Home & Design

With its 1980s bones intact, the home exchanged aluminum siding for local stone on the smaller wing and vertical board-and-batten siding on the main volume.

New porches on the front and rear ground the house gracefully in its bucolic setting. Black-painted, wood-mullioned Weather Shield windows frame views of the landscape.

Glass doors open a sight line through the center stair hall.

Before shot of the home and its aluminum siding.

New porches on the front and rear ground the house gracefully in its bucolic setting.

Before: The kitchen prior to renovation.

In the enlarged kitchen, a stained alderwood island, ceiling beams made on site by BOWA and glazed-ceramic backsplash tile from Bedrosians add warmth and texture.

Shaker-style doors on the new David Bradley cabinets were modernized with a thin border.

A new bar area makes entertaining a breeze.

New, black metal pocket doors connect the kitchen and dining room.

The living room fireplace received a hearth in honed Absolute Black granite and a better-proportioned mantel, while original built-ins were reframed with custom, touch-latch lower doors.

Just off the kitchen in the home’s smaller volume, the cozy den has its own fireplace and a Samsung Frame TV disguised as a painting.

Dorado Noire soapstone countertops from Euro Stone Craft lend a tactile feel to the crisp laundry room.

Stairs to Miguel’s office float free off an original brick wall.

Sarah Armstrong of Studio 360 created a first-floor office retaining original, 100-year-old heart pine flooring. A storage wall combines refinished cabinets and new ones made to match.

Middleburg Revival

The major renovation of a 1980s Colonial taps into farmhouse style

Former Georgetown residents Vickie and Miguel Innis fell in love with Middleburg on weekend getaways. So when they began to crave more space to spread out during the pandemic, the Virginia hamlet seemed like the perfect place to give full-time country living a shot. They found a house on a 10-acre plot right outside town, on a quiet street surrounded by 100-acre properties. “We weren’t ready to jump on a larger property, not having had this lifestyle before,” says Vickie. “And—fun fact—our neighbor is Wexford, Jackie and John F. Kennedy’s former estate.” 

Despite its outdated flow and finishes and lack of air conditioning, the circa-1980s abode had character. The couple, whose two children were in high school and college at the time, hired architect Sarah Armstrong of Studio 360 and BOWA builders to improve its functionality, bring in natural light and update it as a “modern Colonial with a hint of rustic farmhouse,” explains Vickie. Room locations follow the standard center-hall floor plan: From the foyer, the living room on the right runs front to back, the dining room is on the left and the kitchen straight ahead. The kitchen connects to a smaller, gambrel-roofed wing containing a den, Vickie’s home office and a laundry room.

As the hardworking heart of the home, the kitchen received the most attention. Armstrong improved light and flow immensely by bumping out its exterior wall about eight feet, raising the ceiling height to match the rest of the first-floor rooms, removing part of the wall between the hall and the kitchen and installing pocket doors to the dining room. The kitchen’s new but salvaged heart pine flooring is sympathetic to the 100-year-old heart pine floors that had previously been installed elsewhere in the house. 

“We exposed the nail heads and, in some places, even fauxed them in to make them complementary,” Armstrong notes. “Yet you can see where the floor is new and different—we didn’t want to fake it. The house tells the story of what’s been added over time, but the changes coordinate really well.”

In another significant move, the architect made a clean sweep of the center hall by tucking a protruding powder room under the stairs and adding glass doors on the front and rear entrances. “Historically on these homes you have a straight shot through the house to the rear yard,” she notes. “This house didn’t have that. With the glass doors, you can see straight through the hallway and out the back.”

Upstairs, where the wood floors were sanded and refinished, updates included a new primary suite bath and closet, and a new hall bath that serves the two children’s bedrooms. The smaller wing—walled off from the rest of the second floor and with its own back stair—contains a new guest suite and Miguel’s study. To improve the larger volume’s exterior proportions, Armstrong also added front-facing dormers on the third floor, which is intended as a future lounge.

Realizing that country houses benefit from a strong connection to the landscape, Armstrong made deliberate decisions to remedy this one’s shortcomings. Windows were replaced, centered and enlarged. “The black window frames have a cleaner aesthetic with the new white board and batten on the larger volume and stonework on the smaller section, whose gambrel roof we preserved,” she explains. “The idea was to make it look like a house added to over time, like a farmhouse would have been.” 

New bands of stone around the porch foundation and on the two chimneys help tie the volumes together. Inspired by Middleburg’s historic National Sporting Library & Museum, the stonework is “over-grouted,” a distinctive Virginia technique whereby masons over-fill the joints and use a rough trowel to clean them up. “We did many samples—some were too messy, some were too clean—until we got it right,” Armstrong recalls. 

The enlarged front porch has an open gable with black metal tie rods, offering the gift of a grander entrance. The redo replaced a small rear terrace with a covered porch, where the owners enter from a detached garage; it’s a comfortable place to sit and survey the south lawn. In addition, asphalt roofs were traded for standing-seam metal befitting a farmhouse.

Finally, new insulation and zoned heating and cooling made the 4,000-square-foot residence fully ready for 21st-century living. “We touched every surface in the home but were able to preserve its humble character by reusing as much as we could,” says Armstrong. “It’s an appropriately sized house for this family and the property.”

DRAWING BOARD: Q&A with Sarah Armstrong

Identify things that make the home great and then make them 100 times better. Then identify things that must go—that are holding it back from functioning well or finishes that don’t support the vision.

If a room’s wood flooring can’t be properly restored, for example, we replace it with the same species, but in a different width or stain or nail pattern. The goal is to complement the original, not match it.

In this home with lots of stained wood and reflections of green from outside, we opted for Sherwin- Williams Pure White, which is on the warmer side. In smaller rooms with less natural light, we used Sherwin-Williams Alabaster, which is a little creamier and creates a cozier atmosphere.

Renovation Architecture & Interior Design: Sarah Armstrong, AIA, principal, Studio 360, Clifton, Virginia. Builder: BOWA, McLean and Middleburg, Virginia.

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