Hill Country Aerie: Villa is perfect home away from home

The drive from the entry of Cordillera Ranch to the Villas of Di Lusso is quite enjoyable in the late afternoon, when the long golden rays of the sun stretch across the undulating hills. Long shadows from the oak trees spill across the winding road that climbs up the rise and ends at the wrought iron gates. Light breezes blow across this hilltop, and the panorama is magnificent. Les and Terrie Whitman live in a Tuscan-style home in this new enclave. It’s a home away from home for them; they own a ranch in Waxahachie, Texas. A separate business requires traveling all over the country, including South Texas, and they value the “down” time they spend here. “We took possession of this house on Dec. 26, 2010,” Terrie says. “By New Year’s Eve, we were ready to celebrate our new home with our whole family. It was a great event!” The semi-custom 4,100-square-foot home sits on a quarter of an acre, surrounded by a wrought iron fence that keeps pets in and wildlife out — but within view. The home’s exterior is a cave stone and stucco mix with an imported clay tile roof. Pasadera Builders handled the design and construction.

Les and Terrie were drawn to Di Lusso at Cordillera Ranch by the countryside and the enclave’s “lock and leave” convenience — very attractive for travelers like the Whitmans. Exterior landscaping is maintained for all Di Lusso residents. Home interior functions, including utilities, are designed to be remotely controlled. The couple enjoy the lifestyle, too. They can dine at the clubhouse, the spa and the golf course, all within walking distance. An equestrian center is also available to stable Terrie’s horses, should she bring them with her from the ranch.

Building a relationship

“Pasadera Builders were great to work with,” Terrie says. “Les and I have constructed a lot of buildings over the years, between homes and work projects. I designed our ranch house. So I know what I like — open airiness and a simple floor plan. The people at Pasadera worked with us for many hours to get the floor plan and the fixtures just the way we wanted them.” Pasadera Builders’ Gabriel Garcia emphasized the importance of the working relationship the company had with the couple. “We were together a great deal during the design process,” he comments. “Terrie had lots of ideas about what she wanted in the house. We’d get close to finishing the design, and she’d have new ideas — and they’d improve the home, so we’d make changes. Then we’d have suggestions, so we’d work on those items. The whole building process is one of ideas, estimates and creativity.”

Fine finishing

The Whitman home is high quality and energy efficient. The tile floors are imported travertine with a leathered finish. The travertine is mud set, allowing a laying pattern only available using Old World methods. Where tile isn’t used, flooring is of solid hickory pecan, installed in the traditional fashion — not glued down. The windows, by Kolbe, are solid wood on the interior with aluminum exteriors. All the interior doors are solid mahogany. A spacious walled courtyard surrounds the home’s entry. It provides an outdoor living area and a private refuge and is accented by a fountain, gas lanterns and a beautiful bronze statue of two children waiting by their mailbox for a letter. “We landscaped so that our grandchildren will eventually be able to ride tricycles around the tree in the center,” Terrie says. “They’ll have a safe place to ride, and I won’t have to run far chasing them.” The living/dining area features high ceilings and windows offering a wonderful view from any vantage point. A pass-through kitchen counter keeps everyone included in the action. The kitchen is Les’s domain; he likes to cook. He chose the red vintage-style Heartland appliances. “We originally wanted them for our ranch house, but they were too big for the kitchen,” Terrie says. “We were really pleased when they fit here.”

A wide back porch with an outdoor kitchen and big-screen television runs nearly the length of the house. The family gathers here and around the fire pit for barbecues and special occasions. “The best place here in the fall is the fire pit, when the flames are leaping and it is pitch dark,” Terrie says. “I love sitting here with the crackle of the fire and the stars overhead.” The couple share the study, which they use as an office. The walls are accented with faux-painted weathered brick and ivy. “This is something Les has always liked, so we incorporated the idea when we designed this space,” she says. Across the hall is Terrie’s exercise studio, complete with special flooring and surge protectors. The master suite accesses a flagstone patio through French doors. High ceilings and windows provide the perfect foil for the large carved bed and matching night chests.

The travertine-tiled master bath has raised his-and-hers vanities with marble counters. The walk-in shower has thermostatically controlled shower valves and multiple fixtures. Water is heated using a hybrid water heater that is 98-percent efficient, constantly circulating hot water so no one ever waits for hot water anywhere in the house. The walk-in closet is a custom design, and the millwork matches that found in the rest of the home. Track lighting and a large window illuminate the space. Three guest suites easily accommodate visiting family and friends.

A beautiful wooden staircase leads to the reading room, furnished with overstuffed sofas. Built-in bookcases line one wall; natural light filters from large windows overlooking the courtyard. The utility room is spacious by anyone’s standards. Granite countertops provide plenty of workspace, and cabinets are in abundance. Across the hall is a special room built to care for Terrie’s dogs. The waist-high sink is big enough to hold a medium-sized canine with ease. The dogs’ crates are housed in this room. There’s also a Sub-Zero refrigerator and wine cooler that’s not for the dogs.

“I just love my house,” Terrie says. “I get excited every time I come here. I enjoy the grounds, my neighbors — everything about this place. It’s a treat to live here.”

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