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Living Room: Leather, metal, cowhide and a statement-making set of steer horns add rustic appeal to the light-filled living room. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Dining Room: In the dining room, gold tones mingle with warm wood to create a comfortable, informal gathering space.
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Creative Reuse: The Hugheses repurposed an old ladder they found in the garage to serve as a display shelf that anchors a quirky vignette in the living room.
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Hometown Pride: Sturdy leather furniture from Green Front is softened with a group of graphic pillows and a collection of art that reflects the couple’s shared history in Richmond, and Matt’s hometown of Suffolk.
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Outdoor Oasis: The Hughes home sits on one-half acre in the Hermitage Road Historic District. It was part of the 2015 Historic Richmond tour during Garden Week.
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Backyard Art: Matt and Brook Hughes hired muralist Kyle Harrell to paint a James River scene on the back of their house, providing a sure conversation starter when they entertain outdoors.
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A Room with a View: An enclosed porch serves as a home office and quiet place to sit and enjoy a drink with a beautiful view of the landscape beyond.
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Tudor Revival: The stucco and timber home, built in 1925, welcomes visitors with a gracious front porch.
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Master Bedroom: The serene master opens to the back deck and features soothing hues of blue and grey. The wooden whale sculpture is from a Maine gallery. The couple mounted it on reclaimed wood from Caravati’s. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Ready to Party: Before the Hugheses had even unpacked, they began overhauling their kitchen, adding this functional bar area with a kegerator and local brews on tap. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Clever Disguise: In the hall bathroom, a set of bi-fold doors is cleverly used to hide the bathtub and give it the feel of a powder room. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Dream Kitchen: The Hugheses designed the light-filled kitchen themselves, creating a cook’s haven with a Wolf stove, Cambria quartz countertops and sophisticated cabinetry in two shades of gray. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Man Cave: The detached garage has been turned into a rustic retreat, complete with a large-screen TV. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
During the Hermitage Road Historic District garden tour this spring, visitors kept trying to decode Matt and Brooke Hughes’ house.
The owners must be from Maine, they said, looking at the wooden whale folk art and the map of Monhegan Island. Perhaps the large aerial photo showed the family farm?
No, Texas, they decided, seeing the steer horns on the coffee table and the cowhides on the floor. Probably a hunter.
Little did they know that the owners were listening (and laughing) as they joined the tour incognito.
The Hugheses are Virginians through and through. Brooke’s from Richmond, Matt’s from Suffolk. And he’s decidedly not a hunter. “Matt can’t even kill a fly,” Brooke says.
They’ve made their Tudor Revival house on Hermitage Road a little rustic, a little industrial and a lot comfortable. It’s the kind of home that can serve as host for an impromptu gathering with grace. It’s the kind of home where dogs can jump on the couch.
During the garden tour, people kept asking, “Where did you get everything?” Brooke Hughes has a simple answer: HomeGoods. Most of the light fixtures, as well as some furnishings, are from Shades of Light. The leather sofas and chairs are from Green Front Furniture in Farmville. The aerial photo of the farm fields is from Crate and Barrel. “We aren’t very antique-y people,” Matt says.
A former real estate appraiser, he owns Paul Davis Restoration of West Richmond. Brooke, an industrial engineer, is the director of design and materials for Super Radiator Coils.
“We’re not afraid to do stuff,” Matt says. That’s obvious. Just three weeks before the April garden tour, he and a co-worker were demolishing their ground-floor bathroom for a complete redo. He had the idea to replace the traditional bead board wainscoting with horizontal white-painted boards, which expand and brighten the space. Garden Week tour organizers were alarmed, but the bathroom was perfectly in order for the big day.
The Hugheses have long been fans of the North Side. Their first home was a Cape Cod on Stanhope Avenue; their second, a brick foursquare, was on Bellevue Avenue in the same neighborhood. They were happy there, until the day Matt saw the Tudor Revival and fell in love with it. They snatched it up.
“We are very impulsive people, maybe to a fault,” Brooke admits.
On the day the couple moved into their new home in August 2012, they began tearing down the 1980s cream laminate cabinets in the kitchen even before they unpacked any boxes. The previous owners had created a long, spacious kitchen by combining three smaller rooms, but then they’d closed off one end as a breakfast nook with hanging cabinets. It didn’t work for the Hugheses. The cabinets had to go — and so did the Lady Kenmore dishwasher, the Pizza-Hut-style hanging lamp and the three layers of vinyl flooring. Underneath they found mostly intact hardwood, and did some jigsaw-puzzle magic to fill in the gaps.
Now the kitchen is a cook’s haven, with a Wolf six-burner range, Cambria quartz countertops, custom cabinetry in two shades of gray from Better Kitchens and Baths, and a hand-hammered copper sink, coated in nickel.
Aside from the major renovations of the kitchen and bathroom, and some repainting, they’ve left the rest of the house as it was. The oak flooring throughout is original to the house, as are the rows of mullioned windows that brighten the living and dining rooms. The detached garage, which they’ve turned into a clubhouse-style den, still has the old root cellar under a wooden platform.
Over a broad, weathered leather sofa in the living room hangs a screen-printed map of Richmond neighborhoods from Studio Two Three and the original address plaque for their Bellevue Avenue home. “People of taste and refinement,” says a 1928 advertisement for The Stewart Iron Works Co., which made the home’s iron fence.
The Hermitage Road Historic District, a four-block section just south of the Henrico County line, includes a range of architectural styles, from Colonial Revival to Late Victorian. The district was first developed as country estates for wealthy Richmonders, then became a streetcar suburb at the turn of the last century. Despite the wide spacing of the houses, the neighbors are a close-knit group. Brooke was recently elected president of the historic district association board, which aims to preserve and beautify the area.
This, Brooke says, is the house the couple could stay in for the rest of their lives. The Hughes home may nod to Maine and Texas, but in the end, it’s a love note to Richmond.