Chateau-style Meets English Country Garden in Virginia’s Rolling Hills

Sun Design’s New Indoor/Outdoor Solution is Steeped in Classic Architecture

An unfinished rear elevation is common enough in northern Virginia. Homeowners want usable square footage under roof, but haven’t necessarily decided  how best to optimize certain aspects of the new dwelling. To help buyers focus dollars on the structure itself, many builders leave key components—basements, garages, backyards—incomplete, allowing owners to customize as time, budget, and inspiration permit.

Looking back, this has been a sensible cultural process 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 uniquely their own.

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 varied landscaping that explores formal patterns and design motifs, laying the foundation for a garden rife with lavender, wygelia, and other outdoor focal points.

Throughout one notes the inspired use of limestone in hues ranging from rose to tan. In all its variations, the choice unifies garden, porch and patio, and adds the warmth needed to offset the all-white brick-faced monolith that was the previous rear of the home.

“We let Sun Design take the lead on this, and are glad 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. Sun Design provided the architectural direction, and this continued until we all agreed we had arrived at the best plan.”

A key to the solution’s overall coherence began with designing the porch roof in a conservatory style with a conical pitch hat 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 into a double sliding glass door accessed from the existing kitchen. An existing door that exits from the family room was preserved.

“The new rear elevation perfectly establishes the logic of the 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 to develop a subtle continuity that makes the home pleasant in all seasons.”

With its 12 foot ceiling, and four support columns around a semi-circular periphery, the porch is zoned for both outdoor dining and a 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 such a classically-proportioned covered platform supported by vertical posts is a vision of the garden as a series of beautifully framed compositions.

On that point, the Wooten’s consciously 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 built component that gives still further expression to this impulse is the pergola-topped outdoor kitchen, which occupies a 19′ x 25′ extension of the limestone patio—yet 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’s base is clad in stacked stones; the pergola constructed from pressure-treated pine. Meanwhile, the limestone in the patio is laid in a diagonal pattern, offering 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 functions as a space heater. It’s an outdoor space that can satisfy a lot of seasonal requirements.

“We enjoy all the hours of the day…from morning coffee to the s’mores at night,” says Amber. “We spend hours by the fire table enjoying a glass of wine with friends. It’s especially easy for parents when the kids are playing in 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 visit

Pictured at top: Chateau-style marries English landscape. 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.

Pictured in inset at top: BEFORE 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.

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