Born and bred in Alabama, Gina Jones is drawn to the stately demeanor of many traditional Southern homes. When she and her husband, Dennis Porter, purchased their Oakton, Virginia, house, however, it was sorely lacking in stateliness. “The house had great bones but not much personality,” Jones recalls. One of a row of model homes belonging to an adjacent development, it was positioned sideways on its one-acre lot, without a formal front entrance. After living in the house for some years, Jones, an Internet publisher, and Porter, an Air Force officer, were ready to renovate.
They tapped Sonny Nazemian of Michael Nash Custom Kitchens & Homes, Inc., for the job, which originally entailed pushing out the back of the house to get extra space. “I drew up plans,” Nazemian says, “but none of it satisfied what Gina really wanted. When we suggested adding onto the front instead, it all fell into place.”
Jones had long been frustrated by her home’s uninspired front façade. “I wanted a Southern, antebellum look like what I grew up with,” she says. She requested a two-level porch, and once Nazemian and his team re-oriented the entry to the front and painted the HardiePlank siding a vivid, inviting blue, the gracious, Southern-style home Jones had always wanted began to emerge.
Inside, the two-story addition includes a spacious foyer that has been embellished with wide crown molding and pillars to communicate traditional elegance. The foyer opens seamlessly into an open-plan living room/dining room that is more contemporary in style, and injects a welcome formality to the rest of the house.
Adjacent to the foyer, Nazemian added a guest suite with a private entrance and a Brazilian slate-tiled bath that boasts granite countertops and cherry cabinetry. This convenient guest suite is intended to accommodate long-term visits from Jones’s aging parents.
Upstairs, a new master bedroom suite more than doubled the size of the old one, and includes a roomy walk-in closet that borrowed space from the bedroom next door (which belongs to Jones’s college-age daughter). The master suite opens out onto the upstairs porch, where an expansive view of the wooded property stretches ahead. In a corner of the room, Nazemian installed a gas fireplace, elevating it so that the couple would be able to see it from their bed. Elaborate cornices and swags, fabricated by Nazemian’s staff of interior designers, adorn the windows.
The master bath includes a double vanity and soaking tub, a walk-in shower with one hand-held and two attached showerheads, and heated floors and towel racks. Nazemian chose structured porcelain, which has a textured, rugged look, for the floors and shower and tub surrounds, along with cherry cabinets and granite countertops. Warm, cream-colored walls give the space a restful, inviting air.
Nazemian updated the home’s interiors throughout by replacing standard oak floors on the ground floor and wall-to-wall carpeting on the stairway and second floor with richly stained Brazilian cherry wood. He removed a half-wall that had separated the living room area from what was formerly the entryway to impart a sense of openness, and clad wood pillars in wainscoting to formalize the living room space.
According to Nazemian, the main goal of the project was to create an addition that would seamlessly blend the new and existing sections of the house. “Nobody should feel that this was added,” he says, pointing to the exterior expanse that now constitutes the front of the house
In fact, this was easier said than done. “Changing the elevation and adding the porch were the most challenging aspects,” Nazemian recalls. “Grading was extremely difficult because of the sloped front yard and trees. The foundation had to be deeper than we originally thought.”
The results of his firm’s labors have been well worth it: The project just received a 2010 Contractor of the Year Award. Meanwhile, Jones and her husband are thrilled with their transformed space. “It gave me exactly what I wanted,” Jones says. “It has been enjoyed and lived in.”
Photographer June Stanich is based in Fairfax, Virginia.
RENOVATION DESIGN/Build: SONNY NAZEMIAN, CID, CR, CKBR, Michael Nash Design Build & Homes, Inc., Fairfax, Virginia.