Burning Creek Retreat

Lead Designercraig McMahon
Prize(s)Honorable Mention
Entry Description

This small compact Ranch Retreat is located on 10 acres in the San Marcos area of the Texas Hill Country. The family of four wanted a budget conscious guest quarters with every inch of space considered for its function. This “ship” conscious design approach was considered for the entire program, offering 2 full bedrooms/baths and 2 loft bedrooms for children and visiting families to engage the camp spirit of the property.

The enclosed 1,200 s.f, building engages the land along two wet season creeks, crisscrossing gently in front of the main porch. Organized to engage the South East Texas prevailing breezes, the single wide retreat offers covered porches on both sides of the building with ample windows to allow for the cooling breezes offered even on the hottest Texas Summer days.

Designed with an extremely tight budget, this “anything from Home Depot and IKEA” Design approach engaged maintenance free palette of materials-from galvanized corrugated siding, and roofing to commercial aluminum windows and doors, with selective book ends of natural limestone to ground the home on its corners. Inside the retreat, open vaulted ceilings offer a dramatic spatial connection to expand the homes size.


After twenty years working for large firms across the Country designing large scale commercial projects, I found myself leaning toward the artistry and hands-on experience of owning a South Texas firm focused on the creative aspect of design and construction. I enjoy the process of creating and crafting an environment where my clients grow, learn, live and work. My team closely collaborates on each project and this spirit of collaboration extends to our clients, local artisans, craftspeople, subcontractors and others working on the Project- whatever the Scale or Type. We bring everyone together early in the design process and value all input.

Where possible, the landscape becomes our primary collaborator. We visit sites frequently during design to get a feel for the best building location. All of our Projects allow clients to enjoy year-round outdoor living and working environments. We generate private courtyards by framing spaces with building elements allowing for as important of an outdoor space as indoor. Our Commercial endeavors engage the same process always searching for a unique and creative response to the need.

Bringing exterior materials indoors—stone, wood and steel-and filling rooms with daylight are just two ways we do this in each project. We also value the art of traditional building methods by mixing them with innovative techniques, applications and technology.

The mission at Craig McMahon Architects is to think holistically about the project from the beginning of design through to the last detail. We improve our clients' quality of life by delivering artfully crafted projects and unique living and working environments. We are passionate about our work and enjoy developing ideas into exciting realities.