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Hill Country Comfort With Urban Refinement


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Towne Lake, of Houston-based Caldwell Communities, was selected by Morning Star Builders as the location of a new Southern Living Custom Builder Program Showcase Home. The showcase home built by Morning Star Builders and located in Water’s Edge, the prestigious custom home neighborhood within Towne Lake, is valued at more than $1.3 million. This stunning home was designed with expansive windows to feature gorgeous water views throughout 75 percent of the home.

Though most of us can conjure an image of what a Southern Living Home may look like, there are certain criteria each hand-picked builder must meet in order to belong to this prestigious group of custom craftsmen. The Southern Living Custom Builder Program is a network of some of the finest custom homebuilders in the South. The team at Southern Living reviews the homes each applicant has built for their customers in order to look for craftsmanship, excellence in architecture, and home building that tells a Southern story.

Southern Living has selected these homebuilders because of their commitment to great architecture, and building homes in their communities that families love from generation to generation. Only the finest custom homebuilders are invited to be a part of this one-of-a-kind program. Each member is reviewed based on their reputation among local building trade and consumers, strength in the marketplace, financial stability, and of course, customer service.

Ted Cummins, owner of Morning Star Builders, says the success that he and his wife and business partner, Yvonne, have experienced is partially the result of their business structure.

“We’ve never built the same home twice,” he explained. “Each of our homes is as unique as the clients themselves. We also are committed to the ‘design-build’ construction process. This means we work very closely and directly with our clients, and we bring in all the professionals needed to complete their project, from architects, to designers, to landscapers — a ‘one stop shop.’ ”

One major advantage of this kind of construction process is that the project is on budget from the very beginning. Another is that the same team that  designs the home will actually build the home. Ted explained, “When you put together a good football team, you pick the coach first, then you make sure you get the best players who are committed to helping the coach win games. And that’s what our clients deserve and expect from us.”

The single-story home in Towne Lake boasts an architectural style — “Hill Country Refined” — and spans 5,300 square feet and includes four bedrooms, four full bathrooms, two powder rooms and a four-car garage. Special features  in the Southern Living Custom Builder Program Showcase Home include:

• Barrel ceiling with fiber optic lighting

in the entryway

• Caterer’s kitchen with extra storage and

secondary appliances

• Vaulted kitchen ceiling with exposed beams

and solar powered skylights

• Game room overlooking an expansive lanai

• Stunning lake views throughout 75 percent

of the home

• Energy-efficient tankless water heaters

• 20KW GE Natural Gas Generator by Power Now

 

There are many special design features in this stunning house. In addition to the lovely aesthetic created by the ceiling, Cummins points out that the barrel vault follows the same radius as the front door and that the stone tapered columns on the home’s front elevation are repeated  inside the foyer.  The view from the foyer to the back wall of the family room, spans an impressive 62 feet.

In the kitchen, the chef will enjoy cooking on the 48-inch Thermador dual fuel range which features six gas burners, an electric griddle and an electric convection oven. There is also a steam oven with a warming drawer underneath. A 42-inch Thermador refrigerator/freezer allows ample storage for all the food the cook will no doubt be preparing.

Two skylights in the kitchen over the banquette are also pretty special. Not only do they bring in even more natural light, but they are solar-powered and motorized to open and vent the space if things get too hot or to let overpowering cooking odors and vapors escape quickly. The separate sitting area off the kitchen provides wonderful views of the outdoors and lake.

The service kitchen in this home is additionally a splendid luxury where you’ll find the family’s pantry and secondary appliances. There is ample space for food preparation when entertaining, as well as a place to drop off dirty dishes and deal with them later. There is a wall oven, a microwave and dishwasher (by Bosch) along with an additional sink, and garbage disposal. With this space and its amenities, the home is equipped with a grand total of three ovens, two dishwashers, two microwaves, two sinks and two garbage disposals.

The game room, too, is extraordinary in its design and function. Cummins explains that the design of this room is on trend with how most modern homes are now using this space. “We have found that though many people love the idea of having a ‘media room,’ they don’t utilize it as much as they may have originally thought. The solution has been to fuse the game room with the media room, which is what you’ll find in this home.”

All the popular game tables are here, along with a 70-inch television where everyone can watch their games or shows together while at play. When it’s movie time, however, with a simple push of a button or two, black-out screens and drapes cover the windows and glass doors overlooking the lake and a 106-inch projection screen drops in front of the television.

