As sure as the leaves turning color, if it’s October, it is time for the annual Reston Home Tour to benefit the Reston Historic Trust. This year’s self-conducted tour is Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 2012 theme is “Living on the Edge.” Chaired by Bonnie Haukness, she explained, “Reston is a place where nearly every home adjoins the edge of something special — lakes, wooded parkland, golf courses, urban centers, etc. The houses this year all have this feature also, with four on lakes, one on the edge of Town Center and one on the Glade Stream Valley. Another stop, the office of Nature’s Best photography magazine, is located on the edge of the newest Reston development, Reston Center.
At Nature's Best, Maggie Parker, director of communications and community outreach for Comstock, the developer of Reston Station, will give a presentation about plans for the Wiehle Metro stop.
In addition, at this tour stop, a raffle will be held for a chance to climb a crane at Reston Station and for a choice of a Nature’s Best photograph. Light refreshments will be served.
Karen (Kat) Toussaint and Jim McClave
Making a small space seem big
Kat Toussaint has a grand passion and the talent to pursue it. Besides her fiancé Jim McClave, a paragon of unruffled support, with whom she lives, Touissaint’s other passion is building and/or redoing houses and then selling them. So far, she has done about five in the Reston/Vienna area.
Although she also does her own interior decorating, what Toussaint, who draws her own plans and acts as general contractor on each project, loves most of all is totally reenvisioning a home’s interior space, frequently taking down interior walls, sometimes all of them.
That is exactly what Toussaint, owner of the metro area’s “The Family Phonebook,” did in her current home, a contemporary-style, three-story townhouse directly on Lake Anne in Reston’s original residential community, Waterview Cluster.
Purchased in December 2011, after six months of massive renovations, including removing every wall possible, Toussaint, 53, and McClave, 55, moved into their townhouse in June of this year.
Their path to Waterview Cluster started about two years ago. Deciding to downsize from a 4,000-square-foot house in Vienna, which Toussaint had “overhauled” inside and out, she and McClave, an IT businessman, bought a condo in the Midtown high-rise at Reston Town Center.
Though the condo was only three years old, Toussaint renovated it “as if it were a handy man special.” While it “was a great place to live” and living in the heart of Town Center was enjoyable, they needed a little more breathing room.
Both are “outdoor types.” So, moving to one of Reston’s lakes “seemed like a great fit.”
When she and McClave bought their townhouse (then decorated in Cape Cod style and untouched for about 15 years), they knew they wanted to update “somewhat,” primarily by adding a master bathroom. However, that’s not exactly what happened.
Toussaint recalled, “We did not initially plan to remove every wall and rebuild the house, but once we got started, things changed. Basically, we now have a completely new house.”
After she designed preliminary plans for all three floors, Toussaint brought in a team of contractors from Floors USA in Vienna (whose owner she had worked with before) to complete her '”to-do list.”
The renovations, she said, “met and exceeded our goal of making our new space seem bigger by opening up the floorplan, adding light, both natural and other, adding a master bathroom (that started the whole process) and increasing storage.”
What is the source of Toussaint’s talent for building and renovation? She is not sure, suggesting it might be instinctual.
“It just comes to me,” she explained, about her ability to enter a house and immediately see its possibilities and what needs to be redone.
“The first thing I see is the walls; I don’t see anything else,” said Toussaint. “I see the bones of the house. … Like some folks are good at playing the piano. It’s hard to explain.”
Although the townhome’s interior space is all new, there are some special remnants from the previous owner, especially Persian rugs and quite a bit of art by Reston artists, such as Mary La Rue Wells and Pat Macintyre.
Toussaint and McClave purchased the house with all its contents. Most, except for the rugs and art, they either gave away or sold. So much art was left that some was placed in storage.
What advice does she give to others thinking about doing an extensive renovation? She said: “Know your budget, make sure your workmen know what they are doing, and plan for change.”
A “good sport” who “has grown to enjoy the fun of renovation,” McClave, she said, assumes she will be looking for her next project at some point — she gives living in their current home three to five years. In fact, as a possible next investment project, they have their eye on one of the cubist townhouses, designed by noted modernist architect Charles M. Goodman, at nearby Hickory Cluster.
Ultra-modern standout on Lake Audubon
Matt Lammers’ contemporary home, whose predominant palette is white, gray and black, is cool, sleek and visually dynamic. But underlying its impressive “Architectural Digest” polish is a history of great family warmth and closeness.
