Saturday, September 1, 2018

A day at Gilbriar Gazebo in Fredericksburg

For those of us who love the Texas Hill Country, Paula Stone's house on 10 acres near Fredericksburg is the dream house we would love to own.  Her 1882 stone house has those iconic lines we envy from car windows during drives in the country.  Paula is a transplanted Oklahoman, and going by the front garden which just says "Texas" all over it, she has embraced the local style.

You wouldn't know looking at it now, but the house was a wreck when Paula purchased it several years ago.  When she first bought the run-down house her friends thought she was nuts and it was in such bad shape the realtor wouldn't even go inside the house with her.  It's gorgeous now and I recently took friends April and Lorraine on a road trip out to see how she had transformed the property.  Paula is a fan of Pam Penick's blog Digging as evidenced by the water garden tank in the front walk.  

Blooming water lilies-gorgeous!

I took the  photo below about two years ago after much of the work had already been done.  Paula, an interior designer with her own shop in San Antonio for years, had already removed an old metal-sided addition and porch that were not part of her classic hill country vision for the house.  She spent about a year to get the house to this point.  Comparing the top photo above you can see she eventually took out the old cement porch slab and created a welcoming garden.  The fireplace was originally part of the ugly addition and she left it as an outdoor fireplace on the new porch.  

We'll be back to the porch after a tour of the gardens.  Paula is active in the Native Plant Society of Texas and self-described "overly enthusiastic organic gardener."

Materials from demolition were recycled as raised beds in the extensive vegetable garden. 

We were there in late June just after our spring garden seasons ends so a lot of these beds were empty.  I still enjoyed seeing how so much of her garden uses re-purposed building materials and fits so well with the local style.

She's added a lot of bottles to the recycled conveyor fencing since I was there two years ago.



Just visible through the garden is a new addition on the back of the house where comfortable bedrooms, baths, laundry and storage update the house for modern living.  The effect is practically seamless and very well done.

About that "Gazebo" in the title and all those bottles on the fence.  Paula has added an event venue to her property.  The impressive Gilbriar Gazebo, complete with chandelier and surrounded by native plant gardens, is available to rent for weddings and events.

Here's what that spot looked like on my first visit two years ago.  She had just installed a 38,500 gallon water catchment system which is now under the gazebo and the garden is enclosed by a fence.

I remember thinking Paula had a rather ambitious plan as she described the gazebo that would go here.  That was just two years ago.  Below is roughly the same view as above.

The old turkey barn has been renovated and is available for indoor events.

The front reception area has a rustic elegant style  Paula has been collecting vintage furniture for a while and she uses it with great effect in her barn.  Tin from the original barn roof was used for walls.

A bar found at an auction house in San Antonio completes the front reception area.

Enjoy your drink in one of the two silos with seating (seen to the left above) and look up at vintage chandeliers.

Inside the large renovated barn which can hold a sizable crowd!  Paula spent about 9 months renovating the barn.  "Good crew, decisive client" she says.  

Here's what it looked like when I first visited two years ago.  A former turkey barn housed goats until it was renovated.  Paula on the right with Linda Higby whose garden I shared a few years ago.  Those ladder-style metal pieces are the same fencing pieces decorated with bottles near the garden.

The goats have since been relocated to a friend's place in San Antonio.  Soil dug from the floor of the barn filled her raised beds in the gardens.  No wonder everything grows so beautifully!

Custom barn doors cover storage space.

The brass horse in the groom's dressing room was found at Fredericksburg Trade Days.  Paula used to breed Arabian horses so she couldn't pass this up.  That's a Murphy bed on the left.  Paula planned ahead to have these dressing rooms double as guest rooms for family and friends.

Lush native plant gardens continue around a rented guest cottage.

More recycled materials in the fence along the walk next to the cottage.

With a parking lot to the right the fence provides privacy for the cottage.

A colorful garden shed was once a treehouse Paula rescued from a friend's property.

An old stone building reminiscent of the jacal homes used by early settlers in Texas sits nearby.  While the original purpose is unknown, its east facing front and north window make me wonder if it was used as a dwelling.  Early Texas buildings like these inform the modern work of local architects like Lake|Flato.

Skulls decorate the screen.

Back around front to the welcoming front porch.  Love the day bed here which looks so relaxing.  It's easy to imagine reading there on nice days.

The original fireplace in the addition was kept and is used on cool evenings.  Views of the surrounding countryside are beautiful but Paula has planted trees along the fence line for the inevitability of housing developments which will eventually surround the property as town moves closer.  The stairs go to a loft apartment above the house.

Want to see inside?  Of course you do!  Hats by the door is so traditional and looks just right here.

Across the way is a cozy corner where the Biedermeier sofa evokes memories of early Texas-German furniture from the 19th century.  Through the door opening on the right above the addition houses bedrooms and amenities needed for the way we live now.

A stylish modern kitchen blends right in on the other end with dining in between.  The huge stone lintel above the kitchen window is original to the house and was left visible when the wall was plastered.

Stone detail and some of Paula's interesting collections artfully arranged.

A view to the front garden from a window.

After a delicious lunch and fun conversation I paused in the driveway to grab this wide shot of the buildings as I headed back to San Antonio.

Thank you Paula for showing us around and sharing your beautiful home and garden.  We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the country and are so impressed with all Paula has done to save this beautiful farm and make it available for weddings and parties.

You can contact Paula through her Gilbriar Gazebo website.


  1. Now that's a remodel. I'm impressed by the way Paula envisioned new uses for all these elements. Even a former treehouse! It takes recycling to a whole new level and the result is stupendous. Thanks for sharing your visit, Shirley.

    1. It is amazing to see the vision work out. Very little was trashed in the renovation.

  2. That’s impressive! What vision Paula has, any one part of this on it’s own would be remarkable, but all together it’s just amazing.

    1. The whole concept flows beautifully through the property.

  3. An enormous undertaking well done. It is always uplifting to see a person’s dream come to fruition.

    1. When Paula outlined her vision for the gazebo I was amazed and the result is even more impressive.

  4. Amazing - thank you for sharing!

    1. It is very much amazing to see all of this come together. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing it.

  5. Beautiful pictures. Amazing success story. It takes a vision, determination and resilience to pull off a transformation like this.

    1. It's beautiful to see in person too.

  6. Such an interesting and inspiring story. I wonder where she got all the energy and ideas from.
    Especially love that water lily picture!

    1. It is truly inspiring and Paula never seems to run out of wonderful ideas. Thanks, the water lily was beautiful.


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