Our Austin house captures the spirit of Texas with an open design and ample outdoor spaces.
2003 Idea House: Harrod's Creek (promo image)
Credit: John O'Hagan

The welcoming vista gives you a hint of the many special features to be found in Harrod's Creek, our Texas Idea House. When you step under the vaulted, covered entry and walk into the foyer, you'll be greeted with a pleasant surprise--a view all the way to a covered back porch and the rolling landscape beyond. Clearly, this home is designed for beauty and a comfortable lifestyle.

Harrod's Creek is located in Spanish Oaks at Bee Cave, a new environmentally sensitive master-planned community about 15 miles west of Austin. The unobtrusive structure fits perfectly into the site. Many existing oak and cedar trees were saved, while lush grasses and abundant native plants soften the home's rugged facade and lend an established feel to the new construction.

Overall Style

"It's a one-story, U-shaped design with the clean lines and wide-open feel of a classic Texas Hill Country house," explains architect Mark Carlson. "Native materials, such as local stone and mesquite floors, reinforce the style."

The appeal of the interiors is the mix of rustic elements with refined ones. "The color palette features muted golds and greens," says designer Debbi Wayman. Texture changes bring another dimension to the home's look.

Opening Act

The long foyer carries the outside in and imparts a bit of drama. The walls are the same stone as the exterior. The paneled wood ceiling of the covered entryway is repeated in the foyer and is stained to complement mesquite floors. Glass doors let light in and allow unobstructed views to the back of the house. Simple furnishings--a bench and a demilune chest--rest against the walls. Pierced copper sconces and a distinctive hanging lantern provide a warm glow throughout the entry hall.

Movement of the Rooms

One of Harrod's Creek's most appealing features is its transitional spaces. "Circulation areas are usually across the front, but here we designed them on the back to take advantage of the spectacular views," says Mark. At the rear of the living and dining rooms, a long gallery connects the foyer to the more informal family areas. Its three glass doors mirror the front of the house and lead to a terrace and open-air dining room.

Family Affair

From the gallery, you step down into a more casual space that is highlighted by distressed timber beams. To the left is the windowed breakfast room. A round table provides room for informal meals. The large Craftsman-style fixture is a focal point.

The adjoining family room possesses a Texas flair. Furnishings include a hand-crafted leather-and-fabric sofa, caramel-colored leather club chairs, a distressed wood coffee table with nailhead accents, and a wing chair in cowhide and leather. An Oriental rug unites the upholstered and wood pieces. Flanked by built-ins, a stone-covered fireplace and distressed wood mantel, which matches the beams, form the room's centerpiece. French doors lead out to a covered terrace that is perfect for entertaining.

Kitchen Contrasts

Two half walls open the kitchen to the family room. The area mixes interesting materials--stained cherry cabinets, vanilla slate flooring, and gold granite countertops with flecks of olive green and brown. The island, with a convenient second sink, is topped with a mesquite butcher block.

The vaulted ceiling features an unusual detail. Painted a russet red with stenciled accents, this unexpected treatment creates visual interest in the neutral color scheme.

Functional Spaces

From the family room, you step into a hallway, with vanilla slate floors, that connects the back entrance to the secondary bedrooms. A porte-cochère acts as a breezeway, providing transition from the garage. It opens to a mudroom with built-in shelving, perfect for dropping off backpacks and hanging up jackets.

Beyond the mudroom is a convenient planning center with a built-in desk and cabinets; a handy corkboard keeps up with invitations and family activities. This area is designed to accommodate the family computer.

Also off the back hall is a stylish and functional laundry room. Its sink has a wall-mounted faucet; the backsplash is made up of festive glass tiles. Cabinetry, with beaded-board fronts, surrounds three walls.

Convenient Work Station: The wall above the desk in the versatile laundry room contains two handy ideas--a wooden dowel, perfect for holding spools of ribbon, and a chalkboard-painted niche for jotting down notes and to-do lists. The comfortable countertop height allows this room to double as an area for crafts projects.

Unexpected Bonus

Between the kitchen and living room is a wet bar and wine room. Both areas are lined with cherry cabinetry and shelving. A unique stone floor, which consists of small rocks in varying shades of brown and gray, makes a visit to the wine room even more special. The stones look as if someone gathered them from a riverbed and put them directly on the floor. Because this material is costly, save it for a small room such as this one.

Not-So-Formal Areas

The plan takes a creative approach to the idea of formal living and dining rooms. They are combined into one generous, enjoyable space.

For the living room, two comfortable sofas, covered in a washed linen print, set the color scheme of green and gold with touches of red. A beautiful iron-and-glass console table visually separates the areas. Two deep red ottomans serve as a coffee table and provide additional seating. On each side of the fireplace, niches contain oversize mirrors and plants, instead of the expected built-ins.

Primary Retreat

Past the living room, you transition through a hallway and step down to the primary bedroom. Its location makes it a private sanctuary. The adjacent porch, with its great view, provides another area of retreat. A slipcovered love seat and chair in faux suede and a skirted table give the room a soft feel. Touches of sage green enhance the creamy palette.

The bath continues the serene mood. Cut-stone tile covers the floor, and limestone accents the countertops. Hexagonal tiles, in variegated natural hues, act as a border for the tub surround, wrap around the shower, and adorn the sinks' backsplash.

Suited to Teenage Girls

Off the family room are two bedrooms that share a bath. Each has its own walk-in closet and vanity area. One is vintage chic in style, filled with ivory faux-finished furniture distressed to look old. A four-poster bed with a floral-and-green check duvet cover stands in front of the window.

Teenager's Bedroom

"Eclectic" best describes the other bedroom, which is dominated by shades of purple. Instead of a headboard, lightweight fabric covers the entire wall behind the bed. It's tied on to drawer pulls that are attached right below the ceiling.