Cypress: In Hill Country Home Design

Case Studies / 
Cypress: In Hill Country Home Design

Nestled in a wooded lot nine miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina, stands the True Residence—a home perfectly situated in its surroundings, and the essence of Hill Country home design. It’s sprawling. It’s contemporary. And it’s comfortably pleasing. Warmed, inside and out, by the distinctive beauty of all-natural and locally grown cypress. “This was the second home my client built from the ground up,” said Vicki Payne, project manager and designer. “The first was traditional, but this time around, he wanted something completely different, with a masculine and luxurious feel to it. After sharing ideas together on Pinterest and Houzz, he decided on the Hill Country architectural style. "Working with architect Jeanine DeVaney of Charlotte In-Vironments, the team brought the owner’s vision to life with a truly contemporary design. The next challenge was selecting building materials, a practice in which Payne is a proponent of mixing and matching materials.“We already decided on working with two kinds of limestone from Texas, but the owner was adamant that the natural beauty of the tree-lined property was not to be sacrificed,” she added.

So, it was critical for us to tie the material pallet to the surroundings. Being from the South, locally sourced cypress was the natural choice for helping us achieve this necessary balance.”

On the exterior of the True Residence, multiple sections of cypress siding were incorporated to add warmth, complementing the white limestone façade. Cypress also was used for the home’s soffits and fascia, as well as for the ceilings of the front entry and back terrace. In addition, the design team crafted a custom pergola with cypress beams and posts that spans over an outdoor dining space. “I’ve always loved cypress. It’s a beautiful wood, and its natural resistance to insects and decay offers exceptional durability. For this project, alternative outdoor products, like fiber cement or vinyl, never could have blended with the stone or setting; they would have made the house look out of place.”

Inside, the home features an open-concept floor plan and soaring 14-foot ceilings, all supported by massive cypress timbers. “Throughout the first and second floors of the home, twelve-inch-thick cypress beams run from outside to inside, and back outside again,” she added. “Cypress ceilings also were carried inside and are featured in several rooms, including the great room and dining room. A dark stain was applied to the cypress beams, and a light, transparent stain was used to enhance cypress’ grain pattern on the ceiling. Both finishes were specifically selected to add texture and contrast to the home’s white walls and large expanses of glass.”

Cypress also played an integral role in the home’s wine room—one of its most important features, according to Payne. “My client is a wine connoisseur, so we built a 2,500-bottle, glass-walled wine room in the center of the home. There’s a feature wall in the room with a custom-built bottle rack and an un-corking station constructed from cypress. It’s marvelous. My clients expect me to recommend products that will stand the test of time. I’ve worked with cypress many times over the years and that allows me to feel comfortable when specifying it for a variety of applications.”

To learn more about how cypress can add warmth to your new or remodeled home, please visit

*Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association

Photos courtesy of Vicki Payne,