Monday, August 31, 2009

Southwestern Elegance

Upon first glance one might see a typical limestone house with a classic standing seam metal roof. Predictable front porch, rock columns, traditional hill country and probably not all that not true!

Like so many things in life, do not judge this book by it's cover! Step inside with me for a real treat.

NOTE: I have just read my post after publishing and must say I am disappointed in how my photos appear. I do not know why, but if you click on a photo, you will get an enlarged version that is of remarkable better quality than those you see here. So, if you are interested, please do take the time to look more closely - this house has many details that for some reason do not show in the pictures shown here. Meanwhile, I guess I had better start shopping for a new camera!

I have wanted to feature this home on Hill Country House for quite some time. My friends, Johnny and Nella, have done a wonderful job of taking a classic hill country house, updating it, and filling it with things they love. Of course, if you have read my blog at all, you know that this is something I am passionate about. Collectors with great taste, they engaged our mutual friend, and local designer, Barbara White, to help them pull the house and their wonderful collections together. Barbara has a strong sense of color, scale and style. She will hunt for just the right antique or piece of art or furniture and will not settle for anything but the perfect item for the job! (She is my dear friend as well, and on a personal level, when it comes to decorating and antiquing, she is a great partner in crime!)

Recently I had the pleasure of having lunch at Johnny and Nella's home in honor of a mutual friend's birthday. Confession : a group of us descended on this house and rushed about in an embarrassingly giddy way - we were all so taken with the remodeling, the furnishings, the collections, and the paintings and I snapped photographs as fast as I could amongst all the "oohing" and "aahhing". There was an energy that day that only a group of crazed women mad for design and art could create! It was a most memorable afternoon.

Johnny and Nella were kind enough to answer a few questions about their home and art.

When did you move to the hill country and how did you choose Fredericksburg?

We moved to Fredericksburg from Cleburne two years ago, after Johnny retired from the car business. We had been coming to FBG for about 12 years as a getaway. We had a couple of different houses here during that time, which made it an easy place to visit frequently on weekends--and bring our dogs. We always knew we wanted to be here someday. It has been like coming home, finally. There is just something about the Texas Hill Country...

(So well said, Nella! there is just something special about this area of Texas.)

What were you looking for in a house and how did you choose this one?

We wanted a little land around us and we love having the 7 acres, but within and warm and friendly neighborhood.
We have enjoyed this property every day and never take it for granted.

While I am the first to admit that I love keeping up with current interior design trends, I also believe strongly that a home should reflect it's owner and his or her interests, loves, passions, and lifestyle. A commitment to favorite furnishings, whether stylish or not, requires confidence and self knowledge. That is probably why I love the houses I feature and especially love my friends' home!

Speaking of loves, one of the things Johnny and Nella and I share is a love of faux bois .

"Faux bois" is a French term for, literally, "false wood" and has been around for years.
Typically crafted of concrete, it take many forms in the way of planters, birdbaths, furniture, bridges and fences. In the last few years, it has had a resurgence in popularity and while we love the older pieces, (and you can see the large old pieces in San Antonio around town and at the zoo) there have been many great looking new pieces made. As I drove up to their house I noticed a wonderful faux bois birdbath tucked in the trees in front of their house. More than likely it came from San Antonio, Texas and you can learn more about it here .

I wish we had more "before" and "after" photos because believe me, this home is a splendid example of a nice, but very, very dated house that has been completely revived and given new life with the greatest of charm and good taste. Above is the gazebo on the property when Johnny and Nella purchased their home. The house sits on seven beautiful treed acres.

Here is the gazebo today, freshly painted and looking lovely among the oaks.

As we enter the home, it is hard to know which way to turn. To the left is a staircase, teasing the visitor to sneak up for a peek. Curiosity prevails as there are treasures at every turn, displayed in a fine tuned edited way. The decor is simple but elegant, comfortable, but not too casual - just lovely in every sense of the word.

While there is a Southwestern flavor, there is also a quiet elegance felt in this house.

How did you meet your designer, Barbara?

Oh, sweet Barbara White. We met at an antique show, I believe it was in Boerne. Anyway, we met up at a couple of auctions.
Somehow, I just knew she was the right one to help us with our house on Lone Star Lane in Fredericksburg a few years ago, so I gave her a call. She has since helped us with our house in Cleburne and with this house. She is a very talented designer and has become a dear friend.

To the right of the entry hall is a cozy sitting room with just a few of the vintage cowboy boots Johnny has collected over the years - and I do not mean ordinary boots.........just wait.

