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My goal in writing this blog is to showcase great home designs from all over the world and how different elements of these designs or construction techniques can be applied to home design in the Okanagan valley. The Okanagan has a wide variety of building sites. We have low, flat land near the lakes, gentle slopes where wine and fruit is grown and animals are raised, and we have hillsides – some of which are quite steep in terrain. The project below is an example of how innovative construction techniques can overcome a difficult building site.

This post highlights an easygoing contemporary vacation home with accompanying boathouse. The site—near Marble Falls, Texas—was spectacular if complicated, with a lake on one side and, on the other, a granite hill dotted with boulders and oak trees. The home was designed by Architect Ted Flato, a partner of the San Antonio firm Lake Flato and the interior was created by Houston-based designer Hilary Crady of Plus Two Interiors. Photography is by Andrew Pogue (boathouse) and Ryan Ford (house).

The American Institute of Architects selected this home as 1 of 14 winners of its annual Housing Awards, a program begun 17 years ago “to recognize the best in housing design and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life.”

The initial impression is of a tree house nestled among the oaks. The structure is all about movement and connections, with a free-flowing dialogue between indoors and out; only 2,700 of its 4,900 square feet are interior. “There’s more porch than house,” noted the architectural project manager.

The design was simple: a single three-story main building poised midway up the rise, 120 feet uphill from the boathouse at water’s edge. “The main house is nestled between the peak and the lake, both of which weigh equally in this scheme. The design celebrates the land as well as the water.”

The double-height volume is exposed to the elements, with neither a roof nor a proper floor—just a walkway of concrete pavers set in gravel. Regarding materials, the architect chose what made sense for the location. Reinforced concrete comprises the base. Framing is mostly steel. Durable western red cedar clads the north facade, which is protected by deep overhangs. The hill-facing southern exposure is sheathed in utilitarian corrugated rusted steel. Douglas fir beams support an angular roof of aluminum; decks and patios are Brazilian teak.

There’s a seating area with a boulder for a cocktail table, and, for freshening up post-swim, an open shower backed by a panel of rusted steel.

All circulation—vertical included—is exterior. Anchoring one end of the structure is a grand stair tower enclosed solely in perforated painted steel. Set between the tower and the house proper are covered porches on each level.

The topmost one extends out toward the water, forming a cantilevered sky deck. Poised above the tree line, and thus enjoying the best views of the lake, this level houses the living and dining areas plus the kitchen (bedrooms are located on the lower two levels). Swinging doors offer easy access to the exterior, creating an uninterrupted flow of indoor/outdoor space.

Inside, a cohesive palette creates spatial continuity and instils an informal air.

Flooring throughout is oak, as is the cabinetry in the kitchen and adjacent dining area. Except for the glossy, dark-green powder room, the home was painted one paint colour throughout.” The silvery-white hue—flat-finished on the ceilings and eggshell on the walls—derives from the bark of the surrounding wild persimmon trees.

Furnishings were chosen with practicality in mind. “This is a house meant for wet bathing suits,” says Crady. “And since it’s a weekend home, we couldn’t break the bank.” Accordingly, the living room’s large sectional was “neither expensive nor precious,” but decidedly sturdy, covered with an outdoor textile.

Al fresco dining on the outdoor deck.

Simple furnishings in the bedrooms.

Corrugated metal on the exterior gives the home a bit of an industrial vibe.

Notice the mirror slides over the bathroom window.

Expansive views

More views

The boathouse located at the bottom of the property on the lake. The 2,500-square-foot boathouse is a smaller version of the main structure, a virtual carbon copy in form and materials. Even more engaged with the elements, it’s almost entirely without walls. It stands on partially submerged slim steel legs. Here, though, the deck comes down to earth, floating just two feet above the azure stretch of lake.

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