419 Tower Drive
April 19, 2007
When many people hire an architect to renovate or add on to an existing house, they put a substantial amount of thought into resale value—how many bedrooms and bathrooms to add for a future owner, what kind of amenities a family would need to make the house a solid investment, etc. For Kathy Kich, who hired San Antonio–based Sprinkle Robey Architects to renovate and expand her 2,178-square-foot, one-bedroom, gabled-roof house on a deep, narrow 2.25-acre site in the hills near San Antonio, she was only thinking about how to make this home perfect for herself, and then, later, her husband. “I lived in the original house for four years,” says Kich, “so I knew exactly how I wanted it to be. Then I got married during the process, and since Gary and I have the same taste, he liked the plans and we went forward with the design.”
With starts and stops along the four-year design phase (Kich owns an ad agency, and was restructuring her company simultaneously) the 1960s bachelorette-pad was remade into a 3,440-square foot nest for two, with a boxlike addition to the north (a media room/study that doubles as a second bedroom when needed) and one to the south (the master bedroom suite that doubles as Kich’s office). “For Kathy it was all about efficient use of space,” says project manager Jeff Langham. The original stucco house looked unassuming from the outside, but inside, the living space was more impressive then a passerby might think, with a terrazzo floor, a wall of glass, an imposing 12-foot fireplace, a fieldstone wall, and a cathedral ceiling. Kich wanted to keep this living space intact, so the architects left the kitchen alone, and retained and added to the fieldstone wall (“It’s amazing how seamless the added fieldstone is,” says Kich. “Even I can barely tell anymore where the old stone stops and the new stone starts.”), mimicking it on the south bedroom wing to provide balance and weight to the addition. They also echoed the glass wall throughout the renovation, providing ample views out to the distinct vernacular plantings surrounding the home.
As with most projects, budget was an issue, so the architects used varying claddings on the additions rather than expensive fieldstone throughout. Sheet metal and stucco were the materials of choice. Galvanized steel sunshades complete the modern additions and provide a place for jasmine and trumpet vines to climb.
The clean interior boasts simple materials such as red-oak plank floors and custom birch millwork that provides large amounts of built-in storage without adding closets. The new guest suite/office even has a Murphy bed to keep the space as versatile as possible. For Kich, adaptability of space was paramount for all rooms, except one—the master bathroom. “The bathroom is my favorite place,” says Kich of the decadently large, tiled room, which has a double-sized tub, a step-down double shower, Mexican onyx countertops, and a glass wall looking out on the backyard and its Japanese garden and koi pond. “There are no neighbors to see in, so we have complete privacy,” she says. That openness continues through the home, with windows everywhere.
Outside, a detached stone carport is almost invisible behind bamboo plants. A 7-foot stone wall surrounds the backyard, keeping the pool and cabana safe from the many deer that frequent the neighborhood. “Deer won’t jump over something they can’t see over,” says Kich, “so we like to let them roam in the front of the house, but keep the back for ourselves and the dog.” She’s held four weddings at the house so far, including her own, and says that as a home for entertaining, this one is perfect. “It’s just right for how we live, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Will you be in San Antonio, Texas for the AIA’s National Convention May 3-5? Take a drive by this unique renovation and addition, located at 419 Tower Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78232.