Time has been good to this house on the Corsica River. After beginning its life in 1914 with a mere two rooms on the ground floor and a center hall, it has bloomed into a sprawling home on 34 acres with quirks, character and river views galore.
When a retired couple from DC purchased the Centreville, Maryland, abode called Windy Hill as their weekend getaway in 2008, it had already undergone a 1960s makeover that added a new kitchen at one end and a great room at the other. In 2001, Annapolis architect Chip Bohl removed the wall between the dining room and foyer and updated the living room, kitchen and much of the upstairs for previous owners. He created the architectural features and non-traditional aesthetic that attracted the DC couple when they first saw the house. “I remember walking up to the second-floor landing and looking out through a wall of windows at the river,” the wife relates. “I thought, ‘This is it; this is the house we want.’”
However, parts of it were still outdated. So the husband, a civil engineer, and wife, a landscape architect, turned to Bohl to redo the great room and design a master suite above it in the style of his previous work.
“The great room was about creating a space that would engage the viewer,” Bohl says. “It’s a big room, so I used beams and columns to define it.” Laser-cut glass panels replaced walls that framed the windows out to the river, “so you can see the horizon line through a variety of openings.”
The roof was raised to accommodate the master suite, which encompasses a bedroom, sitting room, bath and walk-in closet. Bohl employed a range of materials and styles. Floors in the addition and millwork in the great room are walnut, while the rest of the house is in the original pine. “I like eclecticism,” he says. “I put things together that embrace variety.”
To ensure that the architecture and interiors would flow seamlessly, the couple hired designer Joe Ireland early in the process. He had worked on their DC house and understood their priorities. He also appreciated Bohl’s eclectic sensibility, reflected in the sculptural, asymmetrical plaster fireplace in the dining room, varied window choices and extensive millwork. “The moldings on the doors and windows are Arts & Crafts, which was very modern for the era when the house was built,” Ireland explains. “Chip took his ideas from that.”
The owners were open to the designer’s vision and wanted to start from scratch in terms of furniture and accessories, so Ireland began with a clean slate. He took his cues from the house. “I was going for ‘bohemian chic,’” he says. “It’s eclectic, with a sense of humor. It’s not dull.”
Ireland and the wife selected a mix of antiques and new pieces in styles ranging from rustic to mid-century to modern. In the great room, Christian Liaigre sofas are grouped with club chairs by Jamie Drake for Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman around a custom coffee table of Ireland’s design. The traditional living room sofa by Donghia is paired with an antique Chinese coffee table, while in the dining room, an antique table and chairs from Rose Tarlow offer a rustic touch.
Throughout the house, Ireland layered fabric patterns, from Ikat to patchwork, to convey the bohemian vibe. Colorful vintage rugs, faded by time, create a comfortable, lived-in look. “I wanted it to feel like all this stuff had been here a long time,” the designer says.
Meanwhile, the wife was working with Allison Marvin, an art consultant from DC-based Sightline, to acquire art for Windy Hill, a pursuit that is near and dear to her heart. Both Bohl and Ireland kept her growing collection of abstract and photographic art and sculptures in mind during the design process; Bohl framed wall space within columns and built-ins and Ireland selected furniture and finishes with specific pieces in mind. The owners’ collection includes works by up-and-coming artists, including many from “30 Americans,” a 2015 Corcoran exhibit that showcased African American artists.
A swimming pool and patio have been relocated from the front of the house to the side, where they are accessible via the great room. A charming brick porch that runs along the back is original to the house. The wife designed the grounds herself, creating S-shaped retaining walls that showcase banks of flowers and shrubs and a rain garden that flows to the river. As a landscape architect, she is currently working with the Department of Natural Resources to create a living shoreline along this part of the waterfront.
The couple enjoys every moment in their renovated home. “We do have a fabulous view,” says the wife. “We pinch ourselves all the time.”
Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
Renovation Architecture: Chip Bohl, Bohl Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Joe Ireland, J.D. Ireland Interior Architecture + Design, Washington, DC. Builder: Winchester Construction, Millersville, Maryland.