Wander Down Dogwood Lane and You Will Discover This Elegant Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Home

by: Marlene email

Wander down Dogwood Lane near Belle Haven, VA  in the springtime  and  you will see it is well-named,  profuse with beautiful clumps of its namesake trees, pink and white  flowers set against a backdrop of  the broad blue waters of Occohannock Creek,  a saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  And gently rising  from a  gorgeous wooded setting is this elegant contemporary  home,  inspired by the architectural traditions of  Frank Lloyd Wright.  Perfectly integrated into its wooded waterfront homesite,  it maintains  the essential elements of  Wright’s   “prairie”  style,  the low horizontal lines of the home,  very open  interior spaces,  nearly flat roof lines with overhanging eaves,  bands of horizontal windows as well as clerestory windows, a central chimney  and solid craftsmanship.  But  a very special and unique architectural element has been added to this particular prairie style home,   an element which brings it into perfect harmony with the coastal traditions of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  

Designed by the architect son of the original owners,  this home is reminiscent of a ship,  the center portion of the home symbolizing  the stack and the brick terrace towering over  the shoreline as the prow.  It is a very attractive design,  different, bold and exciting.   One of  Wright’s central tenets was that  a “good building is not one which hurts the landscape but rather one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”  Certainly this property qualifies in every sense,  the home  looks completely natural  and in tune with the site,  almost as if it had been grown from the land itself,  the deep colors of the California redwood exterior blending in perfectly with the surrounding trees and colorful flowering shrubs,  each complementing the other and providing an attractive contrast to the blues of the waterfront beyond.

The  history of the creation of the “prairie” style architecure  is quite interesting.  At the turn of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright and a group of like-minded architects were striving to come up with an alternative to what they perceived as the over-embellishment and fussiness  of the then-prevailing European styles like Victorian, Tudor, etc.  They wanted to create something which had cleaner,  more simple lines.  By designing long homes with low silhouettes,  horizontal lines and open interior spaces they were creating homes designed to be built on large lots,  in more  open spaces.  These new styles  contrasted sharply from the tall narrow homes with closed in interiors so popular in cities at the time.   When Wright wrote an article about a  home he had just designed in the new style and entitled it  ” A Home in A Prairie  Town”,  a name and a  style were born.

As magnificant inside as out,  the interior of this home gleams with the rich polished redwoods,  accented by soft recessed lighting, pointed up by the use of interesting ornamental lamps throughout.  This is a bold house,  a house that is quite modern, a house that requires contemporary furnishings and modern art.  Actually, the house itself truly is a work of art– it’s clear that a great deal of thought was given to the visual appeal of each design detail,  even down to where to place the most interesting boards, the ones with the most intricate swirls and grains,  installing them in locations where the most beautiful boards would be at eye-level.   Shapes have been elevated to an art form in this home,  a small powder room with a 12 foot ceiling,  a short entry corridor opening into a rectangular great room overlooking a triangular patio, an intricate dining room with its focal point being a triangular shaped fireplace projecting into the room,  the kitchen a long, sleek galley with a pass-through into a long corridor overlooking the water which links the dining room and the great room.  The  bedrooms comprise a complete wing of the house,  long bands of windows suffuse soft  light throughout  the wing’s hallway,  the master bedroom placed at the end to allow for a private little deck which overlooks the woods of the front yard.  The tray ceiling of  the master bedroom blends down into a unique redwood triangular shape embossed panel  above the bed and the same panel is replicated in the bathroom, perfect for contemplating while taking a long bubble bath. 

This is a house that is so amazing inside that it could be easy to ignore the outside grounds if they too were not spectacular.  Two huge oak trees anchor the mature landscaping, with hollies, azaleas, camillias landscaped through the pines and dogwoods, right  down to the shoreline along Occohannock Creek,  a tidal saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay offering shimmering blue views.

  The dock on the property is perfect for small boats and kayaks,  and the  inlet offers easy access to the Bay and all sorts of fishing, crabbing, etc., all in only about 15 minutes.   The front approach to the home has been landscaped with small white stones which the owner has raked into a labyrinth design,  the contours of the white stones in sharp contrast to the dark pebbles of the circular driveway beyond.   This incredible home is absolutely perfect for anyone seeking a strong contemporary feel in a waterfront environment and is attractively priced at $549,000.  (More info at www.blueheronva.com )


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