Remodel: The Natural Look

A Prairie-style home renovation respects the surrounding landscape.

Amy and Conrad Windisch bought their enviable Falls Church property near Lake Barcroft in 2001, before they had kids. It’s blessed with a large backyard and a lush canopy of mature trees. But by 2014, their one-story ranch was feeling a bit cramped for a family of four that had come to include daughters Ella and Brynn, plus Willie the labradoodle.

The puzzle they brought to architect Sarah Riddlemoser, principal of Arlington-based Moser Architects, was this: Create more functional space inside, but without cannibalizing too much of the outside. “We love our big yard and all of our tall trees, and didn’t want to give that up!” Amy says. At the same time, they wanted more bedrooms, including a master suite; a laundry room that wasn’t part of the kitchen; extra storage for hiking, biking and camping equipment; and a two-car garage with a work space for Conrad, who likes to brew beer. (Both husband and wife are federal government contractors.)

“So we went up, forward and a little bit back,” Riddlemoser says of the renovation strategy. They settled on Prairie-style architecture, an aesthetic that’s more horizontal than vertical, with low-slung roofs and large overhangs that set the focal points lower to the ground. The result is an understated profile that makes the house appear smaller on the outside than it actually is.

Popping up and adding a second story has its perks. Working with Old Dominion Building Group, based in Strasburg, Virginia, Riddlemoser took the ceilings up from eight to nine feet and moved the bedrooms upstairs, creating a clean distinction between the home’s public and private spaces.

More timeless than trendy, the owners’ choices of finishes are intentionally neutral, so as not to compete with the view. Large windows flood the interiors with light (“the master bedroom feels like a treehouse,” Amy says), and organic materials—a stone fireplace, red oak floors—emphasize the home’s integration with its natural surroundings. “The house is just right for the lot,” Amy says, “and for the neighborhood. It’s one of a kind.”

Neighborhood: Sleepy Hollow
Originally built: 1951
Remodeled: 2014
Previous square footage: 2,417
New square footage: 3,995
Architect: Moser Architects,
Builder: Old Dominion Building Group,

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Categories: Home & Design