Erika Howsare



Photo: Bill Mauzy

An intimate space: Using a garden to soften a vast view

The house enjoys an extraordinary location, overlooking miles of Albemarle countryside from a high mountainside perch. Throughout the day the sun makes its crossing from east to west across a wide expanse of sky, while fields and woods unroll below for what seems like forever. When the present owners came here in 1996, they loved […]

Photo: Virginia Hamrick

From business to casual: While maintaining some of its original appeal, a downtown office becomes an eclectic family home

Finding a house in downtown Charlottesville isn’t easy, but Kate Stephenson managed to do it when she spotted a commercial space for sale just north of the Downtown Mall. Like many onetime residences, the brick building had been serving for decades as offices. When she first walked in, Stephenson definitely noticed a “law-office” look—acoustic tile […]

Sylvanaqua Farms owners Chris and Annie Newman hope to be an example to young farmers interested in permaculture.  Photo: Melody Robbins

The new ag: Sylvanaqua models the next wave of local farming

Talking with Chris Newman about the farm he runs with his wife, Annie, you get the feeling you’re glimpsing the future. Newman likes to think ahead; he was still in his 20s when he and Annie began planning to become farmers after retirement, which was decades away. They lived in Washington, D.C., then; he worked […]

Before you start your own business in Charlottesville, you’ll want to visit business development manager Jason Ness, who helps entrepreneurs start from a position of strength. Photo: John Robinson

How to pass ‘go’: City office lends business owners a hand

Thinking of making the leap to entrepreneurship in Charlottesville? Your first stop ought to be the Office of Economic Development, which offers a broad menu of services to would-be business owners. We spoke with Jason Ness, business development manager, about what he and his colleagues can do to nudge your startup dream closer to reality. […]

Danielle and Ryan were married at Raven's Roost Outlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway with less than 10 people present. Photo: Eze Amos

Simple pleasures: How to have a small Charlottesville wedding

What’s that you say? You actually don’t want the big ol’ wedding involving three days of catered meals, bagpipers on parade, engraved nameplates to mark which boutonniere goes on which groomsman? You’re not alone. Plenty of folks opt for a smaller, simpler wedding. There are many reasons why—and cost is only the most obvious. Fewer details […]

Located near the sitting area is what architect Dan Zimmerman and his colleagues call “the bean,” a central core where coffee is served and discussed, which has a drop ceiling to keep the space from feeling cavernous. Photo: Stephen Barling

Hey, Joe: Local roastery tweaks its space’s flavor

Dave Fafara stands over the noisy machine in the back of his Shenandoah Joe’s Preston Avenue shop, coffee-scented steam rising from a batch of freshly roasted beans. A metal arm pushes through the beans heaped in the cooling tray, and Fafara occasionally stirs them with his hand, until they’re cool enough to slide out a […]

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 […]