About a quarter mile from the road, down a paved driveway and through a canopy of trees, a home sits alone on 100 acres of otherwise undeveloped land. It’s in Lorena, right on the cusp of the Waco city limits, and somehow this large parcel of land has never been lived on. The land was originally homesteaded in the early 1900s, but it sat dormant. It was sold again in the mid-1970s, but once again, it escaped development. Until now.
Debbie and David Anderton have been married for 28 years and have three sons, Cooper, Case and Carter. Debbie was raised in Robinson, and even though David’s parents are from Waco, he actually grew up in the Dallas area. The couple met in the metroplex after college, but they decided to move back to Central Texas when they got married. Today, David owns Integ, which handles what he calls “message delivery” — printing, creative design, direct mail fulfillment and promotional products. He started the business as the Anderton Group in 1994 when he bought Brazos Printing. Since then, it’s been through two name changes and has acquired 11 more businesses.
After almost 20 years in their previous house, the Andertons were looking to build their forever home.
“This property had been sitting here for a long time. Never been touched,” David said. “When we got it, it was just one of those dream-come-true circumstances.”
According to the Andertons, the former owner didn’t want the land to be used for a housing development, and luckily, they were of the same mind. They bought the parcel about five years ago.
“Most land like this gets turned into a neighborhood. Especially this close. This is right in the middle of everything,” David said. “I had every developer in town saying, ‘You should develop this.’ But we just didn’t want to do that because you can’t replace [the land]. My purpose was to build on it. We bought it knowing we wanted to live on it.”
About half a mile down the road from their new home, their old house is part of a one-road neighborhood, the kind that’s a close-knit community filled with people who are friends more than neighbors. They moved into the home when their oldest son, Cooper, was just a toddler. Now Cooper is a senior at Baylor University, Case is a freshman at Baylor, and Carter is a fifth-grader at Lorena Elementary School.
“We’re in a different phase of life,” Debbie said. “We had one little kid [when we moved in]. Now we have to think toward the future when our sons come back home with families and what works best with that.”
The Andertons also have a ranch in Clifton, and this location ended up being a nice middle ground between the country and suburbia.
“Our ranch in Clifton, I would live there tomorrow,” David said. “But it wouldn’t suit the lifestyle everyone else wanted.”
Debbie added, “It’s the perfect compromise for us because I don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere. It feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere, but we’re 3 miles from H-E-B. Walmart’s 2 miles away.”
Both Debbie and David have always liked the Hill Country style — a regional, Central Texas style that traces its roots back to the homes built by German settlers in middle of the 19th century — so they reached out to Shawn Hood, an architect from Georgetown who’s well-known when it comes to this style. They started working with Hood two and half years ago and spent about 10 months designing the home. From there, the designs were handed over to Luther Fore of Luther Fore Builder Inc. here in Waco. Fore is actually the Andertons’ neighbor, and he built their house in Clifton. After framing, David and Debbie brought in interior designer Renae Palmer of Palmer Davis Design.
“We really wanted the whole thing to come together,” David said. “If it had been just Deb and I, we would have said, ‘Hey, we like that,’ but we might detoured from [the style we wanted in] the end result. Renae was really good at staying with the Hill Country style and everything coming together.”
The property is covered with tall, majestic trees, and the spot the Andertons settled on for the house faces a 250-year-old live oak. The tree cover as well as the home’s general location affords the house an extra level of privacy that you wouldn’t find on a neighborhood street. Every side of the home’s exterior features windows, and as the Andertons will tell you, every window has its own picture. For instance, sitting in the living room and looking out, the backside of the house sits elevated above a dry creek bed that runs behind it, almost making you feel like you’re in a treehouse.
Palmer was excited to work on this home because, while Hill Country is a classic Texas style, it’s not what’s in vogue for Waco right now.
“It used to be a popular style in Waco,” Renae said. “In the late ’80s, early ’90s we did a lot of that. We did some of the more ranch-style, rustic look, but we’ve kind of gotten away from that. Now everyone is doing your modern farmhouse. But [the Andertons] said, ‘That’s not us. We don’t want white. We want warm colors.’”
As expected for the Hill Country style, the exterior elements are a mix of stained cedar and rock, specifically a blend of chopped stone and flagstone from Darden Building Materials. The home’s metal roof creates a natural sound machine when hard rain hits it during a storm. To match the surrounding landscape, the beadboard siding is painted a warm olive green.
To bring the organic elements indoors, the same rock on the exterior is used throughout the home. Large faux beams in the living room break up the 16-foot ceilings, so it still feels intimate and cozy. Rather than a high sheen floor, the home has dry hardwood floors that are more rustic and worn-looking, complete with nail marks.
“The weathered look is very forgiving with three boys… four boys,” Debbie said.
In the kitchen, you’ll find plenty of the stone as well as a large granite island and countertops, a hammered copper vent hood that will patina over time, and custom, two-tone cabinetry that was a team effort. The cabinet elevations were designed by Palmer, but they were constructed by Dunlap’s Custom Cabinets and painted and stained by Roberto Roma. Sure to inspire envy, the working pantry is a walk-in with custom drawers and shelves and a granite countertop to house all the appliances that can clutter up a kitchen counter.
