Modern Classic

A McLean residence gains curb appeal and functional elegance

Positive first impressions are not a given— even when a house benefits from impressive architecture, as the owners of a stately McLean residence discerned. Builders neglected to marry the brick structure to its slip of land. “There was no hardscaping, just a house,” recalls landscape architect Chad Talton of Surrounds, Inc., who was hired to remedy the situation. “We put the house on a pedestal.”

His design draws power from symmetry, simplicity and clean geometry. A low brick retaining wall the width of the home serves as a visual plinth. At its center, turf steps suggest a grand staircase. The walkway from the drive to the front door consists of oversized stepping stones on a “terrace” of lawn.

These winks and nods to formality continue in a gateway to the backyard. An iron gate opens to a courtyard where trident maples underplanted with hakone grass and hosta stand sentry at the four corners of a custom fountain. Water burbles from an urn balanced on a bluestone cube set atop crushed gravel. “We tried to relax that area a bit,” says Talton.

The backyard is reserved for relaxation, with a new dining porch and grill, as well as a fire pit on a patio of travertine amid lush plantings of arborvitae, magnolia, hydrangea, abelia and wild indigo. Mandevilla spills from orb-shaped planters, making the most of classical form and the owners’ casual, contemporary style.

Award: Grand, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build). Landscape Architecture: Chad Talton, PLA, Surrounds Landscape Architecture + Construction, Sterling, Virginia.