A Guest House to Remember

Imagine sitting on a screened porch overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, enjoying the autumn breeze while watching the kids catching crabs off of the dock just below. This is just one of the breathtaking scenes that will be offered at our new Centreville Estate’s guest house.

We previously divulged some exciting details of the nearly-completed main house, but in this post, we will to focus on something a little smaller – the Guest House. This two-story, three-bedroom home may be subordinate in scale to the main house, but its unique design and warm interior finishes ensure a memorable visit for guests for years to come.

While the guest house shares some of the same features as the main house – Hardie Artisan® siding, Cushwa Brick porches, Bevolo exterior lanterns and Loewen windows – we took the opportunity to add a few different design elements. In lieu of white windows in white siding with white trim, the windows are instead charcoal, and the porch wraps around the entire house. Other notable exterior features include two decks that flank the upstairs bedrooms and incorporate Chippendale railings, and built-in benches with coat hooks on either side of the front doors.

Upon opening the Nantucket Blue front door, guests enter into a bright foyer with transoms above cased openings, and pegs on the horizontal nickel gap wall for coats and jackets. The flooring is one of the foyer’s most exciting features. Through Chesapeake Tile and Marble, we selected an exquisite gray brick floor in which a herringbone pattern is inlaid in a solider course perimeter with rotated detailing at the cased openings.

Beyond the cased opening, more gray brick leads guests to a beautiful open riser staircase built by Warren’s Wood Works in nearby Easton, MD. The white oak treads of the magnificent stairway are three inches thick and, with open risers, allow natural light to spill into the foyer.

The railings and balustrade reflect the home’s nautical surroundings. This simplistic handrail travels from the basement to the second floor where it dies into the wall with a Bunny Mellon-like curve. The balustrade includes polished chrome Hinckley boat cleats, which are centered on each of the treads. A dock line runs from the handrail to the tread, creating a boating-inspired cleat hitch at the tread. Lighted, built-in bookcases ensure the open space still feels cozy.

We ensure the guest house kitchen feels like a modern farmhouse with industrial and nautical influences by incorporating thoughtful details. The kitchen contains high-gloss, lacquered flush overlay cabinets by Lyndon Heath Cabinetry and under-counter appliances supplied by Appliance Distributors Unlimited (ADU), both of which give the kitchen a modern feel. White cabinets are accented by a thick wood countertop and open wood shelving supported by and steel brackets. The custom range hood by Range Craft and the seating island with custom zinc coated table further extend the industrial tone.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is designed to maximize the expansive water view, ensuring guests experience the vista both when entering the room and while resting in bed. However, the entrance to the bedroom is centered, just as the water view is. Our solution is a freestanding, six-foot tall wall that serves as the “bed wall”. Unfortunately, a solid nickel gap wall would block the view as guests enter the bedroom, so we designed “interior windows” that allow visitors to see clear through the wall to the water beyond.

What is the next structure we will cover from this breathtaking Eastern Shore property? In the future, we’ll feature the open air pool house with mahogany barrel ceiling, the timber-framed Barn, and the Carriage House.

Stay safe and be well.

Builder: GYC Group LTD
Written by Ashley Marshall, project manager at PCA

An Urban Oasis in Harbor East

Purple Cherry Architects was excited to take on a new challenge when we were offered the opportunity to design a 3,400 square-foot urban condominium. A client for whom we had recently designed a custom waterfront home wanted to create a spacious and stylish retreat in Baltimore’s thriving Harbor East neighborhood, in a new multi-use building containing retail, apartments, and condominiums.

After taking over a space that had been originally divided into three smaller units, the owner asked the PCA team to design a unique living space that took advantage of the sweeping views of the Inner Harbor and Key Bridge. We responded with a design that placed the luxurious master suite at one end of the long unit and the guest bedroom with ensuite bath at the other end, ensuring privacy for the owner and guests.

Between the private areas, the public spaces unfold along a fully glazed wall with panoramic views and private balconies. The modern kitchen is open to the dining and living areas beyond, creating a dramatic open great space with a gracious proportion that is rare in a multi-family building. The ceiling height was increased in the living room by introducing a tray ceiling, creating visual interest and highlighting the importance of the space. Cove lighting provides an accent and creates a relaxing ambiance, allowing the full-height stone fireplace with brass accents to shine.

Adjacent to the open living space, but slightly separated and defined by built-in cabinetry and a second tray ceiling, the home office contains possibly the most dramatic feature of the project- a six-foot by eight-foot granite and quartz stone slab set into a wall. Illuminated from behind to allow the breathtaking veining of the stone to shine, the slab from Gramaco appears at times like a giant fireplace, warming the space with an exhilarating glow.

