Contemporary Home for International Family Made for family entertaining

Tanya and Joe Espinoza’s handsome home in Garden Ridge stands out as the only contemporary house in the gated community. Perched atop the end of a cul-de-sac, it affords a beautiful view from both the front and the back of the structure. The Espinoza family is new to the neighborhood; they moved in at the beginning of the year. Before that, they lived in New Braunfels. “We wanted to live closer to San Antonio, and we passed this neighborhood every day,” Tanya says. “It was very appealing. We found the right lot and decided to build.” They chose Francisco Mañon as their architect and Jorge Aburto as their builder. Liz Light of LizLight Interiors coordinated the home’s interior design. Tanya knows that the home’s contemporary design is unusual in this area, but it’s quite familiar to her. “We are from Monterrey, so this kind of home design has been used there for more than 10 years,” she says. “Joe and I like it. Living in Monterrey, we had access to many cultural channels from around the world, so we picked up trends quickly. Everything gets to Monterrey before it comes to the States,” she chuckles.
The focal point for the home was family entertaining. “We have three very young children and lots of family that comes to visit,” Tanya says. “We wanted the design to be beautiful but flexible enough to meet everyone’s needs.”

HOme-Living-roomSo many choices
When it comes to building a home, there are so many choices to be made. “Liz helped us choose the materials for the house,” Tanya says. “We had some ideas from looking through the Internet, but Liz was able to lay out samples for us to see and feel. We had a clear idea of what we wanted; after looking at samples, she took us to her supplier to pick everything.” They chose stucco and stone for the exterior elevation. The imposing front door is of wood with thin horizontal slats of frosted glass. Crossing the threshold into the soaring rotunda, visitors are struck by the magnificent chandelier sparkling from the ceiling. “All the lighting came from Lighting Inc.,” says Liz. “This particular chandelier is a teardrop design with 13 layers of crystals. The circular design echoes the shape of the rotunda.” Two art niches backed in cut travertine provide foils for the art they display. “I think the travertine adds texture and reflects the color palette we used in the house,” Liz says. The curved staircase winds upstairs, bringing visitors to eye level with the chandelier. It’s as impressive up there as it is down below.

Family media room
To the right of the foyer are Joe’s home office and a guest room. The star of this wing, though, is the family’s media room with theater seating and a 60-inch flat screen television. The back of the room features a refrigerator, microwave, sink and popcorn machine. “For us, this takes the place of a traditional family room,” Tanya says. “We love to hang out here in the evenings.” When the grownups want to entertain their friends in the media room, the kids can go next door to the game room. This large space offers room for rough and tumble play, art projects and video games. One wall features a triptych of a Mexican train. Three large velvet rectangles spaced on the adjoining wall serve as display boards for art and crafts. When it’s time for cleanup and snacks, there’s a kitchen and sink in the corner of the room.

Elegant living and dining
The elegant living room is an open plan with a soaring two-story ceiling. The north wall consists of several industrial-grade store-front windows that flood the room with light. The room is floored with dark Brazilian chestnut planks that wrap up the eastern wall. Across the room, the wall is constructed of mosaic stone tile. At the center of the wall is a gas fireplace with a family portrait above. A baby grand piano corners the room, backing up to glass sliders that open onto the rear patio. Above the piano hangs an impressive trio of ball-shaped chandeliers in three sizes. Black leather seating divides the room into leisure and dining spaces. The long dining table is custom made of plank walnut and seats eight. Six upholstered chairs in neutral tones flank the table, and two wing chairs in patterned upholstery sit at either end. A horizontal S-shaped crystal fixture lights the area. The kitchen is the heart of this home, and it is where Tanya and her children spend much of the day. A pocket door opens from the hall into this spacious, airy room. Knotty alder cabinetry provides lots of storage. For the busy mom, the Viking appliances make meal preparation a snap. The double-wide freezer and refrigerator, microwave, steam oven and warming drawer see lots of activity during family gatherings. The Thermador coffee bar is popular, too.

Home-kitchenDiningThe large six-burner stainless Viking stove is centered on an adjacent wall. The backsplash is a combination of honed and polished mosaic tile. Opposite the oven and cooktop is a large island containing two dishwashers and a deep sink. The counter is made of double thicknesses of white Thassos marble with a waterfall edge. Three cylindrical pendants hang over the island. The kitchen has an upholstered banquette nook with storage beneath the seat. “The kids love this,” Tanya says. “They have their own tables and pillows for meals. Right now they use it as a stage, though.” The wooden kitchen table seats six and overlooks large wood-framed sliding glass doors that open onto the outdoor kitchen and pool. “We have a large lot, so there’s plenty of room back here for the kids to run,” Tanya says. She crosses the room and opens what appears to be a cabinet door. “Here is my lifesaver,” she says. “This dumbwaiter saves so many steps up and down stairs.”
Off the kitchen are the butler’s pantry, utility room and Tanya’s office.

The children’s corner
The back stairs lead up from the kitchen to the children’s creative corner. This L-shaped space features a comfy couch beneath a portrait of Barbie, Tanya’s daughter. Across the room is a computer station made of a long counter with outlets for multiple machines. There are lots of drawers and a huge storage closet full of toys, Christmas decorations and whatnot. “I like to hide everything,” Tanya says with a smile. “I like things to be neat.” Down the hall from the kids’ creative corner is the master suite, a long rectangular room decorated in shades of beige and gray. French doors open onto a large private deck that runs the length of the house. “This is the mommy/daddy hangout,” Liz says. “No kids allowed!” The room is simply furnished, with a king-sized bed, chair and bedside commodes. A marble counter to the left of the bathroom door sits atop a small refrigerator and cabinet. The backsplash is mosaic stone and glass. The master bath is dominated by a large square whirlpool tub with lighting beneath its ledge. The adjacent wall is of cut travertine mosaic tile. A large television hangs above. “My kids love to come in here to bathe,” Tanya says. “This is one of their favorite spots in the house.” Adjacent to the tub is a walk-in shower floored in ceramic tile. A rain showerhead and hand-held fixtures provide bathing options. Liz used the cut travertine tile for the walls to continue the look and feel of the bath.

His-and-her lavatories are located to the right of the bath and opposite each other. Knotty alder cabinetry holds daily necessities. At the far end of the bath are his-and-her closets, one within the other. The closets are marvels of organization, with dressers and closet components constructed of knotty alder. Every piece of clothing, every pair of shoes, is in perfect order. The children’s rooms are down the hall from the master suite. Each bedroom has its own bath and walk-in closet. They are simply decorated, each with its own bit of whimsy. “Joe and I love this house,” Tanya says. “It’s been a lot of work to build and decorate it, but we’ve had great people working with us. I couldn’t have done it without Liz — she’s been here every step of the way with us. What we’ve made is a home that really suits our family.”

By Robyn Barnes
Photography by Al Rendon

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