Home & Design

The primary suite takes in sunsets and scenery up and down the river.

At the front entry, custom steel doors and aluminum-clad Marvin windows with large mullion panes update Tudor style and take full advantage of the serene setting.

A deck-edge pool draws water views up to the house.

The rear second story tucks into cascading rooflines to minimize the property’s mass when viewed from the water; the summer kitchen and adjacent pool house promote outdoor living.

At the tip of the property on Crab Creek, a bunk house dating back to the 1920s was restored.

A Dekton Bergen Stonika countertop adds polish to the pool house bath; bluestone pavers extend out to the patios.

A pergola frames the view.

Wrapping the entire south facade, a covered loggia shades rooms along the back of the house.

The foyer overlooks the landscape on both sides; a front-facing view is pictured.

In the adjacent stair hall, a vintage table from David Bell Antiques boasts a goatskin parchment top.

Low-slung Caracole chairs and an antique Persian Oushak rug grace the living room.

A silver-leaf glaze embellishes the dining room, where designer Bryan Huffman juxtaposed Holly Hunt side chairs with host chairs in a Schumacher print.

The kitchen’s ceiling beams direct the eye toward the breakfast nook and river beyond.

Creamy Calacatta Monarch marble countertops complement the Premier rift oak kitchen cabinetry and La Cornue range’s polished-brass accents.

In the cozy family room, a custom sectional and Bernhardt club chairs surround a Vanguard ottoman in tufted leather; original Japanese watercolors flank the fireplace.

Slide-away doors open onto a bluestone-paved screened porch.

Just off the second-floor stair hall, a large office flows out to a south balcony overlooking the river.

Campion Hruby Landscape Architects restored the edges of the eight-acre property with regionally appropriate meadow grasses and trees.

Manicured garden vignettes near the house give way to wilder coastal plantings that minimize rainwater runoff.

Point of View

An exquisitely crafted Annapolis home celebrates its South River setting

 When architecture and landscape come together, wonderful things can happen. At first, an outdoorsy McLean, Virginia, family built a custom home on Annapolis’ South River as a weekend getaway, but it quickly became their full-time residence. Jessica and Alan Whitehurst, both lawyers, fell in love with the eight-acre property’s tranquility and watery views. They envisioned it as a place where they and their three college-age children could create memories for years to come. “We wanted to design a house that would maximize the natural beauty around it,” explains Alan, “with large, open areas for spending time with family and friends.” 

Conceived by ABS Architects and constructed by Pyramid Builders, the residence sits on high ground along Childs Point peninsula. Though large—6,000 square feet on the first floor and 4,000 square feet on the second, plus two garages and a 600-square-foot attached pool house—it meets the ground graciously, thanks to careful massing and garden vignettes that extend the indoors outside.

The couple’s preference for English Tudor-style architecture was a good fit for the site. “The Tudor gable ends helped us make a graceful house that cascades down to land and water,” says project architect Sarah Favrao. Clad in stucco with durable slate-composite and metal roofs, the house reads as two stories on the front, but the second floor is tucked under the rear roofline so the structure looks less imposing from the water. 

Views are everything on the spectacular property. From the  foyer, sightlines extend straight through the house to the South River. Both floors are organized around a long spine that pivots where the footprint bends to track the water’s edge. “The core circulation space is on the street side,” explains Favrao, “while family living areas wrap around the back of the house with the water view.” 

Canted due south, the family wing on the left is entered through the mudroom or the three-bay garage—one of two that bookend the house. This wing holds a family room that opens to a screened porch and the pool terrace, as well as the kitchen, breakfast nook and jewel-like butler’s pantry. Behind the central foyer are formal dining and living rooms and a sitting room. The latter is attached to a primary suite that enjoys its own realm on the southwest corner, at the opposite end of the house from the family zone. “The owners’ suite has a private outdoor space and the sunset view,” explains Favrao. “And a loggia connects it all the way around to the pool. It’s a very indoor-outdoor kind of house.” 

Upstairs are three ensuite bedrooms, two offices—the larger of which opens to a curved deck overlooking the river—and a gym, laundry and in-law quarters. A back stairway leads down to the family wing and a lower-level rec room.

If the footprint perfectly suits this serene setting, flawless interior craftsmanship anchors it in place. “An extensive millwork package with diverse finishes made this residence both exhilarating and complex to complete,” says Bret Anderson of Pyramid Builders. Wooden ceiling beams create a rhythm along the corridor that connects the public spaces and family wing, where painted ceiling beams align with exterior doors to draw the eye outside. Pops of brass punctuate the muted palette of marble countertops, European white oak floors and gray kitchen cabinets. 

“My favorite view is looking across the kitchen island to the big dining table,” says the project’s interior designer, Bryan Huffman. “With the water beyond and sun reflecting on the marble counters, it feels like the kitchen is floating.” 

Given the size of the house, it was important that the interiors feel “fun and youthful, fresh and modern, yet have some warmth,” he notes. In the living room and owners’ suite, Oushak rugs and pillows reinforce the restful color scheme of taupe, mauve, gray and sand.

The residence strikes a balance between enclosure and exposure. “I spend a lot of time at the pool house in the summer,” says Jessica. “It provides shelter from the sun but you’re still able to be outside and enjoy the beautiful views.” 

The loggia extends that quality. “The way the property is situated, we get both the sunrise and sunset, and sun throughout the day in the family areas,” says Alan. “Covered terraces cut down on glare, so we don’t need window shades.”

Directly outside those windows, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects created a series of garden rooms connected by stone and lawn paths. They also replenished and improved the larger landscape by planting swaths of coastal grasses and perennials. To prevent stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake, they built rain gardens filled with Muhlenberg grasses and Cape Breeze and Shenandoah switchgrasses, dotted with coneflower, hibiscus and black-eyed Susans for bright summer color.  

After spending months during covid working remotely from their new waterfront escape, the Whitehursts decided to make it their permanent home. “When we first set out to build, we kind of joked that it was going to be part-time to permanent,” says Jessica. “But covid sped up the process and we fell in love with this place. It was hard to leave.”

Architecture: John Jay Schwarz, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, principal; Sarah Favrao; David Ferrara; Scarlett Breeding, AIA; Richard Anuszkiewicz, kitchen design, ABS Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Bryan Huffman, Bryan Huffman Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina. Builder: Bret Anderson, president, Pyramid Builders, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architect: Kevin Campion, ASLA; Nick Ries, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.

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