May 20, 2022

happy-House

The home veterans

$2M San Antonio home brings modern Mexican style to Camp Bullis area’s Texas Hill Country-style houses

5 min read


Antonio and Anna Gaona are both originally from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, so when they began planning their new home in the Estates of Forest Crest neighborhood near Camp Bullis, they knew the look they were after.

“We wanted a home that would bring a little bit of Mexico to San Antonio,” said Antonio Gaona who owns a commercial construction company with his wife.

Designed by San Antonio-based architecture firm the Mayu Group, the result is a large, five-bedroom home with room for extended family, built in a style that Christian Martinez, the firm’s owner and residential designer, calls Soft Mexican Modern. It’s a contemporary look with straight, clean lines and a monolithic, dazzlingly white stucco front. The front porch is framed by what Martinez called a grapa (Spanish for staple), an thick, 8-by-16-foot flat arch.

“It acts as a transition from the outside to the front porch and into the house,” he said.

The house looks nothing like the Hill Country-style homes located throughout the rest of the neighborhood.

The dazzlingly modern, Mexican-style home was designed by San Antonio-based architecture firm the Mayu Group.

The dazzlingly modern, Mexican-style home was designed by San Antonio-based architecture firm the Mayu Group.

Richard A. Marini / Staff

At just shy of $2 million, the house was completed in December following an 11-month build. Pandemic-related supply shortages delayed construction by about a month and a half and also caused prices to jump, according to Clint Bayless, owner of Bayless Custom Homes.

“The lumber alone cost $22,000 more than what we bid it for,” he said.

The interior of the house has less of a Mexican influence and more of a classic contemporary style. “We wanted to keep it minimalistic, while at the same time making it feel cozy,” Martinez said. “Because simple never goes out of style.”

The open office in this home off Camp Bullis in the Estates of Forest Crest, has built-in shelves.

The open office in this home off Camp Bullis in the Estates of Forest Crest, has built-in shelves.

Jessica Phelps /Staff photographer

The centerpiece of the 3,600-square-foot custom home is the massive central space that combines the living area, dining room and the kitchen, all under a 24-foot-high drop-down tray ceiling with cove lighting tucked behind the tray to provide indirect illumination.

Antonio Gaona said he and his wife envisioned the house as a place where they could entertain effortlessly.

“Our families still live in Mexico, and we wanted there to be enough bedrooms so they’d be comfortable when they visit,” Gaona said. “We also have lots of friends here in town, so we wanted the living area to be large enough so the kids will have plenty of places to play and the adults can enjoy themselves both inside and out.”

While the room’s large size and white brightness could feel harsh and uninviting, the strategic placement of several wood pieces made from knotty alder, a high-grade hardwood, gives it the softer, cozy feel Martinez mentioned. The pieces include a long floating cabinet against one wall, several chairs in the living area and the dining room table and chairs. And there’s a floor-to-ceiling wall of charcoal-colored ceramic panels at one end of the room.

In the bathroom, large marble hex floor tiling and huge, 12-by-24-inch rectangular tiles on the walls give the bathroom an elegant richness.

In the bathroom, large marble hex floor tiling and huge, 12-by-24-inch rectangular tiles on the walls give the bathroom an elegant richness.

Jessica Phelps /Staff photographer

“We didn’t want much color because we love the all-white look,” Gaona said. “But we did want some contrasts. That’s why we added those wood touches and the big gray tile wall.”

With two young boys ages 10 and 6, they needed to protect all that white, so they applied multiple coats of paint on the walls, giving it what’s known as a level 5 finish, a super smooth surface that is easy to clean.

Visually set apart from the rest of the great room by a decorative wood beam, the gleaming white kitchen has tall cabinets set off by gold hardware and a large island topped with Calacatta marble that waterfalls down two sides. The same thickly veined white marble was used for the countertops and backsplash.

The backyard has a pool, a covered bar, a shaded outdoor seating area and a putting green.

The backyard has a pool, a covered bar, a shaded outdoor seating area and a putting green.

Jessica Phelps /Staff photographer

At one end of the house, the owner’s suite bedroom has a 12-foot-high tray ceiling that, like the great room, has a drop-down tray and cove lighting to easily control the mood of the room. Engineered hardwood flooring gives it a welcoming warmth.

On the other side of the house, there’s a three-car garage with an epoxy floor and a surprisingly tall ceiling. During construction, the Gaonas asked Bayless to raise the ceiling an additional 3 feet so they could install a regulation-height basketball net for their sons.

“The boys are very active in sports, so we wanted to give them a place to play,” Gaona said. “Clint even installed special garage door openers that have the motors against the wall to open up even more space.”

The home’s other distinctive feature is the California-style backyard pool area with several seating areas and space to entertain friends and family. Large, poured-concrete pavers separated by artificial turf for year-round green surround the pool and the adjacent cabana that’s large enough for an outdoor kitchen and dining table under a teakwood cathedral ceiling.

Nearby, a covered courtyard surrounded on three sides by the house has an L-shaped outdoor sofa, a pair of lounge chairs and a huge fan to keep things cool while guests watch the big flat-screen TV.

“I wanted to be able to chill out there and watch sports TV,” Gaona said. “It’s also where the kids go to eat and watch a movie when we have people over.” And with so many friends and family coming to enjoy the new house, this is sure to happen a lot.

[email protected] | Twitter: @RichardMarini



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