"A good house is like a great play—you have a prelude, where you don’t give the house away immediately,” says Dallas-based architect David Stocker. “It’s about creating a story for the house and letting one scene unfold from another. Like good literature, good theater, good music—you develop things along the way.”
That is exactly how the principal at SHM Architects went about designing a family’s 11,000-square-foot home in Westlake’s Vaquero Estates. While much of the neighborhood trends old-world traditional with towering Tuscans, the clients were longtime admirers of SHM’s work, and they wanted their home to have a thoroughly modern perspective. “We wanted to have someone who understood the vision from beginning to end,” the husband says.
Meticulous and deeply passionate about the estate they would build for their four children on a 3 ½-acre property, the homeowners worked in tandem with Stocker for more than a year on the architectural drafts. Though the end design incorporates many similar materials found in neighboring houses—Texas limestone, a barrel clay tile roof, steel-frame windows and centuries-old reclaimed-wood floors from North Carolina—Stocker integrated them in a distinctly lighter, brighter and refreshing way. “We wanted to step in the middle zone between traditional forms and contemporary spaces,” he says.
To avoid the often unavoidable darkness of traditional architecture while tempering contemporary coldness, Stocker designed the house to contour with the land and interwove multiple courtyards to “draw light deep into the house,” he says. Once through the towering square entry’s iron gates, guests are greeted by an intimate outdoor patio reminiscent of a luxury spa resort you might find out West. Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows in nearly every room overlook the outdoors, letting sunlight spill onto the hewn ceiling beams and stone walls, which were painstakingly handcut on-site. “David was relentless in training the stonemasons,” the husband says.
The interior details rightly mirror the architectural contrast. Leigh Mall, a lead interior designer at SHM, worked closely with Stocker to interweave the “old materials meet new world” vision, she says. “We wanted to make it look like someone had brought in new furnishings and modern artwork to stand against the old-world textures.” To that end, reclaimed timber headers are juxtaposed with contemporary light fixtures. In the dining room, the Peleg chandelier by Shakuff bursts with color against a neutral ARTO brick that appears decades old. The entryway flooring, also by ARTO, is reminiscent of old concrete pavers laid in a chevron pattern in fresh shades of gray and white, while a kitchen stairway is outfitted with custom-colored terra-cotta tiles paired with iron railings Mall designed alongside a metalsmith. Even floor vents were carved of the same reclaimed wood for authenticity. “It was important to the clients for guests to see things they hadn’t before—they didn’t want a cookie-cutter house,” Mall says. She dedicated eight months to locating the right marbled quartzite waterfall slab from The Stone Collection for the kitchen island; artisans spent about four months handweaving the great room’s custom rug. Outdoor spaces received equal attention. “Each is a complete continuation of the home’s colors and aesthetic,” Mall says. The formal living area was designed with a movable glass wall that opens directly onto a poolside loggia with several seating and dining areas, which were filled with furnishings by Janus et Cie, Sutherland and LINK Outdoor. “We wanted everything to be functional but to have a clean appearance,” the husband says.
Every element—down to hand towels and silverware—was handselected or custom designed by Mall. Despite having several young children, the clients prioritized the end vision over durability. “If they wanted to include it, they were going to include it in a way that made such a statement,” Mall says. The fastidious, yearslong building and decorating process paid off: People regularly circle the cul-de-sac to study the facade. “David wanted people to see the house from the street and be so intrigued that they didn’t understand how all the rooms work,” the husband says. “It’s remarkable watching them try to figure it out.”
David Stocker and Scott Nunn
The William Manning Company
Leigh Mall and Laura Simbles
Neisha Crosland Haveli Boomerang tile
BABA ANTIQUE WOODEN FLOORS
Reclaimed-wood flooring throughout
Quartz mirror in entry
Euclid chandelier in entry
SCOTT + COONER
B&B Italia Bend sectional in playroom
Minotti Aston dining chairs in breakfast room; Blake swivel chairs in living room
Cowhide rug in office; rug in living room