Inspired by Costa Rica: how to live outside in Dallas year-round


 When this Bluffview couple decided to downsize and build a new home on a half-acre lot, they turned to architect Patricia “Tricy” Magadini, someone they had worked with on remodeling projects since their now 18-year-old twins were in high chairs.

Inspired by their home and lifestyle in Costa Rica, the family worked with the design team to create a home on Surrey Circle that celebrates outdoor living. The contemporary two-story house includes large moveable glass walls that open the main family areas to an 800-square-foot screened living area. The room features a stone fireplace, outdoor kitchen, dining area and radiant ceiling heaters.

“People forget you can live like this in Texas,” landscape architect David Hocker says. “The majority of the year, it’s really nice weather here. We just forget that because it’s oppressive for two months.”

The house has no formal dining room. Instead, the table in the screened outdoor room seats 12. The owner says the family lived in its previous house for 15 years and rarely used the dining room. “We’re a very casual family. Even on Thanksgiving, we like to spread around. We eat outside a lot.”

The family’s other goals were creating a living area on the bottom floor for the couple so the two can “age in,” designing a layout for entertaining and implementing a maintenance-free landscape. 

“They said, ‘We want to live in and enjoy it, and we don’t want to have to tell the kids that they can’t touch anything,’ ” interior designer Robyn Menter says.

Architect Magadini says the focus of the downstairs space is entertainment. The original design of the living room was extended by 18 inches to accommodate the size of the sofa selected. The kitchen is large and simple. The utility room is the staging area for catered events. “For casual gatherings, you’ve got the giant island so you can set out the pizzas or whatever the kids want to do,” Magadini says.

The family’s three children were involved in the design. “The kids really love the house,” the owner says. “They’re all teenagers so there’s a lot of teenagers here every weekend. They like being up in the teen room and now they’re swimming in the pool. They enjoyed planning their rooms and helping design things.”

The son’s upstairs room features a surfboard on the wall. Twin daughters, who fought over a bathroom in the old house, now have their own bathrooms and an adjoining shared closet because, their father says, “they share every thread of clothing.” 

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