By Laura Samuel Meyn
Photos by Jenifer McNeil Baker
What does a builder call a contemporary hilltop house that’s family-friendly, designed for entertaining and boasts views for miles? Home.
Oversize rectangular concrete stepping stones in a bed of black river rock lead up to the sprawling modern one-story house, situated high on a hill in west Fort Worth. The smooth ivory-tone cement stucco exterior is contrasted by a dark metal raised-seam roof; strategically placed large windows make the most of the miles of north and northwest views — both wooded and urban. All those cool, clean lines are warmed by the stacked Oklahoma stone accents on portions of the facade, the chimney and a charming garden wall enclosing a front courtyard.
When longtime custom homebuilder Bryan Braswell and wife Christi began planning for the build, they knew that they wanted a sleek yet casual space for their family, which includes their 8-year-old son, Roman. They also knew that the home would need to work well for entertaining; in addition to hosting family and friends, the Braswells regularly welcome prospective clients and vendors, as each current home — builders tend to move frequently — serves as the most accessible example of Bryan’s work.
With the goal of keeping things light and open, and capturing as much of the view as possible, Scott Watson of FW Architects drew the plans for a generously sized four-bedroom house, while Bryan used his considerable experience to maximize comfort inside and out. “We designed the house in the shape of a T; most of the window views are to the north to keep the sun out,” Bryan says. “It’s pretty windy up here, so we made a patio that’s inset.” Large entertaining spaces were central to the design, as was a more unusual party feature — a separate prep kitchen that keeps catering behind the scenes, leaving the family kitchen clean and serene in the open-concept home.
Bryan knew who to call for planning out the finishes and furnishings; Candace Salazar, a senior designer at Jessica McIntyre Interiors, designed two of the family’s previous homes — and those of several Braswell Homes clients, too. She already knew Bryan and Christi’s casual style, preference for easy-care surfaces (in addition to their young son, they also have two dogs) and openness to the occasional bold design statement.
Both builder and designer were dedicated to ensuring everything about the home flows in a welcoming way. Guests stepping into the entry hall find sightlines through the house reveal a patio and pool area beyond sliding glass doors. Following the entryway to the left, they pass a glass-enclosed collection of wine; on the other side of the wine wall, the dining room is anchored by a live-edge table.
The dining room faces the open kitchen, where Candace met Bryan’s request for a stone slab backsplash by sourcing an elegant expanse of quartzite. The cool gray and warm metallic veins provided a jumping-off point for designing the rest of the space. The kitchen island, also topped with quartzite, boasts a brilliant feature: The kick area is lined with brass veneer, a durable and stylish way to prevent the frequent scuffs that a painted surface would endure. Low-back leather and antique brass barstools echo the warm metal note, as do the stylish brass and white glass pendants overhead. “They put off a pretty glow and bring interest to the room,” says Candace.
Adjacent to the kitchen, a quartet of emerald green velvet swivel chairs is centered on a retro brass and glass coffee table, with a pale cowhide rug underneath. The small grouping has quickly become the couple’s favorite hangout, whether for coffee in the morning or family games at night. “We sit there with everybody all the time,” says Bryan. “That’s our ‘talk to your friends’ space.”
Just beyond, the great room stretches out, with one wall filled with massive sliding glass doors to the patio. Inside, two pairs of upholstered chairs and a white sofa are gathered around a pair of large, organically shaped burl wood coffee tables. “They are really big entertainers; we thought about that with the furniture layout,” says Candace. “We picked colors and finishes that were warm and inviting.” The room’s focal point is a floor-to-ceiling hearth clad in laser-cut marble from Mexico; the contemporary gas fireplace is fitted with a fire balls insert for modern ambiance. A TV off to the right is mounted on a wood-paneled wall, where it purposefully recedes into the background — just the way the family likes it.
When the glass sliders are open, the covered patio serves as an extension of the great room, effectively creating one big living area. A hanging bed, piled with pillows in weather-resistant fabrics, was requested by Christi, designed by Candace, and welded by one of Bryan’s subcontractors. “Christi says that’s their son’s favorite spot — that’s where she can always find him,” says Candace. Adds Bryan, “Every kid loves it. That’s where they want to watch TV, whether it’s winter or summer.” The builder likes to read and relax on the patio, too, where four swivel chairs slipcovered in Sunbrella fabric look nice enough to be indoors but provide an ultra-comfy lounge area around a gas fire table. “I had two or three homes in a row where I didn’t like the patio furniture,” says Bryan. “I told Candace the only thing I care about is for that space to be comfortable; she took it to heart and hit a home run.”
Bryan’s request for a pingpong table was beautifully met by a sleek white designer-approved version. Other inviting furnishings include a coffee table big enough for games and puzzles, and low leather stools for additional seating. A built-in bar with a wine fridge, sink and beverage drawer stands ready for parties. Overlooking the fun is a pair of vintage-style portraits of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, fictional characters popularized in the 1950s TV series.
In addition to the private areas, including a paneled study and four bedrooms where the remote blinds are among Bryan’s favorite details, there’s a second living area designed for fun with family and friends. A game room, tucked behind the great room, has its own sliding glass doors out to a smaller covered patio also overlooking the pool. The pale gray sectional upholstered in Crypton fabric is comfortable and durable; throw pillows in shades of blue and gray make it even cozier.
While Bryan’s 28 years in the homebuilding business have given him strong opinions on design, he did defer to his wife and designer on a thing or two. “It’s relaxing when you can let someone else do it and not worry about it,” he says. Candace notes that while Bryan didn’t initially like the look of the bathroom’s black and gold palm leaf wallpaper, he was willing to take the risk. “Christi, Jessica [McIntyre] and I really wanted a dramatic statement powder bath — it’s one space you can really do that safely.” A burl wood chest converted into a vanity and sparkling designer sconces complete the bold statement.
While the family typically moves every year or two, this house is proving difficult to leave. “It’s a homey, modern house,” Bryan says. “We really love the layout and the furnishings — and the view is great, even at night.”