Architect Jon Nystrom has been a licensed architect in 1983 and, like other architects, most of the houses he is capable of designing are out of his budget.
Jon and his wife, Nancy, had been living and working in New England for the past 21 years. But when it was time to retire, they knew they wanted to go back to Nancy’s hometown in Texas to live a quieter life.
They finally settled on building a home in the town of Boerne, just north of San Antonio.
They’ll still be near their friends. And shops, restaurants, community services, and health-care providers are accessible on foot if they wish to walk.
Boerne is a small town with a population of around 10,000 people and it’s become a top choice among retirees. Despite being a small town, it’s got a lot of personality with its European architecture and specialty shops with a quaint, historic, and picturesque setting.
It’s an affluent community near San Antonio where crime rates are also low. There are art galleries to visit and wine nights.
But for the most part, people who live in Boerne live a low key lifestyle.
They lived in an exclusive community in Boerne with manicured lawns, limestone-gravel driveways, and stucco walls. They wanted to be different and stand out but they also wanted to blend in to fit in with their neighbors.
So they kept the outside elements with a few modifications. Since they lived next to a city-owned easement, they were able to position their garage differently, at 45° angle. This allowed them to install solar panels on their garage roof. And the angle of the garage served as a buffer between the street and the main house.
And the angle also allowed them to build a private and shaded garden or courtyard between the garage and the house. Very smart and strategic.
Once they and their guests enter the house, a timber-frame living and dining area greets them, as well as 22-feet tall ceilings. The timber frames allowed for the house to feel big and expanded but comfortable and homey at the same time.
Every area of the 1970 sq.ft. home has a purpose and space-efficient.
Since they plan to live in this house for the rest of their lives, every nook and cranny has to have a function. There are no areas that are not utilized daily or limits accessibility.
Once a person enters the house, they are instantly greeted by the comfy living room with a ceiling fan for hot summer days. A fireplace sits across for those cold summer nights.
An eight-seater dining table is also situated beside the living area. On one side of the living and dining area, you’ll find the fully-equipped modern kitchen. This kitchen has lots of circulation space plus they’ve been designed to still be accessible for wheelchair-bound users.
On the other side is a sliding door that led out to the back yard. It opens up to a covered sitting and grill area and further reveals a 35-foot lap pool. Because they wanted their house to be sustainable also, they offset the use of the pool water by installing a vertical, 8400-gallon storage tank, a rainwater catchment for their landscaping.
There is only one bedroom inside the house but if they have guests over, they can stay at the guest house above the garage.
This is actually the first part of the property that was finished.
They moved out of the condo they were renting and into the guest house and lived there for four months while construction was done on the main house.
Now, they can have their family and friends use it when they come to visit or they rent it out to travelers as additional income for their bills. They also planned it as living quarters for a live-in caregiver, when it comes to that.
Everything in the house is designed to be low-maintenance.
They don’t want to be in their old age, possibly in a wheelchair or not as mobile as before and have to worry about house repairs.
Concrete floors are chemically sealed. Walls are treated with American clay plaster blended with Nantucket sand pigment in Enjarre finish. The timber-frame is pickled Douglas fir. Even the bathroom and kitchen countertops are poured with quartz, which doesn’t need any special care.
“Designing the home with Jon… was probably the most fun thing we’ve ever done together,” Nancy shared.
It’s safe to say that it’s the best home Jon has ever designed in his life.
“Whether you need the help of a professional or not, that’s immaterial. The point is you should put yourself into what you’re building, put your personality in,” Jon described his architectural philosophy.
Would you like to see more of the house that won the Best Retirement Home by Fine Homebuilding that Jon designed and built for him and his wife? Watch the video below.
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