Mother Earth Living


Minding the Manor: A Cast Earth Home in Texas

A couple’s dream of building a castle becomes a sustainable reality.



Lisa Chronister and Elliot Johnson's Austin, Texas, home is designed to fit in naturally with its landscape.
Homeowner Lisa Chronister created the Tiffany-inspired stained glass panel for the front door.
Photos By Paul Bardagjy
Elliot salvaged the metal pot rack above the island counter, along with many of the kitchen cabinets, from clients who were redesigning their homes.
This landing and reading nook is a Tudor-style detail that was easy to incorporate thanks to the thick, cast-earth walls. The stair post was made from a cedar tree on the property.
With hand-applied earthen walls and arched doorways, the living room houses many interesting pieces, including an antique area rug inherited from Elliot's grandparents and antique French doors with stained-glass panels that Lisa made to match the original transoms above them.
A copper artisan in Mexico custom-made the copper sink nearly five years before construction on the house began.
Elliot and Lisa enjoy dining on furniture that Lisa has owned for 20 years.
Elliot and Lisa designed these niches to display the antique Chinese roof tiles Elliot inherited from his grandparents.
Australian cypress stairs with dry-stacked stone risers lead to the lower level.
Elliot sits on one of the home's many porches. Pup Pyro helps out camera-shy Lisa by posing in her place.
Lisa designed and built the modern stained-glass transom above the door. An antique dresser, inherited from Lisa's mother, brings the home's connection with history into the bedroom.
As the first building constructed on the lot, Lisa's stained glass studio offered a practice for building with cast earth. Elliot designed the natural pond.











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