by Clay Barbour
For most of us, a house is more than just an investment; it’s our refuge, a special place made of brick and wood that protects all that we hold dear. In the following pages, we’ll share some examples of incredible homes and the stories behind them. We’ll also introduce you to architects, artisans and experts who strive to make your little corner of the world as beautiful as it can be.
Knob Hill Farm Pool House
Suffolk – When the Hoover brothers bought Knob Hill Farm in 2016, the idea was to eventually develop it into a sprawling estate of gorgeous rural homes for the family. That’s still the plan. But in the meantime, the three brothers – Benjamin, Randolph and William – have created an incredible California-style pool house to use for holiday parties and weekend escapes.
Inspired by trips to Napa Valley, the brothers sketched out what they wanted and approached Work Program Architects to turn the vision into reality. It was not an easy process. The remote location meant building roads, and installing approximately 4,500 feet of underground power and natural gas, as well as drilling two 500-foot wells for fresh water. But the result is a gorgeous white jewel set in a pastoral wonderland.
The house feels larger than it is, thanks to an open floor plan and the 20-foot glass NanaWall that offers abundant light and a great view of the nearby Nansemond River. A bedroom, bathroom and steam room provide impressive creature comforts for the setting. The centerpiece of the home is the board-formed indoor and outdoor concrete Rumford fireplace constructed with the use of rough-cut pine boards. The house also features two gourmet kitchens, one indoors and the other outdoors.
But undoubtedly the biggest draw to a pool house is the pool itself, and the Hoovers have one that will make you want to sneak out to Knob Hill for a dip. Designed by Siska-Aurand Landscape Architects and built by Gracia & Vigil, the heated pool and hot tub are surrounded by a heated deck of Jerusalem limestone imported from Israel.
To cap off the luxurious environs, the Hoovers installed Northbridge Bermuda grass on the poolside of the house, providing the perfect green carpet for their pool parties.
Architect: Work Program Architects
Pool: Siska-Aurand Landscape Architects
House Contractor: Owner
Pool Contractor: Gracia & Vigil
Norfolk – Later this year, Mel Price will hold a party to celebrate her home’s 100th birthday. The two-story American Foursquare in Norfolk’s West Ghent neighborhood was built in 1920, and from the outside, it looks pretty much like it did then.
But walk in the front door and you’re immediately treated to a thoroughly modern, open-format home with lots of natural light, a large kitchen island and a beautiful white-brick fireplace.
Price, co-owner of Work Program Architects, was living in California in 2005 when she bought the house. She rented it out originally and didn’t move in until 2014, at which point she started a two-part renovation.
The house originally had six rooms on the first floor. Like many old homes in this area, it was starting to sink. So, as they repaired the structural damage, Price decided to tear down the walls and replace them with columns and beams. That provided stability, but it also gave the room a modern feel.
“I love it,” she says. “It’s such a functional, flexible space.”
A highlight of the dining room is the table by Jason Ballas, Price’s former colleague from her time with Tymoff+Moss Architects. The handmade piece features a spherical art inlay.
As for the second floor, it’s still a work in progress.
“This is what architects do,” Price says. “We tear up and redesign our houses, bit by bit.”
Architect: Work Program Architects
Interior Contractor: Covington Contracting
KRAMER BEACH HOUSE
Virginia Beach – What started with a simple kitchen renovation soon got out of hand, and before they knew it, Kela and Rick Kramer were redoing their entire home. The project was so big, they had to move into a rental for a year and half.
Was it inconvenient? Sure. But when the couple walks around their beautifully revamped house now, it all seems worth it. “Every day we appreciate it more and more,” says Rick Kramer. “It’s like we are rediscovering all of our great views again.”
The Kramers had the house built for them in 1986. For the renovation, they turned to Dills Architects and hired Lily Reis to help redesign the interior and add some finishing touches. The result is a like-new home that is warm, open, and takes full advantage of its views of Rudee Inlet.
The Kramers moved and replaced the stairwell in the living room, replaced the tile and carpet that ran throughout the house with white oak flooring, and expanded the kitchen, the master bathroom and the garage. The new bathroom features a sleek tub, a reimagined shower and individual closets for both Kela and Rick.
Fittingly, the new kitchen looks nothing like the original. The Kramers knocked down a wall for more space, expanded the dining area, added another island and created a casual living area in the back with a couch and a TV.
Architect: Dills Architects
Interior Designer: Lily Reis
Contractor: Hylton Builders