Marfa has become a destination, if not a refuge, for many city-dwellers looking for peace and quiet. They cite the arid high desert landscape as one reason, the steadfast linearity of its long horizon seems calming. There is magic in Marfa, too, in the vast sky and the light that accompanies this wide-open space—so much of it unencumbered by intervening objects such as trees, buildings, power lines, and other flotsam of modern life. These factors were the inspiration for a renovation of a former boarding house near downtown Marfa.

Architect Michael Morrow of KinneyMorrow Architecture references ranch utility buildings that are ubiquitous in most of Texas as the inspiration for his redesign of the long adobe residence. He added five light boxes on the roof, all sided with Eternit, a corrugated fiber cement material manufactured in the Czech Republic and that is impervious to the West Texas climate.

Exterior walls are sanded Portland cement plaster.

KinneyMorrow Architecture also did the interior design for the residence. Light from one of the light boxes filters into the living room just above the built-in shelves and the Stuv wood-burning stove. A glimpse of the corrugated fiber cement siding reveals a softness that resembles a curtain and is just visible through the window.

Detail of corrugated fiber cement siding.

The stools and chairs in the living room are by Garza Marfa; the leather sofa is by Saporiti. “Hot Dog Wrapper” by Isaac Layman hangs on the wall which are adobe finished in a layer of Portland cement plaster.

The kitchen is intentionally stark with walls reserved for either windows or for art. All appliances are concealed in the 14-foot-long quartz-topped island. The stools are by Jeff Covey; pendants are Schoolhouse Electric.

The plaster-over-adobe walls in the master bedroom serve as the headboard to the custom bed which is built into custom cabinetry. The blanket over the bed is from Garza Marfa. Floors throughout are poured concrete ground down to reveal the aggregate and then sealed with a matte finish.

Not all rock is hard in this house where pebble pillows are propped up in a vintage hanging chair, a tongue-in-cheek aside to the rocky landscape around Marfa.

The homeowner prefers a monastic style in his residence where there is no Wi-fi, no television, and no phone service.

The black master bath is a contrast to the bright Marfa light outside.

At dusk light still plays an important role in the house.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CASEY DUNN

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