Erika Howsare



Architect Scott Weiss designed a two-story addition for the farmhouse, which includes an open kitchen/dining/living space. Photo: Stephen Barling

The big update: Scott Weiss creates a farmhouse’s new wing

With six previous renovations under their belts, Frank and Rebecca Gristina had lots of practice sizing up old houses. When Rebecca, accompanied by her mother, came to see a 1906 farmhouse in western Albemarle, she quickly noticed promising signs. This was despite the fact that the place had been uninhabited and was so uninviting that […]

Photo: Alan Karchmer

Back to school: VMDO pushes the envelope on educational design

Since it began in 1976, VMDO—the firm that won Best Architect in this year’s Best of C-VILLE reader poll—has come a long way. And it’s established itself as a part of Charlottesville, both as a physical presence at its downtown office—housed in a onetime YMCA facility—and as the design force behind many local landmarks, including […]

The gardens developed organically over the years; beds that were once exposed to the sunlight are now partially or fully shaded by matured trees, the very ones that drew the owners to the property to begin with. Photo: Virginia Hamrick

Slow evolution: On an Albemarle property, global ideas take root

Most gardens reflect a gardener’s care and dedication. At the Albemarle home of Lucy and Robert Huff, the landscape is also, in a sense, a gallery of souvenirs. The couple have amassed not only plant specimens given as gifts by family and friends, but garden concepts collected on their travels. Ideas from around the world […]

Though the home's exterior is quite different from those of the older homes on Ninth Street, there are nods to the vernacular, namely the front porch. Photo: Virginia Hamrick

Beautiful timing: A new city house makes a couple’s dreams come true

The first time Staci Vinson and Robyn Templeton walked into their house—even though it was still under construction—they had the feeling they’d been there before. “We’d been drawing this house on napkins at happy hours for 10 years,” says Templeton. The serendipitous part was that Jason Roberson, owner of the design-build company Builderbeast, had independently […]

Photo: Paul Whicheloe

Heaven on earth: A sophisticated farm samples many styles

It’s quite a new house—finished less than three years ago—but the home of Monique Maniet has a settled quality, as though it’s perched on this Rappahannock hillside for a long time. A collection of buildings, more “related” than “matching,” snuggles into the slope, looking like a European village. They’re accompanied by plants of many types, […]

To improve traffic flow, designer Amy Hart exchanged the kitchen's peninsula for an island. Photo: Caleb Briggs Photography

Catching up the kitchen: A renovation for looks and flow

A kitchen can get outdated while you’re looking the other way. Beth and Greg Morris built their house south of Charlottesville in 1999, and lived there for many busy years as their son was growing up. And although they made a couple of cosmetic changes to the kitchen during that time, it essentially remained the same. […]

Photo: Virginia Hamrick

Blooming bountiful: In a magical Ivy garden, change is a constant

Thirty-six years is long enough to watch a forest grow. And it’s long enough to establish an enchanting garden beneath the tree canopy—a magical realm on what was once considered a neighborhood’s least desirable property. “It was the cheapest lot,” says Fran Boninti of the two-acre place she and her husband, Andrew, bought in 1981. […]

On the exterior, details of the original home informed the new designs. Photo: Andrea Hubbell

Park place: A North Downtown house takes a step toward the present

A historic house on Park Street—one of the first ever built in this genteel Charlottesville neighborhood—is certainly a prize. But it comes with some baggage. When Ariana and Greyson Williams bought their home, built in the 1850s by a Virginia Supreme Court judge and listed on the National Historic Register, they knew they wanted to do […]

The wildfire, which started on Rocky Mount April 16, 2016, burned for 14 days. Photo courtesy Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah wildfire highlights changing views of the forest

“This is going to be catastrophic.” That was Jeff Koenig’s thought on the second day the fire burned, last April 17, in Shenandoah National Park. Koenig had first laid eyes on the flames the day before, when he pulled his truck up to Two Mile Run Overlook. It was a Saturday afternoon. A fire had […]