Custom BuildFeatures


By September 8, 2020December 12th, 2020No Comments

Modern Living

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.

Wood pool loungers beckon, inviting friends and family to relax and stay awhile. The property, on one of the highest points in Fort Worth, has great views.

The glass wine wall separates the house’s entry hallway from the dining room; the family’s live-edge table was one of the few pieces of furniture to make the cut when they moved.

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.

While sectionals aren’t always ideal for seating unrelated guests, the family’s game room proved a fitting location for a cozy L-shaped sofa from Moss Studio. The vertical portrait of Tonto is part of a pair that also includes the Lone Ranger, sourced from Simple Things Furniture Company, as was the navy-and-white lamp.

Who knew a pingpong table could be so chic? Purchased through Highland House, the piece puts the game in this game room. The room’s built-in bar is party-ready with a sink, a refrigerated drink drawer and a wine fridge, too. Vinyl grasscloth wallpaper by Thibaut is stylish and durable.

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.

The home’s facade gets texture and warmth from the addition of dry stack stone that breaks up stretches of pale cement stucco; strategically placed high-quality windows by Marvin and West Window help keep the house as energy efficient as possible.

The hanging outdoor bed, a custom piece, is topped with pillows done in indoor/outdoor fabric from Perennials in Dallas.
The covered patio is smartly recessed into the home’s design, protecting it from those hilltop winds.

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.

Among the family’s favorite places in the house for conversation or card games are the green velvet Moss Studio chairs gathered around a replica Platner coffee table from Worlds Away. The chairs swivel, making it easy to join kitchen conversations or pivot toward the TV; a pale cowhide on the floor defines the special spot.

A Brazilian quartzite slab backsplash adds elegance and drama to the kitchen, while the brass veneer under the island is both practical and beautiful. The barstools are from Arteriors; the pendant lights are by Kelly Wearstler for Visual Comfort. Sherwin-Williams Origami White paint is used throughout the entertaining areas and on the flat-panel kitchen cabinetry, too.

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.”


Interior design Candace Salazar, Jessica McIntyre Interiors, 817-737-7878, Builder Bryan Braswell, Braswell Homes, 817-564-3101, Architect Scott Watson, FW Architects (offices in both Fort Worth and Southlake), 817-882-8882,