Architect Timothy Clites imparts European sophistication and panache to a classic Hunt Country manse
A five-acre estate in Virginia’s Hunt Country proved irresistible to its owner, a Georgetown University alumnus and private-equity investor. “The approach is magical—a long drive up a curving hill past mature landscaping and formal gardens. I bought it on the spur of a moment,” he reveals. Subsequently married, he and his wife now split their time between the five-bedroom, 5,795-square-foot residence in Upperville and a home in Miami.
Architect Errol Adels—whose illustrious portfolio includes the Finnish Embassy in DC—designed the home in the late 1990s for his own use. The tripartite, one-and-a-half-story abode is composed of three interconnected structural masses. “It’s an unusual home, without traditionally compartmentalized rooms,” the current owner observes. “We loved the house, but the palette was Tuscan-inspired, its finishes and materials were dated and it needed an infrastructure overhaul. We wanted to modernize the layout and create a contemporary aesthetic such as you might see in a boutique hotel in London or Paris—still classic, but lighter.”
After living in the house for a year, the residents hired Middleburg architect Timothy Clites in 2015 to embark on a major renovation. No stranger to the area and its relatively conservative design sensibility, Clites orchestrated what turned out to be a three-year gut job with Duhring Construction.
“Our intent was to create an updated, comfortable residence, with interiors that harken back to a great urban apartment in terms of rooms, materials, details, scale and aesthetic,” Clites says. “It’s a classical building on a refined rural site, so the vision ultimately was to elevate the experience of both indoors and outdoors via this subtle contrast.”
The project began with the makeover of a guest house on the property, which turned out to be fortuitous as it provided a proving ground for what the main house could be. “Our team became clear about the scale and quality of the moldings and baseboards,” Clites relates. “We redid the flooring, refined our palette and experimented with custom cabinetry.”
While the Palladian-style façade and structure of the main house remained intact, the existing ochre Italian stucco and beige detailing went off-white. “Painting the exterior one consistent color gave us the sophisticated look we were going for, allowing the architecture to shine,” Clites explains. “High-contrast, black-framed doors and windows are currently trendy, but they’ll be timeless here because the architecture is strong and classic enough to take it.”
Inside, the central volume contains a 30-by-30-foot salon encompassing living, dining and kitchen areas; symmetrical volumes on either side house book-matched master suites. Directly above the latter, two additional en-suite bedrooms are accessed via twin staircases located in the hyphens that connect the salon with each master suite. While the upstairs bedrooms formerly overlooked the master suites via open balconies, Clites closed them off for privacy, installing cloister-vaulted ceilings in each master suite instead.
He also replaced all the home’s windows and doors—including eight-foot-tall French doors in the salon, which have been expanded to 10 feet tall with transoms; they open onto a pea-gravel terrace overlooking formal gardens, a swimming pool and a guest house. Terracotta floors throughout were replaced with quarter-sawn oak salvaged from a 140-year-old local barn, stained matte gray and sealed to create a more polished look.
“The aim was to elevate the interiors,” says Clites of spaces that went from Provençal to Parisian. “The 10-foot French doors help achieve that, as does the chic gray paint palette.” Thirty-inch plaster crown cove molding, designed and hand-applied on site, also draws attention to the grandeur of the salon, which was conceived in quadrants. The dual seating areas boast a light palette while the kitchen and dining area flanking the front door add contrast with custom, dark-wood cabinetry and built-in bookshelves. “We created a ‘box within a box,’” Clites relates, “whereby you leave the moodier, dark side and step into the rear quadrants, which are all about light and the view.”
Though the kitchen retained its original footprint, sleek cabinets topped by expanses of honed, high-contrast, dark-gray marble convey a sexy, sophisticated vibe. State-of-the-art appliances include a custom powder-coated metal hood that matches the LaCanche range.
Clites and colleague John Barr also helped furnish the home, tapping into the owners’ collection of art photography and vintage posters. The Deco vibe of the latter inspired pops of primary color in the neutral palette, while existing furniture, including some Mid-Century Modern pieces, served as a jumping-off point for sourcing additional acquisitions.
“Our inspiration was luxury, glamour and tailored lines,” Clites says. “There’s a lot of leather, velvet, marble and unlacquered brass, as well as custom pieces, such as the chest of drawers and his-and-her cupboards in the master bedroom.”
The owners are thrilled with the results. “This is a magnificent house for entertaining and we’ve hosted up to 200 both inside and outside on the terrace and lawn,” the husband says. “Tim helped us transform it into a brand-new, contemporary version of itself.”
Renovation Architecture & Interior Design: Timothy L. Clites, AIA, principal; John Barr, project manager, Clites Architects PC, Middleburg, Virginia. Builder: Duhring Construction, Marshall, Virginia. Styling: Charlotte Safavi.
Doors & Windows- jeld-wen.com. Hardware: rockymountainhardware.com. Fireplace: earthcore.co/fireplaces. Custom Mantle Design: clitesarchitects.com. Custom Mantle Fabrication: easystonecenter.com.
Sconces: remains.com. Paint Colors: Ammonite (walls) and Strong White (Trim) by farrow-ball.com. Rugs: starkcarpet.com. Seating, on right: Sofa & Chair Fabric: fschumacher.com. Seating, on left: Sofa & Chairs: Dunbar collectdunbar.com. Sofa & Chair Fabric: fschumacher.com. Art Above Blue Sofa: francescojodice.com.
Millwork Design: clitesarchitects.com. Millwork Fabrication: atelierfonteneau.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Chairs: fionamcdonald.com. Chari Leather: crestleather.com. Gricio Carnico Honed Countertop: fairfaxmarble.com.
Gricio Carnico Honed Countertop: fairfaxmarble.com. Millwork Design: clitesarchitects.com. Millwork Fabrication: atelierfonteneau.com. Custom Hood: rangecraft.com. Range: lacanche.com. Faucet: rh.com. Hardware: rockymountainhardware.com. Refrigerator: subzero-wolf.com. Steam Oven: vikingrange.com. Lights on Island: remains.com.
Paint: benjaminmoore.com. Pool Renovation: duhringconstruction.com. Outdoor Furniture: kingsleybate.com. Planters: williams-sonoma.com. Table Near Fireplace: clubcu.com. Outdoor Lighting: santabarbaralighting.com.
Bed: meridianfurnitureusa.com. Table: fontanaarte.com. Millwork & Custom Bureau Design: clitesarchitects.com. Millwork & Custom Bureau Fabrication: atelierfonteneau.com. Rug: revivalrugs.com. Paint Colors: Metro Gray by benjaminmoore.com.
Custom Moldings: clitesarchitects.com. Bed: meridianfurnitureusa.com. Paint Colors: Ammonite (walls) & Strong White (trim): farrow-ball.com.
Sink & Toilet: kohler.com. Mirror: rejuvenation.com. Sconce: urbanarchaeology.com. Skylight: velux.com.
CLUB HOUSE INTERIOR
Furniture through jdireland.com. Billiards Table Restoration: billiardsbybrandt.com. Light Fixture: olampia.com. Paint Color: Blackberry Punch by benjaminmoore.com. Wine Area Design: clitesarchitects.com. Wine Area Fabrication: atelierfonteneau.com. Bar Stools & Tables: hinescompany.com. Bar Stool Leather, Recovered- Haute Fabrics; 703-961-0400. Rug: galerieshabab.com. Window: weathershield.com. Art: Owners’ collection.