The Texas Hill Country structure is made from materials salvaged from a dilapidated sharecropper's house and an old barn
Don’t let this pool house fool you. Though it looks as though it’s been nestled into this Texas Hill Country site since the frontier days, it’s brand new. Around the time this antique-loving family was looking to build a unique structure north of San Antonio, builder Nathan Daves acquired a 1930s abandoned sharecropper’s house outside of Dallas. Daves, a self-professed hoarder who salvages wood and other building materials from neglected old buildings all over Texas, has a passion for repurposing these materials into cabinets, vanities, farm tables, accent walls and, as in this case, new buildings. When he got the call about the pool house, he knew his latest acquisition would rise again in a new form.
Weathered 1: Restoring Texas, original photo on Houzz
Pool House at a Glance
What happens here: A family relaxes, fixes drinks and snacks, watches the game, listens to music
Location: Spring Branch, Texas
Size: Covered porch: 20 by 20 feet (400 square feet; 37 square meters); entire structure, 20 by 27 feet (540 square feet, 50 square meters)
That’s interesting: Most of the building materials were salvaged from an old sharecropper’s house and an old barn
The new pool house appears anything but new, which is the point. The charming pavilion-like structure nods to charming historic Texas vernacular, thanks to elements like the columns, the slope of the roof, the proportions and the salvaged boards. The windows and doors were salvaged from the sharecropper’s house, seen in the next picture.
Daves estimates the sharecropper’s house had not been painted in at least 30 years, and the homeowners wanted to keep the peeling look of the siding. The painted boards are arranged in an artful composition. The fascia board and eaves are new pine, stained a light gray and then whitewashed to fit in with the salvaged materials.
Weathered 2: Russell Graves, original photo on Houzz
Sources of Salvage
Daves mined this dilapidated 1930s Texas sharecropper house for materials. “I’d probably passed by this house over a hundred times,” he says. After he learned a farming friend had leased the land around it, the friend got him in touch with the landowner, who granted permission for Daves to dismantle the house and reuse the materials.
The foursquare home’s design is quite charming for a sharecropper’s house, and its columns and proportions inspired the design of the pool house.
Though it was pretty well beyond repair, the house was a goldmine of useful construction materials. “Most people would have demolished a structure in this condition to rubble,” says Daves, seen here on the porch. “I usually wind up salvaging 98 percent of a house like this, from the floor joists up to the shingle-nail filled lathing up in the rafters.”
The wood from this era and before is usually longleaf pine, which is so dense and full of resin that it can stand up to termites. Harvesting this species has been illegal for decades, so houses like this can provide top-quality lumber, if you know what you’re doing. Daves has designed tools and come up with all sorts of removal methods via trial and error over the years. The siding is often sturdy and durable cypress. “Basically, I peel all of the layers back like a banana,” he says.
New framing provides the structure, while Daves harvested the siding, columns, doors, windows and other elements from the sharecropper’s cottage. He was able to insert steel posts into the centers of the columns for structural support.
An Old Barn Supplies the Roof
The metal used on the roof, the bar and a few other places around the pool house was salvaged from an early 20th-century barn’s roof. Daves estimates this metal will last an additional 50 to 100 years.
The homeowners found the screen door, which goes to a pantry area and small kitchenette. Daves salvaged the door on the left, which leads to a powder room, from the sharecropper’s house.
Weathered 3: Restoring Texas, original photo on Houzz
One of Daves’ former neighbors had used this salvaged sink outdoors for his farm animals for years. When he moved awhile back, he told Daves to take whatever he wanted. The builder/salvager’s attitude toward all of his finds is “save it — you know you’ll find a place for it someday.” And sure enough, that place was here, fully functional behind the pool house bar. He crafted the cabinets from salvaged beadboard from the sharecropper’s house, topping them off with hand-poured concrete countertops.
Daves had picked up the antique ice-block tongs for 50 cents at a garage sale in Boston years ago. They have since been fastened to the wall and the family uses them as a paper towel holder.
Weathered 4: Restoring Texas, original photo on Houzz
Daves salvaged the windows on the right from the sharecropper’s house. “They help define and close in the bar area without blocking the light,” he says.
Weathered 5: Restoring Texas, original photo on Houzz
Around the side is a rustic outdoor shower. Daves used tin from the barn roof as siding down the sides of the house. Beyond the shower is another salvaged window from the sharecropper’s house.
Weathered 6: Restoring Texas, original photo on Houzz
Old and new now mix on the property. The pool house looks like a relic from early Texas settlers, while the pool is clearly a modern addition. The antique-looking structure is also outfitted with a state-of-the-art surround-sound system. The family is thrilled with their old-new Texas mashup.