A fully equipped, mirrored home gym provides a workout space for the owner at any time. Post-exercise, a spacious steam shower beckons from the elegant marble-tiled master bath.

Purple Cherry Architects was fortunate to provide interior design services for the project as well as the architectural design. As this was the second project we had completed for this client, we felt we understood the client’s taste, but the design aesthetic for the condominium project was much more modern and urban than the previously completed country house. Having the chance to work with the same client on two projects with such different moods was an unusual opportunity, which we were grateful to have. Our architectural and interior design teams worked with the owner on all aspects of the design, from furniture, rugs, and fixtures to colors, tile designs, and custom cabinetry and millwork.

The project came together beautifully, with the architecture and interior design elements combining to create a truly one of a kind oasis of serenity and comfort in the heart of a busy city.

Written by Alan Cook, studio manager at PCA

Building Your Custom Home In Real Time

As a client, how can you avoid paying for a new custom home you don’t want? Here’s how. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you have it built!

There is no better way to understand and have a feel for a new design than to see it three-dimensionally! Rather than relying on imagination to see if the bathroom door will be far enough away from the kitchen, 3D drawings allow you to virtually walk through your home before even approving any specifications or designs. Want to see that great room with coffered ceilings? No problem! Want to check out the water view from the kitchen window? Step right up. Changed your mind and now want no windows? Hold on a sec!

3D design is a fast and efficient way to get involved in every part of the design process. And it’s fun! When architects actually design with you, and present other, different or better options, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions on a design that’s perfect for you!

How do you know if your architect works in 3D? It’s always a good idea to ask when you’re interviewing potential firms and to take a look at their examples of drawings and models. 3D design should be an industry-standard in the world of residential design, but sadly it’s not. Finding a great architect who works in 3D software is not easy. The good news is firms shouldn’t charge more for 3D capabilities. They either have it or they don’t.

At PCA, we are using the leading technological advancements in 3D design software, Revit and Enscape, to accomplish these goals for our clients:

1. Establishing and developing a clear vision of the project. Understanding traditional 2D floor plans and elevations can be difficult. Many people can get the general idea from a floor plan but still have trouble visualizing how the design is going to look. Being able to see and experience your design in 3D will help you understand how it is going to work. The more you understand the look and feel of your design, the more comfortable you’ll be at making decisions.

2. Designs can change and evolve in real time. Meetings are the best way to be included in the design process and to make sure nothing is overlooked. What does a design presentation in 3D look like? It could be a fly-through video or multiple perspective views of your project. We’ve found that the most efficient and productive 3D design meetings are in the conference room with everyone sitting around the flat-screen, walking through the project room by room. This usually always brings up design questions and changes can be made to the model during the meeting for instant results. If you’re a busy traveler and unable to make it into our office, these meetings can also take place via GoTo Meetings. PCA is well-versed at working with clients at a distance—even across the world—and also has the ability to sketch on a smart-screen to illustrate any changes before they are made.

3. 3D design can help cut down on changes after construction has begun. Reducing the amount of changes during construction can help save time and money. But it can be hard to do until you really understand what the space will look and feel like, which is where 3D design comes in.

4. It helps you avoid paying for work you don’t want. Having a clear understanding of your project before construction begins is the best method to significantly reduce the problem of unnecessary charges.

With all that said, there is definitely no substitute for having an experienced architect who understands the permit process, building codes and is well-versed in critical area law. While 3D design can be helpful to you and your project, know that great designs do not come from computer programs. They come from design professionals who have spent countless hours designing, reviewing plans, improving details and listening to everything you want in your custom home!

Dream Big – Centreville Estate (Pt. 1)

Ever had a dream that you have been working towards your whole life? I am sure the answer is yes! One of the greatest experiences is to help someone’s dream become a reality. That is the beauty of residential architecture! A little over five years ago, a client came to us with a dream. A dream to develop a Centreville estate that he has been envisioning for the last twenty-five years on 100 acres of pristine waterfront property he had just purchased on the eastern shore of Maryland. Fun fact: this client found Purple Cherry Architects because he moved into a house we previously designed for an old client! Small world!

This multi-structure estate started how many new projects do, from the ground up. So first, what were the buildings? Next, how were they positioned on the site to each other?

Let’s begin with the main house. Well, that clearly gets the best view! Because who wouldn’t want that expansive water view! Well, okay, maybe someone who would rather a mountain view, but you get the picture.  And with that, the design began! In fact, the design of all seven buildings happened concurrently, making it even more fun. While there is a main house, pool house, guesthouse, garage, party barn, carriage house and sheep shelter (yes, you read right!), for this go-around, we are only touching on some fun key features in the main house!

