Launch Slideshow

stone unturned

stone unturned

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    Chris Cooper

    A large overhang and tree on the south side provide welcome shade.

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    Chris Cooper

    A large overhang and tree on the south side provide welcome shade.

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    Chris Cooper

    The orientation of openings in San Antonio’s hot, humid climate is key, so architect Candid Rogers positioned primary entry points on the buildings’ north façades. A large overhang and tree on the south side provide welcome shade.

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    Chris Cooper

    Pre-existing materials were used in new ways wherever possible. The shelves in the new kitchen, for example, are made of reclaimed pine.

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Candid Rogers, AIA, fell in love with a two-room stone house built in 1873. When the architect decided to renovate the tiny structure as his own home, he honored its intimate feel with a similarly compact 960-square-foot addition. “Its scale was what attracted me to the old house,” he explains, “so I wanted to respond sensitively to it.”

Living and dining spaces now occupy the pre-existing stone dwelling, with kitchen, bathing, and bedroom functions filling out the new space. Siting the addition away from the main house offered several benefits. The resulting L-shaped footprint generates a small north-facing courtyard that captures prevailing breezes and connects almost every room to the outdoors. Aesthetically, Rogers says he “set back the connecting walls by a foot on both sides to let the original house stand proud.”

Deferring to the surrounding neighborhood, Rogers chose common local materials for the new rooms and applied them in uncommon ways. Locally milled cedar planks clad the exterior bridge linking old and new. Each horizontal board was custom-cut to fit snugly against and preserve the 136-year-old limestone walls. Raw cedar siding connects the stone to rolls of galvanized steel strips that wrap around the addition. More often seen on Texas rooftops than walls, the low-impact, low-maintenance metal will retain its luster over time. Inside, natural, nontoxic finishes such as cork, flyash concrete, and reclaimed wood complement the original rooms with their casual, contemporary tones.

Rogers wanted every detail in his humble house to sing, so he celebrated everyday functional objects, such as the sculptural water collection system that irrigates the landscape. In an effort to preserve the old house's existing roofline while uniting it with the addition's taller massing, he created a valley between the two and outlined it with an eye-catching gutter.

Rogers couldn't be happier with the results: “The experience of sitting on that porch on a rainy day and hearing the water flow is very pleasant,” he says.

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discovery mission

Architect, builder, and homeowner Candid Rogers, AIA, had to use all his powers of imagination and plenty of elbow grease to capitalize on the original building's potential. Beneath layers of plaster, stucco, and paint stood enviable limestone block walls. A crumbling porch at the front and rotting kitchen addition at the back had to be torn down. But Rogers salvaged what he could, repurposing wood beams to make a new front door and kitchen shelves.

His mission was mainly to clean up the ravages of time and misguided remodels. So he stripped existing window and door casings back to their natural wood and removed gypsum ceilings to expose old rafters. He also discovered rich red pine floors beneath chipped tile. “I added insulation to the roof and inserted a central cooling system, but anything else I did to that space kept to its original intent,” he says. “I let the house speak of its age and time.”

project: Casa 218, San Antonio
architect/general contractor: candid rogers studio, San Antonio
project size: 500 square feet (before), 1,460 square feet (after)
site size: 0.13 acre
construction cost: $120 per square foot
photography: Chris Cooper