One pair sit on top of a painted sideboard, along won't believe, Mexican mezcal monkey bottles - translated, bottles for a Mexican distilled spirit made from the Agave plant. Of course, I love the vintage ones, which most of the collection are, and I absolutely covet the one that is signed by the maker. Click the photo below for better details. Aren't they funny!?

Take a look at this vignette of boots - the colors and workmanship are amazing. They truly are works of art. I just love them!

Where do you find your boots and how long have you been collecting them?
Johnny has been collecting boots for about 10 years. Some he purchased at a boot makers show here in Fredericksburg at the Oak House Restaurant a number of years ago. Boot makers from all over Texas and the southwest came to exhibit their boots. It was great fun. He has researched and bought many of the boots off Ebay and from his many contacts all over the U.S.

This wonderful old chest in the picture below came from the renowned Texas boot man, himself, Tyler Beard. Tyler passed away in 2008, and was an aficionado of Texas homes, boots, Western wear and memorabilia, to name just a few of his passions.

Tyler wrote " The Cowboy Boot Book" and another favorite of mine, "Lone Star Living". He loved Texas and was talented in many areas.

Quick - let's take a peek upstairs before we go any further into the house. First stop is the office where, although work is done, I am not sure I could concentrate for all the amazing goodies stashed up here. This collection just about says it all! Click on the photo for details - there are all kinds of little treasures here including the boots!

Here is a close up of a precious little vignette of cowboy memorabilia.

The cozy guest room upstairs has one of my all time Homestead favorite beds. Many of you know that Homestead, of Carol and Tim Bolton fame, was a huge part of Fredericksburg for many years. The store carried all kinds of fabulous furniture, fabrics, accessories and custom designed iron beds. This is one of those beds.It has always been one of my favorites of their designs.

Back downstairs, in the master bedroom, is another wonderful bed from Homestead. It is a beautiful painted four poster - click to see details. The master bedroom is comfortable and cozy and opens into the most wonderful master bath. The before pictures are shown below and you won't even believe it is the same bathroom as you scroll down!

Glass bricks in the window openings, manufactured marble tub, ordinary shower..............

very dated and ordinary sink and counter area.....................

Can you even believe it is the same bathroom! The glass tiles are just exquisite and the view into the oak trees is peaceful and beautiful! The freestanding tub is perfect in form and scale for this space.

Custom cabinetry and more glass tile make the bath both interesting and calming. The iridescent glass sink (one of a pair) shown below is absolutely gorgeous!

I love the combination of materials in this bathroom. It is a lovely and distinctive extension of the master bedroom.

The amazing painting in the living room was done by Enrique Pescoran Perez from the Cusco School in Cusco, Peru. It is one of several reproductions of different saints painted for a church in Peru.

I love the simplicity and the beauty of the cross over the fireplace. Barbara and Nella found it at the Round Top Antiques Fair.

Here is a view looking back at the front entry from the sun room which is connected to the living room. Each item is carefully chosen and placed to create a serene, well edited room.

On either side of the fireplace are small niches holding items chosen with a very discerning eye. Fine art is coupled with a contemporary pot, with a primitive pot sitting below, while the other showcases more boots and a fabulous old trunk covered in velvet and nail heads.

In the sun room, which sits just off the living room, Johnny and Nella have one of their favorite pieces displayed. Read what Johnny has to say about it.

FAUX BOIS BIRDCAGE " A stunning example of faux bois in the style of Dionicio Rodriguez, a talented designer, folk artist and craftsman. This piece was discovered in a residence in San Antonio by Molly and Robert (last names have escaped me again), where it had been for many years. We've had it about 5 years now and love it! It is large piece, about 6 feet tall.
There is a great book Capturing Nature by Patsy Light, who has researched and illustrated the works of Rodriguez.
The painting beside it is by early Texas artist, Rolla Taylor (1872-1970), who studied under Robert Onderdonk and Jose Arpa. We love his work and have several of his pieces."

On the opposite wall from the faux bois bird cage sits a favorite painting of Nella's.


While attending UT the artist studied in Italy and was inspired by the pigeons in the plazas. She is studying at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.

Johnny and Nella have a sweet grouping of paintings by Clementine Hunter, a Louisiana folk artist, hanging in a small guest room near the kitchen.

In the sitting area off the kitchen, the painted screen is by artist Meg Davis, whose work you will see in the dining room as well. The painted cupboard is from Good& Co. in Boerne,Texas.

The most Southwestern room in the house, the kitchen, is filed with a wonderful collection of vintage Mexican pottery. Nella and Johnny also collect the pottery of Gorky Gonzales, of Guanajuato, one of my favorites. Below is a wonderful niche in the kitchen where one of the most charming paintings lives. I think this little Mexican girl is just dear, and if it is ever missing, I am afraid Johnny will know who stole it!! Read what he tells us about it.

