Houzz Tour: Historic Virginia Foursquare Gets Freshened Up (19 photos)
A Roanoke, Virginia, couple saw great potential in this foursquare house in the city’s historic square, but they knew they had their work cut out for them. They called upon Circle Design Studio, a design-build firm they’d hired to renovate their previous home, to help give this one a refresh that respected the 1925 architecture. Interior designer Emily Borg worked closely with the couple to preserve the home’s historic details while making the layout and style functional for them. The result is a fresh and personal mix of styles that works well with the traditional home.
House at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple and their young daughter
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Size: 3,000 square feet (279 square meters); 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Design and build: Theresa and John Dorlini of Circle Design Studio
Before: First a word about the condition of the house in the “before” photos. One of the homeowners is a real estate agent and snapped the home up before it hit the market. So the state of the house in these photos reflects the organizing and packing up of a lifetime’s worth of belongings that was underway when the design-build firm popped in to start its planning.
The home had undergone a few renovations and an addition over the decades, and at one point it had been a duplex. But the beautiful architectural details such as millwork and pocket doors were intact. It was these kinds of details and the location in the town square that drew the homeowners to the house.
Borg’s previous work with the homeowners gave her a running start, as she already understood their style. “When I worked with these clients before, they lived in a ranch house and were more interested in midcentury modern style,” she says. “But they knew with this house they wanted to lean into the traditional style of the architecture.”
The moldings in this room are original, including the picture rails and wainscoting. Borg added a ceiling medallion around the light fixture. “A ceiling medallion is of the period, but we kept it more modern by streamlining it,” she says.
The homeowners brought much of their existing furniture with them and Borg helped them incorporate new pieces to tie everything together. For example, they already had the living room sofa and Borg helped them find the right coffee table and channel-tufted leather armchairs to complement it.
Wainscoting and pocket door paint: Knitting Needle, Sherwin-Williams; wall paint (throughout first floor): Gossamer Veil, Sherwin-Williams
Trim paint (throughout the house): Origami White, Sherwin-Williams
The faceted light fixture is mercury glass. “They had ordered a light they found online that looked nothing like they thought it would, so I found this one for them.” Borg says. “It turned out to be one of their favorite things in the whole house. It looks so good at night that neighbors who have seen it while walking by ask them about it.”
The original wide molding around the windows and on the baseboards is another traditional asset. And check out the beautiful original picture window with diamond-pane sidelights on the right.
Before: The kitchen had been off the back of the house in an addition. Borg determined that this more open and central area around the stairs would be the best spot to place the kitchen and dining room.
After adding the new bar on the right, Borg connected it to the original built-ins on the left by repeating the columnar posts and wainscoting.
The upper cabinets and backsplash are white. “The subway tiles are elongated, which updated this traditional element,” Borg says. “They are almost pearlescent, which helped make this such a light and airy kitchen.” The tiles also have a handmade tumbled look that adds character. The countertops are quartzite, a natural stone with a marble-like look that’s more durable than marble.
This was a challenge but it paid off. Because these are bricks and not a thin veneer, the wall behind the range had to be notched out so the bricks could line up with the rest of the backsplash. “This detail makes the kitchen feel very personal and connected to Roanoke,” Borg says.
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“They also wanted to mix the traditional style of the home with some modern touches. So while a console sink is of the home’s historic period, its clean lines are more modern,” Borg says. The aged brass on the mirror and vintage print’s frame add some patina and age to the space.
Because this is a guest bath and there’s a closet right outside the bathroom door, they didn’t need much storage in here. The area around the sink’s edge and the ledge on the mirror provide spots for toothpaste and other travel-size toiletries.
Wall paint: Naval, Sherwin-Williams
“In their old house, the whole family shared one bathroom, so that made them want as much storage as possible,” Borg says. “And while I first suggested a trough sink, they knew they didn’t want to share a sink.” She gave them two sinks, maximized drawer space and added two recessed mirrored medicine cabinets for additional storage. The countertop is quartz.
The flooring is a through-body porcelain with a slate-like look. “This is highly durable, but through-body means it’s the same color all the way through, so any chips or other damage won’t really show,” Borg says. “We chose 12-by24-inch tiles that require less grout, which means less grout to clean.”
The shower floor is from the same line as the main bathroom floor but in a smaller mosaic version. Borg gave the niche clean contrasting edges with dark-colored Schluter strips.
“We pulled together the bedroom in response to the green tiles,” Borg says. “They brought two dressers with them but I helped them put together everything else in the room.” The linen drapes and the rug pick up on the green hues, while the warmer tones provide complementary colors.
The mirror’s reflection reveals Borg’s use of another ceiling medallion around the light fixture.
Off the bedroom was a porch that had been enclosed during a previous renovation. The team transformed it into a relaxing sitting room for reading. They also added a large closet to the couple’s bedroom suite.
After finding this cute chandelier, Borg knew painting the ceiling blue too would help it stand out. She added more colors to the space through fun curtains, tassels on the duvet and an area rug. This photo also shows the beauty of the original honey-toned wood doors.
Wall paint: Blue Whirlpool, Sherwin-Williams
Before: Their daughter’s bathroom didn’t have storage or a shower. The homeowners hung on to the claw-foot tub and plan to use it as part of an outdoor shower project in the future.
From there, Borg set out to find a floor tile that would have a degree of playfulness for the young girl. “My clients loved the geometric tile I found and it provided a nice juxtaposition to the traditional and timeless marble look around the tub-shower,” she says.