In the last episode, you met an intrepid family on the eve of a massive commitment: Build a nest for seven people on a little lot in Church Hill where an expert valet could barely park six food trucks. I might blame the holiday hullabaloo for why we haven’t broken ground yet. Or, I can tell you the truth(s):
1. We have commitment issues.
2. Construction loans are a pain in the asphalt.
3. An annual super fat trip to Europe sounds damn appealing and way cheaper.
Nevertheless, we’re pushing onward. After giving the green light to our architects (in the form of a sizable check) and sussing out a loan, an email from our designers arrived: “Attached please find (drum roll...) a set of drawings for your construction contract.”
Jason and Amy Tesauro with daughter Cecilia and architects Jennifer Radakovic and Laura Pitcher. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Pulling off a project like this takes the whole village, from kids to contractors to the city of Richmond herself. Knowing the dramatis personae behind our production makes the stagecraft make sense.
Enter wife Amy, the full-time Realtor/mother who runs Linchpin Real Estate Group and that not-so-small side business known as our life. Amy brings to the party a no-nonsense domestic policy and Midcentury modern aesthetic. By her decree, there would be no frilly, ornamental extras, custom-tiled backsplash, Sub Zero refrigerator or LED disco lighting.
Isabella, 13, is a guitar-and-fiction-loving middle schooler. Of her requests for “my own room, my own bathroom, black walls and a private balcony,” we granted two. Stepbrothers Sebastion, 12, and Brooks, 11, have shared a room since 2010. They wanted an indoor climbing wall, front balcony and murphy beds. We settled on big windows and steep steps to loft beds. Cecilia, 9, has shared a room with little brother Julian, 2 1/2, since he left the bedside bassinet. We set aside small rooms for each. Once Isabella goes off to college — we figured out with the architects — Cecilia and Julian can rotate, leaving one of the smaller bedrooms for conversion to a guest room.
As a writer, sommelier, gentleman and mountain biker, my needs were simple: home office with a kick-ass view, wine cellar with a wet bar, walk-in closet and a place other than a shoddy, prone-to-break-ins shed to stow my gear. Lucky me, I got all four.
With a limited budget, our design specs emphasized function over form. More space, off-street parking, a keyless entry and a mudroom proved not so much as urban luxuries, but as big-family necessities. After many a sticky note in magazines and “a-ha” moments on Pinterest, we’d assembled a list of wants and needs, but we needed a pro to prioritize it all; someone whose design wouldn’t be so over-customized as to hurt resale value.
This is why we entrusted Nested to tackle the challenge of our site. Designers Jennifer Radakovic and Laura Pitcher admire the efficient urban dwellings in Asian and European cities. They’ve studied the compact Dutch dwellings of Borneo-Sporenburg, a district in Amsterdam where some row houses are but 9 feet wide. The duo surveyed our 22-foot-wide lot and instead of a problematic site, they saw a puzzle worth solving. Their excitement over the potential, its footprint, skyline and river basin views equaled ours. They set out to create an über-efficient, affordable house that dovetails within the confines of budget, space and city code.
“With the focus on efficient use of space, everything has to really be thought out,” says Laura Pitcher (right) of the ambitious Tesauro project. (Pictured with business partner Jennifer Radakovic; Photo by Jay Paul)
Pitcher and Radakovic trained as architects and specialize exclusively in residential design. “With the focus on efficient use of space, everything has to really be thought through,” Pitcher says. Within a few weeks, they produced schematics and conceptual designs, the first draft of our home. As Radakovic put it, “One that makes the neighborhood happy and suits your needs in addition to being beautiful.”
View the Tesauro home floor plans by Nested Design Studio here.