How Do You Define Hill Country Style?
Design trends come and go but what drives them is often hard to pinpoint. This year the color authority Pantone Inc. declared “greenery” the color of 2017. It’s unlikely most homeowners will feel any great desire to insert this shade of green into their existing decor, much less repaint the dining room. So what are homeowners, and specifically those lucky individuals building in the Hill Country, interested in seeing in their homes right now?
If anyone knows the answer to this question, it would be Amy Slaughter. Her thriving practice, Slaughter Design Studio, has designed many homes in Fredericksburg and the surrounding area, and is the creator of the Texas Monthly Hill Country Show Home at Boot Ranch. “One of the most important things that drives the way a home looks is its structure,” notes Slaughter. “Many of our clients want flexibility in their homes. We are seeing dual-purpose rooms. Since many of them are building second homes, they often want a lot of features—but in a condensed footprint.” So for example, Slaughter may design a space that can switch from office to guest room, or a bunk room combined with a media room.
Another important factor that influences a home’s layout is the pleasant Hill Country climate. Slaughter points out that the shoulder seasons in the Hill Country are lengthy and beautiful, extending the time families can spend outside. An increasingly popular solution is to use sliding or retracting doors to adjoin interior rooms with outdoor living areas, thus increasing entertaining space and bringing in the outdoors.
The design and finish out of these outdoor spaces are approached no differently than if they were interior rooms says Slaughter. “We are using upholstered furniture such as sectionals, outdoor rugs, and forgiving materials on dining tables such as ipe, concrete, and teak.” Outdoors have every possible convenience including heaters, completely-outfitted kitchens, bars, and fireplaces.
Inside the home, certain finishes continue to be favorites among Hill Country homeowners. The limestone that graces old German cottages and buildings in Fredericksburg is still very popular with today’s homebuyers. Weathered and reclaimed wood are also introduced as accents that provide authentic texture. “A nationwide trend that has taken hold here as well, is the use of mixed-metallic finishes,” says Slaughter. “You’ll see combinations of copper mixed with gold or antique brass with silver used in plumbing and light fixtures, accessories, and door hardware.” The second-home consideration also has an impact on fabric choices for interior upholstery. “Most of our clients want either natural fabrics such as linens and cottons,” notes Slaughter, “or indoor/outdoor fabrics because they offer easy care and there is less worry—what with visiting grandkids and dogs.”
Entertaining and extended-family gatherings drive the spirit of many Hill Country homes. And so kitchens are designed and finished out to appear more like another room. This means large windows, the elimination of upper cabinets, and more furniture-like pieces in lieu of traditional cabinets.
Another important element to any home is art. Elizabeth Harris of InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg works with many clients in the area to find works of art for their new homes. She represents more than 20 respected painters and sculptors who work in various styles and media. “Probably the most common desire expressed by homeowners is the idea of bringing the outside in,” says Harris noting that landscapes are the perennial best sellers. It’s not surprising that people who have settled in this beautiful area of Texas would want to capture its beauty and hang it on the walls of their home. “Representational art is still very much in style, and really has never gone out of style,” Harris notes. Another connection art buyers seek is a piece that reflects their travels or touches upon a memory. “Art makes the home personal,” says Harris, “and it’s something beautiful you can live with and enjoy every day.”