A Restarter Home
San Antonio Family Bulldozes Their Old House to Build a Dream Home
By Steve Bennett
Photography by Matthew Niemann
When a Shavano Park couple decided to remodel their aging house, it didn’t take long to realize that for a comparable cost, they could build a new home on the same shady 2-acre lot, in the neighborhood that they loved. They could also keep their pool and cabana. So, they tore down the old castle and started from scratch.
“Their old house was very pretty, but they felt it was dated and wanted something new,” said Roberto Kenigstein, founder of Image Homes, builder of the new house.
Image, one of the city’s most sought-after luxury builders, typically constructs homes on the north side of San Antonio ranging from 3,000 to 19,000 square feet, priced from $500,000 to $5 million.
“The new home is very high-end,” he said.
Kenigstein refers to the exterior style of the home — whose owners asked not to be identified or interviewed — as “Hill Country contemporary,” featuring metal roofing and a skin of warm gray Lueders limestone, a native stone quarried in North Texas.
Designer Lori Caldwell of Lori Caldwell Designs brought that stone into the entry foyer in dry-stacked (without mortar) walls set against a patterned Burlington gray and Avalon white marble tiled floor in an original, hand-cut design. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition.
“A home’s interior design should be in balance with the architecture,” Caldwell said. “So, what we were looking for in this home is the marriage of a modern aesthetic with a more transitional feel, a blend of traditional and modern that is timeless.”
According to Caldwell, the couple toured an Image spec home and really liked what they saw.
“There was an opportunity to take what was in the spec home and really make it theirs,” she said. “Why look like somebody else’s house?”
The color palette throughout the 6,800-square-foot, four-bedroom Shavano home is muted whites and grays, with porcelain white floor tiling and engineered hardwoods with gray tint throughout, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray walls, and pure white for the coffered ceilings, trim, and doors.
“The artwork in the house, which is very contemporary, provides a lot of color and conversation,” Caldwell said.
Throughout the house, the custom furniture is by Vanguard, and the rugs are from Loloi.
The heart of the home is the great room and kitchen area, with massive wood and steel trusses — a mix of rustic and cutting edge — supporting a 25-foot ceiling.
On either side of the Lueders stone fireplace, with a Nero Marquina black marble surround, are two bombastic abstract paintings by Houston artist Howard Sherman.
“The owners, especially the husband, are art collectors,” Caldwell said. “He loves cutting-edge art.”
The voluminous space manages to remain airy thanks to eight-foot windows overlooking a courtyard on one side, with sliding glass doors leading to the pool area on the other. Sunlight also floods into the room through small rectangular windows near the soaring ceiling.
“We used lighter colors on the walls and ceilings so that it wouldn’t have a heavy feel, and there’s a lot of light that flows into the house,” Caldwell said.
At the opposite end of the room, the kitchen features pure white cabinetry, a gray and white Calacatta Borghini marble island, stainless steel appliances, and an intricate Mosaïque Surface backsplash, with contrasting Delta black honed granite countertops.
“The kitchen is really important because you spend as much time there as in the master suite, at least when you’re awake, and that’s where guests congregate,” Caldwell said.
The sexiest room in the house must be the master bathroom, with hand-crafted blue Lunada Bay glass tiles in a herringbone brick pattern framing a window over a custom tub.
“It really is a sanctuary,” Caldwell said.
Contemplating Hill Country flora and fauna while soaking in that tub must go a long way toward relieving some of the stress of the past year.
“I remember having a couple of our initial meetings on the interior design without masks, but most of it was done during the pandemic,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell, whose design vocabulary is simple, elegant, and sophisticated, believes the designer’s primary role is to be a good listener.
“It’s not just about aesthetics, but about functionality,” she said. “Everybody has their own sense of style — just as they have budgetary concerns — and at the end of the day, if a client doesn’t love their house, I haven’t done my job. And the best way to do that is to listen to what they’re saying, to pay attention, from what a client is wearing to pets they may have.”
A native Texan, Steve Bennett has written about art, architecture and books for more than 30 years, working for the San Antonio Light, Express-News and Austin American-Statesman. Currently a freelance writer and editor, Steve makes a mean dish of green enchiladas and believes there aren’t many better things in life than the drawings of Vincent Valdez and the Berlin noir detective novels of Philip Kerr.