The warm tones as well as the metal and copper elements are continued throughout the home, especially in the many unique light fixtures and fans, which are all from The Village Lamp Lighter. The Andertons just moved in this May, so they’re not completely finished furnishing the house, but the pieces they do have favor a more muted color palette, like the living room couches they had custom made by Furniture Center.
“We didn’t really have furnishings we could bring in,” David said. “We had a few little pieces, but really we had to start over, which is good because then it all fits together. We’re just not in a hurry to finish [furnishing the house] because we want to have fun with it. We have the bones and the structure, so, ‘OK, let’s live here for a little bit.’ One of the main things for me was to not clutter it up. We don’t want to put anything in that makes it feel cluttered.”
When they started designing their new home, there were a couple of items on the must-have lists for Debbie and David.
“The first thing I told [Hood] was I didn’t want people walking through my garage, through my laundry room and into my house,” Debbie said. “In our other house, people would always come in through the back. Such a horrible way to enter somebody’s house.”
Debbie, an avid scrapbooker, also wanted a craft room — something she hasn’t been able to have since Carter was born. And now that she has her space, she also had an idea for giving the boys their space. Situated at the front of the house down a long hallway is the “playroom,” essentially another family room. Now that they’re in college, Cooper and Case don’t live at home, but this area of the house is where Carter and his friends can hang out, watch TV and play video games. Three bedrooms branch off from the playroom.
“When the kids come back and they come back and have families, we can put them all on this side of the house, and they’ll have their own space,” David said. “And when it’s just the grandkids — ”
“Hopefully all girls,” Debbie said.
“Yes, we want at least five girls. This will be great for the grandkids, too,” he said.
The master bedroom is a nice retreat for the couple, and the en suite bathroom includes another one of Debbie’s must-haves: a claw-foot bathtub. A unique feature in the bathroom is the tile floor. It mimics the architecture of the space by framing out each of the bathroom’s arches with a square inlay herringbone pattern.
One of David’s favorite areas is the media room. Just off the living room, the media room is complete with three TV screens, four loungers, a card table, a dry bar, a mini fridge and motorized blackout shades (which are actually throughout the entire house).
“It was kind of that reward,” David said. “Your own place to be able to watch sports. It’s not a necessity, but I love it. And [Debbie is] as much of a sports fanatic as I am. We use it a lot more than I thought we would.”
Even in the media room, you’ll still find a bit of the rustic. The TV wall is accented with reclaimed barn wood that’s been glazed, hammered and distressed. Through the media room is the home’s sun porch. Lounging on the bed swing under one of the home’s windmill fans, you might doze off thinking you’re at summer camp.
The facade and interiors might be about harmonizing with the surrounding landscape, but the home’s design doesn’t overlook the modern. The Andertons got to know the crew at Custom Integrators pretty well while they spent weeks installing the home automation system and its devices.
“It’s a smart home. Smarter than us,” David said. “On the phone, we can do anything we want in the house. I have the [ability] to play music in any room. I can turn any TV on. We can set the AC. When you walk in the house, you can have lights that come on. At 5 in the morning, [the living room] TV will come on because Deb is a morning person. It can learn your habits. [If someone is] at the gate, [a video] will come up on the TV, and it will show you who’s there.”
The Andertons had a formal dining room and living room in their old home, but they rarely used those areas, so they crossed them off the lists for their new home. Instead, they opted for a more casual, open-concept living room and kitchen.
“We live here,” David said. “We designed this so we can use every inch of space. People come in and feel pretty comfortable. We don’t want you to feel like you can’t go outside and then come back in.”
And the Andertons and their company spend quite a bit of time outside. The outdoor living area has a covered patio that stretches across the entire backside of the home, a built-in grill and Big Green Egg, a pool and a putting green. It wasn’t in their original plans for the backyard, but when the pool builder, Cody Pools, presented them with a conceptual drawing that included a putting green, they couldn’t resist.
“I use it every day,” David said. “The last thing I do every night is just go out and putt a little bit.”
The green also gets used quite a bit by Cooper, who played golf at Vanguard College Preparatory School — the boys’ golf team won the state championship 12 years in a row, and Cooper was part of the team for four of them.
While Debbie got her craft room, David’s space is really the outdoors. At 100 acres, it’s a lot of land to maintain and landscape, but David plans to do it all himself.
“That’s my hobby,” he said. “The cool thing about where we are today is that it’s kind of an open canvas. I kind of know where I’m going to put a barn, but I can leave it where it’s natural or take it to a more park-like look.”
The entire property is high-fenced, so they have plans to bring in more wildlife, such as axis or fallow deer, at some point in the future.
“I’m outside anytime I get a chance,” David said. “Some people’s dream is to live on the lake, some people’s dream is to be in one of the big community neighborhoods, but this is the kind of thing that I enjoy. I’ll have a chainsaw in my hand or be on my Bobcat. This is kind of my sanctuary.”