When the American Institute of Building Design (https://aibd.org/) recognizes a project as a “Grand ARDA” for renovation, it spotlights the best of what independent, professional architects and designers can do to make their clients’ homes both beautiful and livable. William Cawood of Cawood Architecture PLLC (https://cawoodarch.com/) turned in one of just a few such projects recognized this year at the pinnacle of the organization’s renovation category.
The custom architect serving Loudoun County says after working for over a decade in the Maryland and DC region he got his break locally from Matt Bowe of Alair Homes Hunt Country (https://www.alairhomes.com/huntcountry/) and it was Matt’s company that built the renovations that Will designed for the award-winning project.
As William describes his “Goose Creek Revival,” the renovation was of a two-story, rural house in Northern Virginia that “focused on providing our clients with a more efficient layout and updated finishes to create a functional yet elegant country retreat.”
One of William’s biggest challenges was refining the entry sequence of the existing house. As he recalls, “The simple front portico, which lacked cohesive architectural detailing, opened onto a plain foyer that featured a multiangled stair and landing which clashed with the decorative columns of an open sitting area.” The angled landing actually made access to the upstairs bedroom difficult, and made furniture placement difficult. On order: a more formal entryway that at the same time seemed open and inviting, and that resolved the challenging angles of the former entry.
“To achieve this,” William explains, “the front portico was partially deconstructed and completely redesigned with inspiration from traditional buildings and now opens onto a beautifully refinished double height foyer. Pilasters and paneling combine to create a formal entry sequence that camouflages the additional foot of space added to the existing foyer,” improving circulation to the rear of the house. A new gently curved landing and refinished staircase allow the foyer to flow gracefully to the rest of the home and improve the access to an upstairs bedroom.
As the award submission explains, “A new private office with custom paneling was added to make better use of the open sitting room, while a dramatic butler’s pantry with a hand painted ceiling was added to take advantage of unused space next to the kitchen. Rustic decorative beams and a new stonework wall helped to define the kitchen and great room as separate spaces, while maintaining the openness and original views that the owners loved in the old design.”
Fireplaces in the main living spaces were replaced, with new stonework in the main living area and a paneled surround in the sunroom. Numerous other areas were updated or redesigned, including all the secondary bathrooms and powder room. New wood flooring that had been reclaimed and re-milled from old oak fence boards was run throughout the house.
Upstairs, the owner’s suite was reworked to remove a split-level lounge in favor of a more “intentional” entry to the bedroom with the addition of a luxurious new dressing room. The main bathroom was completely refinished with custom paneling and a tiled accent window ledge.
Windows featuring curved fanlights, a custom arched window in the butler’s pantry, and a more open window muntin pattern provide views to the countryside that surrounds the home, and updated French doors with more glazing reinforce the home’s connection with its surrounding landscape. The original façade was updated with a bolder, more cohesive color palette, new chimneys anchored the expanse of the house, metal roofing replaced the existing asphalt shingles, and new operable shutters completed the reworking of the exterior.
The award ceremony is in August in Nashville; winning entries, with all the photos and descriptions, will be posted at https://ResidentialDesignAwards.com.
William loves historic homes and country living, which was in part what drew him to Loudoun County. He owns a turn of the century Folk Victorian home on Main St. in Berryville, adjacent to the town park, that he’s been slowly renovating. Most of his work focuses on new homes and additions, but his firm also does smaller commercial projects such as offices and a historic museum house.
He often renovates historic homes and he notes that an early step in a successful renovation is identifying if that charming old house is or is not on a historic registry that carries with it rules and regulations on modifications. William has done both and is well familiar with the processes required for getting truly “historic” home renovations approved, as well as how to create sympathetic additions for both types of historic homes.
He’s also a member of the Institute of Classical Art and Architecture, remarking that “traditional design can seem very rigid, but in my experience, it’s like having a language with a sentence structure that give you the ability to create on top of that foundation, and that the variety can be endless while sharing a common theme.” Another of his gifts is working within a budget, and applying “stagecraft” when unlimited funding isn’t an option. “You learn very quickly as an architect that creating opportunities for small moments that highlight a view or artwork can elevate and expand a space without requiring a large investment."