Villa Mallorca in Barton Creek
Driving up to Villa Mallorca is a transition into another time, another place, another world. Hidden away on a Barton Creek hilltop, this bucolic, Spanish-inspired property embodies an age-old desire for solace in nature. While the home sits on 4.93 acres, the property embodies the spirit of a Hill Country ranch backing directly to Barton Creek and its 4,000 acre Nature Preserve.
The home, recently built in 2015, was part of a 10 year design process. After a life-changing trip to Mallorca the owners sought to draw upon the majestic simplicity of 19th century farmhouse and recruited acclaimed architect Ryan Street and designer Rachel Mast to bring their vision to life. The team worked together to design a two-story, stone house with purposeful irregularities – like the office that extends off to the side with a separate roofline – in homage to the multi-generational construction of traditional Spanish farmhouses.
The first floor is a graceful progression from outdoors to home, with double french doors connecting the front and back patios to an open, airy living space. It’s beautiful, not ostentatious with every cubic inch optimized. 400 year old wood beams and a 60 inch stone fireplace harken back to pastoral life of years past. The floors are monochromatic Saltillo tile, providing a calm, consistent base for the open plan, while ornately-patterned Moroccan backsplashes energize the eye. Stunning, intricate antique doors serve as the portals from social area to private space. Made in Spain with Moroccan-influenced details, no two doors are exactly alike. The master suite echos the connection to nature with its reclaimed wood beams, wide-plank oak floors and hand glazed Moroccan tile details.
Journeying upstairs, you’ll find 3 identical rooms for the kids, each with its own bathroom. Their uniformity and modest size are intentional; the owners wanted to create equality among their children while encouraging them to use their rooms for sleeping, not living in. A spacious game room serves as the kids’ social center, ideal for sleepovers and movie nights. The game room is also the look-out point for a sweeping 280 degree view, where you can catch sight of opposite ends of Austin’s city limits. A few steps down from the 2nd floor landing is the office, a serene sanctuary overlooking the front drive and swimming pool.
The heart of the interior design lies in the details, subtle enough to escape a first glance, yet profoundly unique. For ease and practicality, the air conditioning is accessible from the kitchen, stowed conveniently behind one of those beautiful doors. For next-level entertainment, 7 ft. professional-grade subwoofer speakers are embedded in the walls, boasting the volume capacity and sound quality of a nightclub. And for romantic nuance, there are the hand-chipped stone window sills, the Spanish tile stair risers, and meticulously placed 4-inch ceiling lights.
There is no doubt that the most remarkable aspect of this property is the land itself. The owners could have opted for a 3-story, 22,000 square foot palace, but that was not the intention. They wanted something that would honor the surroundings. Purchased years before the construction of the house, the grounds are the foundation and inspiration for all that was to follow. In the spirit of preservation, the owner cleared the land manually in order to protect the hardwoods, then used the organic debris to create a level hilltop. Other than the stone benches, not a single rock was purchased for landscaping; it all came straight from the source. And thanks to some high-quality topsoil, the front-drive is now home to over 39 species of local wildflowers and grasses that display a sea of color throughout the year.
The owner, also an avid outdoorsman, went on to build a stocked fly-fishing practice pond (oxygenated by the working windmill), a basketball court – currently wired with a 50-amp circuit – and a large sunken stone fire pit with enough surrounding flat ground for 6 tents. Also built was a tree-line perch, from which you can catch sight of nearly every variety of wild animal in Texas – fox, deer, rabbit and quail, just to name a few. The property has been host to numerous Cub Scout troops for wilderness activities and camp-outs, while the basketball court has served as a dance floor and concert venue over the years. In the spirit of a Texas ranch, the grounds are intended for shared experiences and communal enjoyment – and with the property backing up to a 4,000-acre nature preserve, there’s nothing like watching the sunset from the hilltop home’s back patio.
A key element of Villa Mallorca: a long, gravel driveway. At each bend in the drive, a different aspect of the property reveals itself: the pond, then the wildflowers, and at last, the house. The journey home is designed to cleanse the pallet, with the sound of gravel beneath the tires signaling a switch from the trials and stress of the outside world to a safe haven of relaxation, love, and family. “To me, that was a romantic memory of my childhood, the long driveway transitioning from asphalt to a country lane,” says the owner. Villa Mallorca is an exceptional integration of nature and design, luxury and simplicity, tranquility and vitality. It is as much a place for socializing and celebration as it is a peaceful retreat from modern life.
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