Home & Design
Light-filled entry showcases a 
console built by Mennonite craftsmen and a Visual Comfort light fixture.
Light-filled entry showcases a 
console built by Mennonite craftsmen and a Visual Comfort light fixture.

The light-filled entry showcases a 
console built by Mennonite craftsmen and a Visual Comfort light fixture.

White-painted shiplap walls envelop the dining room, with custom hickory table.
White-painted shiplap walls envelop the dining room, with custom hickory table.

White-painted shiplap walls envelop the dining room, which is centered on a custom hickory table.

Kitchen cabinetry with gray quartz peripheral counters. 
Arhaus stools with vintage German factory pendants.
Kitchen cabinetry with gray quartz peripheral counters. 
Arhaus stools with vintage German factory pendants.

In the kitchen, cabinetry is topped with gray quartz peripheral counters. 
Arhaus stools pair well with vintage German factory pendants.

Mennonite craftsmen fabricated the ladder and butcher’s block surfaces in the walk-in pantry. 
Mennonite craftsmen fabricated the ladder and butcher’s block surfaces in the walk-in pantry. 

Mennonite craftsmen fabricated the ladder and butcher’s block surfaces in the walk-in pantry. 

Hutch fabricated by Woodburn Cabinets holds dishes made for Sherry Whittles by a local potter.
Hutch fabricated by Woodburn Cabinets holds dishes made for Sherry Whittles by a local potter.

A hutch fabricated by Woodburn Cabinets holds dishes made for Sherry Whittles by a local potter.

Chocolate Lab peaks out of the mudroom, with antique Belgian bench and porcelain-tile floor.
Chocolate Lab peaks out of the mudroom, with antique Belgian bench and porcelain-tile floor.

The Whittleses’ chocolate Lab peaks out of the mudroom, 
home to an antique Belgian bench and porcelain-tile floor.

Powder room features a farmhouse-style sink.
Powder room features a farmhouse-style sink.

The powder room features a farmhouse-style sink.

Bedroom tucked into the eaves.
Bedroom tucked into the eaves.

A bedroom tucked into the eaves is dedicated to the owners’ grandchildren.

Playroom with tongue-and-groove paneling and custom shelving.
Playroom with tongue-and-groove paneling and custom shelving.

A playroom is outfitted with tongue-and-groove paneling and custom shelving.

Owners’ bedroom with Arhaus bed and chair upholstered in microsuede with linen drapes.
Owners’ bedroom with Arhaus bed and chair upholstered in microsuede with linen drapes.

The owners’ bedroom “is a slice of serenity,” says Abt, who combined an Arhaus bed and chair upholstered in microsuede with linen drapes.

Owners’ bath with white oak vanity topped with quartz, a marble tile floor and Visual Comfort sconces.
Owners’ bath with white oak vanity topped with quartz, a marble tile floor and Visual Comfort sconces.

The owners’ bath boasts a custom white oak vanity topped with quartz, a marble tile floor and Visual Comfort sconces.

Earthy palette of pale gray, wood and natural stone in the sunroom 
with rustic beam on mantel.
Earthy palette of pale gray, wood and natural stone in the sunroom 
with rustic beam on mantel.

An earthy palette of pale gray, wood and natural stone warms the sunroom 
where a rustic beam adorns the mantel.

Sylvan Setting

Designer Kate Abt conceives a chic, modern 
farmhouse in bucolic St. Mary’s County

Sherry and Vince Whittles are local business owners—but their hearts belong to their 350-acre farm in Dameron, Maryland. The couple’s beloved property encompasses barns, stables, a hunting lodge, outbuildings and separate abodes where their three grown sons and their families reside. And at the center of it all was the cottage Sherry and Vince called home.

That is, until recently, when the couple decided they were ready for an update. They pictured a renovation in keeping with the home’s idyllic setting on the banks of picturesque Saint Jerome Creek. The reimagined dwelling would be equal parts warm, rustic, sophisticated—and, above all, fresh. They tapped British-born designer Kate Abt to help them achieve their vision.

Like most major renovation projects, however, the execution didn’t go exactly according to plan. After consulting several builders, the Whittleses discovered the house was in a worse state of disrepair than they’d thought, so they opted to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. With the help of Abt and Colony Builders, Inc., they razed the structure in favor of a brand-new custom home on the same footprint. “There wasn’t a lot we could do to save the cottage, so we decided to build the clients exactly what they wanted instead,” Abt notes.

