An eclectic mix of comfortable furniture fills the home’s main living area, which opens to the dining area and spacious kitchen. The painting above the mantel is by Sheep Jones from Glavé Kocen Gallery.
Jessica Williamson is a thinker and a planner, brimming with creative energy. An interior designer by trade, she’s put these traits to work in one of her most important endeavors to date: custom building the Williamson family home in Hallsley.
Jessica and husband Mark wanted to relocate to the Richmond area from Maryland, where they had successful careers and began raising their young family (daughter Lucy, now 7, and son Eston, 4). Jessica grew up in Richmond, and the urge to put down roots closer to extended family came from what Jessica calls an “a-ha moment” after the painful loss of Mark’s mother in November 2013. The following month, when the couple was in Richmond for a wedding, they dropped the children with Jessica’s parents and did a little recon mission.
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The entire first floor was designed with entertaining in mind, with an open floor plan and plenty of counter space and seating. Warm acacia flooring adds to the home’s rustic farmhouse appeal.
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Burnished brass hardware adds warmth to the white and marble kitchen.
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The Williamsons’ modern farmhouse was custom built by Bel Arbor Builders in Hallsley.
Jessica had wanted to check another neighborhood, but a serendipitous Internet search pulled up Hallsley instead. “This isn’t it,” she said to Mark that day, “but it sounds too good to be true.”
Indeed, it was love at first sight. “We turned into the neighborhood and immediately said, ‘We need to be here,’” says Jessica, noting that the couple uncharacteristically didn’t consider moving anywhere else.
A new construction development off Old Hundred Road in Midlothian, Hallsley is a hidden gem. “One of the wonderful surprises we discovered about the neighborhood is that all of the homes looked a little bit different,” Jessica says. This, along with many other details — a welcoming vibe, mature trees, pool and clubhouse — is the reason the Williamsons decided to call Hallsley home.
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The mudroom features a simple design, with plenty of hooks, shoe storage and a bench.
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A peel-and-stick mural from Anthropologie provides a fun backdrop on the sunny landing, designed as a cozy reading nook.
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An antique desk and chair from West End Antiques Mall in the playroom/homework nook off of the living room
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The powder room features Schumacher’s dramatic Chenonceau wallpaper and an antique vanity adapted to hold a vessel sink.
The neighborhood’s architecture is consistently cited as a top draw among residents, says Connie Pollard, vice president of marketing for East West Communities, Hallsley’s developer. There’s a stringent building standard in which no detail goes unnoticed; historical and aesthetic details matter. And 12 different builders each bring a unique look. “The diversity and authenticity of the architecture seem to resonate well with our buyers and with the Richmond market,” Pollard says. “We heard one builder say it’s like driving through a museum, like looking at pieces of art.” Upon completion, Hallsley will hold nearly 800 houses; at the moment they are well over halfway there.
After interviewing several builders, the Williamsons hired Bel Arbor Builders in spring 2014. At their first meeting they discussed their vision, complete with detailed needs and wants for what they call their “20-year home.” Right after the meeting, Jessica was worried she didn’t give the team enough information, so she continued working.
“I did some preliminary sketches and conceptual floor plans. Meanwhile, the architect sent renderings and schematic sketches of floorplans — and we matched almost identically,” she says.
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Mark and Jessica Williamson with daughter Lucy, 7, and son Eston, 4
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Rugged, industrial-look furniture from Pottery Barn Kids is perfect for a young boy’s bedroom.
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A pastel palette keeps things sweet in daughter Lucy’s bedroom.
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This light-filled bathroom adjoins the girl’s bedroom.
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The spacious master bath features a serene gray palette and lots of natural light.
The result is a 4,900-square-foot modern farmhouse, with a flexible, family-friendly mix of open and private spaces. From the first steps into the foyer to the top of the unfinished third-floor space, the home embraces a no-nonsense functionality infused with style at every turn. The palette throughout is soothing, primarily neutral whites and grays, with strategically placed color, pattern and texture. Furnishings are a mix of new and antique, high and low. “We wanted it to feel fresh — not too rooted in today’s design, and not too rooted in yesterday’s design,” Jessica says.
The foyer embodies an aesthetic that manifests throughout the home. “I wanted there to be breath in the house,” says Jessica. “When you walk in the front doors, you are greeted with space.” But don’t confuse space with wasted space: Every inch of the home was designed with intention. Just off the foyer is Jessica’s home office, where she runs her interior design business, JTW Design. Husband Mark manages continuous improvement activities at a large manufacturing company.
Check out the Williamsons' custom-designed home storage solutions. (Video by Adrian Walker and Sarah Lockwood)
Jessica’s background informed the couple’s goal to design a family home that will function now and later, keeping in mind that small children eventually grow up. This careful thought process plays out in ways both large and small — from skipping a cavernous playroom in favor of a nook at the end of the family room (toys and play tables now, desks later), to designing the staircase with future prom photo ops in mind.
“Your home needs to tell a story,” Jessica says. It’s not a show house, it’s not a model home — it’s you.” The Williamsons’ home tells their story: where they’ve been, what they love and where they want to go. Though nothing in their home is too precious, there’s plenty that’s dear. Adds Jessica, “If you love things because they’ve been inherent to you, not just because you saw them in a magazine, those things will stay with you.”