For a young family of four on the hunt for a year-round getaway where they could easily host relatives and friends, it was love at first sight. But instead of the perfect house, it was a magnificent parcel of land that stole their hearts. Set on 14 verdant acres, the coveted find in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, abuts the Wye River and is less than two hours from the family’s main residence in northern Baltimore County. “We loved how the property came to a point surrounded by shoreline, woods and farmland,” recalls the wife, who owns a local business with her husband. “It adds so much character.” They were so smitten, in fact, that they were able to overlook the existing builder-grade home on-site, with its cramped layout and heavy architectural elements laden in wood and stone.
After three years, however, the family grew tired of the dated abode that didn’t fit their needs or style. “We always wanted our house to be a gathering space,” says the wife, “but it didn’t accommodate large groups well. Everyone was on top of each other versus being able to spread out.” Another downside: The pool was inconveniently sited off the basement, thereby relegating swimmers to enter and exit via the unwelcoming and isolated lower level. As the wife explains, “We wanted everything to be centrally located around the pool and kitchen. That’s where everyone spends their time.”
To assess the situation, the couple enlisted builder Raymond Gauthier of Lynbrook of Annapolis, who then introduced them to Kimmel Studio Architects, an Annapolis firm with expertise in deftly integrating dwellings into surrounding landscapes. “The homeowners asked us to come up with different concepts to change the style of the house,” explains Kimmel Studio architect David Mallon. “We looked at how to change the chopped-up living areas and make the inside and outside spaces relate to one another and blur that boundary.”
Ultimately, the team determined that renovations weren’t the answer and the owners decided to build anew. As the expansive manse was dismantled, building materials ranging from timber and studs to cabinets and flooring were donated to a local salvage organization.
With a blank slate before him, Mallon dreamed up a sprawling, 14,000-square-foot abode and detached guest barn that marry Eastern Shore farmhouse vernacular with the wife’s desire for a pared-down palette and “clarity of design.”
The new eight-bedroom home is intended to read as a dwelling constructed over time. The main structure, sheathed in Dutch lap siding, acts as the original “farmhouse” with a collection of smaller buildings, clad in board and batten, attached via glass corridors on either side. Mallon organized the floor plan on a cross-axis that separates public and private wings. “We knew the clients wanted the house to be a place for their entire family,” says Mallon. “We needed to give them large communal spaces where they can gather and enjoy crabs, as well as private areas they can retreat to.”
From the entry and corridors to the living spaces, what Mallon describes as “collections of little vignettes” provide breathtaking views of the shoreline. Expansive windows and NanaWall folding doors abound, creating a feeling of transparency that allows the natural landscape to remain center stage. “The views out of every part of the house are just perfect,” says the wife. “They nailed it.”
Moreover, Mallon carried exterior building materials indoors to further blur the inside and outside environments. Clean-lined millwork and minimalist finishes put a modern spin on a structure that pulls from bygone eras. Bare walls and a muted color palette absent of pattern wash the interiors in a sense of calm. “I’m one of those people who needs simplicity,” explains the wife. “Clean lines, nothing ornate and not a lot of little details.”
Despite the woodland home’s gentle presence, it holds more than a few surprises. Case in point: An aqua-blue, painted-wood floor makes a striking statement in the dining room, while an Italian Scabetti chandelier featuring a bone-china school of fish cascades down from the soaring ceiling.
Yet Mallon never lost sight of how the home needed to function with his clients’ active lifestyle, opting for clean and modern indoor/outdoor furnishings and no extraneous decorations. Through a doorway, what the architect calls “dual kitchens” are separated by an informal sitting area. Outfitted with identical features on both sides—including matching ranges, refrigerators, polished-lacquer cabinets and custom concrete countertops—the expansive spaces encourage family cooking competitions and enable guests to prepare meals without getting in anyone’s way.
Around a corner, a glass-enclosed indoor plunge pool allows kids and adults alike to enjoy year-round swimming without missing out on the beauty outdoors or fun in nearby rooms, ultimately fulfilling the wife’s wish to keep everyone together. “We’ve hosted a lot of family events here—even big reunions where we have connected with extended family whom we had never met,” she reflects. “We have really been able to use the house to bring people together. Everyone just loves being here.”
Architecture, Interior, Kitchen & Landscape Design: David Mallon, Kimmel Studio Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Builder: Raymond Gauthier, president; John Gaver, supervisor, Lynbrook of Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland.
