Situated along the Potomac River in the shadow of Mount Vernon, Jeff and Amiya Veatch’s home is a study in contrasts. And that was precisely the plan. Outside, every detail—from handmade bricks to wings that appear to have been added on over the years—conveys a sense of a modern history home. Inside, however, the look is classic, but certainly not colonial. “The goal was to make the exterior feel old, like the house has been here for 200 years, and to make the interior more youthful and comfortable,” Jeff explains. “I didn’t want it to be my grandmother’s house.”
An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Veatch purchased the Alexandria property in 2011 and donated the lot’s existing house to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue for a training exercise. With the site cleared, he convinced his then-neighbor Larry Hirsch, a speculative-home developer and builder, to accept a rare custom project and to guide the design and construction of his new Georgian-style abode.
A fluid collaborative process ensued, with the owner involved every step of the way. “Jeff was very hands-on, but he trusted my design sense,” recalls Hirsch. “We wanted to do it right.”
The program and exterior detailing evolved over time. “Nothing was set in stone,” says Veatch. “We didn’t have one vision; we had lots of little visions. One by one, we made decisions, and many times we made them standing on site. It definitely wasn’t the most efficient way to do it, but it was fun.”
Function, however, was paramount from the get-go. Jeff has three kids ages 10 to 15; he married Amiya while the project was underway and they are expecting their first child together. With their young family, the Veatches knew a formal living room would see little use. They opted instead for a modern floor plan, with an open family room and kitchen. “This is where everyone gravitates when they come in,” says Amiya, an equestrian who keeps horses on the family’s Maryland farm, just across the river.
The couple wanted “every room to have a purpose,” adds Jeff. The first floor features a home theater and office, both adjoining the family room, and a dining room to the left of the entry. Upstairs, there are five bedrooms, and the lower level includes a hangout space, guest room, and sports court.
Orienting the house to maximize the riverside setting was a priority. French doors and picture windows along the back capture unobstructed views. Upper and lower terraces, designed by Colao & Peter, also provide perfect vantage points for enjoying the scenery.
With the home’s shell and layout taking shape, the owners tapped designer Andy Staszak to develop cohesive plans for the interior architecture and, later, the décor. Staszak added classic elements including moldings, millwork and ceiling treatments to the “blank-slate” spaces. “All the details had to be conceptualized,” he says. “For inspiration, I envisioned an old house but not a colonial—more like a 1930s Colonial Revival.” Reclaimed materials such as walnut floorboards on the main level and barn beams on the lower-level ceiling lend a touch of authenticity.
A palette of blue, white and tan echoes the outdoors while allowing the viewer to remain the focal point. “It needed to be mostly neutral with accents of blue,” explains Staszak. A tile backsplash, for instance, adds watery color to the predominantly white kitchen. Creamy paint and window panels and a sisal rug balance the dining room’s tone-on-tone blue wallpaper.
While selecting furniture, Staszak heeded his clients’ directive: Keep it comfortable and kid-proof. “They stressed all along that the house was going to get used,” he says. “No precious lamps because somebody could throw a football across the room—and there goes your precious lamp. Those considerations were part and parcel of the process.”
The furnishings are traditional yet relaxed, and durability drove upholstery-fabric choices. Heavy-duty chenille covers the family room’s two custom sofas. “The worst call I could get would be somebody telling me that the fabric is fraying,” notes the designer.
A sprinkle of antiques brings depth to the design. “It can sometimes look a little flat if everything is of the same vintage,” observes Staszak. “I like the ‘found’ quality of antiques. To me, that’s more interesting than when everything is brand new.” Two Regency chairs from the 1800s “add gravitas” to the entrance hall, while a c. 1810 French marquetry table completes a master-bedroom seating arrangement.
Other furniture pieces in the master suite, including the four-poster bed, are strategically positioned for the views. “I love to watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee,” says Amiya. The room’s muted hues blend in with the landscape.
