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

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. 

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!

Under Construction in Queenstown, MD

Our team had the opportunity to visit the site of this extensive renovation project under construction in Queenstown, MD. The structure originally built in 1936 will total approx 8,000 SF after renovations. Changes include the addition of an octagonal sun room, the conversion of the maid’s quarters and kitchen to a suite, the removal of an addition and existing garage to make room for a new 3-car garage, the addition of two master bedrooms, the reconfiguration of the living space to open the family room, dining room, and kitchen, and the addition of an open patio and pool.

Revit Technology

By utilizing Revit, 3D visualization software, homeowners are able to truly see their vision come to life during the design process. This can be particularly valuable when undertaking a major renovation since the technology allows our clients to see their “new” home from all angles and viewpoints before construction begins. Check out these before pictures and the proposed perspectives of a $1 million renovation on the South River in Annapolis, MD. What an amazing transformation!

Small Scale, Big Style

Colorful Condo.

Just because condominium owners may be working with a smaller space, it doesn’t mean they need to sacrifice style. Check out these snapshots of a condominium interior renovation we recently completed. Ensuring this home was a welcoming pad for its globetrotting owners, interior designer Katalin Farnady brought each of these small scale spaces to life with colorful, playful, yet utterly sophisticated patterns.

Master Bedroom
Colorful Condo

Aqua Terra: Picture Perfect

We’ve just updated our web portfolio with stunning photography of our most recent project, Aqua Terra. A heartfelt thank you to David Burroughs Photography for expertly capturing several of the spectacular design elements in this 10,000 SF custom waterfront home on Harness Creek. Sure to delight is the wood and steel floating staircase, the custom painted glass interior panel imported from Israel, the sunken outdoor entertaining area with fire pit, the luxurious master bedroom, and the study fireplace integrating large boulders and cantilever hearth stones.

Image credit: David Burroughs Photography

Interior “Highlights” by Shakuff

Our recently completed 10,000SF stone-and-glass contemporary waterfront home on Harness Creek features countless exquisite details. We looked to Shakuff, Exotic Glass Lighting and Décor (New York, NY), for some of the home’s unique interior “highlights”. As you enter the home, you’d be hard-pressed not to pause and admire the custom painted glass “fish” panel in the main hall or the larger than life 27’ long custom built 45-LED light hand blown Candle chandelier illuminating the three-story floating staircase. Venture farther into the home and you’ll be “aglow” with delight by the golden glass sink in the main floor powder room.

Candle chandelier from Breath collection
Dark Golden Land glass sink

Items pictured are examples courtesy of the Shakuff website and do not depict actual elements in home.

Architecture & Interiors