©Craig Kuhner

A tree stand. Nearly impenetrable limestone soil. An existing cruciform footprint. A sibling rivalry. Tight budget. Rising concrete costs (now an even tighter budget). A “Go bold!” homeowner mandate.

Architect Andrew Nance, AIA, was asked to thread the needle in taking on a three-bedroom addition to the Bley family residence in San Marcos, Texas. A challenging gauntlet of design conditions greeted the co-principal of A. GRUPPO, a 15-year-old full service architectural practice.

“The clients were also looking for some outdoor patio space with their two girls’ bedrooms upstairs, over a new master suite,” recalls Nance. Oh, and the girls’ bedrooms had to be identical to avoid bickering and squabbles. Just another day in the life of residential architect.

©Craig Kuhner

The award-winning firm specializes in residential new construction and remodeling. The Bley Sleeping House is a 950 square foot addition with 400 square foot renovation to a rural Hill Country style home. “We saw a really great opportunity to apply our design theories to a small space,” Nance says. Those ideas include:

1. Abundant Daylight. The compactness of the project suggested a four-part lighting strategy to optimize space. Big glass, translucent walls, careful window positioning, and clerestory lighting helped transform the interior experience.

2. Inverted Massing. “As we went up, things got larger, not smaller. I worked very closely with the structural engineer. Then by shifting the upstairs volume forward, we were able to create a shaded patio below outside the master suite,” Nance explains.

3. Stairwell, Design Star. The new stairwell does double-duty as a light well, capturing morning light from the East, then diffusing afternoon light from the West, thanks to the translucent glass wall. “Light presents a different character as the day passes. That drama helps to make a small space feel a bit larger,” Nance observes.

4. Interior Whispers … “We were very careful to keep interior changes subtle. Someone walking through the house would scarcely where new and old meet,” Nance says in describing the seamless melding.

5. … Exterior Shouts. All that interior discretion was set aside outside, with the addition exterior a willful contrast to the family home. “In one of our first meetings the owner said she was interested in being bold,” Nance recounts. The architect achieved it through asymmetrical design, inverted massing, sleek engineered fiber cement cladding, and in-your-face red.

6. Modern Detailing. The crisp, clean exterior cladding is dramatized with a geometric scheme of sharp horizontal and vertical lines, as well as smartly-detailed corners. To achieve the effect, “… we used Tamlyn products pretty much everywhere outside. All corners, all horizontals, all verticals are extruded aluminum channels, about eight different pieces in all.

“The nice thing about Tamlyn XtremeTrim products is they provide a nice clean durable finish between two different panels or surfaces,” Nance reports. “It was a very logical and cost-effective way to go.”

Nance reports the family is delighted by the finished addition. “The Bley family have become very good friends,” he says. An enduring reward for threading an architectural needle.

Learn more about how superior trim products can enhance exterior cladding appearance on your next project.