Just outside, the patio provides the family with more lounge and play space,  an outdoor fireplace, cooking center and fire pit, all lakeside, of course. What makes this area all the more inviting is the fact that it is equipped with retractable mosquito screens on all sides, allowing the family to make the most of their time outdoors without the threat of pesky uninvited guests.

Energy efficiency is another huge plus in this home. Though it is a large home with lots of windows, extra attention was paid to ensure its efficiency. All of the windows are wood framed and wrapped (interior and exterior) in aluminum, which makes them work more efficiently  no matter what the temperature is outdoors, but also makes them relatively maintenance-free. All of the exterior walls and the roof decking are spray-foamed. The two five-ton air conditioner units (Lennox) were upgraded to XC 25. a SEER rating of 21 (which makes them “crazy efficient” according to the pros) and two Rinnai tankless water heaters add to the overall efficiency of the home.

Cummins added, “According to the Department of Energy, the typical HERS (home energy rating system) rating of the average home is 130. The typical rating of a brand new home is 100. Energy Star formerly recommended a rating of 80, but is now 65. These scores are a real challenge for larger homes to achieve. This home? This home received a HERS rating of 47! That is amazing on any level. For example, even in the conditioned attic space, the temperature will hardly go above about 85 degrees. That means the family can store just about anything up there and feel secure about its safety.”

The home, located at 18602 N. Frio River, was open for public tours during May and June. Ticket sales for the tour benefitted Operation Finally Home (operationfinallyhome.org), an organization that supports wounded veterans and their families, and HomeAid Houston (homeaidhouston.org), an organization affiliated with the Greater Houston Builders Association that provides housing and support for Houston’s homeless community.

Southern Living National Sponsors are Advil, Belgard, Bevolo, Chevy, Lennox, LP TechShield, Marvin Windows, Moen, Rinnai, Sherwin Williams, Sunbrella and Wellborn Cabinets.

TOP IMAGE: In the grand-sized family room, dramatic exposed beams soar overhead. A pair of tapered limestone columns flank the Fire Rock fireplace, mirroring those at the front entrance, and custom cabinetry elegantly camouflages the large television. Interior lighting by Kichler Lighting.

Text by Cheryl Alexander
Photography by Kolanowski Studio
Construction by Morning Star Builders, Ted and Yvonne Cummins
Interiors by Cindy Aplanalp Yates; Chairma Design Group;
Miria Fatheree, M Fatheree Interiors

In the foyer, fiber optic Texas “stars” by Starfield Design twinkle from the barrel-shaped ceiling overhead, softly lighting the custom-painted ceiling details by A Creative Design. The polished porcelain plank flooring features a custom wood insert.

In the foyer, fiber optic Texas “stars” by Starfield Design twinkle from the barrel-shaped ceiling overhead, softly lighting the custom-painted ceiling details by A Creative Design. The polished porcelain plank flooring features a custom wood insert.

The architecture of the Texas Hill Country and the natural beauty of Texas itself were the inspirations behind the builder’s Country modern home. Impressive tapered Texas limestone columns, reminiscent of the main entrance to a grand Texas ranch, flank the front porch of this lakefront home, a perfect accent for the stucco exterior. The driveway features Belgard pavers. Bevolo light fixtures flank the 4-car garage, Insulated carriage style garage doors with simulated wood panel by Jacobs Overhead Door; professionally landscaped lawn by ELI Land Design; front door by Mirabella; professionally landscaped lawn by ELI Land Design; front door by Mirabella.

The architecture of the Texas Hill Country and the natural beauty of Texas itself were the inspirations behind the builder’s Country modern home. Impressive tapered Texas limestone columns, reminiscent of the main entrance to a grand Texas ranch, flank the front porch of this lakefront home, a perfect accent for the stucco exterior. The driveway features Belgard pavers. Bevolo light fixtures flank the 4-car garage, Insulated carriage style garage doors with simulated wood panel by Jacobs Overhead Door; professionally landscaped lawn by ELI Land Design; front door by Mirabella; professionally landscaped lawn by ELI Land Design; front door by Mirabella.

The dining room boasts sweeping views of the lake, and a spectacular chandelier centers over the dining room table highlighting the faux painted medallion on the ceiling. Hardwood floors by Floors Inc. grace this space as well as a large picture window overlooking the backyard.