Exterior Materials – Ever hear the expression “first impressions are everything”? Well, that bodes true for houses too! The proportion, texture and color should be carefully thought out as to not have one dominate over another. This house balances the beauty of James Hardie’s Artisan vertical and horizontal lap-siding with Cushwa handmade oversized brick to make a breathtaking house. But let us not forget the Intex millwork columns and railings, Boral trim, Loewen windows with Atlantic Premium shutters and yellow cedar shake roofs and copper accents!

Monochromatic Rooms – If you have never experienced a monochromatic room, I highly recommend it. And we do not mean an all-white monochromatic room, but a deep dark slate blue/gray. Maybe it has that one feature, say a limestone fireplace mantel from a manufacturer similar to Francois and Co. that stands out and is balanced by the Lyndon Heath custom cabinetry. This house gets two of those rooms!

Bar – The monochromatic rooms flank the billiards room that is just before the main bar in the house. This bar is a two-story space with custom Douglas fir trusses, lap siding, brick floor, timber frame and a secret staircase. The horizontal nickel gap boards, Douglas fir trusses, and shelf running high around the room all nod to a nautical feel. The millwork by Engrained Millwork and commercial appliances from EVI are all pieces that bring this room together. What’s also cool, if you are lucky enough to stay in the second floor main guest suite, is that there are interior windows that allow you to look into the bar and embrace all its beauty!

Wine Room – So, what’s with that secret staircase mentioned above? Well, you have to go back behind the bar to get to it. It will lead you down a narrow space into a twenty-by-forty Chicago-brick barreled-ceiling wine room. We could talk about this space for days. In fact, it seems to be everyone’s favorite place in the house. The first thing people want to do is go to the basement to see the wine room. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the construction photos because words truly cannot do this room justice. The frame work for the barrel is stunning as is the brick barrel itself! All that brick, and the brick barrel hallways in the basement, all were laid by one EXTREMELY talented mason with two helpers!

We could go on for hours and talk about all the fun little features of this house, but some things need to be left as a surprise! Plus, in the future, we need to talk about buildings two through seven! Something to think about in the meantime is astounding how many people have been employed by this project over the past five years, including GYC Builders, Champion Hruby Landscape Architects and Lane Engineering that helped to make it all the buildings work in harmony! That is pretty darn special. And, it is all thanks to one man (our client) to whom we will always be grateful! God bless him!

Written by Ashley Marshall, project manager at PCA

Building For Vacation

As I bask in the luminous sun and indulge in the tranquil waters of Ocean City, MD, I wish time would stand still. Watching my son play in the sand and enjoying the silence of my daughter taking her afternoon nap on the beach is truly priceless. Without a care in the world, it’s no wonder why families choose vacation homes in beautiful ocean towns as their destination to escape from the daily grind to relax and enjoy life with the people they love the most.

For most of us, the weekly oceanfront rental is an amazing get away. It allows us to leave the stressful work week and endless housework behind. We get to spend time with family, sit around all day on the beach and play games late into the night. While it’s a dream for many to own their own vacation home near the ocean, more and more families are making it a reality. As of late, there has been an upswing of families investing in oceanfront real estate in beach towns such as Rehoboth and Bethany Beach, DE and Ocean City, MD. All easily accessible within a two-to-three-hour drive from Annapolis, Baltimore and DC, beautiful open beaches offer relaxing days of fun in and on the water. There is also always a wide variety of delicious restaurants within walking distances and plenty of fun for all ages.

Oceanfront custom homes are becoming an increasingly higher demand. They range in style from traditional to coastal shingle-style to modern glass boxes with roof decks.  Open concept living to accommodate large families, balconies on every level, roof-top decks, and mudroom entrances with easy access to a beach are factors in every home. The common thread is to fit as many bedrooms as possible. Closets are small. Bedrooms typically fit one or two beds and maybe a dresser with very limited floor area. There can be as many as eight bedrooms. Only the master bedroom is generous. With summer nearing its end and school back in session, one would believe that little beach towns start closing doors for the winter. But it is quite the opposite. Construction is booming. Not letting the cold winter months or bad weather delay them, homebuilders are getting projects rolling, aiming to get custom homes built for the next beach season.

Typically, when looking to invest in a vacation home, most buyers would start with a real estate agent. Next, seeking an architect that can make their dreams a reality whether through the renovation of an existing home or designing a custom home. Then, they pursue a builder that can transform the drawings into a second home. It is a process that can be time consuming and burdensome for many. While many developers are creating speculative homes that work for the masses and are move in ready, they might innocently miss many of the elements desired by custom home buyers.

