I know what you’re thinking — “Karen does not write about ordinary white box houses.” I have news for you. There is nothing ordinary about this East Kessler contemporary home.
Credit architect Carlos Vega with ensuring that the word ordinary belongs nowhere near this splendid home. Vega grew up in a contemporary house in Mexico City. That explains a lot. If you have any knowledge of modern Mexican architecture you can see the influences Luis Barragan, Ricardo Legoretta and Enrique Norten.
We tend to over-romanticize when thinking about the architecture of Mexico. Aztec, Colonial, or Mexican Baroque pop into our heads. In reality, modern architecture has been a staple of Mexican design for decades.
Adapting architecture to the environment is generally a goal of most architects. If you have a magnificent setting, capitalize on it. Good architecture always allows the site to dictate the design of the structure. Vega certainly listened to the land. But he had to wait a while to get this beautifully natural site.
“I live around the corner,” Vega said. For many years there was an abandoned house on the property. Someone had locked the door 14 years ago and walked away.” When the estate of the owner finally put the property on the market, Vega saw the sign at 10 a.m. He put in an offer at 2 p.m. and his offer was the fifth of the day. But here’s the lesson if you are serious about buying. Offer cash. Vega’s offer was not the highest but it was cash and it was accepted.
Vega spent a year designing the East Kessler contemporary, turning topographical challenges into assets. The .45-acre site has a creek on one side and an escarpment on the other.
The response we have had to the site itself is my favorite thing,” Vega said. “The escarpment side is mostly opaque but we did deliberately place a large boulder outside the master bathroom window. It is lit at night and you have complete privacy. It acts as a sculptural element.”
The side of the house that faces the lawn is largely glass to bring full focus to the outdoors.
Because of the vital relationship between the site and the house, it was important to Vega to use natural materials and connect the house to the exterior wherever possible. This is showcased to great effect by the stone wall that slices through the house.
“I used a lot of Cordova limestone in multiple sizes and in two textures, a honed and a chiseled finish,” Vega said. He used Cumaru ( Brazilian Teak) on the exterior as it is known for excellent durability and doesn’t bleach out in the harsh Texas sun.
One of the things that drew my eye to this East Kessler contemporary was the use of Walnut in multiple locations throughout the house. This warms up a contemporary house in a beautiful way.
The staging also knocked my socks off. Vega knew it was essential to stage this home.
“Showing the right look was important to me,” Vega said. “We interviewed multiple stagers and Julie Guidry of J. Guidry Design understood immediately what look we wanted. I especially liked the art she used because there are a lot of opportunities for displaying art in this house.”
“The natural setting brought the inspiration and palette for staging,” Guidry said. ” The house looks as if it were carved out of the side of a hill. The lot is amazing. Everywhere you look there is a spectacular view. There were some pieces I knew would be perfect, like the petrified wood table. It just belongs in this house. I was also able to use some wonderful art here.”
Another eye-catching property feature is the raised pool. ” Because of the slope of the site and wanting the pool at the same level as the deck, we raised it,” Vega said. ” That was not without challenges, but it creates a wonderful sculptural look outside the dining room.”
Vega built this East Kessler contemporary house with 4,302 square feet, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a powder bath with a family in mind.
“It flows and connects in a way that works well for a family,” Vega said.