How Do You Add On to the Good Small Home? You Don’t.


When Terry Mowers first encountered the dry, dusty panorama of Marfa, Texas, in 2006, he sensed his life was about to vary.

“It was only a very, very particular place,” stated Mr. Mowers, 66, a textile-design marketing consultant who was awe-struck by the huge desert, the massive sky and the legacy of the artist Donald Judd. “And I fell in love.”

Inside days, he determined he wanted a house there, a distant getaway from his major residence in Manhattan. He contacted an actual property agent and, earlier than he returned to New York, discovered a home he needed to purchase: {a partially} constructed modernist field of adobe brick designed by the structure agency Rael San Fratello.

A number of months later, after closing on the 1,500-square-foot, one-bedroom home for $279,000, Mr. Mowers labored with the architects to finish it. At first, the house appeared good. It was a loft-like, open-concept residence with a concrete ground and loads of house for displaying artwork, with little in the way in which of storage — nice for somebody who was utilizing it only some weeks a yr.

However as time handed, and Mr. Mowers went by way of a divorce after which met his new spouse, Lindy Thorsen, in Marfa, he got here to the conclusion {that a} trip residence there wasn’t sufficient. “Ultimately, I needed to be right here full time,” he stated.

Mr. Mowers and Ms. Thorsen, 69, who owns Ranch Dressing, a Marfa retailer that sells classic Navajo rugs and sterling silver jewellery, married in 2016. For a number of years, they commuted between Marfa and Chattanooga, Tenn., for Mr. Mowers’s work. However as they deliberate to settle in Marfa collectively, the couple confronted a number of points with the adobe home that wanted to be resolved.

The outside partitions had been completed in mud and straw that protected the bricks, however the coating sloughed off throughout storms and needed to be consistently reapplied. “The mud would simply wash away within the rain,” Ms. Thorsen stated, including that generally after a storm, “you couldn’t even open the door as a result of there was a lot mud on the bottom.”

“We skilled various years of simply resurfacing the surface of the home,” Mr. Mowers stated.

They ultimately lined the home in a extra sturdy lime plaster. Then it was on to the following obtrusive drawback.

“We simply didn’t have sufficient house,” Mr. Mowers stated. There was additionally no bed room door to shut when he needed to dial into an early convention name and Ms. Thorsen was nonetheless sleeping.

In 2017, seeking to increase, the couple engaged Mud, an structure agency based mostly in Tucson, Ariz. However they didn’t need an addition; as a substitute, the homeowners and designers agreed to go away the unique home alone and construct a brand new construction reached by an out of doors path.

“The home that was there — type of a protracted bar with an inner courtyard — is mostly a profound piece, so we didn’t wish to scab onto it,” stated Jesús Edmundo Robles Jr., a founding principal at Mud. “The pure response was a reverence to that.”

Positioning a brand new 1,200-square-foot constructing about 36 ft away from the home, Mr. Robles and his associate, Cade Hayes, sought to replicate among the aesthetic cues from the present construction whereas including areas that may enhance the livability of the entire compound.

In the long run, they arrived at a stand-alone major suite made out of compressed earth-and-cement blocks which are just like adobe however can stand up to the weather with out a coating of mud or plaster. Inside, the house is carved up right into a bed room, a beneficiant lavatory and a lounge that features a lengthy desk at a window as an inspirational place to do business from home.

The brand new constructing opens as much as two patios by way of sliding-glass doorways: one off the lounge, with a view to the Davis Mountains; the opposite off the bed room, close to a vegetable backyard.

“It’s this huge quantity with a number of glass,” Mr. Mowers stated. “You’re framing the skyscape, and the panorama.”

The couple had spent years coaxing Chihuahuan Desert grasses, agave, yucca and cactuses to develop on their four-acre property, in order that they gave their builder, Eric Martinez, a tightly managed space to work inside. “We had only a 10-foot perimeter that could possibly be disrupted” across the new constructing, Mr. Mowers stated. “As a result of when you degrade the pure desert right here, it simply takes a really, very very long time for the pure grasses to return again and thrive.”

Inside, they saved the fabric palette to a minimal — uncovered block partitions, concrete flooring, white-oak doorways and built-ins — and added choose items of midcentury-modern furnishings and artwork, together with classic Navajo rugs from Ms. Thorsen’s collections.

After greater than two years of building, the challenge was accomplished in July 2020 at a price of about $595,000. Now the couple relish having two distinctly completely different areas to inhabit, in addition to the open-air transition between them.

“Lindy and I, if we wish to go to work in privateness, it’s simply so completely different than a separate room in the identical constructing,” Mr. Mowers stated.

Every house provides not only a place to give attention to completely different actions, but in addition a special temper. And strolling between them is way from inconvenient, he added: It’s a second to be savored.

“We’ll see the moon and stars at evening, and it does actually join you,” he stated. “You’re one with the panorama.”

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