Creating a Countryside Charmer

From the ground up, like-minded professionals come together to realize a meticulously designed home nestled into its stellar setting outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We wanted a house that fit into the landscape; one that would make sense when you look at it,” say the owners of this property outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. That refrain was the jumping-off point and the continuing touchstone throughout the entire project, from the plantings to the architecture to the interior design. The savvy stewards of such choice acreage had the foresight to begin with the outside.

Pair of chairs on a columned side porch with views of the garden and hills beyond in fall color.
A columned side porch with a pair of swivel chairs provides the ideal spot for morning coffee and taking in the fall color.

The Landscape

“The property had been used for agriculture, so there was barely a tree in sight,” says landscape architect Anna Boeschenstein of Grounded. “We created a screen with native evergreens mixed with some deciduous trees and shrubs all along the edge of a fairly active road for both privacy and noise reduction. And because of the early installation, the trees had some growth on them by the time construction began.”

Family room with view to meadow-like garden. Arrangement of orange dahlias, fall leaves, and grasses on coffee table.
A cozy family room doubles as a library and home office with big picture windows to take in the view. The warm palette reflects autumn on the farm.

Next came determining the siting for the home for the sake of the views and livability. Anna and the owners teamed up with architects Keith Scott and Julie Dixon of Rosney Co. to create a plan—one that was not the most obvious perhaps. “I think a lot of people’s instincts would be to automatically place the house on the highest point,” says Keith. “Instead, we tucked it in behind the knoll to create a natural divider from any busyness beyond. There is also this welcome sense of arrival as you progress down the driveway. The house slowly reveals itself and, while private, it still offers exceptional views.”

Traditional farmhouse built of fieldstone with dormers and porch extension. Border of pink flowering grass and autumn-red tree in yard.
Built of fieldstone, the home feels like a farmhouse from the past. Wooden sides flanking the home give the impression that they may have been added over time.

A Traditional Farmhouse

For the style of the home, the clients were seeking authenticity—no splashy new build but rather a home that felt like it could have been there for generations. Taking cues from the Middleburg area and the Shenandoah Valley, the architects crafted a traditional, one-room-deep farmhouse with an engaging façade that looks like it has been added on to and tinkered with over the years. “The owners didn’t want one big mass or block. They wanted the house to tell a story,” says Keith. “We also chose quality materials in a classic palette that will age well—fieldstone, cedar shakes, and painted metal.” And to keep the house in a continual conversation with the outside throughout the four seasons, the team added a dining porch and side porch for taking in the views, as well as an outdoor fireplace with a reclaimed chimney.

Stacked stone fireplace with seating area in garden in front of red barn. Autumn-dried hydrangeas and grasses border seating area.
The seating area in the fireplace terrace garden, with stacked stone fireplace extends the outdoor experience as temperatures drop.
Fall garden with sweep of smoky, pink muhly grass and low shrubs with fall-colored leaves.
In fall, an arc of smoky, pink muhly grass puts on a show in the garden.

Anna’s landscape design—a series of rooms that include a cutting garden, a fountain garden, and a fireplace terrace garden— ensures that something captivating is always in bloom throughout the year. In the spring, tulips, daffodils, liriope, and the cherry tree allée make their debut, while in the summer, frothy hydrangeas such as ‘Little Lime’ and ‘Dwarf Oakleaf’ appear. For fall, grasses like smoky pink muhly and Mexican feathergrass put on a show, along with scarlet oaks. And in the winter months, Virginia and Loblolly pines and ilex varieties of winterberry and inkberry keep color in the landscape. “The clients also wanted the grounds to have some age, so we introduced found objects such as old millstones as a repeating motif in the design, including one used as a water feature in the cutting garden,” says Anna. Add the homeowners, “It’s just what we envisioned. It’s not overly planted or overwrought. It feels natural.”

Arched opening to entry hall with antique table, bold green painting on wall, basket of branches with berries and apples or quince on floor.
In the entry, an antique table topped with an eye-catching piece of art is set off by a graceful arch.

The Interiors

That desire for authenticity extended to the interiors curated by Anne Hulcher Tollett of Hanover Avenue in Richmond, who was hired early in the process to collaborate with the team. “In keeping with such thoughtful architecture, we leaned into the idea of a collected house where it feels as if pieces have been brought in over the decades, although we basically started from scratch,” says Anne. “Antiques were essential so that the furniture would feel like it was perhaps inherited from the owners’ parents and grandparents. But we avoided anything too ornate or embellished.”

Living room with blue and green printed chairs flanking fireplace, expressionist landscape painting over fireplace, arrangement of orang and salmon dahlias and other flowers on glass coffee table.
Antiques bring welcome character and a sense of age to the light-filled living room. Anne hand-picked art that would provide another layer of interest throughout the home.
A contemporary oil painting by Santa Fe artist Christopher Benson finds company with a weathered and painted 19th chest.
A contemporary oil painting by Santa Fe artist Christopher Benson finds company with a weathered and painted 19th-century chest and composition of garden roses, bittersweet, foraged grasses and autumn foliage.
Two skirted armchairs covered in a botanical print edged in a Greek key-style trim from Samuel & Sons flank the fireplace.
The cozy living room has a mix of antiques to provide a sense of age paired with new upholstery such as two skirted armchairs covered in a botanical print edged in a Greek key-style trim from Samuel & Sons. Zinnias, dahlias, and dried ferns with persimmon and bittersweet branches light up the cocktail table.

