The best of both worlds: a cosey country getaway that combines classic craftsmanship with the latest eco-friendly features
It is a house with an old soul — and new bones.
Sitting on 27 acres a few miles South of Sperryville, from even a short distance, this late 19th-Century-style farm house mirrors one of its neighbors just down the country lane. But this house is not a contemporary of those dwellings. This house is both most modern — and vintage 1899.
First, the vintage part, starting with how the home came to be.
After coming to enjoy spending time around the Rappahannock County village of Sperryville, Alexandria residents Samantha Ahdoot and her husband Ken decided to build a weekend home to enjoy with their two young children.
“We really appreciate the way Sperryville is now,” Ahdoot says. “We wanted to build something that would blend in.”
Ahdoot collaborated with architect Jay Monroe and builder Eddie Fletcher to incorporate modern features — such as larger windows and higher ceilings — into a classic design.
Also part of the plan: “It was a lot of fun to try to incorporate vintage elements into the interior of the house,” Ahdoot says. Old light fixtures from DC’s The Brass Knob antiques and other reclaimed elements “added a lot of personality and old fashioned feel” to the 2,600-square-foot, four-bedroom home.
Fletcher and local woodworker Sam Dwyer used an 1880s molding profile to create the wooden stairway hand rails. They also made the kitchen’s heart pine counter tops and maple cabinetry. Some of the stone used in the home came from old 1800s fences on a local farm.
“The signature feel of a house like this — none of it comes from the local store,” Fletcher says.
When possible, classic features dovetailed with another shared mission of Ahdoot and Fletcher: sustainability.
For instance, the hand-bent metal roof authentically mimics turn-of-the-20th Century construction techniques (unlike today’s less detailed machine-made roofs). It is also more sustainable than shingled roofs: up to 70 percent of the metal comes from recycled sources, and the roof will likely last 80 years.
“It is a lifetime product,” Fletcher says.
The builder also incorporated the latest construction techniques to reduce the home’s energy footprint. For instance, the attic is covered with open-cell foam insulation so the heating and cooling system is not sitting in freezing (or boiling) conditions, thus boosting its efficiency.
The basement is coated with a closed-cell product that doesn’t absorb moisture, unlike old-style blanket insulation. And a mat made from recycled car dashboards gives an extra layer of insulation around the home’s foundation. But the two Big Guns in this sustainability effort are on top and far below the home: solar power and geothermal heating. Now, 16 months after breaking ground, this new house that looks like a long-time part of the landscape is ready to welcome a thriving family — just as its neighbors have for generations.