Conceived as a weekend getaway for a young family of four, Brushy Top House was designed by John Grable Architects—a simple, yet refined, setting in which to enjoy the Texas Hill Country landscape. The clients, who are both in the military, were looking for a way to create a space for family and friends to gather and escape city life without sacrificing their urban sensibilities. Grable sited the house lower than originally envisioned (high on the hill) and close to a stand of trees in order to create a foreground to distant views, instant natural landscape, and a place to welcome shade in this drought-prone region.
The 2,200 square-foot cross-shaped building is organized as three masonry boxes that flank a central glass-and-timber great room that rises to the south maximizing panoramic views of the valley and distant hills framed by the big Texas sky.
The house is centered on the main room that functions like a community plaza and feels like an ocean liner pilot house that navigates toward the south overlooking the waves of natural grasses in the landscape valley beyond. Recycled fly-ash (a biproduct of coal-fired electric generating plants) in the concrete floors.
The interior walls are clad entirely in low-maintenance but warm and earthy plywood; concrete floors complement this simple palette. The house was designed to be durable and easily cleaned; in extreme circumstances a hose and leaf blower could do the job.
Overhangs protect the house from all the elements, not just the sun.
Space economies keep the footprint small while providing ample space and amenities: extra-wide hallways flanking the central space are light-filled galleries with bunk beds to accommodate larger gatherings or an afternoon nap in the sun.
A simple, open kitchen living space is surrounded on almost three sides by panoramic views through generous glass protected from the unforgiving Texas sun by deep overhangs.
Sliding barn doors acting like horse blinders provide movement and control privacy, views, and sunlight.
Deep overhangs offer passive shading.
Hill Country rusticity and pragmatism are refined with simple, mid-century furnishings, pulling the aesthetic gently back to a comfortable sophistication.
Overspray (intentional or otherwise) in the open shower is an easy way to keep the bathroom clean.
There’s more privacy available in this bathroom.
The 2½ car garage, required by deed restrictions, doubles as a dining pavilion, open to framed views to the east and west. A lattice screen provides sun control and privacy with rolling screens that open to frame sunsets—an integral ingredient—to family evening meals, while a large ceiling fan overhead allows for air circulation on hot summer nights.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN GRABLE ARCHITECTS, KARA VAN de KEIFT
PROJECT TEAM: Matt Martinez, Luis Vargas, Greg Fast
CONTRACTOR: Olson Defendorf Custom Homes
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