Sec­ond Time’s the Charm

When dis­as­ter forces a Texas cou­ple to re­build their wa­ter­front home, they’re de­ter­mined to make it even bet­ter than be­fore.

Timber Home Living - - Contents - STORY BY SUZANNA LOGAN | PHO­TOS BY HEIDI LONG

In the early morn­ing hours, Russell and Su­san Hall head to the deck of their lake­front home on cen­tral Texas’ Pos­sum Kingdom Lake, cof­fee in hand, to take in the sights and sounds of the sur­round­ing land­scape. Melodies from the birds that nest along the lime­stone bluffs ring out in the crisp air. The tow­er­ing cliffs plunge into the lake be­low, while a layer of dew glis­tens on the wild­flow­ers and ju­nipers that color the grassy bluffs. The whole scene is washed in a vi­brant, golden glow.

But, it wasn’t so long ago that a dif­fer­ent kind of glow filled the skies. In 2011, a se­ries of dev­as­tat­ing wild­fires swept through the pop­u­lar va­ca­tion spot. “It burnt to the ground in un­der 15 min­utes,” says Russell of the log home the cou­ple had built as a fam­ily re­treat a decade ear­lier. “We lost ev­ery­thing.”

Ev­ery­thing but their re­silience.

While many of their neigh­bors de­cided not to re­build, the Halls ap­proached the set­back as a chance to ex­pand and up­date. Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the com­pany that built their first home was no longer in busi­ness, they de­cided to build a tim­ber frame in­stead and looked to Pre­ci­sionCraft

Log & Tim­ber Homes to pro­vide the tim­bers. de­sign and in­stal­la­tion. They couldn’t be hap­pier with their de­ci­sion. “The tim­ber frame is a much qui­eter, stur­dier struc­ture,” says Russell, an en­gi­neer by trade. “It has a more sub­stan­tive feel to it.”

For the new home, the cou­ple en­vi­sioned an open de­sign with a more and a fin­ished base­ment with a kitchen, movie theater and sec­ondary mas­ter suite. “The home was de­signed as a fam­ily gath­er­ing place, so there were sev­eral de­tails and spa­ces de­signed for this pur­pose,” ex­plains Ce­leste Ray­gosa, Pre­ci­sionCraft’s De­sign Man­ager, M.T.N. Adds Su­san: “It’s not un­usual

week­ends.” Think­ing ahead to the fu­ture, the cou­ple placed the kitchen, liv­ing ar­eas, mas­ter suite and Russell’s of­fice on the main floor. “The house is con­di­tioned to large groups but also good for the two of us,” says Su­san.

The Halls also made plans to move the 6,400-square-foot house closer to the lake (for quicker jaunts to the wa­ter’s edge for boat­ing, swim­ming and fish­ing), build into the lime­stone bluffs rather than on stilts as they had be­fore — “It took three months of ex­ca­vat­ing into solid lime­stone,” says Su­san — and cre­ate a level drive­way.

Amidst the changes, the cou­ple wanted the home to re­flect their own wel­com­ing na­ture. “Our home has never been like a mu­seum where you have the sense that you can’t touch some­thing,” Russell says. Su­san agrees: “We want ev­ery­one to come in, re­lax and un­wind.” The nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing Dou­glass fir tim­bers, oak floors and lo­cal lime­stone, along with the Arts and Crafts style of the new struc­ture and fur­nish­ings re­in­force the easy-liv­ing feel. “Ev­ery­one that walks in feels at home, they kind of sigh and all the wor­ries flow out of them,” Russell says.

Like the orig­i­nal home, the new de­sign kept the lake front and cen­ter, play­ing up big wa­ter views with a rear-fac­ing de­sign, mul­ti­tude of win­dows and ex­pan­sive decks on the up­per and lower lev­els. Af­ter a full day of fun on the wa­ter, ev­ery­one comes to­gether for friendly con­ver­sa­tion and laugh­ter on the rear decks where the day be­gan for Russell and Su­san. It’s in those mo­ments that the cou­ple is as­sured that re­build­ing was the right de­ci­sion. “There is a great joy in be­ing gen­er­ous and shar­ing your life and the joys of your life with other peo­ple,” Russell says. “For us, this home is one way of be­ing gen­er­ous.”

For the home’s tim­ber provider, the home’s com­ple­tion has been equally ful­fill­ing, says Pre­ci­sionCraft’s client rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mark Camper. “It was re­ally ex­cit­ing,” he says, “to be part of the fam­ily’s tran­si­tion from the tragedy of los­ing their va­ca­tion home to the joy of lov­ing their new tim­ber home.”

ABOVE: The Arts and Crafts theme is ap­par­ent in the home’s kitchen that opens into the win­dow-filled din­ing space. OP­PO­SITE: Douglas fir tim­bers shine in the home’s liv­ing ar­eas where ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails abound, in­clud­ing tongue-and-groove cy­press...

Tim­bers and lo­cal lime­stone com­bine with stucco and ce­ment shin­gles to cre­ate a sturdy struc­ture that blends into the lo­cal sur­round­ings.

When Su­san and Russell Hall aren’t out on the wa­ter with their fam­ily, watch­ing boats on the cove, just 50 feet away, is one of their fa­vorite past­times.

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