Recently architects and builders have begun to team up to streamline the process for busy families to design and build their dream vacation home in a quick and easy fashion. This process uses a single team point of contact that simplifies the communication, expedites meetings and improves the timeline. The best benefit? Time. The process can be much faster when the builder starts construction while design progresses. As a specific example, Purple Cherry Architects was hired with Ilex Construction on a $3.2 million project located at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA that was completed from beginning of design to end of construction in 10-months. Quite amazing.

In many waterfront areas, specifically ones close to the ocean, there is a complex level of zoning and code requirements that add challenges to the design and construction process. While a client may have a wish list for floor plans that check every box and meet a specific budget, this code layer can add complications that restrict some desires and increase costs. It is critical to understand these regulations up front if not before land purchase. There are also many misconceptions of the design-build process.

Simply put, design-build is a method of project delivery in which one combined entity – the design-build team – works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services. One entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion. Over the past year, Marnie Custom Homes and Purple Cherry Architects (PCA) have partnered up to design-build 8 new custom homes in the Bethany Beach area in DE. With our designs and their extensive beach portfolio and client base, we have created an amazing team, and PCA is grateful to be a part of this incredible team. With the right design-build group, your stunning new vacation home is absolutely within reach.

Written by Doug Kuchta, project manager at PCA. 

Etlan Residence

Under Construction – Etlan, VA Residence
Renovations to this contemporary farmhouse-style home are well underway. Located in Etlan, VA, this home will soon take full advantage of the incredible mountain views beyond by implementing expansive windows and new siding along the rear side of the home. Outdoor entertaining will be made easy with ample dining space, a lounge chair area, and an adjacent deck, all within close proximity of the pool.

The clients envisioned creating a compound-like homestead on the property. We will be constructing a new one-story home that will complement the main house, along with a new attached two-car garage. The new residence will integrate features such as large sliding barn doors, to resemble the feel of a horse barn.

We can’t wait to share more updates as this project progresses!

Shingle Style Renovation

The transformation of this $2.5 million shingle style renovation project is simply jaw dropping. Our clients desired an incredible water view that their previous home provided, but needed a location not as remote. This property situated on the South River in Annapolis checked both of those boxes. The dramatic conversion of the exterior and interior began in 2015 and now boasts a stunning new look. Utilizing Weather Shield Premium Series windows allowed for the home to maximize views while still ensuring protection against waterfront weather conditions. Great thought and detail went into every design phase of this project. The end result displays the success of our client’s vision brought to life.

Shingle Style Renovation

Easton Home- Under Construction

easton home

Our team paid a visit to the site of this incredible Easton home project under construction on the Eastern Shore. The 7,000 SF home sits on a stunning waterfront piece of property. The 3-car garage connects to the home by an arched breezeway, as seen in the picture. The exterior facade boasts a beautiful chocolate full-bed irregular stone and copper dormers. The inside will be fully furnished with pieces selected by our interior design team. This has been such a rewarding project for our team. We are so excited for it to deliver in the fall — stay tuned for the finished product!

Harwood Home – Under Construction

These stunning aerial shots show the tremendous progress being made on our Harwood home project. The new residence, totaling 14,000 SF, is situated on 500 acres of land with two ponds. This traditional-style home will boast a stone center and clapboard wings. Stay tuned for more developments as this property reaches further stages of completion!

harwood home

Kitchen Transformation

Our team is truly delighted with this kitchen transformation. The kitchen in this waterfront Shady Side home was previously closed-in and allowed minimal space for food production or entertaining. By opening the space, expanding the island, and adding larger windows, this room has taken on a new function. The white beadboard ceiling, brighter cabinets, and island countertop instantly create a cleaner feel. The extra windows allow for plenty of natural light to shine through. The additional drop-in sink with polished chrome faucet and fixtures adds a supplementary food prep area. Dark hardwood flooring and patterned bar stools are the perfect complimentary touches to this new kitchen conversion.

kitchen transformation

Centreville Estate – Under Construction

Construction is underway on the main house of a seven-structure waterfront estate located in Centreville, MD. 40 truck loads of concrete were needed to pour all 385 yards! This four-floor, eight-bedroom home will total 25,000 SF once completed. Additionally, a three-car garage with party barn will link to the main residence. We are excited to see this project in progress!

Centreville estate

Chesapeake Bay Project Update

Renovations to this waterfront brick home on the Eastern Shore are nearing completion! The stunning new patio and pool area, along with an enclosed sun room, offer magnificent views to the Chesapeake Bay. The addition of a front entry porch completes the courtyard design. We have enjoyed seeing this project progress through each design phase. The final product is sure to be incredible!

Architecture & Interiors