MEDITERRANEAN MODERN

BY JEANNE DE LATHOUDER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

The elevation of the home is long and narrow and allows for light to enter the interior from multiple angles. Although the footprint is far from rectangular, efforts were made to compose the overall massing of the home around a simpler, linear ridge.

It would be a decidedly intuitive solution to blur the lines between structure and landscape in order to ensure a harmonious balance for this expansive new home set amidst a quaint rural setting. And when commissioned to design this lavish residence tucked within the lush Heritage High district of Colleyville, architect Clay Nelson did just that. President of C.A. Nelson Architecture Group, Nelson drew up an innovative design plan that would integrate this extraordinary dwelling seamlessly into the surrounding country landscape.

“The home is situated on a very large 3.02-acre lot with an old farm pond in the front southeast corner that falls down to a wooded creek in the back,” says the architect. “There are a variety of mature trees, including a grove of tall southern pines along the northern boundary— essentially, it’s a magnificent rural-feeling canvas to work with in a suburban context.”

Floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass entry door blur the separation between the indoor and outdoor environments. The open floor plan provides views of the dining room and gallery from the front entry.

The expansive lot commanded a strategic plan for the long drive onto the property. The homeowners were open to bringing the driveway in— just north of center—relative to the lot but aligned with a major architectural component. This particular plan helped to preserve the farm pond as a landscape feature and create a graceful, sweeping curve that leads to a guest parking court. The drive then continues on through a porte cochere to a private owners’ motor court.

Rows of clerestory windows on both sides of the front entry allow for light to pour into the space, establishing a bright and airy first impression. The main stair cascades out at the bottom, offering an impressive invitation to the second floor.

“The scale of the lot allowed the plan to spread out—long and thin—making it possible to bring light indoors from multiple directions,” says Nelson. “This opportunity was exploited as often as practical in the design concept.”

A collection of both traditional Mediterranean and modern elements, the home is stylistically transitional. Although the bulk of the roof forms are sloping, there are a few flat components, as well, that occur in places where they make sculptural sense. Because the flat areas do not generate additional ridges and valleys, they allow the overall roof to be a simpler composition. From a materials standpoint, the home is Tuscan inspired with stone walls and a one-piece clay tile roof. For a modern influence, Nelson used vertical cedar siding, and in some places, entire walls of ganged windows.

“Throughout this home, roof overhangs vary from a traditional heavy timber exposed rafter tail with plank soffits to a modern minimalistic condition with virtually no overhang at all,” says Nelson. “The concept was intended to accentuate a subtle distinction between some of the massing components, such as the homeowners’ trophy room.”

Details such heavy timber trusses, interior stone walls and a fireplace with a massive monolithic stone lintel create a grand space for the owners’ trophy room.

A symmetrical kitchen design is balanced around a distinctive arched window above the sink, which affords views of the front yard. Multiple islands provide plenty of work surfaces for family gatherings and events.

Designed specifically for one of the owners, who is a hunting enthusiast, the trophy room is one of the most important rooms in the house. A voluminous space strategically planned to contain both an office and a vast collection, it is situated prominently as a projecting singular mass that shelters the approach to the front door. Another significant component of Nelson’s design was a halfcourt basketball gymnasium that is detached from the rest of the home. This impressive structure also houses an exercise room and bath facilities.

Comprised of 11,335 square feet overall, this elaborate residence exudes an unmistakable rustic elegance throughout that complements its picturesque rural setting. Avid entertainers, the homeowners wanted the interior spaces to accommodate large-scale gatherings while also maintaining a cozy and inviting feel for more intimate family get-togethers. Filled with plenty of plush upholstered seating in calming neutral hues and alluring fireplaces in multiple rooms, these large-scale spaces with soaring ceilings always manage to emit a warm and welcoming ambience.

The generous-sized pool environment incorporates stone material used for the exterior of the house, along with limestone coping and furniture groupings set upon a limestone and grass deck.

A projecting bay window embellishes the master bedroom and provides a measure of architectural interest in an otherwise simple, gabled space.

In the kitchen, an enormous arched window echoes the graceful curves of a brilliantly designed barrel-vaulted brick ceiling, which is accented with well-worn wood beams. The open floor plan allows for a panoramic view from the kitchen into the keeping room, where the barrel-vaulted ceiling continues. The stone wall surrounding the fireplace anchors the room while providing an eye-catching focal point. Similarly, a woodbeamed vaulted ceiling in the family room brings lodge-like warmth and rusticity to this massive yet surprisingly intimate space.

Groin-vaulted ceilings define the functional zones of the master bath, subtly separating the owners’ individual spaces within a very sculptural, singular environment.

“One of my favorite interior features that I think really turned out well was the series of brick barrel vaults supported on heavy timber beams used for the keeping room ceiling,” says Nelson. “Both rustic and refined, this element pairs perfectly with the home’s scenic rural setting.”

Jeanne de Lathouders works as a freelance writer for several books and publications across the country. Previously she wrote and edited Victoria Magazine and worked at Time, Inc.