Architect Jeffrey Davenport creates his own laid-back, modernist family retreat overlooking Virginia’s Lake Anna
Throughout his decades-long career as a commercial architect, most recently as a principal at Perkins&Will, Jeffrey Davenport has masterminded structures around the world that meet his clients’ every last wish. Yet he never had the opportunity to do the same for himself until a fateful day in 2015 when his Northern Virginia neighbors brought him to see a two-and-a-half-acre waterfront lot on Virginia’s Lake Anna.
It was hardly love at first sight for Davenport and his wife, who needed time to mull over the idea. “Being an architect, my goal was always to design the house of my dreams,” he explains. “But I wasn’t sure if this property was right or even if it was the right time.” After a few months of consideration, however, they put in an offer. “I figured now is as good a time as any,” Davenport says.
Given the opportunity to conceive a getaway from the ground up, the architect envisioned a home unlike the couple’s primary residence, a traditional center-hall Colonial in Northern Virginia with rooms that go unused much of the year. For this new abode, he leaned into his penchant for modernism, devising a striking, single-story, 4,700-square-foot dwelling with large, open spaces for gathering. He envisioned room for frequent visits from his grown children and grandchildren, but a feeling of coziness when it’s just the couple. “I wanted someplace where the family could get away and reconnect,” he says. “This house and site allow for that.”
To realize his vision, Davenport organized the six-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath home along what he describes as a spine, which maximizes every square inch of the lot’s narrow buildable area. The great room is located at one end, while the owners’ suite is situated at the opposite corner. The garage and media room extend off the spine from the south side of the home. The entire structure is covered in a white- and gray-colored glass cladding system by Sto that mirrors surrounding trees and nearly 270-degree water views. “The reflective properties of the glass take on a different quality and appearance throughout the day and during each season,” Davenport notes.
The site’s rural Louisa County location proved challenging for Davenport in the hunt for a builder to carry out his vision, which included complex configurations like large cantilevers specially positioned to block direct sunlight in the summer while still helping to heat the interior in cooler seasons. “Finding a contractor in the area who was willing to take on the challenge of a home like this wasn’t easy,” explains Davenport, who eventually enlisted Ken Stanley of Stanley Custom Homes in Orange, Virginia. “Once he understood how particular I was, Ken actually exceeded my expectations.”
Taking full advantage of the home’s natural surroundings was top of mind for the architect, who opted for large expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows to help blur the lines between interior and exterior. Even the entry door is constructed from a nine-foot-tall piece of glass. “The idea was that you come up to the house and get a visual inside and then out to the lake,” says Davenport. He also considered the view for frequent passersby, devising a feature wall with sculptural cutouts separating the foyer and main living area, which is illuminated at night and visible from the water.
A pared-down interior palette ensures that the spectacular vistas remain the star of the show. In the open kitchen, for example, minimalist white-lacquer cabinetry from Snaidero is a seamless match to the room’s white walls, while walnut accents add a striking contrast. “Everything we did was to blend in with the architecture, instead of designing a kitchen that says ‘notice me,’” recounts Shawna Dillon of Snaidero DC Metro, who worked closely with Davenport to realize the space. “Our design philosophy is always about integrating into someone’s home.”
In keeping with his modern vision, Davenport selected classic mid-century furnishings like Eames dining and lounge chairs, Bertoia bar stools and Saarinen Womb chairs. But never does the less-is-more approach restrict his family from the relaxed enjoyment of the abode. Case in point: A sleek MDF Italia dining table clad in French oak veneer is a frequent gathering spot for games.
And even the 100-foot-long central corridor provides ample fun. “My grandsons love to have me chase them down that hallway,” says Davenport with a laugh. “It’s a wonderful home for a large family—and we’re not a quiet group.”
Architecture & Interior Design: Jeffrey Davenport, Perkins&Will, Washington, DC. Kitchen & Bath Design: Shawna Dillon, ASID, NCIDQ, Snaidero DC Metro, Alexandria, Virginia. Builder: Ken Stanley, Stanley Custom Homes, Orange, Virginia.
Wood Flooring: wideplankflooring.com. Windows: fleetwoodusa.com. Home Automation: lutron.com through arcanetech.com. Window Treatment: mechoshade.com through Total Shading Solutions (301-948-9520).
Eames Outdoor Table & Chairs: hermanmiller.com.
Cabinetry: snaiderodcmetro.com. Countertops & Backsplash: caesarstoneus.com. Ovens, Range & Hood: mieleusa.com through snaiderodcmetro.com. Faucet: grohe.com. Bertoia Bar Stools: knoll.com. Dining Table: mdfitalia.com. Eames Dining Chairs: hermanmiller.com.
Saarinen Womb Chair & Saarinen Tulip Side Table: knoll.com. Sofa, Swivel Chairs & Ottomans: hermanmiller.com. Rug: safavieh.com. LC4 Chaise Longue: dwr.com.
Cabinets: snaiderodcmetro.com. Countertops: caesarstoneus.com. Backsplash: daltile.com. Washer & Dryer: electroluxappliances.com. Appliance Source: Build.com
Cabinets: snaiderodcmetro.com. Flooring: daltile.com. Shower Enclosure: richmondshowerdoorsandmore.com. Plumbing Fixtures: grohe.com. Vanity Chair: dwr.com. Wall Covering: besttile.com.
Vanity: snaiderodcmetro.com. Mirror: ibmirror.com. Plumbing Fixture: grohe.com. Wall Covering: daltile.com.