Throughout his decades-long career as a commercial architect, most recently as a principal at Perkins&Will, Jeffrey Davenport has masterminded structures around the world that meet his clients’ every last wish. Yet he never had the opportunity to do the same for himself until a fateful day in 2015 when his Northern Virginia neighbors brought him to see a two-and-a-half-acre waterfront lot on Virginia’s Lake Anna.
“Being an architect, my goal was always to design the house of my dreams,” he explains. “But I wasn’t sure if this property was right or even if it was the right time.” After a few months of consideration, however, they put in an offer. “I figured now is as good a time as any,” Davenport says.
Given the opportunity to conceive a getaway from the ground up, the architect envisioned a home unlike the couple’s primary residence, a traditional center-hall Colonial in Northern Virginia with rooms that go unused much of the year. For this new abode, he leaned into his penchant for modernism, devising a striking, single-story, 4,700-square-foot dwelling with large, open spaces for gathering. He envisioned room for frequent visits from his grown children and grandchildren, but a feeling of coziness when it’s just the couple. “I wanted someplace where the family could get away and reconnect,” he says. “This house and site allow for that.”
To realize his vision, Davenport organized the six-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath home along what he describes as a spine, which maximizes every square inch of the lot’s narrow buildable area. The great room is located at one end, while the owners’ suite is situated at the opposite corner. The garage and media room extend off the spine from the south side of the home. The entire structure is covered in a white- and gray-colored glass cladding system by Sto that mirrors surrounding trees and nearly 270-degree water views. “The reflective properties of the glass take on a different quality and appearance throughout the day and during each season,” Davenport notes.
The site’s rural Louisa County location proved challenging for Davenport in the hunt for a builder to carry out his vision, which included complex configurations like large cantilevers specially positioned to block direct sunlight in the summer while still helping to heat the interior in cooler seasons. “Finding a contractor in the area who was willing to take on the challenge of a home like this wasn’t easy,” explains Davenport, who eventually enlisted Ken Stanley of Stanley Custom Homes in Orange, Virginia. “Once he understood how particular I was, Ken actually exceeded my expectations.”
Taking full advantage of the home’s natural surroundings was top of mind for the architect, who opted for large expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows to help blur the lines between interior and exterior. Even the entry door is constructed from a nine-foot-tall piece of glass. “The idea was that you come up to the house and get a visual inside and then out to the lake,” says Davenport. He also considered the view for frequent passersby, devising a feature wall with sculptural cutouts separating the foyer and main living area, which is illuminated at night and visible from the water.
A pared-down interior palette ensures that the spectacular vistas remain the star of the show. In the open kitchen, for example, minimalist white-lacquer cabinetry from Snaidero is a seamless match to the room’s white walls, while walnut accents add a striking contrast. “Everything we did was to blend in with the architecture, instead of designing a kitchen that says ‘notice me,’” recounts Shawna Dillon of Snaidero DC Metro, who worked closely with Davenport to realize the space. “Our design philosophy is always about integrating into someone’s home.”
In keeping with his modern vision, Davenport selected classic mid-century furnishings like Eames dining and lounge chairs, Bertoia bar stools and Saarinen Womb chairs. But never does the less-is-more approach restrict his family from the relaxed enjoyment of the abode. Case in point: A sleek MDF Italia dining table clad in French oak veneer is a frequent gathering spot for games.
And even the 100-foot-long central corridor provides ample fun. “My grandsons love to have me chase them down that hallway,” says Davenport with a laugh. “It’s a wonderful home for a large family—and we’re not a quiet group.”
Architecture & Interior Design: Jeffrey Davenport, Perkins&Will, Washington, DC. Kitchen & Bath Design: Shawna Dillon, ASID, NCIDQ, Snaidero DC Metro, Alexandria, Virginia. Builder: Ken Stanley, Stanley Custom Homes, Orange, Virginia.
Wood Flooring: wideplankflooring.com. Windows: fleetwoodusa.com. Home Automation: lutron.com through arcanetech.com. Window Treatment: mechoshade.com through Total Shading Solutions (301-948-9520).
Eames Outdoor Table & Chairs: hermanmiller.com.
Cabinetry: snaiderodcmetro.com. Countertops & Backsplash: caesarstoneus.com. Ovens, Range & Hood: mieleusa.com through snaiderodcmetro.com. Faucet: grohe.com. Bertoia Bar Stools: knoll.com. Dining Table: mdfitalia.com. Eames Dining Chairs: hermanmiller.com.