The clients, transplants from the Northeast, asked for a makeover for the backyard of their Nantucket style home in San Antonio's Terrell Hills neighborhood. The house, with a tacked-on screened porch, turned its back on an overgrown and unorganized backyard, severing all connections and rendering the large space unused and neglected.
Building on the house's stylistic strengths, Grable's renovation and addition creates a sophisticated "NanTexas" aesthetic that uses the site's horizontal and vertical assets to full advantage. Removing the existing screened porch and concrete paths that bisected the site and raising the tree canopy opened one contiguous plane to the air and sky. Into this horizontal and vertical space Grable placed a soaring shed roof that rises to the eastern light and frames views of the newly transformed trees. The construction recycles all the wood from the screened porch, a sustainable design move that Grable typically employs.
New Lueders limestone pavers were selected to evoke an opulent, neo-classical mood and connect the defined areas into a unified plaza-like space. Mid-century George Nelson furniture and a custom-designed (by Grable) dining table reinforce the sleek and sophisticated character. Another custom-designed element—the fireplace—anchors the space, literally. Its flue is housed inside the structural column for the roof, a design solution that required special permitting. It also acts as the demarcation between the formal room of the kitchen/dining space and the pool plaza and sculpted landscape beyond. A whimsical ornamental apron at the top of the flue with the owners' initial cut out acts as a sundial, casting its shadow and marking the passage of leisurely summer afternoons.
The existing interior dining room and kitchen received new corner windows to orient these spaces to the revived yard, creating strong connections from inside to out. Grable added a pass-through between interior and exterior kitchen and clerestories above to balance the light entering the house's core. A Donald Judd-inspired waterproof box along the same wall houses the television, its black screen acting as a contemplative void when not in use. The pool also became a Zen-like element; a new wall and scuppers recycle pool water via a newly-installed pump, filling the environment with gentle masking noise and providing a delicate sculptural focal point that draws the eye to the far edge of the site.
Sustainable design elements include:
Completed September 2010 Terrell Hills, TX 3,500 sqft