This Arlington Home Feels Like a Boutique Hotel
That's by design. The owners wanted every day to feel like a memorable vacation.
Guests at Neil and Lisa Kapadia’s Arlington home often feel like they’re in a classy hotel. Their impressions are not far off the mark. The couple’s hospitality might be top notch, but visitors are likely also responding to the space itself, with its 12-foot ceilings, glass-box dining room, dramatic lighting and sleek furnishings.
Neil, it turns out, is co-founder of ViaNova Development, a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company that develops boutique hotels and apartment buildings. The experience of staying in a beautifully designed hotel is memorable, he says. “It just feels so different and clean and refreshing. We wanted our house to feel that way.”
So when Lisa, who works in IT for a pharmaceutical company, found the perfect teardown lot in Cherrydale, they tapped into ViaNova’s design channels to build a custom home that feels like vacation.
“Lisa had been talking about moving for a few years,” Neil explains. “We were in Bluemont, and we knew that we wanted to stay in Arlington. She found the quarter-acre piece of land through Eli Tucker, our broker. He knew of the off-market listing owned by our builder, James McMullin [of MRE Homes in Arlington].” The lot became their blank canvas.
Though McMullin’s architect, Ron Mizerak of Mizerak Architectural Design Studio in Lovettsville, created the initial concept sketches, the couple already had a vision for the design. Their big architectural ideas included a four-story light well with an open staircase and soaring ceilings.
The Kapadias also consulted with ViaNova’s hotel design team, DHospitality in Columbus, Ohio, along with Neil’s sister, Jill Christoff, an architect in Cleveland, to distill Lisa’s favorite ideas from Pinterest and other sources. Together, they created a 95-page design guidebook specifying finishes, hardware, paint colors and fixtures.
Spanning roughly 6,300 square feet, the six-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath house is organized on four levels, with a modern farmhouse exterior that complements the architectural character of the street. Fitting in was important to Neil, whose hospitality properties are most often infill projects that respect the context of the neighborhoods they enter. (Take ViaNova’s Peregrine Hotel in Omaha, which occupies a historic building from 1912 that sits next to the iconic Woodmen Tower skyscraper. The firm restored the original architecture, named the hotel after falcons that nested on top, and incorporated hunting themes in the guest rooms.)
“I personally don’t like to stick out,” Neil says. “Even when I’m doing historic projects, we like to keep the exterior envelope of the building. We can make the interior as crazy as we want, but I don’t want to have one of those projects that looks a little too modern for the neighborhood.”
The main floor is an exercise in transparency and light, with an open island kitchen, twin sets of large patio doors overlooking the backyard, a dining room encased in floor-to-ceiling glass, and a dramatic open stairwell that channels natural light inside.
“Wow” features aside, the house is also loaded with functional elements, such as a large walk-in pantry, a laundry room on the same level with the owners’ suite, and electrical outlets hidden inside kitchen and bathroom drawers. The basement light wells are outfitted with double-sized casement windows to maximize light, and the 8-foot-tall interior doors have rubberized commercial seals for soundproofing.
“One of the other interesting things we did was the wood front door,” Neil says. “It has these two massive glass panels. I worked with one of my commercial suppliers and had electrified film put in the door.” Flipping a switch changes the panels from opaque to clear, “so we don’t have to open the door or look through a peephole.”
Good lighting was also a priority. Neil requested that every room have two color temperatures—a warm option and a bright white. The home’s many statement-making fixtures include a cascading assembly of pendants in the stairwell and a dining-room chandelier resembling a 3-D grid.
Neil describes the design approach as holistic, with every detail planned out in advance, down to the furnishings. “A lot of times you build a house and then you have to go find the furniture,” he says. “But with my hospitality team, everything is custom designed to fit the space. Not only did we provide all the finishes, but we were able to pre-build the entire furniture plan as well as the furniture package itself, including fabric and colors.”
The needs of the couple’s kids, ages 8 and 6, factored into the design, too. “In terms of where the kids would do their homework and things like that, you don’t want them completely in their rooms all the time,” Neil says. “So we built a desk [occupying a second-floor atrium] that was inspired by a community table you might see in the lobby of a hotel. It has drawers on both sides so we can sit down as a family and do homework together.”
What’s it like living here? In a word: memorable.
“The livability is exactly what we thought it was going to be,” Neil says. “My friends say it’s kind of like cheating. I’ve done this more than 10 times on other projects.”
Square Footage: 6,300
Architect: Mizerak Architectural Design Studio
Interior Designer: DHospitality
Builder: MRE Homes