The hallmarks of historic Arts and Crafts architecture—overhanging roofs, shingled façades and exposed-wood joinery—are celebrated in the home built by Dawn Vermilya and Jinyong Cai in Northwest DC’s upscale Phillips Park neighborhood. The married couple had looked at dozens of properties in the area before buying a wooded lot next to Glover-Archbold Park.
Vermilya and Cai, a buildpartner in an infrastructure investment fund, had previously built a contemporary residence on the outskirts of Beijing and were comfortable with the custom-design process. They chose Washington, DC, architect Ankie Barnes of Barnes Vanze Architects to create a seven-bedroom house for themselves and their three grown daughters.
“We were looking for a home that would be compatible with both Chinese and Western furnishings and art, that made you feel comfortable and relaxed but also had a certain natural elegance to it,” says Vermilya, formerly with the World Bank. “Ankie took these concepts and suggested a California Arts and Crafts style.”
Barnes drew inspiration from the shingled residences in Pasadena, California, created by architects Charles and Henry Greene in the early 1900s. “With its blend of Asian and American influences, woodsy style and connection to nature, their architecture was a good place to start,” he says. Like the Greene brothers’ climate-sensitive homes, the Phillips Park house invites outdoor living with porches, decks and balconies extending from every level.
Meticulous detailing is evident throughout the interiors, beginning in the three-story foyer with its elegantly curving staircase edged in white oak. Flanking this entrance hall are the dining and living rooms, where oak moldings and trim grace the walls and ceilings.
At the back, the main level expands to a large, open space containing the kitchen, breakfast area and family room, all unified by a continuous wood-beam ceiling. Since the site slopes downward toward the rear of the property, this end of the house is perched high above the yard like a treehouse. “There’s an expansive view of our garden and Glover-Archbold Park,” says Cai. “It is always beautiful and changing with the seasons.”
A spacious deck off the family room serves as a place for hosting al fresco parties and enjoying the scenery. “It’s very nice to just relax, read or have a barbecue there, spring through fall,” Cai relates. In the walk-out basement below the kitchen, a wall of folding-glass doors can be completely opened, joining a stone patio to an indoor exercise area centered on a resistance swimming pool.
Throughout the house, Asian-influenced woodwork and decorative finishes remind Cai and Vermilya of their years living in China. The deck railings and fretwork in the dining room and the home office off the family room are inspired by Eastern motifs. Wooden door surrounds on the main level suggest the shapes of temple gateways. Japanese-style cherry blossoms extend across the tile of the living-room fireplace.
Four bedroom suites on the second floor include spaces for the homeowners and their visiting daughters, while a guest room occupies the lower level. Of the two bedrooms on the third floor, one is used as a study and the other as a studio for Vermilya, who experiments with art. The owners’ bathroom reveals fine craftsmanship in its teak vanity, cabinets and tub surround, designed by Barnes Vanze to recall both Asian and Arts and Crafts handiwork.
Working closely with her colleagues and the clients, interior designer Miriam Dillon complemented the architecture with wood furnishings, metal light fixtures, grass cloth on the dining room walls and earth-toned upholstery. She also incorporated the owners’ collection of Chinese antiques, art and accessories throughout the home.
“The clients had an interest in a minimalist environment with clean lines that would not detract from the architecture,” says Dillon. “Since the house occupies a site that allows for beautiful views of the landscape, it was important to respect the setting with natural materials and colors.”
The owners and their family delight in their serene new retreat. “The abundance of natural materials, the home’s relationship to the woods and Asian influences all made the California Arts and Crafts style an ideal choice for us,” says Vermilya. “It reminds us of the craftsmanship we’ve seen in China.”
Architecture & Interior Design: Anthony Barnes, FAIA, LEED AP, principal; Ellen Hatton, AIA, project architect; Miriam Dillon, interior design, Barnes Vanze Architects, Washington, DC. Builder: Richard Zantzinger, Mauck Zantzinger & Associates, Inc., Washington, DC. Landscape Design: Marion Oxford Dearth Landscape Design Inc., Washington, DC.
Window Treatment Fabric: fabricut.com. Rug: carpetimpressions.com. Sectional & Lounge Chair: roche-bobois.com. Console Table: 1stdibs.com. Coffee Table: roche-bobois.com. Island Pendants: restorationhardware.com. Breakfast Table: randomharvesthome.com. Chairs & Stools: Owner’s collection. Table Chandelier: visualcomfort.com.
Console Table: 1stdibs.com. Entry Rug: restorationhardware.com. Stair Runner: carpetimpressions.com. Hanging Pendants: visualcomfort.com. Loveseat: leeindustries.com. Accessories: Antiques. Art: By owner. Sconces: visualcomfort.com.
Sofa, chairs & coffee table: Owner’s collection. Fireplace Mural: fireclaytile.com.
Lighting: hubbardtonforge.com. Faucets: waterworks.com. Sink: us.kohler.com. Vanity & Cabinets: Custom by Barnes Vanze Architects. Counter: caesarstoneus.com. Accessories: waterworks.com. Chair: Owner’s collection. Deck Furniture & accessories: restorationhardware.com.