Customizing a House into a Home

By Kimberly Giles
Photos by Jeremiah Dearinger

Richard Laughlin of Laughlin Homes & Restoration is a longtime resident and specialized builder in Texas Hill County. For over 38 years, he has collaborated with prospective owners and expert craftsmen that manifest dreams into a place that is home for many. His homes, as he states, are like “jewelry” to those that commission him. They tell a story and are a deep reflection of what matters to those who collaborate with Laughlin to build their vision.

Ingrid and Andy Pepper are just these people that commissioned Laughlin. In fact, the Pepper project is the second (just north of Fredericksburg) in the past 15 years since knowing Laughlin.

Andy is from England and a former geologist; his wife Ingrid is South African. They commissioned Laughin three years ago to what the Laughlin team terms the “Pepper Project.”

The mission was defined collaboratively by Laughlin and the Peppers themselves, along with the help of Douglas Grona (who has worked with Laughlin for over 35 years), Martin Ortiz, a reclaimed wood specialist, and Schumann Granite.

“Andy and Ingrid are very worldly, and have museum-quality pieces that we wanted to incorporate into their home build,” Laughlin said. “For instance, the large urn needed light, room and space; the piece over the range was a piece of iron that we framed and incorporated in the kitchen.” 

Schumann Granite did an exceptional build on the over counter slab that highlights the center island.

This personality project also reflects what Laughlin likes to incorporate with his clients, just as he likes to make his projects personal. 

“Andy had this stone sink of his mother’s from England. We utilized this in one of their bathrooms,” Laughlin said. “This reflects our clients’ personality and getting something different when you are hands-on building with ideas that reflect a person.”

The wood staircase was imagined with an in-person meeting with Monty Schumann, who forged the iron staircase. Together, Laughlin and Schumann designed on site with the vision of having an open, modern staircase that utilized historic elements (reclaimed wood) and let in light.

Martin Ortiz is another partner of Laughlin’s for the past ten years. Ortiz travels frequently to obtain reclaimed wood for projects such as the Pepper’s. 

“Basically everything you touch and see inside this home is reclaimed wood. The wood beams are mortise and tenon joints with ‘tree nails’,” Laughlin said. “They are all nonstructural beams that were added to the initial structure to compliment the clients’ taste for preservation, texture and earthiness.”

Laughlin is receptive to collaborating with clients and wants to have their influence reflected in what he terms “structural art, just on a bigger scale.” Because Andy Pepper was a former geologist, he wanted to make certain that the limestone that was quarried told a story. So, the oldest exposed interior foundation rock is the oldest leading up to the newest. 

“I love when I get to work with clients that see a different way to look at materials, rather than just based on the materials’ value alone,” Laughlin said. “It tells a story and is a personal reflection of our clients’ interest and taste.”

Laughlin Homes & Restoration

For more info on Richard Laughlin homes visit his website:

For Martin Ortiz/ reclaimed wood specialist