Erika Howsare



Photo: Stephen Barling

Simply beautiful: Making the most of a modest Staunton home

It was an exercise in moderation when Dennis and Ingrid Blanton chose their house in Staunton’s historic Newtown neighborhood. New to the area, freshly arrived from two years in Costa Rica, they began house-shopping and were tempted by some sizable homes. But, says Ingrid, “We wanted to simplify our lives.” At first glance, they’d dismissed […]

Master craftsmen in Italy used photos from 1870  to recreate the Rotunda's original capitals. Photo: Dan Addison/ UVA University Communications

Capital improvements: Craftsmanship defines UVA’s Rotunda renovation

A structure as history-soaked as UVA’s Rotunda has many chapters to its story. And, having served as a symbol of the university for nearly 200 years, it’s layered with meaning, too. The Rotunda is currently undergoing a major renovation; much of the exterior will be finished this month, allowing graduates to process around the building during […]

Photo: Sue Gouldman

Under the oaks: At Credenhill, updates to a Gillette landscape

How to bring many layers of history together in one contemporary garden design? Credenhill, a 1938 home in Ivy, had a bit of a pedigree attached to it, in the person of noted designer Charles Gillette. The challenge for current owners Bebe Heiner and Bill Atwood was to integrate the original Gillette design—along with subsequent […]

Photo: Stephen Barling

The book look: City library addition celebrates the written word

Libraries are the repositories not only of books, but of feelings. There’s the love of a good read, of course, but bookworms harbor other associations with libraries, too: discovery, solitude and the satisfaction of working hard. When architect Bruce Wardell and his colleagues were asked to design a library addition for a Charlottesville homeowner, they […]

Photo: Robert Llewellyn

A bit of earth: How to buy land in the county

If you think “groundbreaking”—as in the physical act—might be one of the more thrilling words in our language, you might need to get in the market for land. Selecting a site where you can build anew, on whichever hilltop you like best, is a welcome adventure. But, like all adventures, it has its share of […]

While the homeowners' style is maximalist rather than minimalist, austere elements like the fireplace provide a simple, smooth counterpoint to the home's other aesthetic details. Photo: Philip Beaurline

Playing with form: A Nelson County house makes room for fun

Tom Davidson and Marilyn Mars love to laugh, and their house shows it. When they moved to Nelson County from Florida, they sought a modern dwelling, commissioning Marilyn’s brother Randall Mars, a McLean-based architect, to design it. Though clean lines attracted them, Marilyn says, this house—full of colorful, detailed art and objects—is anything but minimal. […]

The Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center in Darden Towe Park draws inspiration from traditional boat forms and materials, a nod to the explorers' expedition. Photo: Christopher Hays

On the waterfront: Lewis & Clark center builds river connections

One can sometimes forget that Charlottesville is a river town, but Alexandria Searls keeps the Rivanna firmly in mind. As director of the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center, she’s helped influence the choice of its location (overlooking the river in Darden Towe Park) and its mission (educating visitors, especially kids, about boatbuilding and nature-based aspects […]

To create a more open concept layout, the homeowners took down a wall between the kitchen and living room, making it one continuous, contemporary space. Photo: VA Home Pics

Into the future: Raising the bar at a ’70s ranch house

This is a full circle kind of story. A couple of years ago, on this very page, we got some advice from local contractor Troy Yancey about renovating an Earlysville ranch house that was then on the market. Troy recommended opening some walls to improve flow, adding a fourth bedroom and a few other fixes. […]

Photo: Stephen Barling

Downtown’s movie sequel: Violet Crown Cinema mixes influences

By the time you read this, downtown Charlottesville should have its movie theater back. But it’s not just a matter of reopening the old Regal theater. The new Violet Crown Cinema, which now stands in its place, will be an entirely different animal. “I always think of these places as boutique cinemas: very bespoke, very […]

Photo: Gayle Harvey

Out of a picture: In Fluvanna, Oak Grove is a calendar-worthy estate

Rolling drive? Check. Board fencing? Check. You’ve got your mature oaks and boxwoods, your brick façade, your white columns. And, naturally, there is a historical connection to a towering figure of early American history (Patrick “Give Me Liberty” Henry). It doesn’t get much more classic than Oak Grove, a 131-acre estate outside Scottsville. Visiting it […]

Photo: Katherine Kane

A vision in bloom: At Waterperry Farm, gardens grow on a grand scale

For anyone confronting a property that’s short on landscaping—and feeling that it’ll be a lifetime before anything substantial can grow—Katherine Kane has reassuring words. “If you get obsessive, you can have a mature garden in 25 years.” She should know. In 1990, when she and her husband, Olin West, bought their Free Union farm, it […]

Photo: Virginia Hamrick

All in the family: An updated kitchen for a heritage farmhouse

It’s a truism that designers and their clients need to have a good collaborative relationship for a project to go smoothly. But it’s not always the case that they’re actually longtime friends. When Joel and Betty Loving asked designer Karen Turner to rethink a kitchen in their Fluvanna County farmhouse, the request hardly came out of […]

The new beer garden at Devils Backbone meant making a risky move—positioning parking further from the restaurant. Says architect David Anhold, “It was getting the cars out of the way—connect the restaurant to the beer garden to the mountains, and give the best spots to the people.” Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Drinking in the view: A beer garden and more to amp up Devils Backbone

Devils Backbone has been a mainstay of the local brewery scene since 2008. With its imposing building and its beautiful Nelson County site, it’s highly visible to Wintergreen-bound visitors, and hosting outdoor events like The Festy Experience (this year: October 9-11) has put it on the regional map. Says Heidi Crandall, who founded the business […]

Photo: Stephen Barling

Bedding up: On Alderman Road, bigger and better student digs

One thing about first-year college students: Year after year, they just keep showing up. In pursuit of better places for those folks to bed down, UVA has spent the last nine years building eight new structures on Alderman Road, a massive project that replaces older dorms built in the 1960s. With the first new building, […]