The neighborhood that surrounds the far end of Lake Air Drive has some of Waco’s grandest old homes. Not only are the houses large, so are the lots — some of which are as large as an acre. Most of the homes were built in the 1950s.
“This was one of the original houses,” said Jill Goss. “The lake is right back here, and there’s a creek. We used to have a neighborhood get-together, and then the people who have been here the longest always give us a little history.”
While Jill and Cameron Goss were engaged in 2008, Cameron purchased the house, which had gone from a beloved ranch-style home to a rental. The Gosses married in 2009 and moved in.
“He bought it, and his plan was to flip it and sell it,” Goss said. “The economy got bad, and we lived in it, and then we started to remodel.”
Both Jill and Cameron graduated from Waco High School. She went away to school at Texas Tech University, but Cameron stayed in town and went to Baylor University.
“He never left,” she said.
Cameron’s parents, Grant and Karen Goss, own Grant Goss Contracting. Jill, daughter of Jim and Glenda Bowen, also was raised around a family-run business, Bowen Electric, which her father started in 1955.
“My husband took over a couple of years ago. So we now own the business,” she said.
Goss, a fashion merchandising major, was a buyer at a high-end women’s clothing store in Dallas for about 10 years.
“That’s what I went to school for, what I’ve always had a passion for. I started there when I lived in Dallas, but when I got married, I commuted,” she said.
Commuting was not a problem until she became a mom. Her first son, Bowen, is 3, and Bryce is 10 months old. The months she was pregnant with Bryce were her last ones to travel back and forth. Now she is enjoying being a mom and working — unpaid — in another family venture, the Bowen Family Foundation.
“So, my brother is Wade Bowen,” Goss said. Wade is a country singer, who released his sixth project in 2016, “Watch This,” a live album recorded with Randy Rogers.
“[Wade] started a foundation a couple of years ago. He knew I was going to quit working, and he was like, ‘Why don’t you help me with the foundation? I can’t afford to pay you,’” she recalled. “We’re a real philanthropic family. My mom is our bookkeeper. My dad does a ton of the fundraising. In the last eight years we’ve raised [nearly] $2 million for Waco.”
The Bowen Family Foundation’s main event is the Bowen Musicfest and Classic Golf Tournament. Goss says her brother wants to expand and do more events, and that’s one of her tasks at the foundation.
Her other unofficial task — hosting family get-togethers. Often.
“His parents are literally a few streets over, and my family is less than five minutes away. My parents and Cameron’s parents pop in all the time. There are 10 grandkids. We have a large family,” Goss said. “It’s either the four of us or there’s 30 people here. It’s all or nothing.”
Goss and Cameron plan to have more kids, so they renovated with kids in mind.
The original 1955 house was right at 2,000 square feet. It had three bedrooms, but they were small, as were the two bathrooms. After the renovation, which expanded in four directions — left, right, back and up — the house now has four bedrooms and four and a half baths. The old part of the house is pier and beam, while the addition is on slab. A lot of plumbing and electrical work had to be done to accommodate the renovation.
Building a new house is fairly straightforward: plan and build. With remodeling, every choice builds on an existing framework.
“That is one thing with remodeling, you do have limits. You have stuff you have to work with. You only have so many options, which is great,” Goss said. “You still get to make it your own.”
The Gosses renovated their house in stages. The first one occurred about four years ago, and the second finished in 2016, just one week before Bryce was born.
Cameron served as the general contractor and, as Goss said, “subbed everything out. We did have somebody that we paid to work with Cameron to oversee it.”
The first renovation focused on knocking down walls and opening up space as well as completely redoing the master bathroom. During the second renovation, which added a bedroom, bathrooms, a new kitchen and an upstairs, the Gosses lived in the house until the last few months. Starting from scratch probably would have been simpler.
“When we had contractors, they were like, ‘Why don’t you just sell your house?’” Goss said. “One thing that kept us here was all the houses have huge yards and are set further back from the street. It allowed us to add on to the house.”
Goss’ vision was to update the house while retaining its original charm.
“I tried to make it all flow and not look like you redid this and this other part is old,” she said. “A lot of this, my husband and I would look in books and magazines and see stuff we liked and just go with it.”
One way the Gosses modernized was with color.
“I love metallics, silvers and golds and grays,” Goss said. “I love a little bit of the modern that I’ve mixed with the traditional.”
As much as they could, they worked with local businesses. Goss recommends Furniture Center, which is locally owned.
“I find some of the neatest stuff there. They will custom do whatever. If you find a piece you like, they will order it in as many fabrics as you want,” she said.
As a regular customer at Lane’s on Austin Avenue, she’s collected pieces by Jan Barboglio over the years that are now displayed throughout the house. She also consulted with Honey’s Home Style on several purchases, including the large painting in the clerestory, located in the space that was once a kitchen Goss described as a “nook.”
“When we decided to add the upstairs, during construction this part was open, but our intention was never to leave this open. Then we thought, ‘How cool is it to leave it exposed?’ We put in the windows to add natural light,” she said.
The cozy space also has a couch, a round table and a side hutch that serves as a bar.
“I can’t tell you how much we use this space. We use this space more than we ever thought we would,” Goss said.
Underneath the round table is a zebra-skin rug.
“When we got married, one of my husband’s best friends brought that back from Africa for us. He kept teasing me, ‘I don’t know if you’ll like it.’ I love it more than my husband does,” Goss said.
From there the space opens up to the new, larger kitchen.
