The owners, a young professional husband and wife, had lived in this house for several years before deciding to expand it as their family grew,” says interior designer Liz Mearns, referring to the five-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot home that absorbed the original 1950s three-bedroom brick hiker that stood on the hilltop site. Mearns came on board shortly after the owners began working with the Falls Church-based architect Charles Moore AIA; they had decided to reinvent and create their dream home, rather than abandon their Arlington neighborhood.
“It was always a very difficult site,” recalls Moore of the hiker who was perched on top of a hill 10 feet above street level, with narrow poured cement steps on one side. “We have sought to minimize the significant level change by breaking up the stairs that lead to the brand new columned porch and front door; the latter opens into a small foyer niche which extends into the main living area on the first floor.
The home’s original brick facade still faces the renovated home’s first floor and basement-garage, while the newly added second floor features clapboard siding. All are painted in a cool, soft grey, replacing the old lemon yellow to blend into a seamless whole.
“The interior concept was to open up the first floor with living, dining, and kitchen spaces,” Moore says of gutting the floor plan and expanding it. “The other key part of this concept was to move the kitchen from its traditional rear location to the front of the house.”
The open kitchen now sits high above the street, facing west, with sweeping views of the neighborhood and sunny streams of afternoon light streaming into the home. The main living areas (dining room and living room) are now located on the much more private rear side of the house, overlooking the newly redesigned backyard with its stone terrace, which replaced a wooden terrace, and its lawn. landscaped. A new large screened porch with a vaulted ceiling now connects the indoor and outdoor spaces.
“I would say the kitchen is in a clean, classic Craftsman style, with crisp white Shaker-style cabinetry and a warm butcher block island top,” Mearns says, referring to the location of the kitchen. kitchen at the front of the house. in a large tube opening.
Directly opposite the kitchen there is a dining area which is highlighted in the open plan layout by a chandelier, dining table and chairs.
“We incorporated many existing family heirlooms, while incorporating our own flair, such as upholstering the dining chairs in a bright, patterned, and whimsical fabric,” says Mearns.
In the adjacent screened porch, with its slatted ceiling and gas fireplace with space for a TV above, the decor vibe is decidedly more Californian, with a pair of curved woven chairs and a clean-lined white sofa . “It’s about comfortable seating and neutral fabrics,” Mearns continues. “We definitely kept the larger design elements neutral, muted, and textured, which allowed us to add some collected elements.”
The open floor plan inside made the footprint of the living space straight and somewhat narrow, so the design team decided to skip the bay for the quartet of sash windows overlooking the garden. Next, a custom 20-foot bench seat was added below them, creating a squarer furniture layout and a backless sofa that can accommodate multiple people.
“It’s become a favorite family spot,” Mearns says. “Our customers have two school-aged children who love to sit on this perch doing their homework, or snuggle up with a good book, or relax and watch TV.”
Catty-corner at the window seat is a large contemporary leather sofa facing a pair of mid-century modern-inspired chairs, plus a custom storage wall that includes open shelving, lower cabinets and a space for television.
Other built-ins include a large, square-shaped window seat with a chunky custom cushion, and low shelving on the second-story landing, creating another reading nook for the family.
“Our clients wanted a unique, yet timeless open house that felt very family-friendly, and I believe our team gave them just that. For furnishings, the owner also wanted things modern and fresh, but classic enough to incorporate a mix of heirlooms and antiques,” says Mearns.
The resulting home can stand the test of time and be there for years to come for the family that has chosen to make it their home.
This story originally appeared in our July issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.