Located on iconic Cary Street, the 1960s brick home was completely renovated over a one-and-a-half-year period. The California-inspired ranch has an open floor plan enhanced by an all-glass rear, allowing for an intimate relationship with the outdoor living space and a seamless transition in and out of the home.
Landscape designer Marcia Fryer was brought on at the start of the renovation as the hardscape and landscaping were done first.
“The owner was downsizing, has older children, and wanted a departure from her previous home with a contemporary feel. She has a refined, sophisticated, and evolved collection of antiques, contemporary furniture, and art that sets the tone, and mixes well with the new architecture of the home,” says Marcia.
The house sits up on a slight hill and is set back from the street, so Marcia didn’t want a traditional walkway. She added a wide terraced entrance, with large precast concrete steppers, then softened the house with large sweeps of natural grasses, boxwood, and Japanese maples.
Marcia says, “The lot had natural elevation changes of about four feet from the back of the house to the street, and there were a lot of drainage issues directed toward the house. We terraced the property to help with the drainage and to create interest.”
You feel like you need a “day pass” to enter the back yard. It truly is an urban oasis, going far beyond anything that could be considered generic, yet the lines are clean and simple. It is understated elegance in action—you simultaneously feel like you have everything you need and nothing you don’t want.
The pool has three copper emitters which flow into the pool from the raised retaining wall. There’s also a pond with a fountain near the elevated eating terrace with a reel that empties into the pool. The hardscape, including the pool coping, is limestone and polished grey rocks.
The perfectly sized and positioned pool house has a kitchen that opens to the pool, making the entertaining possibilities endless. There is a fireplace on the rear wall of the home as well as a Restoration Hardware fire table on the upper level terrace.
When describing the landscaping, Marcia says it “has a Frank Lloyd Wright feel, with natural grasses and little lime hydrangeas in large masses.” A lot of repetition makes for a big impact.
The blooming plants adding delight include boxwood, peonies, oak leaf hydrangeas, millennium allium, white azaleas, blooming saucer pink magnolias, camellias, “muhly” grass, gingko trees, Japanese maples, and coral bells. Many of the planters were in the owner’s collection, and Marcia loved finding homes for them throughout the landscape.
There are neighbors on three sides of the property, located in the popular West End neighborhood. The new rear fence, a brown-stained wooden fence to reflect the architectural style of the house, gives privacy from the street.
In another section, hollies and Ligustrum are used for screening on an existing fence. Marcia’s team also camouflaged it with a black/green paint making it almost imperceptible in the landscape.
Marcia says, “I used a series of Gingko trees and hollies, azaleas, and peonies in front of the fence facing the house and pool. We espaliered magnolias on the fence panels facing the street with Cassian grass underplanting the magnolias the entire length of the fence.”
The result is modern yet timeless with an unmistakable Virginian feel; a homage to a city that shares the same characteristics.