Adam Ewing photo
Respect the architecture.
That’s the mantra interior designer Todd Yoggy keeps in mind when embarking on a new project. Depending on the provenance and design of the home he is working on, this directive can be easier to follow at some times than at others. When Yoggy first laid eyes on Christine and David Cottrell’s Westhampton estate, he knew he would have the opportunity to achieve this design objective with spectacular results.
Designed by noted Richmond architect William C. Noland for Ann H. Maury, granddaughter of Matthew Fontaine Maury, “Pathfinder of the Seas” and Confederate naval commander during the Civil War, the 8,000-square-foot home sits on prime Richmond real estate — on the 18th green of the Country Club of Virginia.
“This is a fabulous location, but more important, what attracted us to the house was it has the history,” explains David Cottrell, whose family ties run deep in Virginia. “There was also no question that when you walked into the house, it was welcoming. It is a well laid-out, perfect old home.”
The house was built in 1924 in a Tudor Revival style that mimics a grand European estate. The exterior combines brick with charming half-timbering, a slate roof with varying elevations and massive chimneys with corbelled caps. The casement windows offer gorgeous views of the nearly 2-acre lot.
The Cottrells, who founded a marketing research firm, have lived in the house since 1997, and are its third owners. For its age, the house has undergone remarkably few interior changes. Before moving in, the couple embarked on a kitchen renovation, removing walls from an old servant’s quarters to open up the space, which was redesigned by artist Philippe Faraut. Faraut also designed and executed two elaborate hand-carved mantels in the living and dining rooms.
Working closely with his clients, Yoggy designed the interiors to complement the historic architecture. Though at first glance the carefully chosen furniture, artwork and accessories look so appropriate to the home that they could have conveyed from the original owner, Yoggy is careful to design spaces that are livable rather than turning them into museum set pieces.
The Cottrells love to throw parties, so Yoggy was mindful of their entertaining habits when designing the elegant living and dining rooms. The home’s sun room is used as a family room where the couple’s teenage daughter, Leah, can relax and watch movies. “Every time I do a house for a client it’s a reflection of the people and the architecture,” says Yoggy. “A house should represent and reflect a client’s personality, not mine.”
The home’s two-level entry sets the tone for the house, with its original sconces and woodwork, beamed ceiling and hand-carved newel post. The custom rug, made by Woodward Grosvenor in England, is a copy of carpets made for the Rockefeller estate Kykuit in the Hudson River Valley. Each of the home’s three landings is covered in the same pattern, with a smaller motif repeated on the stair runner. “The style suits the house and it just so happens to work with all the colors already in the house,” Yoggy explains. “The rug goes all the way up, so it needed to feed off every room it opened up to.”
A custom-made back-to-back sofa by George Smith furniture anchors the center of the sophisticated and luxurious living room, and it is surrounded by numerous cozy seating areas. A massive hand-woven 1849 Persian carpet serves as inspiration for the room’s rich, jewel-tone color scheme. The rug was a housewarming gift from the previous owner, Ashby Allen. The stunning antique Steinway grand piano is the center of attention when the couple entertains.
The dining room also draws a crowd during parties, owing partially to its warm, red color scheme. Rich claret drapery panels and a custom-made Regency rug in a medallion pattern with shades of red and plum set up a warm and inviting palette. Custom-made George Smith, Regency-style chairs are upholstered in rich red leather and surround an antique table. Christine Cottrell’s porcelain and silver collection fills the breakfront, and a late-18th century Irish cut-crystal chandelier hangs from a ceiling embellished with hand-molded plaster medallions in a Gothic tracery pattern.
Upstairs, David’s office has the feel of an exclusive men’s club. The walls are covered in camel hair, with drapery panels of the same fabric. A pony-skin sofa and Conley leather chairs (“the same people who do Porsche leather,” notes Yoggy) provide a comfortable retreat. Dragon light fixtures from Christie’s auction house in London and an ocelot-print rug add some edge, while a collection of military photographs, sportscar memorabelia and pictures of Steve McQueen nod to David’s interests.
The master bedroom continues the traditional look of the home with walls covered in the exuberant Ralph Lauren wallpaper “1,000 Roses.” “Christine wanted a blue bedroom, and the first thing that came to my mind was this wall covering,” says Yoggy, who is influenced by Lauren’s timeless American style. The pattern combines 10 different shades of blue, which are echoed throughout the bedroom in the velvet draperies and rugs. Serene white bedding tempers the azure exuberance.
One of the best features of the Cottrells’ house is its location, and the way it sits atop a hill, with meticulous terraced gardens and rolling hills below. The landscape plan was designed by Charles Gillette in the 1920s but was not executed until the Cottrells purchased the home. The plans for these gardens are now the oldest set of Gillette plans owned by the Virginia Historical Society.
A small reflecting pool, salvaged from the Virginia Governor’s Mansion, is a focal point of the side garden. Artist Faraut created the bronze sculpture of the Cottrells’ daughter when she was about 8 years old. “She has literally grown up to look exactly like that sculpture,” David says.
When the Cottrells purchased the house, a wooden deck jutted from the back. Today, bluestone terraces atop reclaimed granite blocks with limestone balustrades are a much better fit for the grand home. The couple loves to entertain outside in spring. “With the view down the 18th fairway and across the Huguenot Bridge, it doesn’t get much better than that,” says David.
This is the fourth home Yoggy has designed for the Cottrells, and as such, he cites a high level of trust and communication as key to the project’s success. Both Yoggy and his clients were of a like mind when it came to choosing only the “best of the best” for the home. Custom-made furniture and rugs, antique furniture and accessories and important, original artwork represent significant investments, both financially, and in time. Yoggy has been working on the evolving project for the past seven years.
“I didn’t come in and do it all at once,” he says. “[They] understand the difference between what you can buy off the floor and what you can custom-make. … I try to get my clients to think more long term. I do it right the first time in a way that is timeless, with things you do not get tired of. There are no disposable accessories. If it looks like it is appropriate for the house, you do not have to replace it.”