PAST AS PRELUDE The client wanted the home to look as if it had been around for a century. “So the exterior is designed to look old, as if there are three generations of a home with additions made to the structure over time,” Gibson says.
The center portion of the house is created to look as if it were the “original farmhouse”; the wing to the left, which contains the master suite, is made to appear as if it were added at a later date; and the section to the right, which includes the garage, is intended to appear as if it were added last. The exterior cladding varies from primarily siding in the center to combinations of stone and siding on the sides. The two wings include windows of different sizes and several roof peaks to actuate that feeling of being built at different times. The roof is a combination of Vermont slate — ¼ inch thicker than standard — and lead-coated copper.
“The house's interior takes its cues from the exterior masonry, too,” Banigan says, with stone walls in the family room and surrounding an interior staircase. And, to continue this feeling of a home with history, “The stairs, hardwood floors, beams, and doors are made from 100-year-old reclaimed wood from Iowa, fabricated by Wooden Design in Gaithersburg, Md.,” Gibson says. “The doors are hand-carved and the ironwork forged in-house — a real labor of love.”
But in addition to these rustic effects, modern-day luxury amenities also abound, including state-of-the-art stereo and light-dimming systems, under-floor radiant heating in the bathrooms, an air control system that enables a constant 45-degree humidity in the baths at all times, and a heated driveway.
Key to successfully achieving this melding of old-world charm with modern amenities was the teamwork that Banigan and Gibson have honed over the years. The result: a comfortable country farmhouse that recalls the past while perfecting it with myriad 21st-century custom details for its modern-day owners.
Wanda Jankowski is a design and building industry journalist based in New York.
Project: A 14,000-square-foot home and 500-square-foot pool house on 3 acres in Bethesda, Md.
Architect: Stephen Banigan, SMB Architects, Washington, D.C.
Custom Builder: James Gibson, principal and owner; David Henry, project superintendent, Gibson Builders, Washington, D.C., www.gibsonbuilders.com.
Landscape Architect: Richard Arentz, Arentz Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., www.richardarentz.com.
Duration: 22 months
Cost: More than $5 million
The kitchen mimics the home's exterior in that varied materials and finishes have been combined to create the illusion that the space has evolved over time. Four woods are used in the Wm Ohs cabinetry — cherry, pine, antique pine, and maple. The door styles and finishes on the cabinetry range from mullioned glass insets to distressed solids. The countertops are marble on the eating bar, polished French limestone on the island, and unpolished French limestone with a shale-like texture on the perimeter countertops.
The 11-foot ceiling, which is one foot higher than the ceilings in the rest of the house, is covered with beadboard, contributing to the vintage feel of the space.
The kitchen's focal point is the large, custom-designed, copper-clad vent hood suspended above the island. Modern touches in the space include stainless steel appliances.
By day, the south-facing kitchen is flooded with light that streams through windows, which are equipped with builtin screens concealed in the headers when not in use. At night, illumination comes from a combination of down-lights and pendants.
The breakfast nook, adjacent to the kitchen, is endowed with large windows and glass-mullioned doors, and serves as the family's main dining area.