Art and Carey Yeager build the house of their dreams
Cordillera Ranch is an exclusive master-planned community on 8,700 acres of some of the finest Hill Country heaven you can find.
“We were drawn to the Texas Hill Country and Cordillera Ranch for many reasons, but at the top of our list was the privacy of the area, the spectacular golf course club amenities, the lovely people and close proximity to family.” That may sound like an advertisement, but it’s the sentiment shared by Art and Carey Yeager, two California transplants who love their Cordillera home.
Carey was a Southern California real estate professional for approximately 33 years, and Art was retired from the corporate world when they began looking for a Hill Country home five years ago. Art had been stationed with the Air Force in San Antonio prior to and after a tour in Vietnam and has a daughter and two grandchildren living here.
“This is our house of houses,” Carey says. “We spent a great deal of time talking about the kind of house we wanted to build, the architectural details and the finishes. Art and I were very specific in these discussions, and by the time we were ready to move forward with the home design, we knew exactly what we wanted.”
In the selection of Damon Christofilis of Burdick and Chrisofilis, Ltd. as their builder, the couple entered the building process with a high level of expectation. “Damon and his superintendent, Jason Hirt, not only exceeded those expectations but gave us a wonderful and successful experience,” Carey says.
Through Damon the Yeagers met Barbara Berger of Studio Domaine Interior Design, who handled their design requirements and won the prestigious 2015 Summit Award for this home.
Because Art and Carey had done so much preliminary thinking on their home, they were able to hand a fairly complete outline of their requirements to Damon and Barbara. The approximately 4,600-square-foot home was completed with no major design changes — something rarely heard of in custom homes.
“This is a refined Hill Country home,” Carey says. “It’s very eclectic and transitional, both in furnishing and architecturally. We’d had a Tuscan home in California and didn’t want that again. We wanted something lighter, something that would feature the beautiful views we have. At the same time, we didn’t want a house that looked like everyone else’s.”
Thus, all the granites used throughout the house are different; there are no repeats in any room. Arches are a repetitive theme, as are the ceiling beams. All the wrought iron in the home is hand-made and one-of-a-kind. There are four fireplaces and a variety of ceiling treatments throughout the home.
“Our goal was a flow that is comfortable, relaxing and functional, not just a home for show,” Carey says.
Access is achieved through a wrought iron gate entering the courtyard, where the arch motif begins in the fencing and continues through the front door. A fountain in the midst of ferns and roses burbles in time to the birdsong in the background.
The bronze sconces flanking the front doors came from their previous home. The heavy arched front doors are of bronze and glass, providing a peek into the spectacular entry hall.
The entry is well-proportioned, with tall bay windows pouring natural light onto the baby grand piano. Polished travertine insets in the limestone floor are matched to the black tones in the piano. The groin vault ceiling is painted in gold with muted black flecks. Arches lead down the hall, marking entrances to rooms.
To the right of the entry hall is a guest room. Silver accents are used throughout, from fabrics to furniture. The upholstered headboard is custom-made with a chair to match. The bed base is upholstered in the same fabric. Deep moldings tie the ceiling and walls together.
The guest bath features two vessel sinks and a sunny walk-in shower. The floor is made of tile that appears to be reclaimed wood, a theme carried into the shower walls. The large rectangular mirror over the vanity is framed in tiny wood squares. Opposite the vanity is a cowhide bench beneath a painting of bison.
“I really like the way the colors in the bison painting tie in with the granite countertop,” Carey says. “I’m also taken with the glass vessel sinks that look like wood; they repeat the wood pattern found in the floors and shower walls.”
Across the hall is Art’s office. This masculine room features hardwood floors, built-in cabinets, a large stone fireplace and one wall of ceiling-height windows. The coffered ceiling lends an Old World feeling. Taking pride of place in this room is a series of clown serigraphs created and signed by Red Skelton. Each picture has a story associated with it. Comedian Skelton was known for his smiling, lovable clowns, and his art is highly collectible.
To the left of the entry hall is the dining room, the most formal room in the house. The golden barrel ceiling presides over an alabaster chandelier. The rectangular table seats eight. The Mediterranean painting hanging over the adjacent buffet is an original by a Palm Springs artist. The tall window at the far end of the room is accented by treatments hung from medallions.
