With enough space and the right location, a weekend retreat can be the perfect vehicle for bringing a family together. Embracing this notion, an Arlington couple with twin boys decided to purchase a waterfront abode on the Chesapeake with other family members. “We wanted to buy a house with my mother and stepfather for extensive family gatherings,” recounts the wife, a stay-at-home mom whose husband is in furniture manufacturing. “And we wanted space for my sister and her family and my husband’s parents to visit.” They also planned to list the property as a vacation rental.
A circa-1992 house near St. Michaels fit the bill. At 5,100 square feet and with five bedrooms and five baths, there was room for a crowd. And nestled on six-and-a-half acres overlooking Grace Creek, the picturesque property was already beautifully landscaped with a pool, pool house and pavilion.
However, the interiors needed work. More bedrooms, bathrooms and gathering spaces would be necessary to meet the family’s requirements (the final count is six en-suite bedrooms and three powder rooms). The kitchen and existing baths were dated and the home’s orientation didn’t take advantage of the water views. The owners tapped architect Christine Dayton and designer Zoë Feldman to overhaul the abode in style.
“The clients didn’t want to enlarge the house, but they wanted two owners’ suites,” notes Dayton. “A garage addition had a large office over it which we converted into a suite for the younger couple. We kept the first-floor owners’ suite for the parents.”
The plan shifted walls on the main floor to create a more open layout, with the kitchen, dining and living areas occupying one big waterfront-facing room, spilling into a sunroom previously separated by an obtrusive kitchen peninsula. The former dining room, with no water view, became a study. Between the kitchen and garage, Dayton carved out space for a mudroom, pantry, powder room and laundry; a short hall leads out to a screened porch and a guest suite is tucked behind the garage. Upstairs, a game room with a wet bar opens out to a glass-railed balcony while four en-suite bedrooms offer plenty of additional sleeping space.
Once the new floor plans were complete, Dayton and Feldman teamed up with the owners to develop the home’s aesthetic. “It’s a post-and-beam structure, but not rustic,” explains Dayton, who wrapped the exposed woodwork in crisp white oak to match new wide-plank, white oak floors throughout.
Feldman conceived a clean-lined, organic palette of black-and-white tones accented by wood and brass. Shiplap and board-and-batten paneling add coastal flair. “The setting is beautiful and it was the star,” the designer observes. “So we created neutral interiors that would complement the outdoors and allow the views to shine.”
Feldman collaborated with Lobkovich Kitchen Designs on the kitchen, selecting finishes while principal J. Paul Lobkovich configured the layout. Though the owners initially wanted everything white, recalls the wife, “Zoë pushed me out of my comfort zone on that, and I’m so glad she did.” Cabinets are painted a deep blue-black, offset by extensive white subway tile on the walls; copious pantry space made it possible to eschew upper cabinets in favor of open, white oak shelving. The wet bar upstairs is painted the same blue-black hue for continuity.
When it came time to decorate the home’s six en-suite bathrooms and three powder rooms, the wife suggested one look for all. “I was overwhelmed,” she recalls, “but Zoë felt that the baths are their own separate spaces and should all be different. Now, I love that each room has its own feel.” For instance, the main-level owners’ bath boasts a white porcelain-tile floor, a weathered-oak double vanity and a shower enclosure clad in blue-black subway tile, while the upstairs one features honed-slate floor tile and twin marble washstands atop iron bases.
Though Feldman selected decorative lighting, rugs and accessories, much of the furniture was acquired through the husband’s business, with the designer weighing in on choices that lean toward neutral, relaxed and a bit eclectic. The results are just what the owners wanted. “This was a labor of love,” enthuses the wife. “We couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.”
Renovation Architecture: Christine M. Dayton, Christine M. Dayton Architect, P.A., Easton, Maryland. Interior Design: Zoë Feldman, Zoë Feldman Design, Washington, DC. Contracting: Jay Chance, Chance And Associates, Easton, Maryland. Kitchen Design: J. Paul Lobkovich, Lobkovich Kitchen Designs, Tysons, Virginia. Home Automation: Steve Adams, Strategic Home Media, Stevensville, Maryland.