LITTLE BRIARS
BOYCE, VIRGINIA
(Renovations and Additions)

This project involved renovations of, and additions to, “Little Briars,” a small farmhouse that was once a tenant house on a larger farm. Built around 1850, Little Briars was originally a simple, two stotwo-story- roofed farmhouse with a front porch running the length of the south façade. A center stair hall divided two rooms downstairs and two identical rooms upstairs. At some point, the south elevation was “updated” with a gable attic roof and pairs of long, narrow windows to create a Victorian appearance; however, this treatment was not applied to any other elevations.

Little Briar’s forty- nine acre site in the bucolic, rolling countryside has dramatic limestone outcroppings, and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. An ancient, eight foot diameter oak sits to the northwest of the house. A formal garden to the north, situated between the house and a small detached guest house, had the potential to become a nicely landscaped, well- defined exterior space. The physical attributes of the site and the charming, picturesque quality of the front (south) elevation were spoiled, however, when one viewed the house from any vantage point other than from the front, because of unattractive, ill- proportioned additions on the rear (north) of the house. Renovating Little Briars involved removing the ungainly rear additions, and designing an addition more respectful of the small proportions of the original, one room deep house.

A traditional “ell” or “tee” addition to the back of the farmhouse wouldn’t have adequately accommodated the client’s large functional requirements. Additionally, the length of such an addition wouldn’t have easily fit between the house and guest house, and would have largely destroyed the formal garden. Instead of a perpendicular “ell” or “tee,” the addition was positioned parallel to the existing structure, orienting itself towards the formal garden and enormous oak tree. The size and bulk of the addition were broken down into two gables that flank a center, shed roofed structure. This configuration allows the addition to be large enough to solve the client’s functional requirements without overpowering the original structure.

The addition contains all of the informal, utilitarian spaces in the house, including a kitchen, breakfast room, family room, laundry, half bath, and utility room on the first floor, and a bedroom, study, walk-in closets, and two baths on the second floor. With most of the functional requirements served by the addition, the four original rooms of the nineteenth century house were left unencumbered with modern necessities and restored to formal rooms. Outdoor spaces such as an entry porch, an arbor, and a flagstone terrace within the formal garden, enable the clients to enjoy the beautiful site.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Builder: Tim Bandyke, Winchester, Virginia
  • Structural Engineer: Structural Concepts, Inc., Winchester, Virginia
  • Photographer: Hoachlander Davis Photography, Washington, D.C.