KohlMark Group Architects + Builders revamps a traditional Loudoun County home with modern farmhouse flair and a strong indoor-outdoor connection
An award-winning renovation transformed a staid, builder-grade home in the rolling hills of Waterford, Virginia, into a clean, modern farmhouse that takes full advantage of the stunning scenery from an inviting new suite of outdoor entertainment spaces.
The owners, formerly in the tech industry, purchased the 7,200-square-foot, 1990s Colonial-style abode for its five-acre site, which boasts vistas of both adjacent vineyards and distant mountain peaks. But after 15 years in residence, they were eager to update the exterior, expand the interior spaces to maximize the views and open the home to the surrounding landscape.
“The house was designed so that the view from the kitchen was blocked by a mudroom in back,” recounts architect Thomas Flach. “The basement wasn’t finished, and the house didn’t connect to the yard.” Flach designed the remodel with Mark Kohler, founder of KohlMark Group, which encompasses both an architecture firm and a building company; they collaborated with colleague Wade Greene on the construction process.
The architects reinvigorated the dated house with a two-story rear addition that extends existing spaces on the first and second floors, optimizes the views and creates multiple points of access to new outdoor living areas. The offending mudroom was relocated to the addition and enlarged to accommodate a special shower for the owners’ beloved German shepherds. The dining area was expanded with a window-lined bay; glass doors nearby open to a large deck complete with a built-in grill. In the adjoining great room, the architects traded out traditional, small-paned windows that partially obscured mountain views for oversized panes with slim, black frames that better capture the scenery. The kitchen and owners’ bath have been updated and the basement finished in style.
On the second floor, the owners’ suite was revamped and enlarged; in addition to a luxe walk-in closet and bath, it now boasts an airy private sunroom with three walls of windows embracing panoramic views. “The sunroom is a spectacular space to watch the sun set and have a glass of wine,” Flach comments. “It’s an oasis that was one of the best surprises of the project.”
The finished lower level beckons, with a home office, billiards area, media room, sauna and wet bar. Glass doors open to a covered patio where a two-sided fireplace also serves the lower-level interior spaces.
To achieve the farmhouse look the owners envisioned, the design team reclad the house in wide board-and-batten siding, replaced traditional windows and shutters with black-framed Windsor windows and broadened the stone foundation walls. In lieu of traditional garage doors, black-painted barn doors add charm to the side façade. A small front portico was replaced with a wrap-around porch protected by a standing-seam metal roof that creates space to welcome guests.
While the open site provides the home’s spectacular prospect, it also exposes it to harsh wind and weather, which had taken a toll over the years. As part of the reconfiguration, the great room walls were reinforced with steel and insulation and mechanical systems were upgraded. The renovation eventually touched every room in the house.
The farmhouse feel carries through the interior with the use of wide-plank white oak flooring, dark and rustic wood accents and natural materials such as river stone in the bathrooms. NVS Kitchen & Bath’s Rich Perkins rejuvenated the existing kitchen with black accents in cabinetry, lighting and a statement-making range that play off the black architectural windows.
The team worked closely with James R. Peter of Colao & Peter Luxury Outdoor Living, who designed an award-winning landscape with terraced stone walkways leading to an elegant pool, spa and pergola. “The client was changing a very traditional house into a modern farmhouse,” notes Peter, who composed the outdoor elements to complement the renovation’s clean lines. “We wanted to reflect the design change in the landscape—to stay true to ‘less is more’ by matching materials and keeping material choices simple.”
The landscape plan provided the owners with a private getaway among the vineyards. The first-floor deck and patio lead out to thick travertine walkways and steps down to the spa, pool and pergola. The pool area is faced with travertine, while the same Western Maryland stone that clads the home’s foundation also forms the retaining walls. Dark-granite accents pick up the dark hue on the window frames.
The outdoor entertainment areas were sited on an axis with the main back gable of the house. “We wanted to create unique spaces that the family can use at different times of the year,” Peter explains. The spa was set close in for easy access, with the pool sited at a lower elevation so as not to detract from the view when not in use.
The extensive renovation was completed just months before the pandemic shut down most daily activities, forcing people to stay close to home. The owners “couldn’t have planned it more perfectly, not knowing what was coming,” Mark Kohler observes. “It’s the perfect retreat. They have it all in one spot.”
What are factors to consider when planning a home remodel?
Tom Flach: Needs change as families enter different stages of life. A playroom for toddlers will quickly become obsolete if a long-term plan is not incorporated. Aging in place and accommodating mobility issues should also be considered.
How have renovations changed during the pandemic?
Tom Flach: With parents and their children working and going to school in their homes, the open-concept floor plan has presented a challenge. A lot of projects these days involve creative solutions to provide flexible private spaces.
Mark Kohler: Many subcontractors do not want to work inside with other subs, which has slowed the process. And we’re finding that inflation is significantly raising job costs.
What unknown issues often arise during a renovation?
Wade Greene: Wood rot and termite damage are probably the most common issues, along with lack of insulation or insulation that was poorly installed. Improving energy efficiency is a challenge and is not always cost-effective.
Renovation Architecture: Thomas Flach, AIA, KohlMark Flach Architects; Mark A. Kohler, AIA; KohlMark Group Architects + Builders, Burke, Virginia. Renovation Contractor: Wade Greene, KohlMark Builders, Burke, Virginia. Kitchen Design: Rich Perkins, NVS Kitchen & Bath, Manassas, Virginia. Landscape Architect: James R. Peter, RLA, ASLA, Colao & Peter Luxury Outdoor Living, Sterling, Virginia.