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The Outpost

New house under construction on 25 acres south of Fredericksburg, Texas. Nestled into the edge of a grove of live oaks, the house is a compound of three buildings, each housing the main functions: living/cooking/eating, sleeping, and support (laundry, mechanical, gym, and garage). The owner's office is in a tower above the support building, with a lookout deck on top of the tower. A cloistered courtyard ties the buildings together and also ties the compound to its natural surrounding -- the grove of oaks acts as the fourth "wall" of the courtyard. The courtyard will have a fire pit, small pool, and bocce court. And a hammock! All rooms open to the natural surroundings, with windows, sliding glass doors, and porches, connecting the owners to the wild, bucolic landscape. The builder is KoviakBuilt Homes of Boerne, Texas.

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO View from the Southwest. The pod on the right houses the kitchen, dining, and living space. The pod on the left houses the garage, laundry, gym, and office above. The third pod, obscured from view, houses the two bedroom suites. The three pods are connected by a continuous breezeway that surrounds an inner courtyard.

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The half-mile road and parking area are made of recycled bits of crushed and chopped asphalt from former roadways and temporary construction roads. A local mill processes the large chunks into smaller, gravel-sized bits. The motorcycle is a 1974 BMW R90S.

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View from driveway looking toward the great room wing showing kitchen window and covered porch. Entry to the house and courtyard is through the pivot gate to the left of great room wing.

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Entrance from the driveway to the inner courtyard through a perforated metal pivot gate.

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Completed courtyard. Next phase we will add fire pit and small pool.

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This shot is taken from the courtyard, looking through the great room, and out the covered porch to the hills beyond. The Great Room can open to both the porch and the courtyard by sliding open the 24-foot walls of glass panels.

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Great Room looking toward kitchen. To the left a 12'-deep flagstone porch with long views to the horizon. The interior wall paneling and built-in cabinetry are walnut.

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Close up of the kitchen, with built-in cabinetry space behind the walnut paneling. Twin freezer (left) and fridge (right) . Gas cooktop and electric oven below. Using a separate cooktop and oven instead of a range is an aesthetic detail that keeps the visual line of the counter top uninterrupted.

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO The 12-foot-deep flag stone porch runs the 35-foot length of the great room. The horizontal bars at the roof overhang are for flowering vines that will be planted after the construction debris is cleared off the surrounding landscape. The covered form on the left is a chair. The furniture arrived before construction was complete.

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The land around the house has been left wild. Any new plants will be Texas native and drought resistant, obviating the need for watering.

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This photo was taken during an unusual (for central Texas) ice storm in 2021. The tall native grasses were turned into a field of ice straws. When I walked through them, it sounded like breaking glass.

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO Looking into courtyard through a secondary courtyard entrance between the great room and bedroom wings. The office tower is in the background.

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Entry to the garage from the courtyard is through the black door (left of center). The garage features two orange colored overhead doors -- one off the driveway, and another (shown) on the opposite side that opens onto the courtyard. This allows the garage, with the cars removed and both doors rolled up, to be used as a covered outdoor entertainment space in concert with the courtyard. The Great Room can also open to the courtyard by sliding open the 24-foot wall of glass panels, adding to the open flow between the buildings and the courtyard.

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Great Room wing is on the right, bedroom wing on the left. Covered walkways connect the three wings of the house. Openings between wings can be enclosed by pivot gates.

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We designed the bed frames and night stands to match the walnut paneling.

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Master bath.

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The bedrooms open onto their own private porches. The sliding glass doors pull away from the corner to bring the outside in. We designed the platform bed and built-in night stands using the same walnut panels as the wall, melding the bed and wall into an aesthetic whole.

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Corner of the master bedroom where the glass walls roll away to open the bedroom to the covered porch and the wild landscape.

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO One end of the courtyard opens to a mott of live oaks.

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Guest bedroom. The glass panels slide away from the corner to open the bedroom to a private porch and the wild landscape.

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO The service wing houses the garage, gym, and office tower. The tower has a roof deck at the very top. Large rocks were dug up on site to be used for landings for the many doors that open the house to the natural surroundings. The areas of the site disturbed by construction will be reclaimed by seeding it with native grasses and wildflowers.

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View from the courtyard looking toward the office tower and observation deck. The large orange panel is an overhead door that allows the garage space to be converted into a covered outdoor party space that spills onto the courtyard.

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Utility room employs same walnut cabinetry as the rest of the house. There is a framed needlepoint on the counter that reads, "WARNING: This is proof that I have the patience to stab something 1000 times." Stairs lead to an upstairs office and roof decks.

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO Stairs to the tower office. We used plain, southern yellow pine, but crafted the details. Notice that the bottom three angled treads have the wood grain oriented to match the regular treads. The ends of the regular tread boards are mitered at the ends and run vertically down to the floor. .

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CONSTRUCTION PHOTO The pine stairs morph into the tower office floor. Notice how the 12"-wide stair treads turn 90 degrees vertically and run up the wall, then turn 90 degrees horizontal to become the floor of the office. The floor boards then run vertically up the far wall under the window and turn again 90 degrees horizontally to become the window sill. The carpenters really enjoyed (I think!) crafting the stairs and the room. The office desk is also crafted of southern yellow pine boards, and morphs out of the floor.

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Finished office space on the second floor of the service wing. Photo was taken during a rare central Texas snow storm.

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Second floor office space. Steps (foreground) lead to exterior roof deck. Stairs lead down to ground level. The industrial railings are made of galvanized steel pipe and Kee Klamp pipe fittings.

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Second floor office opens onto a roof deck with aluminum boat dock stairs leading to an observation deck on the upper roof.

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The payoff after all that climbing -- the observation deck at third floor level of the tower.

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Early conceptual sketches for the layout of the house. At this stage the house is starting to break up into the main functions (sleeping, living, garage/office) into separate buildings.

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Conceptual sketch for the building that contains the kitchen, dining, and living. Notice the use of brick for the exterior at this early stage, when we were channeling 1950s and '60s mid-century modern minimalism. Philip Johnson's early house designs were an inspiration.

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Getting the feel for the courtyard that ties together the three buildings to form the compound. The "Pavilion" building, which would become the great room, has glass walls on both sides to frame the view of the woods beyond. The lower sketch is a cross-section of the courtyard, with vine-covered trellised walkways, which were ultimately changed to solid roofs in case of rainy weather.

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The basic conceptual layout of the house is finalized.

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The conceptual layout (previous) was used to create the final Floor Plan on computer for the construction drawings.

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Exterior Elevation Drawings showing the facades of the house.

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Exterior Elevations Drawings

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Sections through the buildings

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The sun, low in the sky at the end of the day, bathing the house with its golden light. PHOTO Steve Gelinski