San Antonio Magazine, A Home Of Her Own

A HOME OF HER OWN

What sort of house does a luxury home builder live in? Lisa Nichols is happy to show you

by Chris Warren

Lisa Nichols wants to clear something up. Yes, while the custom home building company that she founded in 202 is called Nic Abbey Luxury Homes By Lisa Nichols, she realizes those few little words can leave the wrong impression. "It is not a Lisa Nichols home," she says about the abodes she helps grow from mere ideas to actual structures, "These are our clients' dreams."  Turning those dreams into reality is no small feat, Nichols and her colleagues at Nic Abbey Luxury Homes handle every conceivable detail imaginable in the home building process, from the procurement of the best available lots to the design of the house to the actual construction. "We are very involved in all aspects of our houses, and we like that because it helps create the exact home to fit our clients needs," she says.  They work with an extensive list of architects, designers and decorators on a consistent basis, but when a client wants to include someone they haven't worked with before, Nichols says they're always open to working with new professionals, too.  "We love that."  But then there are homes that truly are Lisa Nichols homes, as in she and her family live there.  The latest can be found in Terrell Hills, just northeast of downtown.  How this elegant 5-bedroom, 5-and-a-half bath home came to be and the features it includes says a lot about Nichols and her company as well as current trends in the luxury home market.  In fact, Nichols' residence is a suitable enough showcase of how Nic Abbey Luxury Homes operates that she uses it as a model home and has already had hundreds of people come through for a look since moving there in November.  "It gives them a picture that a set of plans can't," she says.  Like much of the work she does for others, Nichols had to design her Terrell Hills house in a way that both meshed with the area and the actual lot.  Set in an established neighborhood, she was mindful that her ultra-modern structure shouldn't be as all visually jarring compared to her neighbors' homes.  She also knew that the lot - which lacks in width but has plenty of depth - would force her hand a bit when it came to placement of the garage, "With a smaller width, you need the garage in the back, because you want to see the front of the house in the front, not garages," says Nichols, who spent the first part of her career in the apartment management and development business, first in Dallas and then later with Embrey Partners, a San Antonio company her father founded. "House plans that we do are always specific to the lots."  Not surprisingly, Nichols' house has a style and features her own clients crave. "The trend for architecture is more transitional, with clean lines and a contemporary look," she says.  With light wood floors, light walls and ceilings and a mixture of marble and Redondo handmade tiles, the home has a bright, spacious feel that seems to invite the outdoors in.  There's plenty to lure people indoors - including a wine room, large pantry and coffee bar -- but what's outside always beckons. Not only is there a pool, the space features a sprawling patio, a chef's kitchen and serving bar, a fireplace and a TV.  There's even a balcony upstairs with views of downtown.  "outdoor living is very important to people," says Nichols, "I don't think I've built a home without a covered patio or built - in barbecue."  As pleasant and ideal as Nichols' house might seem, she readily admits she won't be there forever. "I always design for resale. I'm a builder," she says. The thrill she gets from shepherding projects from idea to the final nail is not one she's ready to deny herself. "I love every state of it."