No More Shabby Chic: the New Texas Hill Country Style

A new book shows the beauty and variety of residential architecture in the Hill Country.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen October 23, 2014

"There is no such thing as 'Hill Country style,'" says Cyndy Severson, an interior designer, architect and the author of the new book Hill Country Houses. "I have to emphasize that. It is a place, not a style."

In her book, between stunning shots of covetable homes Severson covers the architectural history of the region, starting with the old mission-style structures, farmhouses, and Germanic log cabins built by some of the earliest settlers, and shows how the same materials and aesthetic vernacular has been appropriated to create some truly spectacular modern and contemporary spaces.

Think homes in the Hill Country are traditional or stuck in the past? Severson says architects and designers in the region have been ahead of the curve when it comes to eco-friendly design for years, finding solutions to environmental challenges that were also employed by local builders decades ago, like using local materials, shading the space with expansive and low-slung eaves and employing dog-runs and high ceilings to naturally circulate air. More importantly, there's not a dated, shabby-chic interior in sight.

"I wanted to show people the Hill Country isn't just ducks and bonnets," said Severson.

In a Q&A on Wednesday at the Decorative Center Houston Fall Market, Severson went into detail about how she chose some of the projects to include in her book, and expanded on the inspiration behind houses by some of Texas's most exciting up-and-coming architectural talents, including Tim Cuppett, Tobin Smith, and Craig McMahon.

"Many of these ranches and properties have been owned by the same families since the 1850s, and they are just now coming on the market for the first time. I think it's interesting that a lot of them are being purchased by Houston families with the intent to hold onto them and pass them down, instead of leaving them to the developers," said Severson.



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