Country Living

February 17, 2011 — 26 Comments

There is a type of contemporary architecture that seems to frequently find it’s way to our office – we call it soft contemporary. This project is an example of a client who wanted the clean lines and accessible geometry you typically find in contemporary architecture, but in this case, we removed the formulaic rigidity typical of most contemporary homes so that the homeowners interests and lifestyle can play a larger role in how the spaces are used. This house is located about an hour north of Dallas, Texas and is a working horse farm – complete with it’s own stable and riding arena. The main house is 4 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 6,327 square feet.


I think the pictures speak for themselves but I wanted to point out a feature that isn’t readily apparent … the lack of fences on the property. All the animals on this farm have the ability to roam wherever they choose to go so the house was designed in such a way as to create barriers to control where the animals aren’t wanted without having to resort to using fencing. The house was sited to take advantage of the natural grade so that a series of terraced retaining walls and landscape features were constructed so that the views from the house onto the property were unobstructed.


The project team consisted of:

Bernbaum Magadini Architects

David Rolston Landscape Architects

Interior Designer Rhonda Grubbs, Three Graces Interiors

all photos ©Charles Davis Smith



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  • Alistair

    Hi Bob. Beautiful house. Can you tell me what the standing seam roof material is? I’m an architect in the UK and usually specify lead for roofs, but your roof looks much cleaner and neat. Thanks, Alistair

    • Richard

      Here you go Alister; more than likely the clearest explanation of what it is, complete with CAD drawings.
      We use these roofing systems a lot here in Vancouver Island Canada because of the high winds, heavy rains, and very wet heavy snow falls in the mountains. Consider it our version of English Slate roofs.

    • Hi Alistair,

      Thanks for your kind words- Richard just below has provided a realy usefull link (thanks Richard). To be specific, we call for a G-90 metal or “paint grip”. G90 is a coating designation within ASTM 653 standard for sheet steel. It’s really one of the more cost effective upgrade type roofs in our area.


      • Alistair

        Thanks Bob and Richard.

  • pursuitofperfection

    Lovely place – inviting and yet minimal. I always wonder though, with contemporary design/decorating, how comfortable it is at night with large expanses of black
    glass reflecting back on those in the house. I personally find it uncomfortable
    and am the first one to draw the blinds after the sun sets. Your thoughts?

    • Kathy

      I think a lot depends on the amount of lighting in the exterior gardens to aid the comfort level. Even so, if one isn’t comfortable with uncovered windows at night, it is unlikely any amount of lighting would change that preference.

    • I would tend to agree with you that large expanses of glass reflecting back onto a person would be a bad thing – if you were bothered by that sort of thing. The only way to deal with that is to illuminate the exterior areas outside the glass (which would remove the reflectivity). Another way we deal with it is to install pocket shades in the ceiling so that the wall isn’t cluttered with drapes and valences (for modern designs) and the user can cover the glass at their discretion.

  • Small Town

    6,327 square feet??? This is not a “house”, unless the owner has 15 people living there.

    • It is a larger house than average but the goal of the owners was not to get the most out of the least amount of space and create multiple function spaces (i.e. the office in the house is a real functioning office, not a extra bedroom that has a desk in it).

      Cheers, and thanks for commenting

  • Kathy

    Really beautiful project – good job Bob! I love the clear story window reference to old country barns – have always wanted to live in a house with them. The lintel, column and the asymmetrical massing of the fireplace on the exterior are spot on. Is that cork flooring? That would be great underfoot. Well detailed and handsome…… Except, one tiny thing – what is the deal with the placement of TVs above fireplaces? Do they stand to watch TV?

    • Thanks for the nice words, I appreciate them. As far as the TV comment goes … really? I am going to assume you are making a joke because the height at which TV’s get placed has more to do with the view angle and distance from the TV (not to mention that is a room only has one seating arrangement and you have a TV and a fireplace, something’s got to give).

      No there isn’t any cork on the floor. We have done that once before and while it felt great underfoot, the owner complained endlessly about the maintenance, wear patterns, etc. Despite having asked for it, they regretted the decision.

      • Kathy

        So is the floor concrete?
        TVs over fireplaces- it is a joke and I laugh every time I see the Pritchetts (on Modern Family) craning their necks as they watch their TV mounted really high over a tall fireplace. Looks really comfy.

        • I should take it with a grain of salt that someone of your diminutive height would be sensitive to looking at a spot on the wall 66″ high on the wall from 23′-6″ away. Sounds brutal. Of course, at regular person height and at that distance, they would have to adjust their eyeballs a good 5 degrees. Now that I think about, how can they live like that!?!

          Like I said, it has everything to do with room size. 66″ wouldn’t work if the couch was 8′ from the TV, regardless of how tall you sit in the saddle.

  • Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP

    “Soft Contemporary”, I love it. Fantastic house Bob.

    • Thanks Mark – I really appreciate that. I’m glad you took the time to comment.


  • Richard

    Nice crossover Bob. I loathe country homes but this I could live in.

    • The only thing country about this house is it’s location. I would live here as well.

  • Brenda Lynn

    Bob, this is a beautiful house. (I like this much better than the Urinal post.) This is a gorgeous, you do good work, Bob.

    Brenda Lynn

    • Thanks Brenda – this was a good team to work with and I am proud that my office did this project.

  • I am sorry but I must have come to the wrong place. i was looking for a famous post about urinals?? that women refused to comment on, according to my friend @archiwiz. must have been an imaginary post.

    Because this house is stunning. wow. nice job, Bob. its not a urinal but its very fine design work. Next time, must find that post about urinals. because I have not heard enough urinal stories in my life. never enough. =)) see what spring does to me. makes me sassy.

    • Don’t trust anything @archiwiz says – his third syllable is “wiz.” Should explain the urinal obsession!

      • Ha ha…. I see what you did there. Methinks ye be drinking a little too much of what Jody serves over on “Coffee with an Architect.”

    • Thanks Cindy, you should see the stables! It’s the whole deal – a lovely property.

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  • This is lovely! It’s easy to feel the “homeyness” emanating from this structure and the finishes, as opposed to stark modern homes.

    Oops… my preference is showing…. 🙂

    • You are right – this house is anything but stark. I’m sure the actual owners would like to know that other people think their home has “homeyness”.

      Thanks for commenting.