Many residential designs reference the surrounding landscape, but River Ranch by Jobe Corral Architects is literally made from the surrounding landscape.
"Looking at the land itself, that’s where the idea of rammed earth came in," explains principal Ada Corral of this 3,592-square-foot home in Texas’s rugged Hill Country, constructed with the help of Pilgrim Building Company, which features a striking outer wall made from compacted layers of decomposed granite, cement, sand and water. "The very first thing we found out was how much the homeowners loved the land. It’s harsh, and it’s beautiful."
It took five different prototypes for Corral and co-founder Camille Jobe to land on the right mix of aggregate for the wall (including locally sourced, decomposed granite) but the result is a gorgeous variegated surface, an ombré sunset of clay reds and earthy rust hues that wraps around three-quarters of the house, bridging nature and architecture. "It’s like a protective outline for the building," says Corral.
Though one of the homeowners is very outdoorsy—a down-to-earth fly fisherwoman—her partner is a super-modernist who loves the city. To please both women, the ranch home’s interior design reflects modern principles (light, airy, clean lines aplenty) while remaining rooted in texture and, as Jobe puts it, "a feeling of how things are crafted and put together."
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In keeping with the aesthetic of the handmade walls ("The walls are the boss," laughs Jobe), every piece of furniture or accessory adds a layer of tactility and warmth, from the copper hood vent to the custom leather headboard.
The remainder of the building’s walls are glass, and face a courtyard partially covered by trellises—a nod to the shade-giving branches of the nearby oak trees. Here, a fire pit and 10-foot-deep lap pool await. "When you open up the giant sliding doors, the pool is essentially in the living room," says Jobe. That living room is part of an open-concept common area—complete with a warm, welcoming kitchen and dining space—that links two distinct wings of the house.
There’s the homeowner’s bedroom (complete with an attached covered patio for sleeping outdoors) and a cozy office on the north side of the home. The east-west section of the home houses the guest wing, including a bathroom that connects to the pool for a quick cleanup post-dip.
But no matter when you are in the home, the stunning view awaits: through the sweeping sliding glass doors, or the clandestine slot windows built into the rammed-earth walls, which reveal an enticing sliver of the sky or a view of the fire pit or mighty oak tree. "Everywhere you are," says Corral, "you’re connected."