The kids’ rooms boast nature-inspired color schemes too. Staszak used a feminine palette of soft blues and white in one and a boyish combination of tan and navy in another. A central homework station and playroom serve as the kids’ second-floor hub.
As predicted, the house does, indeed, get used—but Staszak’s specifications can handle the wear and tear. “You can throw your feet up on the furniture,” Jeff Veatch affirms. “Andy made the house very livable.”
Catherine Funkhouser is an Arlington writer. Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION: LARRY HIRSCH, Federal City Group, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia. ARCHITECTURAL CONSULTANTS: ROBERT SASTRO, AIA, Fairfax, Virginia; STEVE KULINSKI, AIA, Kulinski Group Architects, PC, Alexandria, Virginia. INTERIOR DESIGN: ANDY STASZAK, Andy Staszak Interiors, Inc., Washington, DC. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: JR PETER, Colao & Peter, Fairfax, Virginia.
ENTRY HALL Round Center Table: Clients’ collection. Rug: carpetimpressions.com. Console: davidiatesta.com. Chairs Flanking Console: Antique through Peter Nee Antiques. Artwork above Console: kevinfitzgeraldpainter.com. Small tables by Front Door Blue & White Vase: East & Beyond, Ltd. Antique Armchairs: Late 19th C. Regency style with caned seats.
DINING ROOM Wallpaper: jimthompsonfabrics.com. Chandelier: davidiatesta.com. Dining Table: kittingerfurniture.com. Dining Chairs & Buffet Lamps: Clients’ collection. Chair Fabric: cowtan.com. Sideboard: Antique from clients’ collection. Mirror: bellacor.com. Drapery Fabric: norbarfabrics.com. Drapery Trim: samuelandsons.com. Rug: Sisal from carpetimpressions.com.
FAMILY ROOM Sofas & Marble Coffee Table: Custom through andystaszakinteriordesign.com. Sofa Fabric: Cotton and Wool Chenille through glant.com. Arm Chairs: leeindustries.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com through carpetimpressions.com. Lamp Tables & Lamps: Clients’ collection. Wing Chairs: rh.com. Wing Chair Fabric: dessinfournir.com. Drapery Fabric: fabricut.com. Drapery Trim: samuelandsons.com. Chairs under Archway: leeindustries.com. Chair Fabric: sharris.com. Rug under Archway: Antique through domimexrugs.com.
KITCHEN Backsplash: architectural ceramics.com. Perimeter Countertops: Absolute Black granite, honed. Island Countertops: Calacatta Gold marble. Bar Stools: hickorychair.com. Stool Fabric: perennialsfabrics.com. Runner: Antique through domimexrugs.com. Pendants: visualcomfortlightinglights.com.
MASTER BEDROOM Bedstead & Armchairs: hickorychair.com. Armchair Fabric: hinesandcompany.com. Round Table by Chairs: Antique French marquetry table circa 1810 through Peter Nee Antiques. Oversized Mirror: Clients’ collection. Carpet: nourison.com through carpetimpressions.com. Drapery Fabric: leejofa.com. Settee: hickorychair.com. Settee Fabric: glant.com. Fabric for Settee Pillows: zimmer-rohde.com. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com.
BOY’S ROOM Bedstead, Bench, Nightstands & Bedding: crateandbarrel.com. Shams: no44homeworks.co.uk. Bedside lamps: Custom through vintagestudios.com. Black Chair: roomandboard.com. Drapery Fabric: johnrobshaw.com through duralee.com
GIRL’S ROOM Bedstead: pbteen.com. Bedding: serenaandlily.com. Chaise: leeindustries.com. Chaise Fabric & Accent Pillow Fabric: tiltonfenwick.com through duralee.com. Nightstands: bungalow5.com. Lamps: lampsplus.com. Drapery Fabric: johnrobshaw.com through duralee.com. Rug: stantoncarpet.com