A LEAP OF FAITH
Bold Design Decisions Result in a Rock-solid Getaway for Two Houston Professionals
Article and Photography by Mary Chavoustie
Houston professionals Brian and Dede Kaplan are dedicated to busy schedules and a myriad of appointments throughout their hectic workweek, so it was no surprise that breathing space, free from concrete buildings and crowded streets, was in order.
“In the beginning, we didn’t really have a plan,” explains Brian. “We originally thought of the Hill Country with visions of owning land just outside Fredericksburg, but we realized we had the ideal opportunity in the Round Top area. Good friends, family, the arts and the great food we’d grown to love in Houston would only be a little over an hour away, plus the lure of unobstructed skies and ‘everything Round Top’ brought us to say, ‘We can do this!’ And we began our search.”
“It was truly a leap of faith,” says Dede. “Being a visual person, I started canvassing the Round Top/Burton area, driving the back roads, looking for ‘For Sale’ signs. I came across this property and it was love at first sight. The roll of the property, the amount of trees and just looking at the lake down below, I knew this piece of land was the one for us.”
What Brian and Dede didn’t know was that their future home site was set atop solid rock.
Though the stone was at times challenging, Round Top Home Builders’ Barney and Jay Reynolds never lost sight of the Kaplans’ dream first brought to them with pencil drawings and Pinterest photos. With an adventurous spirit, Brian and Dede gathered their love of Southwest art, industrial modern, farmhouse chic and Art Deco into one cohesive and stunning retreat.
“The Kaplans were such an amazing and artistic couple to work with in creating their unique home,” says custom builder Jay Reynolds. “It was by far our most exciting project of the year.”
A SECOND LOOK AT ENERGY EFFICIENCY
With their expansive window design, the homeowners decided energy efficiency was a “must-have.” Ply Gem’s 4800 series, with its thermal broke aluminum frame, was the perfect option to handle the ever-changing Texas temperatures while at the same time giving Brian and Dede the style and panoramic views they wanted. The Ply Gem series was also a smart option for high wind zones with a price point that was equally attractive.
Much like aluminum, fiberglass has continued to gain new respect in the building industry. The Kaplans’ fiberglass entry door is more energy efficient than wood or steel, resistant to deterioration and dents and requires far less maintenance. To complement the decor, the builder first applied a light tan base to the plank-style door’s pre-grained surface. A gel stain was then applied with a fine brush, creating the undisputable appearance of real wood. Vintage nickel hardware added the finishing touch.
The open family room/dining room/ kitchen design is the heart of the Kaplan home, anchored by historic hardwood floors. The red pine planks that now make up the tongue-and-groove flooring were milled from 8-by-8-inch beams reclaimed from the former Incarnate Word convent by woodworker Wes Metzler. Seventeen feet above the flooring are four 28-foot-long, hand-hewn beams that make up the unique timber trusses. Clerestory windows add morning and evening light with cedar beams as window headers to create a touch of rustic charm.
The homeowners wanted a seamless, extra-smooth appearance for their interior walls — what’s known in the building industry as a Level 5 finish. During the labor-intense process, the Sheetrock is taped, floated two times, sanded and then applied with a thin skim coat. Skimming allows all the remaining small imperfections and pores of the surface to be filled, ensuring an equally smooth finish across the drywall and the seams. Once done, the final skim coat is sanded again and then coated with primer and paint. The result? Museum quality walls…and very happy homeowners.
No home is complete without a comfortable kitchen both for the cook and the friends who gather along the counter’s edge. Brian and Dede enlisted the craftsmanship of Black Buck Millwork out of Buda to create the reclaimed barn wood cabinet and drawer fronts from their design. “We wanted something different,” says Dede. “Uncluttered and unlike a traditional kitchen filled with wall-to-wall cabinetry.”
ARTISTRY AND SENTIMENTALITY
Vintage black-and-white photos line a wall of Brian’s study, a fond remembrance of his father-in-law’s love of photography, while a red leather Eames lounge chair and ottoman, a slice of history that Dede knew she “just had to have,” bring a pop of color to the room. A bright orange and rope pendant light, along with a wooden longhorn sculpture that hangs above the entry door, are nods to Brian’s alma mater, the wood sculpture delivered and personally installed by artist Andrew Bradfield. In the great room, Merchant and Market’s oversized coffee table takes center stage.
Andrée Hudson’s acrylic on canvas, “Family of Four,” with its soft earth tones and drips of rich greens and turquoise, is one of Dede’s treasures from Waxlander Gallery in Santa Fe, a favorite getaway for the homeowners. The painting, which rests on a 400-pound reclaimed beam strategically bolted into the fireplace wall, served as the catalyst for the home’s color palette, particularly in the design creation of the stone that embodies the fireplace and then carries over to the exterior below the board and batten siding.
“Real stone was too heavy and too expensive, plus we couldn’t find a size or color that worked well with Andrée’s painting,” Dede explains. “So Barney and Jay suggested a cultured stone, a product that could be created in random sizes and hand-stained to blend with our decor. We love the end result.”
DECISION MAKING 101
The Burton home is the third time the Kaplans have utilized their creative skills: The first, for their Georgian-style home in West U, and the second, a contemporary. Both admit building and decision-making remotely were logistically challenging, as was working with a floor plan distinctively different from their previous homes.
The couple playfully refers to their latest design choices as “a la carte.”
“We just designed as we went through the process,” explains Brian, with Dede choosing many items online, including the kitchen and bath hardware, several lighting options as well as the compact yet restful upstairs cabinet bed — similar to a Murphy bed yet requiring no wall storage.
The Kaplans agree that decisions often made with a leap of faith can culminate into beautiful results. “Sometimes you just have to go for it!” says Dede.
(Also custom barn doors, mantel & island supports)
Round Top Home Builders
103 Main St.
CULTURED STONE FOR HOME EXTERIOR & FIREPLACE
Sunbelt Concrete Products Inc.
1885 FM 448
CUSTOM RECLAIMED BARNWOOD CABINETS
Black Buck Millwork
17020 S. Interstate 35
Dalor Design Development Services
2312 S. Market St.
Washington County Landscapes
4579 Highway 290 West
Trinity Homes & Construction LLC
4813 Larkin St.
Kitchen & island countertops
RECLAIMED WOOD FLOORING
Woodson Lumber Co.
301 E. Clinton St.
UNIQUE FURNITURE, ACCESSORIES & ART
Accents by Phillipe
Leather pillow & blue suede dining armchairs
3514 S. Shepherd Dr., No. C
3735 Westheimer Road
Artist Andrew Bradfield
2940 Ferndale St.
Cowboys and Indians
Leather sofa & pine buffet
72 East San Francisco St.
Santa Fe, N.M.
2418 W. Alabama St.
Merchant and Market
Large coffee table
in great room
1637 Westheimer Road
4030 Westheimer Road
Round Top Antiques Fair
Rustic Center & Interiors
11251 Highway 290 East
Spaces for Home
2439 Westheimer Road
Artist Andree Hudson’s
painting “Family of Four”
622 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, N.M.