Ignacio Salas-Humara Architect LLC
10 Reviews

Comfort Castle

The idea for this house came to me in a dream. I live nearby, so I visited the hilly, wooded site many times at various times of the day, and walked it often before sketching anything. One night I had a dream of a castle, a ruin on a hill, where only the watch tower remained. I set that tower on our site, and I created an imaginary, romantic history for the house. I described it to my clients over dinner, and they were intrigued by the idea. The story goes like this: while they were exploring the hills, owners Pat and Jim came upon a mysterious ruin: a stone tower that was the only remaining piece of a larger structure. They bought the land, and over time they restored the stone tower and built new rooms around the tower’s base to create the house.

Pat and Jim presented me with some design challenges: no 90-degree corners in the house, and no doors. They wanted the house to fit in with its natural surroundings with views from every room, lots of glass, natural ventilation, and outdoor living spaces. I designed the house with the stone tower as the organizing element with the rest of the house as pie-shaped "pods" strung along the curving contour of the hill. The house is like a string of pearls laid in a shallow curve, each room slightly canted from the other, and each with a different view of the surrounding hills. Each pod opens onto its own deck.

Outside, the house has two faces: the front, public face is solid, closed and mysterious, with hardly any windows, although the curved "arms' on either side of the tower beckon the visitor with an open embrace. The rear of the house is all glass and open, with large overhangs for shade and wood decks for outdoor living. It embraces the outdoors. Inside, the entire ground level is floored in a wonderful flagstone, which warms the feel of the house and visually ties the rooms together, which flow into each other. The master bedroom suite is all open, with no walls between the bedroom and bath. A freestanding cylinder (the shower) and tall cabinet (the headboard) act as privacy partitions. And what about the "no doors" policy? OK, I used three doors: one for the pantry, one for the mechanical room, and one for the powder room.

This house was featured on the television series Homes Across America on HGTV.

Country: United States
Comfort Castle
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A long drive through a native grass meadow links the house to the street. Notice that the house is not sited on top of the hill, but nestled lower on the hillside so that it becomes part of the hill. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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The segmented house curves to follow the contour of the hillside. The curved wings welcome the visitor as if with open arms. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle - Front Doors
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The owner had an old front door he wanted to use. It fit well with the eclectic nature of the house design. The front columns are peeled juniper trunks. The light fixtures are custom made stainless steel. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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This is the foyer, which is at the base of the tower. A freestanding stone fireplace screens the living room beyond. A galvanized steel spiral stairs leads to a guest bedroom above. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Looking down the industrial spiral stairs to the Foyer. The guest bedroom had shutters on one wall that open onto the two-story living room. The other three walls have windows that open onto various views of the hills. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle - Indoor Fireplaces
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The wood mantel was cut from a dead mestquite tree on the property. The fireplace is gas-fired so it can either light a wood fire or be used as a gas flame fireplace. The firebox is prefab. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle - Home Decor
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The owners have quirky tastes in decor. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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The ten-acre hillside site offers long views from every room in the house. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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The house is of the site. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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We used galvanized pipe handrails and stainless steel cables for the railings. The same pipes are used as struts to hold up the 6-foot roof overhangs that shade the glass. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Early morning fog on the hill. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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This is the deck off the dining room. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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In the kitchen we added a window at the cooktop. We used leftover pieces of the stone flooring for the splash and window sill at the cooktop. We hid the hood inside the wallboard soffit. We chose hickory for the kitchen cabinets because of its rustic, varying grain. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle - Kitchen Islands And Kitchen Carts
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I just liked the way the sun hit Pat's glass. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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There is a curved hallway from the living room to the dining room that passes by the open kitchen. The kitchen countertop runs the length of the hallway and acts as a buffet table so guests can serve their plates on the way to the dining room. I always show my design sketches to my wife Dinah for her feedback, and she suggested this idea. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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You are looking at the side of the stone tower to which the living room is attached. The windows at top are of the guest bedroom. The foyer is beyond the fireplace. The exposed metal flue rises two stories to the roof above, radiating warmth into the large space. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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The freestanding storage cabinet on the right separates the master bedroom from the master bath. The freestanding metal cylinder on the left is the shower. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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Inside the freestanding shower looking up at the showerhead and the round skylight above. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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We used an aluminum tractor seat in the shower. Conceptually it was a fun idea, but in reality the seat was COLD to sit on! Notice how the flagstone flooring flows into the shower. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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There are nooks and crannies throughout the house. There are windows in unexpected places. This one is beneath the master bath sit-down vanity. The ceramic chicken is by a local artist. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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This is the conceptual model of the house to see the various forms and how they all fit together and sit on the hillside. The three decks have not yet been added. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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The rear of the house is almost all glass and opens onto the wild landscape and long views. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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Front entrance. The rock landscaping was built by the owners with rocks from the property. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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The house fits within the hillside. The roof slopes follow the slope of the hill. The exterior colors were matched to natural colors found on the site. We left the landscape wild, and added only native grasses and plants that were drought resistant and didn't need much watering. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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Every room has 8-foot high glass exterior walls that bring in the view. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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Each of the three main forms has its own deck. This one is off the dining room. Galvanized pipe struts hold up the extended roof overhangs that shade the glass. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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HGTV producer reviewing the video footage shot for Homes Across America. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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Comfort Castle
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You can get a sense of the view behind the house of the Texas Hill Country. PHOTO: Ignacio Salas-Humara
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