In contrast to the original, the backyard now features an outdoor fireplace and pergola and a revamped pool house.
BEFORE: The backyard prior to renovation.
BEFORE: The original, rather plain front facade of the house.
The kitchen, which boasts new countertops and an island topped with teak, adjoins the family room with its bumped-out wall, two-sided fireplace and plenty of windows.
The former dining room now serves as a cozy breakfast room.
The formal living room has been transformed into an elegant, spacious dining room.
The rear addition encompasses the second-floor master bedroom.

A Warm Welcome

A mundane Colonial is reborn as a comfortable retreat for a couple and their sons

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

When Dan and Beth Concannon moved into their 1970s Colonial on two acres in Potomac a few years ago, they hired architect Jim Rill to design a renovation even before all the boxes were unpacked. Complete with all the trappings of its era—closed-in rooms, a cramped kitchen and dysfunctional closets—the house lacked connectivity. “Outside, it was so symmetrical and cold. And inside, it had a segmented, boxed-off kind of feel,” Beth Concannon recalls. “We needed to open it up.” 


Jim Rill designed a plan to make the property more inviting, both inside and out. On the exterior, cosmetic and structural changes would bring the home architectural integrity and scale. A generous addition of windows would pour more light into the interiors, where Rill proposed changes that would vastly improve flow and create a connection to the outdoors. 


To establish a welcoming first impression, he designed a front portico, which helps balance the new bay windows that expanded the breakfast room on one side and the dining room on the other. A freshly painted brick exterior and dark trim impart an English Country flair. 


Since the Concannons entertain often, they decided to turn the formal living room to the right of the entry foyer into a large dining room. In turn, the existing dining room became a sun-filled breakfast room that opens directly to the kitchen now that the wall separating the two spaces has been removed. “Opening up the views was a big part of this addition.” says Rill. “It celebrates the outside.”


Kitchen designer Robin Lynch updated the once-cramped kitchen in a style that would complement the casual yet well-crafted feel of the home. New cabinets and appliances and marble countertops rim the perimeter walls, while an expanded island topped with teak serves as a prep space and homework station for the Concannons’ two sons. Just off the kitchen and breakfast room, a small addition to the existing garage now houses a home office, a powder room, a mudroom and pantry. 


At the rear of the house, a two-story extension of the family room on the main level and the master bedroom above centers around a stone chimney. Large bay windows now flank the new fireplace in the family room. Interior designer Deborah Kernan helped the family select durable furnishings and a color scheme of rich neutrals here and throughout the home.


Upstairs, a sitting area in the reconfigured master bedroom also features a fireplace along with doors leading to twin balconies overlooking the pool. The renovation also provided the owners with a luxurious new master bath and copious closet space.


Envisioning the back as a courtyard, Rill designed inviting elements on all four sides of the pool, including a trellised pergola with a fireplace and a stone grotto with a hot tub built into what was an empty slope of grass. He also revamped the freestanding pool house with detailing to reflect the style of the main house. 


The renovation realized major changes with only minor alterations to the home’s original footprint. “We found that we could fix the flow without adding much square footage,” says Rill. “We created rooms that are utilized instead of just adding space. And there are now great vistas in every room of the house.”


Lydia Cutter is a photographer in McLean, Virginia. 


ARCHITECTURE: Jim Rill, AIA, lead architect; KAI KIM, project architect, Rill Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. RENOVATION CONTRACTOR: W.C. HOMES, Potomac, Maryland. INTERIOR DESIGN & STYLING: DEBORAH KERNAN, Distinctive Designs, Potomac, Maryland. LANDSCAPING: FINE EARTH LANDSCAPE, INC., Poolesville, Maryland. 

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