Many of us, especially as the weather turns, dream of extra space, expansive mansions where we can spread out from others and gather together exactly as much as we want to.
But be careful what you wish for. Grand marble staircases can start to feel cold after a while, and excess space can make a home feel about as cozy as the Overlook Hotel.
This McLean stunner shows how you can make a lot of house feel like your own. The owners needed a space that felt comfortable enough to live in with their large family, but elevated for hosting.
“Every ounce of this project was [guided by the client’s idea] ‘We’re going to have people over; we want this to be a gathering space,'” says Kristen Mendoza, project designer for Four Brothers Design + Build.
In the pandemic era, the hearth can be located just outside the home–in the backyard. And this home had the makings of an amazing hearth, with a spacious balcony forming, essentially, a double-level deck.
Mendoza took advantage of the architecture to construct a full outdoor kitchen on the second floor, with grill, outdoor pantry, refrigerator, and smoker.
“The outdoor cabinets are marine grade,” she says, so they can stand up to all types of weather. “And then we use Dekton countertops, which are made to feel like they’re supposed to be outside.”
A white brick exterior adds a touch of elegance, a counterbalance to the robust brick patio, while twin fireplaces and an outdoor television on the second floor keeps things as cozy as an indoor den.
It’s an approach that’s cleanly integrated with the interior of the home, made clear in the design of the kitchen.
“I made it inviting with the walnut butcher block table. It warms everything up,” Mendoza says. “And having some off-white cabinetry finishes, we kept it from becoming stark.”
Texture was key to making the space feel interesting, with beams and a soffit making the high ceiling feel dynamic.
That approach yields pleasant surprises. Recent design trends have focused on combining efficiency with character and craft. The foyer of the home reflects that, taking clean lines and effective spacing and making it work in a classically American, geometric style.
“The way we we designed the stairs here, you actually have a bigger foyer, even more space in the foyer, though we’re essentially flattening the stairs against their open hallway,” Mendoza says. “And the millwork you would assume is original to the house…The paneling, the beams, the way the archway is cut into the staircase, there’s a real emphasis on clean lines throughout.”
Mendoza points out that these kind of improvements are often a matter of effective use of space. A wine cellar beautifully elevates a formerly plain basement space.
“The big thing we added was an under-cabinet wine refrigerator,” Mendoza says. “All this brick is essentially tile–sliced brick that’s three quarters of an inch thick. So we didn’t have to do all the masonry, but it worked out really well. It gave us that perfect wine cellar look.”
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