AGAPITO LABIOS Labios was an itinerate Mexican folk art painter, who was thrown in jail during the Mexican Revolution. The mayor of the town saw his drawings of children, and told him if he would paint his children, he would let him out of jail. He did. Then, Labios traveled Mexico painting these beautiful children with scenes of Mexico for the rest of his life.
The dining room features a large painting by Texas artist Meg Davis. Meg lives in Johnson City, Texas for part of the year and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico part of the year. Her canvases are typically large, colorful and whimsical, depicting scenes from Mexican life.

This is the table setting for the birthday luncheon. Simple, colorful and delightful. I love the polka doted Vietri plates.

This wooden fixture hangs over the table. I will bet you have not seen this anywhere else and certainly not in the latest catalogs or magazines. I absolutely adore it and if I was going to steal something from this house, it would be a close call between the painting and this light fixture! I am a sucker for birds and that little guy sitting on top is calling my name!

Aren't the colors wonderful - I love pink and orange, mixed with a bit of green and works and is perfect for this house.

Last, but oh so not least, is the basement! Originally used as a game room, one might think of it as a small art gallery now, or even a private room where big art deals are made. Whatever it is, it does hold some of the best paintings collected (and often for sale, but that is another story!)

RUFFINO TAMAYO This painting is believed to be by the famous Mexican artist from Oaxaca, who died at the age of 91 in 1991. In addition to painting on canvas and board, he also painted many large murals. He is considered the inventor of "mixographia", allowing a traditional lithograph print to be created in relief for fine detail and volume, which is the meduim for this painting. Very abstract and interesting how the mind of such an artist works Love the humor. Watermelons are featured in many of his pieces.
A beautiful Indian blanket covers the wall adjacent to the Tamayo painting.

While not by the same artist as the one in the kitchen, this little jewel is quite charming.

Thank you to my friends, Johnny and Nella, for allowing me to photograph your home (albeit in a frenzy) and to feature you at hill country house! You know I have loved every minute of it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Who Doesn't Love a Parade?" or "I Love My Town!"

People park their trucks and cars all along Main Street the night before the parade. They gather on tail gates and in the truck beds with friends, family and refreshments the morning of the festivities. Here they are, anxiously awaiting the beginning of the parade!

So, I write this blog because I love design, and architecture, and art, and houses.............and the Texas hill country. Sometimes I get distracted or busy with life. Sometimes I can't think of anything I want to write about - and sometimes I have more ideas than time.

Right now, I have some great (at least I think they are great) ideas for posts, but they require some research, some communication with others, some thought. This post requires no thought - just photos (and a few captions) of our County Fair Parade held last week. It is the quintessential small town parade and I just love it.

A few of the coolest kids on the block got together and created this "float" for the parade. They were all members of the 45 Best Stores in Texas poll taken a few months back.

The Gillespie County Fair is big here - really big. There is no school the Friday of the fair, shops and even banks close during the morning, and people line up all the way up and down Main Street to watch and cheer for their friends. Just about anyone can participate, and boy, do they!!

"New Horizons" for people with special needs....

Miss Rhonda's School of Dance!

Local cool dude on his scooter with other bikers from the community, all representing our local scooter store!!

Watermelon princesses from Luling, Texas

Of course, the high school football team - GO Billies!! (The mascot is the billy goat - yes, really.)

Local tennis champ, farmer, and now boxer, Byron, on the float for the new fitness/boxing center!

What's a parade in Texas without some good looking cowboys on horses riding through town?

This year the Gillespie Country Fair Association decided to honor our hospital for it's years of service. The big wigs got to ride in a 1962 Cadillac driven by the car's owner!

Smile, boys, you are in a parade!!

More pretty girls..........these from Comfort, Texas, our neighbor down the road about 20 miles.

Some of the "good old boys" from the fair association.

Locals who give and give and give to our community - very kind and very generous folks!

Yes, more pretty girls - these are homegrown and all hoping to be the Fair Queen!

What's a parade without a marching band!! Again, GO Billies!!

We like to stay healthy and our Wellness Center is here to help us.

Love our SPCA - not sure if this is what this car represented but it sure seems that way!

Cute little donkeys...............

Gotta love the Boy Scouts!

Hey girls, get that beauty queen wave goin'......................

My friend, Kelly, went crazy for this old travel trailer................

I could not begin to catch all of the tractors on parade, but this cute old fella with his great blue tractor with the red tires just captured my eye................

More cute neighbors from Kerrville, Texas, also about 20 miles down the road!

Even our local grocery store, HEB, got in on the actions!

AAhhh, there's our SPCA float!!

Got a cool old car? Come on down!!


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