Beginning with a fundamentally “unfinished” rear elevation, Sun Design Remodeling developed a conservatory-style open air rear porch linked to a perogola-topped outdoor kitchen. Rose- and tan- hued limestone gives definition to porch flooring, walkways and other unifying “built” components beautifully integrated with English landscaping. The porch’s conical roof borrows from the two-level bay on the right.
Sun Design Remodeling’s Indoor/Outdoor Solution Is Steeped in Classic Style
By John Byrd
An “unfinished” rear elevation is common enough in northern Virginia. Homeowners want usable square footage, but haven’t necessarily decided how best to optimize certain aspects of the new home. To help buyers focus dollars on the structure itself, many builders may leave key components– basements, garages, backyards– incomplete, allowing owners to customize as time, budgets and inspiration permit.
Looking back over several decades, this has been a sensible cultural evolution that has gradually resulted in more mature and interesting residential properties. Perhaps still more exciting, one never knows what idioms a homeowner will explore in the fullness of time as they transform the property into a place that’s unique theirs.
Case in point, the recently completed rear elevation to the Leesburg home of Chris and Amber Wooten.
In its detailing and, particularly, its scope: the project perfectly integrates an architecturally-appropriate “built” solution with a spacious park-like surrounding that unfurls in over 1.5 generous acres.
Along the way, the new addition’s crisply articulated architecture sets the tone for a varied landscaping scheme that explores formal patterns and design motifs, laying the foundation for a garden rife with lavender, wygelia, and other outdoor focal points.
And, throughout, one notes the inspired use of limestone in hues ranging from rose to tan. The choice in all its variations both unifies garden, porch and patio, and adds the warmth needed to offset the all-white brick-facing monolith that was the previous rear of the home.
“We let Sun Design take the lead on this, and are glad that we did,” Amber Wooten explains. “We knew we wanted a convenient place to grill, and had always pictured a porch floor covered with a certain tile. But we had no idea what we wanted beyond a few basics. Essentially, Sun Design provided the architectural direction, and this process continued until we all agreed we had arrived at the best plan.”
Like many “unfinished” rear elevations, the lack of differentiating detail made the existing house appear excessively massed. The owners wanted well-defined outdoor spaces where they could comfortably entertain family and friends.
A key to solution’s overall coherence began with designing the porch roof in a conservatory style with a conical roof that repeats the roof line on the the home’s two level bay. The symmetry lends balance and authority where needed, permitting the somewhat playful landscape design to build visual rhythm. The kitchen’s bay window was, in turn, converted to a double slider accessed from the existing kitchen. An existing door that exits from the family room was preserved.
“The new elevation perfectly establishes a logical indoor outdoor continuum,” says Roger Lataille, Sun Design’s senior design consultant. “The whole point is to create an outdoor living component aligned with primary living areas of the home itself. The goal is a subtle continuity that makes the home pleasant in all seasons.”
With a 12 foot ceiling, a four support columns around a semi-circular periphery, the porch is zoned for both outdoor dining and separate conversation area furnished with all-weather wicker furniture.
The ceiling is fitted with two rotating fans, skylights and a hidden sound system. The effect of a classically-designed covered platform supported by vertical posts is to present the garden as a series of beautifully framed compositions.
On that point, the Wooten’s avoided screening-in the new pavilion.
“We thought screens would separate us from the surrounding beauty,” says Amber. “There’s a wonderful freedom to just stepping off the porch into the garden without opening a door.”
The dining area is accessed directly from the kitchen. The porch is zoned for a conversation area left and more formal dining around a table that seats eight.
The built component that gives further expression to this impulse is the pergola-topped outdoor kitchen, and which occupies a 19′ x 25′ extension of the limestone patio but is some 20 feet away from the porch.
Equipped with a sink, a refrigerator and a gas-powered stove, the bar is an independent gathering zone that seats four and provide spot-on views of an expansive lawn and mature trees.
The structure is clad in stacked stones; the pergola is constructed from pressure-treated pine. Meanwhile, the limestone in the patio is laid in a diagonal pattern, presenting a compelling textural contrast suitable for a mid-garden venue.
There’s a firepit mid-way between the kitchen and the porch. A table in the midst of the wicker sectional function as a space heater.
“We enjoy all the hours of the day from morning coffee to the s’mores at night,” says Amber. “We spend many hours by the fire table enjoying a glass of wine with friends. It’s particularly easy for parents to enjoying a space that where the kids playing view.”
Sun Design Remodeling frequently sponsors design and remodeling seminars as well as tours of recently remodeled homes. Headquartered in Burke, Sun Design also maintains an office in McLean, VA. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Sun DesignInc.com.