Story by McGee Nall
Photography by Lisa Petrole
Styling by Ashley Maddox
For people who travel to Waco, Chip and I want to invite them into spaces that serve as an extension of the way we feel about our own home, so that everyone who visits can experience that same sense of belonging and community. Our hope is that the very fabric of these homes—from the overall design and atmosphere to the smallest details—makes guests feel truly cared for and sets them up to flourish wherever their stay may lead them. — Jo
The Heart of Hospitality
As you drive from downtown Waco toward the lake, the lush landscape and white pillars of Hillcrest Estate have been a familiar sight since 1903. But there, just behind it, sits a cozy and comforting home that can't be seen from the road. As you pull into the property, you catch the first glimpse of the hidden gem nestled into a lush green landscape: Hillcrest Cottage. Once the carriage house to the estate, today the little cottage is open year-round as a space for vacationers to rest and recharge. The lighted sconce leads you to the freshly painted black door, and when you step inside, you feel as if you’ve been greeted by an old friend.
With one bedroom and one bath, a design that best fits two guests or a solo traveler, the cottage balances styles that are both traditional and modern. But the subtle power that invites you to settle in lies in the details—the thoughtful, unexpected things that spark curiosity. A welcome note with your name awaits on the kitchen counter, along with cupcakes, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a “passport” with tips on where to eat and what to explore in town. You start noticing a pattern, a trend of offerings that together create a full, sensory experience: the taste of pecan coffee, the summery scents of a peach-and-orange candle, the lush sheets on the bed, the rustling trees just outside the windows.
When you look at the home through the lens of hospitality, you realize it’s the very foundation of the cottage. As you turn corners and open cupboards, finding small delights along the way, you almost feel the comforting presence of another. As if someone was just here, prepping and smoothing down, with every bit of intention and care in the world.
In the discovery of this home, you also discover why you're here. And maybe that’s the true gift of hospitality: space for you to understand your need and then its generous readiness to meet it. You come seeking comfort or adventure, and you leave rested and filled up again, ready to pour out that same generosity to others. But for now, there’s a handwritten note on the nightstand that reminds you, “Relax and enjoy.”
Space to Gather
Kitchen: What this kitchen lacks in space it makes up for in character, from the mural on the back wall to the Shaker-style cabinets. Even if you don’t have a large kitchen, adding just a couple of barstools lets others join the fun.
Dining Room: Artwork and a centerpiece make every meal around this table—fancy or casual—feel like a celebration. The more the merrier, so if your dining space allows, opt for as many seats as possible.
Living Room: A white-painted brick fireplace anchors the open-concept room and draws people close. Soft textures offer comfortable places to land, and games and books within reach invite guests to participate—making the space their own.
Space to Recharge
Office Nook: Wall decor helps distinguish the space, and an open-legged desk keeps it from feeling too busy. An empty wall is really just untapped potential—all you need is a chair for rest and a flat surface for creativity to run free.
Bathroom: This bathroom features wainscoting, a frameless shower, and brass accents to blend a cottage feel with a modern look. Providing necessities and luxuries, like towels and robes, assures guests that rest really is theirs for the taking.
Patio: A pergola and a couple of cozy outdoor chairs offer a place to relax and witness the season unfolding. Adding a side table provides room for morning coffee or a good book, and potted plants make the space feel intentional.
Learn more about our four vacation rentals and check availability here: