Truly Texas Cottage

This country getaway combines regional materials with simple elegance.

Jerry and Jackie Fulton are both sixth-generation Texans. So when they decided to build a guesthouse on their ranch north of Dallas, it's not surprising that they reached back to their roots. "We wanted something that looked like it had been here for 150 years," says Jackie.

Working with Dallas architect Stephen Chambers, the couple drew inspiration from the Sunday houses of Fredericksburg, Texas. In the mid-19th century, these houses were used by farmers and ranchers when they came to town for shopping on Saturday and church on Sunday.

But a reproduction Sunday house wouldn't provide the space or modern conveniences the Fultons needed. So the architect designed a wider and deeper version with the same simple lines of the original. "It's about two or three times bigger than a real Sunday house," says Stephen. In order to provide extra space for the master bedroom, he designed a shed extension on the back.

To allow more usable space in the attic bunk room, the front wall of the house extends about 5 feet above the first floor ceiling. Combined with the slope of the roof, this gives most of the attic an 8-foot ceiling. This one-and-a-half-story arrangement provides extra living space on the second floor without the mass of a full two-story house. Three low windows set above the front porch bring in additional light to the bunk room.

 
On the exterior, the architect used many of the familiar Hill Country building materials--limestone, cedar posts, and a standing-seam galvanized metal roof. Detailing is simple, with exposed rafter tails, square posts, and subtle stone arches above the windows. The full-width front porch measures 8 feet deep, providing plenty of room for rocking chairs. "We use the front porch all the time," says Jerry. "If it's hot, you can sit on the northern side where there is always a breeze."

The limestone, quarried near Jarrell, Texas, carries through the interiors. A massive stone fireplace fills one corner of the family room. Floor-to-ceiling limestone along the rear wall of the family room creates the effect of a back wall. The stone repeats on the other side of the wall to make the master bedroom seem like a later addition (see plan at right).

Befitting the house's rural roots, the architect kept interior trim to a minimum. There is no molding around the windows or at the ceiling. The baseboards are wide boards and the stair balusters and newel posts are simple squares. The mantel is a slab of mesquite supported by stone corbels.

Throughout the house, Dallas interior designer Paige Baten-Locke also kept things simple. Furnishings are a mix of old family pieces and reproductions. "We wanted to stay really warm and inviting," says Paige. "We wanted it to be relaxing." Louis Joyner

Why It Won
"Very pure in design and appearance--the architectural detailing and materials are appropriate for the Texas Hill Country." Russell Versaci, AIA

"Elegantly straightforward and honest; I love the stonework in this house." Cynthia Stewart, AIA, ASID

"The structure is authentically detailed and designed." David Barker, AIA