The dining room boasts sweeping views of the lake, and a spectacular chandelier centers over the dining room table highlighting the faux painted medallion on the ceiling. Hardwood floors by Floors Inc. grace this space as well as a large picture window overlooking the backyard.

Fabulous and functional, the kitchen opens to a morning room overlooking the lake. It also features Thermador appliances provided by Ferguson, including a 48-inch refrigerator, six-burner stove, double oven and warming oven. Overhead, a half dome ceiling soars and impresses, while the shiplap ceiling treatment adds rustic warmth, and the Velux skylight delivers natural sunlight. The built-in gracefully curved banquette harmonizes with the Wellborn painted cabinets. Tile by Emser Tile; “Autumn Leaves” granite countertops by Hilltop Granite.

Fabulous and functional, the kitchen opens to a morning room overlooking the lake. It also features Thermador appliances provided by Ferguson, including a 48-inch refrigerator, six-burner stove, double oven and warming oven. Overhead, a half dome ceiling soars and impresses, while the shiplap ceiling treatment adds rustic warmth, and the Velux skylight delivers natural sunlight. The built-in gracefully curved banquette harmonizes with the Wellborn painted cabinets. Tile by Emser Tile; “Autumn Leaves” granite countertops by Hilltop Granite.

A smoothie station (or baking center) sits conveniently just behind the island and out of sight when cabinet doors are closed.

A smoothie station (or baking center) sits conveniently just behind the island and out of sight when cabinet doors are closed.

The service kitchen directly across from the kitchen provides secondary appliances and houses a huge pantry, outfitted with a Proslat organizing system for maximum efficiency.

The service kitchen directly across from the kitchen provides secondary appliances and houses a huge pantry, outfitted with a Proslat organizing system for maximum efficiency.

The multi-function game room features one whole wall of sliding doors that offer another gorgeous lake view, and open to the patio and outdoor kitchen. It features automated black-out window treatment and drop-down screen and projector so the room can be instantly darkened for use as a media room.

The multi-function game room features one whole wall of sliding doors that offer another gorgeous lake view, and open to the patio and outdoor kitchen. It features automated black-out window treatment and drop-down screen and projector so the room can be instantly darkened for use as a media room.

­A cozy area deemed the “Commons” provides plush seating, a place to lounge, a flat screen TV and a picture window view of the outdoors. All three guest rooms feed off this space, which makes it convenient and private for either your kids or your guests to enjoy.

­A cozy area deemed the “Commons” provides plush seating, a place to lounge, a flat screen TV and a picture window view of the outdoors. All three guest rooms feed off this space, which makes it convenient and private for either your kids or your guests to enjoy.

This master suite gives you the sun, the moon and the stars. Generous windows bring the serene lakefront right indoors. The bedroom’s “floating” beamed ceiling continues the Hill Country modern theme. LED Inspirations provided the LED lights that provide the glow of the floating beams. And an open coffee bar makes this an island of calm before greeting a busy day.

This master suite gives you the sun, the moon and the stars. Generous windows bring the serene lakefront right indoors. The bedroom’s “floating” beamed ceiling continues the Hill Country modern theme. LED Inspirations provided the LED lights that provide the glow of the floating beams. And an open coffee bar makes this an island of calm before greeting a busy day.

The master bath features a graceful oval-shaped air tub by Aquatic, placed atop real Calacatta marble laid in a herringbone pattern. Above – natural daylight filters in through a Velux “sun tunnel.” And at night, you’ll have your own personal stars overhead thanks to the built-in fiber optics. And for a touch of whimsical romance, above the tub is a niche with an antique distressed mirror that reflects a candle detail. In the far left background, her separate dressing area is a glamorous personal space, with custom vanity and cabinets designed to keep everything in its perfect place.

The master bath features a graceful oval-shaped air tub by Aquatic, placed atop real Calacatta marble laid in a herringbone pattern. Above – natural daylight filters in through a Velux “sun tunnel.” And at night, you’ll have your own personal stars overhead thanks to the built-in fiber optics. And for a touch of whimsical romance, above the tub is a niche with an antique distressed mirror that reflects a candle detail. In the far left background, her separate dressing area is a glamorous personal space, with custom vanity and cabinets designed to keep everything in its perfect place.


Hill Country Comfort


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