An Oasis in Falls Church
The architecture of this stunning custom home is oriented around a backyard pond and wildlife habitat.
It’s called the Pond House for a reason. A large pond—apparently built for a previous owner’s swans—inspired a local couple to purchase the land comprising two lots near downtown Falls Church City and, in 2016, build a new 7,850-square-foot house in front of it.
The process, says Falls Church architect Charles Moore, required knocking down an existing Cape Cod and completely rebuilding the stagnant pond so it not only functioned as an aesthetic centerpiece, but also became the heart of an expansive and sustainable landscape.
Moore and landscape architect Joan Honeyman of the D.C. firm Jordan Honeyman worked hand-in-hand to design a home that is oriented toward the backyard, where they incorporated additional water features. A fountain and streambed double as a pump and bio-retention area to keep water flowing through the central pond and filter harmful runoff.
“The house is designed to be a private place that opens up to the pond and the terrace in back. It doesn’t open up to the street,” Moore says. And its layout allows the couple to live almost entirely on the first floor, with a second level for their grown children and guests. “It’s one-story living without it being a ranch house,” he says. “You put the space where you need it.”
The large family-dining-kitchen area faces the back of the house, cleverly shielded from view through the front door. One wing branching off the side contains the master bedroom suite, while others to the rear hold the husband’s and wife’s home offices, which flank a large central terrace overlooking the pond.
At each turn, Moore and his firm’s interior designer, Jordan Campbell, along with Honeyman, played to the owners’ tastes. Circular forms in the husband’s office are repeated in the landscape, and a detached potting shed for the wife, an avid gardener, reads like a miniature version of the main house.
The home’s construction is highly energy efficient and incorporates quality materials, including copper gutters and a slate roof; handmade tile and custom millwork inside; and radiant-heat floors with sensors to ensure the temperature stays consistent between tile and hardwood surfaces. “They spent whatever it took to do things in a really sophisticated way,” says Luke Gladis of Ironstar Building Co. in Arlington.
The landscaping is just as thoughtful. “They wanted a habitat garden to attract pollinators and wildlife,” Honeyman says. “A heron comes in for the koi in the pond, and there are seven to eight birdhouses. [The owner] is out there all the time, pruning, digging and adding extra plants. She’s having a ball!”