Home & Design

BEFORE: The front façade.

A soaring ceiling and a dramatic staircase with a railing by Custom Ornamental Iron welcome guests.

The revamped family room and kitchen in the rear addition provide seamless flow. The refreshed dining room is visible through double doors. 

BEFORE: The dining room.

Cabinets in the clean-line, bright kitchen are from Harper & Taylor Custom Woodworks.

BEFORE: The kitchen.

Ceiling beams echo the family room’s wide-plank white oak floors that were custom-stained on site. Arhaus sofas furnish the inviting seating area. Sliding doors in this new wing lead to a covered rear deck.

Sliding doors in this new family-room wing lead to a covered rear deck.

A welcoming covered porch is part of the addition.

The addition also includes a new primary suite, where rooflines are highlighted with custom trim.

The owners’ bathroom enjoys light from a trio of Pella clerestory windows; it features a freestanding 72-inch tub.

A custom double vanity in the owners' bath was fabricated by Harper & Taylor.

The focal point in the lower-level wine cellar is a barrel lid signed by guests at the couple’s wedding.

The front facade reveals an upstairs guest room that was enlarged and given an additional gabled roof to mirror the original.

Fresh Take

A design team brings light and function to the fore in a mid-century Richmond renovation

From the street, the house in Richmond’s West End doesn’t appear to have changed much. It presents with matching roof gables and a deep, welcoming portico—but the roof height is the same as when it was built in 1952. In fact, the most obvious change is the enclosure of a sunroom, where glass walls have been replaced with wood.

But the interiors tell another tale. The home’s four levels—main, lower and two upper—originally were accessed through multiple stairways, none connected. At the rear of the house, an addition was placed at yet another elevation, not quite level with either the main floor or the lower floor.

Now, after a collaborative effort, the home has a central stair that unifies the living spaces, and an expansion on the main and uppermost floors that took the home from 3,100 to nearly 5,000 square feet.

Then-prospective homeowners, Brian and Taylor (who withheld their last names for privacy) were ready to begin when they toured the house for the first time with their real estate agent and builder, Jordan Hutchins of Spruce Construction. “Taylor had a graph with options A, B and C,” Brian recalls.

After purchasing the home, they turned to architect Chuck Carbonaro of Island Architects to make their vision a reality. “Taylor and Brian were unique in how well they understood what they wanted,” Carbonaro says. “They knew from the get-go.”

The couple’s wish list included an updated kitchen and a modern owners’ suite, the architect relates, “plus large, open spaces connected to each other and the outdoors. They also wanted quiet, disconnected spots away from where they entertain. They have small children and understand that they will grow to be larger children who will want to entertain their own friends when they are older.”

After several design drafts, Carbonaro suggested two significant alterations: a single staircase to unify the interior and a two-story expansion that would accommodate a new family room and kitchen on the ground floor and primary bedroom, bathroom and his-and-her closets upstairs. Modifications on the lower level updated the spare bedroom and bathroom and added a wine cellar. Two bedrooms on the second floor stayed in place while the former primary bedroom was enlarged.

Taylor recalls thinking it would be “crazy” to go to the trouble of creating a new staircase, but trusted the architect’s vision. “It was something we had never considered, but once it was suggested, it blew our minds with what we saw,” she recounts. “It gave us the space to do it right.”

The new switchback staircase anchors the foyer beneath a ceiling that reaches 18 feet at its highest point; wainscoting adds character. “The foyer was a really nice opportunity,” agrees Carbonaro, noting that Taylor suggested raising the ceiling height. “When we moved the original ceiling, we discovered it wasn’t necessary to maintain support.”

Also on the main level, the front parlor was repurposed as a playroom with windowed pocket doors. The former sunroom is now a high-ceilinged office, clad in HardiePlank lap siding to match the dwelling’s exterior. Interior designer Jessica Williamson, principal of JTW Design, added a touch of glam in the dining room, wrapped in lustrous Phillip Jeffries Tailored Linens wall covering and velvet drapes.

The first floor also includes a generous mudroom and an open-plan kitchen that connects seamlessly to the family room. The kitchen sports a 10-foot island, illuminated by Rejuvenation fixtures, perfect for large gatherings. “We wanted it to be inviting, and a place everyone would be naturally drawn to,” Taylor says.

In nods to the home’s history, the addition features two arched doorways that echo an arch on the front façade. In the family room, an original brick exterior wall, painted white, anchors shelving and cupboards; a custom bar, backed by antique glass, was a special request by Brian. The fireplace surround was custom-made by Spruce Construction.

Except in the dining room, walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, a crisp, clean white. “Because we have so many levels and rooms to this house, one of the ways to pull it together was to create a unified, monochromatic view throughout,” Taylor says.

Williamson worked with the couple early in the process to create vision boards for the entire home, then returned to assist Taylor, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child during construction. “They had a strong original vision,” Williamson says. “We honed it for clarity and consistency.”

Natural accents of deep gray, camel and ochre are placed against a “soothing, neutral backdrop,” the designer notes, pointing to the couple’s growing art collection for pops of color. “We wanted to create character that would be in keeping with the traditional nature of the home.”

Hutchins agrees. “It was really hard to visualize what the house would become,” he says. “Now, if you walked in for the first time you wouldn’t know where the old house was. As I’ve joked with Chuck Carbonaro, it’s an example of how all houses have hope.”

Renovation Architecture: Chuck Carbonaro, RA, Island Architects. Richmond, Virginia. Interior Design: Jessica Williamson, JTW Design, Richmond, Virginia. Renovation Contractor: Jordan Hutchins, Spruce Construction, Richmond, Virginia.


What’s the secret to a successful renovation?
Chuck Carbonaro, architect: Keep a journal of what you like and dislike about your current space, friends’ homes, etc. Share that with your design professional and be prepared for a conversation about whether your home can meet your ideals and where you’re willing to compromise.

How do you arrive at a realistic budget?
Jordan Hutchins, builder: Renovations take many twists and turns. It’s good to be flexible with design and expect surprises. Set funds aside for contingency costs (usually five percent of the total budget) and expect that to be spent.

Explain how you instill a redo with personality. 
Jessica Williamson, interior designer: Making a home feel personal is about helping clients identify what matters most to them. Once we get past functional needs and the desired look, we infuse spaces with what makes clients smile. We think about everything from shelving for a beloved collection to making sure art they love is on display.

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