The result? A contemporary take on a classic farmhouse. Measuring in at 4,700 square feet, the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath structure fronts pristine pastureland, while the back offers 180-degree vistas of the creek. The plan incorporated open sight lines so visitors can view the water from the moment they arrive at the framed-glass front door.

The completed residence encompasses an entry flanked by a home office on one side and a powder room on the other. The foyer opens to the expansive family room and kitchen at the back. The owners’ bedroom suite occupies the lower level, accessible via stairs down from the family room, while two additional bedrooms await upstairs. A cozy dining room, occupying a spacious nook off the kitchen, leads into a serene sunroom boasting two window walls overlooking the creek. It is intentionally devoid of electronics. “The idea was to prioritize the amazing views,” Abt explains. “It’s a quiet room for reading or playing board games—the living room, kitchen and dining room are all nearby, but the sunroom is away from all of the noise and commotion.”

Indeed, with family members all living on the same sprawling property, the home is frequently full. The inspiration behind the easygoing look and feel of the space was, in fact, the high-energy group that would be dropping in often: the Whittleses’ grown sons and young grandchildren. “We wanted to create something quite laid-back,” Abt relates. “Nothing is very precious. The home is designed to be enjoyed and well-loved.”

Front and center in the new dwelling is the kitchen—Sherry’s favorite room in the house. “We pretty much built our home around the kitchen because we have such a large family and love to entertain,” she observes. “I wanted a big island so that I can be on one side prepping appetizers and pouring drinks while everyone else is on the other side—but we can all still talk and see each other.”

Answering the couple’s desire for a classic white kitchen, Abt kept the whole space clean and light, letting a sense of airiness set the mood. “We added black window frames because the all-white space needed a surprise element,” says the designer, who teamed up with Leonardtown-based Woodburn Cabinets on custom cabinetry that establishes the modern-farmhouse theme. She enhanced the vibe with vintage cutting boards, utensil holders and more.

Abt and her clients were keen on outfitting their new home with materials and hues that felt appropriate to the pastoral landscape. “We wanted a clean and simple palette,” she says. “It’s not meant to be a very fussy space.”

Crisp-white walls, shiplap siding and rustic beams provide the backdrop for locally crafted furnishings throughout. “The concept was to use as many local craftsmen as we could. That’s what I loved so much about this project,” Abt enthuses. “Most of it isn’t retail; it’s totally catered to the client.” In addition to custom kitchen cabinetry, she enlisted Mennonite craftsmen to build tables, a bathroom vanity, a rustic pantry ladder and built-ins. A favorite custom piece: the extendable hickory dining table, which seats six but can be enlarged to accommodate big gatherings.

The Whittleses’ finished abode effortlessly mixes old and new to create warmth and a layered, collected sensibility. And, of course, this was Abt’s goal. Says the designer, “The home sits along a waterfront, surrounded by charming old stables and barns. It had to fit in without losing that contemporary edge.”

Architectural & Interior Design: Kate Abt, Kate Abt Design, Leonardtown, Maryland. Builder: Colony Builders, Inc., Valley Lee, Maryland.

 

RESOURCES

GENERAL
Flooring: hallmarkfloors.com. Window Treatment Fabrication & Beams: Custom.

SUN ROOM
Chairs & Chair Fabric: arhaus.com. Rug: greenfront.com. Round Coffee Table: Owners’ collection. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Pillows: etsy.com. Throw: Owners’ collection.

ENTRY
Console: Custom. Lantern Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Rugs: vintage.

DINING ROOM
Table & Chairs: Custom. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Rug: custom. Hutch: Custom through Woodburn Cabinetry; 301-475-5680.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry: Woodburn Cabinetry; 301-475-5680. Pendants: vintage. Sconces: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Stools: arhaus.com.

PANTRY
Ladder & Countertop: Custom.

MUDROOM
Bench: Antique. Rug: Custom.

POWER ROOM
Sink: us.kohler.com. Mirror: rh.com.

OWNERS’ BATH
Clawfoot Tub: signaturehardware.com. Chandelier & Sconces: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Curtains: Custom. Vanity: Custom through Woodburn Cabinetry; 301-475-5680.

OWNERS’ BEDROOM
Bed: arhaus.com. Bedding: Owners’ collection. Throw: etsy.com. Drapery: Custom. Slipper Chair: Owners’ collection. Rug: greenfront.com. Overhead Light: visualcomfortlightinglights.com.

KIDS’ ROOMS
Beds, Shelving & Ladder: custom. Bedding: etsy.com; potterybarn.com.

 

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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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The H&D Portfolio of 100 Top Designers spotlights the superior work of selected architects, interior designers and landscape architects in major regions of the US.

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