“I wanted more space because we entertain so much with our family,” Goss said. “My husband wanted taller ceilings, and that’s why you step down into the kitchen. The original house was only 8-foot ceilings.”
The kitchen’s focal point is a large quartzite island with a farm sink on one side and four chairs on the other. The island also has two deep refrigerated drawers: a kid one with water and a dad one with beer.
“I stayed in a house in Seaside in Florida, and they had this huge, massive island, and it was my favorite thing, so I did the kitchen around this piece,” she said.
Goss ordered all the appliances through Discount Vacuum & Appliance. The double oven, microwave, six-burner stove, dishwasher and refrigerator are all made by KitchenAid. The refrigerator is hidden behind doors that match the other kitchen cabinets.
“I really wanted the cabinet look, that was my splurge,” Goss said. “I love how it looks because it doesn’t stick out, and it’s deeper. I like the way it blends in with the cabinets.”
The new cabinets provide much more storage space than those in the old, cramped kitchen.
“I have cabinets that still don’t have anything in them because I’ve never had this much storage,” Goss said.
At the back of the kitchen is a large window that looks out over the backyard. During family gatherings, Goss will serve food from the back counters and drinks from the hutch, which has an icemaker.
“It moves people out of the kitchen. That’s another reason why this area is used so much because you can make a drink and go sit down,” she said.
To the left of the clerestory is the dining room (which was the original living room) and the living room (which used to be the garage). The Gosses kept the original wood floors and, in the additions, matched the cut and stain of the wood.
“That was a way for us to keep something original and cut down on cost because we didn’t have to replace all the flooring. They don’t do a lot of this thinner wood anymore,” she said.
Originally, the house had small windows across the front side that faced the street. Those were all taken out and replaced with large picture windows.
The Gosses expanded an old closet, which held the air conditioning and heating unit along with the hot water heater, into a much larger laundry room.
“The house was a lot more choppy,” she said.
The new garage, with a side entrance, has plenty of room for both her SUV and Cameron’s big truck.
“That was his big thing: ‘I want a big garage,’” Goss said.
The bedrooms are all located on the other side of the house. In the original design, all three rooms branched off a long, narrow hallway. The smallest bedroom has stayed the same, and that’s where Bryce, the baby, sleeps. There are now two other bedrooms on either side of a Jack and Jill bathroom. Currently, one is Bowen’s and the other is a guest room. But as Bryce gets older, he will move into the guest room, and the boys will share the bath.
What was once a hall closet became a powder room, which is especially convenient when they have family gatherings.
“Because little boys’ bathrooms aren’t always so great,” Goss said.
The master bedroom itself has not changed in size at all. Instead, the Gosses focused on updating the closets and the bathroom, which Goss called “teeniny.” What was the master bath is now Cameron’s closet, and they added a spacious master bath and a separate closet for Goss. They also vaulted the ceilings to add more light. The new space is bright, with his and hers sinks, a toilet room, a double walk-in shower and a deep tub beside a picture window, made private by a healthy shrub.
“I didn’t want a Jacuzzi because I didn’t want to worry about cleaning it, but the tub is really deep,” Goss said. “The bathroom was part of the first remodel. You’re in your bathroom so much.”
The most intensive part of the second renovation was adding a second story, which is one large playroom with a full bath.
“This is our favorite thing we did to this house. We live up here. We’ll even eat dinner up here,” Goss said. “If we wanted to, we could wall it off and have another bedroom and still have a playroom.”
The wide open space has a treehouse feel, with windows on all four sides.
“I love to look out, and you see all the trees,” Goss said. “We have a pretty view of the sunset, up over the trees. When it rains, it’s really cozy up here.”
A full-size table and chairs mean the family can eat pizza and relax, or Cameron can have friends over to watch football. There are also two large walk-in closets, one of which currently holds toys. Most important, the kids have a place to play.
“I’ve taught them to leave the stuff downstairs alone, but up here they can have fun. We just wanted it to be kid-friendly and comfortable,” she said.
Goss kept the same neutral grays and tans upstairs that she used throughout the house, although the playroom has carpet.
This spring the Gosses plan to focus on the backyard, adding a playscape for the boys. Their other project is to “fix the yard,” Goss said. “We lost so much in the freeze, good-size bushes. I had little daisy things in my front planter box, and I covered those. They lived. Didn’t cover my shrubs.”
Shortly after they married, the Gosses adopted two Aussiepoos, Dax and Chloe, from Fuzzy Friends Rescue. The dogs have plenty of room to roam in the L-shaped backyard, but they spend a lot of time on the outdoor patio, made from interlocking stones. The patio includes a couch and chairs and a teak table with bench seats.
Over the eight years the Gosses have lived in the house, they’ve seen more young families move to the neighborhood.
“We play in the front yard, and there are always other kids you see out. They are riding bikes on the street, or moms are pushing a stroller,” she said.
Goss loves her neighborhood, with its wide streets and tall trees yet still centrally located to everywhere she wants to be.
“We just love the convenience. We’re by the lake. Cameron plays golf, so we’re by Ridgewood [Country Club]. [Bowen] goes to St. Paul’s [Episcopal Day School] a couple days a week. My mom and I are shoppers. We go to Marshall’s every Monday. I appreciate being five minutes from Target and H-E-B,” she said.
The next family event Goss knows she is hosting will be Easter in April.
“That will be our next big gathering,” she said.
Although she doesn’t cook often, when a holiday comes around, Goss will use the kitchen to its full extent, even the double ovens, which her mother encouraged her to include.
“At Easter, any holiday, we need it all. It literally is just us or a lot of people,” she said.