What is the small window framed in brick and iron for? “It lets you peek into the wine cellar,” says Carey. “I didn’t want to hang a picture there; anyone could do that. How many people can peer into a wine cellar from their dining room?”
The hallway terminates at the bar, a popular spot for entertaining. The curved bar, surfaced in granite, offers seating for four. Woven into the stools’ fabric are recipes for making cosmopolitans. Behind the bar, the wall is faced with wood paneling and wainscoting, providing a good backdrop for the antique barware cabinet.
Hanging over the sink is a painting of a bar scene. “This is by San Diego artist Michael Flohr,” says Carey. “We bought it when he was first getting his start in the art world. We have three of his impressionistic restaurant scenes.”
Left of the bar is the wine cellar. Within the wine cellar are two antique chairs, positioned beneath a small handmade chandelier.
Beyond the bar is the kitchen and great room. Carey spent a great deal of time researching design elements for the kitchen because she loves to cook and entertain. “I wanted a working kitchen,” she says. “It had to be functional and beautiful, which is a tall order.”
The six-burner Wolf stove and oven combination features a griddle and a separate convection oven. There’s a warming drawer and refrigerator drawers built into the island. The island prep sink is convenient to the refrigerator.
The kitchen feature she especially likes is the range hood. She didn’t want a wall of limestone or tile, like other houses she’d seen. Instead, she designed a faux stone hood built into a niched cabinet wall featuring tall artistic vases and glassware. “Again, functional and beautiful!” Carey exclaims. The kitchen is separated from the breakfast nook and great room by a long semi-circular bar seating five. The bar and kitchen countertop is one very long, heavy piece of granite with special beveled edges. The breakfast nook is centered beneath a domed ceiling. The graceful chandelier hangs over a round wooden custom-made table. The bay windows provide great lighting for another Flohr painting.
“We searched and searched for a chandelier that wouldn’t impede our view,” she says.“I wanted something to be in balance with the room and complementary to the table. When we found this, I knew it would be perfect.”
The great room features an entire wall made of ledge stone laid in linear sheets. The corner fireplace has a long, narrow hearth of black granite with a leather finish and chiseled edge. Furnishings include a generous sectional, two leather chairs, custom coffee table and cowhide ottomans.
The great room opens onto an expansive patio area complete with two dining areas and a grill kitchenette. An outdoor television near a fireplace offers a cozy space to watch a football game on a cool fall day.
A rectangular pool and spa are the focus of the backyard, as is the expansive view over the golf course and hills beyond. To the right of the pool and down some steps is another seating area, facing a stone angel built into the wall of the house. “That’s a seraphim angel,” Carey says. “She has moved to every house we’ve lived in. “
Nearby is an unusual blue gate the Yeagers installed between their property and the neighbors for architectural interest and privacy.
The spacious master bedroom is slightly more formal than the other bedrooms. The handcrafted floor-to-ceiling limestone fireplace provides warmth and ambience on cool evenings. The stepped ceiling is curved to mimic the arches throughout the house. Taupe gold is the theme of the bedding and padded headboard. A nearby chaise sits beneath two Paris street scenes by Jean Faurege.
“Our master bath is fun!” Carey exclaims. It’s easy to see why. Large windows in two walls open onto Hill Country views. In the evening, rope lighting along the step ceiling highlights the wide glass-walled double shower. The large slipper tub inspires visions of relaxing bubble baths.
“We have his and her sides of the room,” Carey says. Both sides, however, have marble countertops in addition to custom-made mirrors and cabinets.
The large walk-in closet is a shared space that is highly organized with double rods and built-in drawers. There’s not a shoe out of place. The second guest room features twin beds.
“Good for the granddaughters,” Carey explains. It’s a simple room, with tall, custom-made headboards that lead the eye to the miter ceiling. This guest room’s bath also has a walk-in shower with walls of limestone tile and a bench seat. Sunlight streams into the shower through a small clerestory window. The vanity backsplash tile matches that of the bench seat. A tall sconce made of horn provides ambient lighting for the room.
LABOR OF LOVE
The Yaegers put a lot of thought into their home, and a lot of love went into building it.
“Damon’s team poured so much care into this home’s construction, and we love them for it,” Carey says. “Every detail has a story behind it, a purpose for inclusion. We want our friends and our family to be comfortable here, to feel loved the minute they cross the threshold. I know it sounds corny, but this is our Hill Country haven.”