Erika Howsare

Photo: Justin Ide

Material world: A Valley house tells stories in wood

Behind Kelley and Susan Blanton’s home, outside Staunton, is a symbol of its new-meets-old spirit. In a juxtaposition of technologies from different eras, a large array of solar panels, propped on an angle, shelters a stack of firewood. The Blantons have a deep appreciation for what’s old: low-tech craftsmanship and natural materials. When they built […]

File photo.

Winter wonder: Color the cold with camellias

The camellia is an all-around surprising plant. First of all, this evergreen actually blooms in, of all seasons, winter. Autumn-flowering camellias bloom from November through mid-January. And while spring-blooming camellias aren’t supposed to put out flowers until March or April, “last winter and this winter they’re already blooming” by the third week of January, said […]

Photo: John Robinson

Tropical treat: A beginner’s guide to growing orchids

Fascinated with orchids? So is anyone with eyes, at this time of year when the world outside tends toward browns and grays. Orchids can bring a splash of tropical color and a certain joie de vivre to your indoor environment. Aren’t they hard to care for, though? Not necessarily, says Stephen Shifflett, co-owner of Floradise […]

The back of the Trowbridge house, renovated and updated by STOA Design and Construction, sports a deep overhand above the sliding doors to let winter sun into the dining room, but not summer glare. STOA designed terraces, delineated by steel borders, leading from the driveway to the back yard and patio. Photo: John Robinson

Little big house: Big update for a North Downtown Cape Cod

The remaking of one Charlottesville house is a study in contrasts. It was a modern addition to a traditional (though not very old) house. It didn’t change much about the original structure—except for turning it from a dark, unpleasant space into a light-filled and open home. It bumped up the house’s square footage considerably but […]

Photo: John Robinson

This month’s artisan: Brian Rayner, furniture maker

A regular on both the craft show circuit and local farmer’s markets—look for him at both the Nelson and Charlottesville City markets—Brian Rayner is a multifaceted artisan, creating both furniture and sculpture. If you want to see him in his native environment, find him on the Artisan Studio Tour. Check out or call him […]

The kitchen "is probably bigger than it should be," Katie joked; it features stainless-steel backsplash tile and custom cabinets. Photo: Andrea Hubbell

A Staunton couple envisions a surprising downtown home

For Katie and Ty McElroy, the white-picket-fence, manicured-lawn version of the American dream wasn’t appealing. Preparing in 2010 to move to Staunton from Lexington, the couple set their sights on something different: an urban loft-style space, a home that would indulge their interest in design while allowing them to participate in a walkable, downtown lifestyle. […]

This month’s artisan: Painter and textile artist Maria Pace

This month’s artisan: Painter and textile artist Maria Pace

Somewhere between painter and textile artist, Maria Pace is an Orange County original who makes a variety of lovely objects for the abode. And she’s an artisan with a conscience: Besides designing her own textile patterns, she likes to repurpose secondhand fabrics and uses only American-made materials. “It might be a lot cheaper to get […]

Photo: Stacey Evans

In historic Louisa County home, the past lives in layers

“How do we touch this and not mess it up?” That was the question that Tim Burgess asked himself in 2010 as he and Sharon Shapiro considered buying an 1860 Louisa County farmhouse. The house wasn’t a museum piece; previous owners had installed a modern kitchen and loft. But the historic nature of the property […]