When Brad and Kathy Matthews broke ground on their Manakin-Sabot home, they were finally building their dream house. From the first days of marriage, they meticulously cut out photos and magazine articles that identified their wants and needs. Years later, the dream came to fruition on a wooded lot in
The Meadows at Joe Brooke Farm. Situated off the main road is 6,500 feet of methodically planned space. Behind the door of this deceptively quaint cottage-style home is a showplace.
Nestled on a lush lot and embellished with English-style accoutrements, the house beckons visitors. "We always wanted the front of our home to look like this one does, it looks like a little cottage, but you don't realize the depth of it," Kathy says.
Architect Dan Ensminger says it was challenging to bring three different styles — shingle, Tudor and English manor — together in one blueprint. "That cottage look is what we strived for," says Ensminger. "We weren't looking for fake mansions — McMansions — they didn't want a three-story, tall, flat-front house because you don't really need an architect to build one. Brad and Kathy did not want a ‘show-me-the-money façade.' "
The Right Mix
The Matthews wanted a mix of elegance and comfort, and everyone on their design team understood that. Once the design was complete, it perfectly fit the couple with a recently emptied nest. However, the new home also accommodates their two children, Kristy and Joe, both in their early 20s, who often visit.
The home is outfitted with a master bedroom on the first floor as well as two bedrooms and an office on the second floor. Joe's bedroom is located in the finished basement, next to the game room. Although the home has ample room, making space with a cottage-style roof is tricky, says Ensminger. "To produce that story-and-a-half look, everything above the first floor is actually tucked in under the roofline," Ensminger says, adding that no space was overlooked. "The challenge is to get little cathedral ceilings and nooks and crannies."
Even the nooks and crannies were painstakingly detailed. Rounding out the crew who worked on the home were builder Jim Dunkum, Classic Kitchens of Virginia designer Dave Raber, Home Media system designer Greg Margeson and interior designer Nancy Reams.
When Kathy first met with Reams, she discussed her fondness for the colors yellow, red and green — "like a Christmas tree," says Kathy, a big fan of the holiday season. Reams took that color cue and started with window treatments in bold patterns against black for the living room. The red-yellow-and-green theme continues into the dining room, into the guest bathroom nestled in an alcove under the winding main staircase and then up the stairs in the grand foyer.
The living room is also where a secondary theme developed and continued throughout the house. When Raber from Classic Kitchens designed the cherry-finished shelving around the living room fireplace, he added the heads of lions on either side. That detail carried over into drawer pulls, on a basement doorknob and on the mantel over the library fireplace.
The mantel is just one of many things Kathy and Brad adore about their library. It is a place of solace, a tiny room that looks out onto Kathy's private flower garden. It is a room filled with family photos and books and is home to many fireside chats.
Kathy says the library, with its meticulous molding and earthy coloring, is her favorite part of the home. "The architect called it his Faberge egg."
From the outside of the home, the library appears to be a normal, square-shaped room. From the inside, it is "an irregular polygon, not a true octagon," says Ensminger. There's empty space between interior and exterior walls — a chiaroscuro technique, derived from the painting term. Such oddly shaped rooms were found in grand estates such as the Biltmore. Exterior walls are still insulated and built normally, but the interior walls are specifically sculpted to shape the room.
Wood Adds Warmth
The same warm cherry wood used in the living room and library envelops the highly functional kitchen. Nearly everything, including the Subzero refrigerator and the Dacor warming drawer, is hidden from sight behind woodwork. Two wall ovens are mounted on the same side of the room and a breakfast-bar counter allows for additional, casual seating, says Raber.
The kitchen also is outfitted with a pot-filler connected to the waterline above a Viking range and with
a hot-water faucet that only spouts steaming water for that late-night cup of tea or cocoa. Most important to the Matthews are the separate sinks. One is designated for clean-ups, and the other is situated on the kitchen island, closer to the cooking area. Polished granite countertops flow throughout the kitchen and perfectly complement the 25-step distressed cherry-wood finish on the cabinetry.
When their basement was finished, Brad and Kathy were ready to turn a windowless room into an exercise area, but after meeting with Raber, they opted to make it an in-home theater complete with a DA-LITE screen and a computerized sound system that works throughout the home. "We put all the CDs into the ‘mother computer' along with radio stations we can preset," Kathy says, demonstrating that each room can play a different station or CD with the flick of a switch. The Matthews archived a mass of music and fed it into the system, creating a giant, multiroom iPod. The computer system also regulates all DVDs used in the home theater.
Home Media's Margeson and his crew outfitted the home theater with elevated, stadium-style seating, using recliners with cup holders. The task was a little difficult because of the scarcity of overhead space, says Margeson. But seating was arranged so that no one would bump their head on the ceiling and everyone had ample room to enjoy a movie — and maybe a bowl of popcorn.
Nestled between the basement theater and the game room is another Classic Kitchens standout. The Matthews always wanted a bar, so they created a bar-and-kitchen combo. A glittering crimson-colored counter undulates through the downstairs kitchen. Hugging the curves of the counter are black appliances and cabinets detailed with stainless-steel handles and drawer pulls. Martini glasses are stashed away in a glass cabinet and a dishwasher is hidden beneath the flecked crimson quartz, reminiscent of a movie-theater concession stand counter.
The game room is not quite done, Kathy says. The grass-cloth wall covering soon will be painted to match the red velvet top of the pool table. The black-and-red décor is accented by Kathy's collection of George Rodriguez "Blue Dog" artwork. A painting by the contemporary artist, known for repeatedly painting an awkward-looking blue dog, now hangs above the gas fireplace in the middle of the game room. Kathy continues to add more Blue Dog pieces to the game room for added color and conversation.
Every room in the house is cause for conversation, says Reams. Many of the accessories were selected with the new home in mind. Much of the new furniture is custom made to mesh with the home's design, and furniture brought from the old house was reupholstered in a vivid crimson-and-white striped silk. It's the perfect blend of old and new, that feeling of fresh yet comfortable that the Matthews want to extend to their guests.
"Sometimes I just pinch myself, I really do," Kathy says. "My favorite thing is that as big as it is, to me, it's still cozy. It's just so warm — and the fact that everything is coordinated. I could never have done this myself."