Anne also encouraged her traditionally-minded clients to embrace a little whimsy here and there. “I wanted the house to reflect the cool grandparents that they are—the ones who enjoy live music and going on yoga retreats.” This mindset is best reflected in the choice of art for the home. Anne introduced her clients to Reynolds Gallery in Richmond where she helped them build a meaningful collection with many local artists in the mix. She even commissioned Charlottesville based Cate West Zahl to create a landscape of the property itself that hangs over the living room fireplace. And in the primary bath, the designer added a contemporary work by Mark Fox that evokes seedpods found on the property.

Primary bedroom with white linens and touches of blue, windows on three sides, fireplace with pair of sconces and painting over.
The primary suite offers a serene attitude that evokes a snowy winter landscape. The beauty is in the details, such as the embroidered tape trim along the bottom of the bed skirt.
Clawfoot bathtub in primary bath with painting by Mark Fox on wall, autumn flower arrangement on stool beside tub.
The primary bathroom pairs an old-fashioned footed bathtub with contemporary art by Mark Fox.
Arrangement of dahlias, cosmos, hellebores, and celosia in white and pale pinks, and lilac.
In keeping with the wintry feel in the primary bedroom, Mallory Joyce created an arrangement of dahlias, cosmos, hellebores, and celosia.

Anne and her team also dialed into the idea of the all-season house. “We are so fortunate to have four distinct seasons in Virginia, especially in the mountains, so I broke the home into these ‘moments,’ ” she says. “The primary suite reflects the landscape in winter when it’s covered in snow—how the sun hits the icy terrain outside. It’s full of these candlelight shades of white, blue, and peach.” She explains that the living room speaks to summer with its sky blue and green palette, while the dining room, which is a pause before the kitchen, is “like a breath of spring air.” The library/study evokes fall with its harvest palette—saffron, earth tones, mustards, and warm grays. Anne had a custom rug designed that captures the mood and has important years woven into the pattern—her clients’ wedding date, their children’s birth dates, and the year they moved into the house.

Dining room with antique dining table and blue and white slipcovered chairs. Fireplace with fieldstone surround on wall behind table. Arrangement of roses, sunflowers, and autumn leaves on table.
The dining room strikes a balance of casual and formal elements; slipcovered chairs impart ease while the antique dining table adds a note of gravitas.

For the homeowners, this home is in harmony with their next chapter. It’s a place to indulge in outdoor pursuits and to enjoy all that Charlottesville offers while having the countryside life they envisioned. “We didn’t want a big sprawling house with all these designated rooms for certain activities but rather one that’s very livable,” says the couple. “We have everything we need on the first floor, while upstairs are three bedrooms at the ready for our children and grandchildren.” This unpretentious yet beautifully realized home is truly one for the ages.

Childrens' bedroom with pair of upholstered twin beds, blue floral wallpaper covers walls and ceiling.
Anne convinced her clients to turn an unfinished space into a special bedroom for grandchildren. A blue floral wallpaper extends to the ceiling, and tall, striped custom-upholstered beds tucked in the eaves draw the eye up.

More Rooms and Details

Yellow bedroom with bed between dormers and flanked by tables with yellow lamps. Walls painted Farrow and Pale Hound
“My client loved the idea of each upstairs bedroom having a different color, so she could easily direct guests,” says Anne. “For the yellow bedroom, we introduced several complementary floral prints and vintage yellow ceramic lamps we found on Chairish with custom fabric shades.”
Country kitchen with view of autumn color on hills. Farm table used in place of an island.
The clients desired a more authentic farmhouse kitchen, eschewing a big island for a more rustic center table while glass front cabinets and vintage pendants complete the look.
Mudroom with beadboard wainscoting and simple metal pendant lights.
Beadboard wainscoting along with simple metal pendant lights bring farmhouse charm to the mudroom. Between ample built-in storage cabinetry sits a bench for shoe changing while pegs on the opposite wall provide a place to hang coats and dog leashes.
Bedside table with vase of yellow and white flowers and flower encrusted, white ceramic lamp.
The serene primary bedroom features an upholstered bed from Lee Industries covered in a thin-striped Perennials fabric and a beautiful antique chest with welcome patina, a vase of white cosmos, and floral encrusted white lamp. Pillow sham by Matouk
Centerpiece flower arrangement of scabiosa, garden roses, lisianthus, sunflowers, and amaranth with foraged foliage and grasses.
Mallory Joyce brings texture and fall colors to the dining table with this arrangement of scabiosa, garden roses, lisianthus, sunflowers, and amaranth with foraged foliage and grasses.
Basket of persimmon branches and bittersweet berries inside front door of home.
Guests are greeted with basket of persimmon branches and bittersweet stems, blazing with red berries and their yellow-orange outer coverings.
Arrangement of mums, amaranth, garden roses, foraged autumn foliage and grasses.
An arrangement of mums, amaranth, garden roses, foraged autumn foliage and grasses in glows with tones of amber and wine.
Wooden garden bench in front of an antique millstone framed by a bank of hydrangeas.
The landscape is dotted with delightful moments such as this bench with an antique millstone framed by a bank of hydrangeas.

By Alice Welsh Doyle – @alice.the.editor

Photography by Erik Kvalsvik – @erikkvalsvik

Architecture: Rosney Co.
Interior design: Anne Hulcher Tollett, Hanover Avenue
Landscape architecture: Anna Boeschenstein, Grounded Landscape Architecture & Design
Landscape contractor: J.W. Townsend
General contractor: Element Construction
Floral design: Mallory Joyce
Photo styling: KK Harris Design