Great Spaces: Feels Like Wine Country

These outdoor spaces evoke the aesthetic of Napa and Sonoma.
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The Saunders residence (front). Photo by Jenn Verrier

Tanya and Ken Saunders were attracted to their Arlington Forest home not for its architecture—it was a carbon copy of many others on the street—but because it sat on the second biggest lot in the neighborhood, overlooking a large lawn and backing up to woods and the W&OD trail. “You’re urban and close to the city, but it’s still very removed in back,” Tanya says.

Shortly after purchasing the property in 2015, the couple enlisted D.C. design consultant Gerry Zeiler to help with a whole-house renovation that would also distinguish the exterior from neighboring homes.

Zeiler conceived a design blending wood, metal and stone to channel the Saunders’ love of California’s wine country. She had the red brick painted white, and enclosed a former side-porch entrance to create a foyer with its own metal roof. Pea gravel walkways in front and back were inspired by the couple’s memories of garden tours at the Chalk Hill Estate Winery in Healdsburg, California, and the landscaping at Ma(i)sonry in Yountville, California. “It just lends this softness,” Zeiler says, “with its pale beiges, browns, greens and grays.”

To complement the aesthetic, she introduced a reclaimed front door from Vintage House Parts and Radiators in Cheverly, Maryland, and gates made from tulip-shaped wrought-iron grates from The Old Lucketts Store in Leesburg.

A simple pergola covered in climbing wisteria frames a wide front window and a small outdoor seating area, with Adirondack chairs reminiscent of the ones on the deck at Ovid winery in Napa Valley. “We very much love the California look,” Tanya says. “We wanted it to be unique, but not overdone.”

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The backyard, an ideal spot for a staycation. Photo by Jenn Verrier

Out back, Zeiler fortified a steeply sloping hill with a retaining wall and fence. An outdoor dining area now connects to an existing stone patio and fireplace via a “bridge” of pea gravel. With every material choice, the designer says, “you want it to remain rustic and natural. We didn’t want anything to be too pristine.”

Though the project was completed in 2017, the grounds have remained a work in progress. The latest landscaping addition, installed this spring, helped the couple and their three kids pass the time under quarantine: a new putting green.

Related stories:

Great Spaces: Patio Paradise
Great Spaces: The Rustic Screened Porch
Knockout Pools and Patios

Categories: Home & Design