Lammers, a draftsman and hospital facility planner working for the family firm of Lammers+Associates, and his father, Larry, a well-known architect, redesigned and completely renovated the 1980 CPI home together, including building a substantial addition.
“He’s the designer; I’m the architect,” his father said, adding “I do residential for fun.”
Family is extremely important to the Lammers. His parents moved to Reston in 1968; Lammers, 42, who is unmarried, was born there and returned after college at George Mason University. In fact, his entire immediate family, including a married brother and his family, lives in Reston, all within walking distance.
On a cul de sac on the edge of Lake Audubon, the home that Lammers purchased in 1998 for $280,000 when he was 28 years old, is now a far different structure. While the house was exactly what he was looking for, it needed a lot of work.
He said, “I thought that it was the perfect chance to design a dream house.” He and his father spent the next 10 months, “creating a comprehensive renovation and phased reconstruction plan that was financially feasible.”
The complete redesign of the house has so far cost more than $400,000 (helped by no architectural fees). Plus, Lammers and his father did 80 percent of the construction work themselves.
Teaching him great patience, this “phased reconstruction” took eight years in three phases: first, the garage and guest suite addition; next the atrium entry; and finally, renovation of the original structure, including kitchen, bathrooms and fireplace relocation.
When redesigning the home, two doors from his parents’ contemporary, Lammers favorite architect (other than his father) served as a major inspiration. Lammers is a great admirer of American architect Richard Meier, whose “rationalist” buildings, like Lammers’ home, make prominent use of the color white.
Prior to redesigning his home, Lammers read most of Meier’s books and studied his early residential projects with their open space and modern forms.
“Matt is very fussy,” his father said. “Everything was open. We started to think out of the box. Nothing had to stay where it was.”
Lammers added, “If you have vision and are able to communicate it, you can get what you want.”
He recalled that when he bought his house, the owner asked about repainting and installing new carpeting. He said it was not necessary because of the extent of renovations.
The original house, he noted, was about 1,800 square feet and had very small rooms. A 2,000-square-foot addition was added. Though required to maintain the base structure of the house, with the addition, they “basically changed everything.”
Lammers said, “My goal was to create larger rooms and open up the living spaces and capture lake views where possible.” To do that and to create a “dynamic entry,” they constructed a unique curved wall in the two-level entrance atrium. The wall “guides you from the atrium through an opening into the great room with a canted ceiling and a dynamic view of the lake.”
To also capitalize on the view and increase the home’s natural light, the Lammers removed all existing windows. In addition to repositioning and enlarging them, 12 skylights were installed, including six in the atrium that are remote controlled.
The home, at the moment, has two bedrooms — one on the main floor and another upstairs. The lower level is used as office space for Lammers+Associates. This, however, could possibly be converted to two more bedrooms in the future.
Like the architecture, furnishings are sleek and modern. Lammers decorated with signature Mies Van der roe Barcelona chairs in the great room, and Bruno chairs in the dining area. The bedroom furniture is by Interlubke and Charles Eames (Herman Miller).
The kitchen is custom designed with a Sub Zero refrigerator, Miele appliances and Poggenpohl cabinets, from Germany. The countertops are quartz silestone, and all bathroom fixtures are by Kolher.
Art in the home consists of the works by three of Lammers’ favorite artists — abstract paintings by Connie Slack (whose home also is on the tour) and Ginny Herzog and pewter vases by Janet Miller.
Lammers recalled that a special moment for him was coming home from the hospital after having open-heart surgery during the construction process. “I thought I might fail at reaching my ultimate goal of having my dream house completed by 35,” he said.
Living on the edge of Reston Town Center
After his divorce, Rob Olcott decided he needed a major change. CEO of Orion Investment Advisors, which works mostly with nonprofits, endowments and hospitals, and managing partner of Olcott Consulting Services, Olcott, 62, moved in 2007 from a large five-bedroom single-family home in Great Falls to a two bedroom condo with a den in the Paramount high-rise on the edge of Reston Town Center.
On a practical level, he said, the move to downsize was an act of “survival” for him as a newly single man.
“I needed a support system. I hadn’t spent time taking care of myself. … I travel a lot and didn’t have the time and energy to devote to maintaining a single-family home, and it’s great to pack a suitcase and not worry about upkeep” he explained.
In addition, he wanted an “attractive” place for his grown children—a son, now 25, and a daughter, 20—to visit him and their mother, who also now lives in Reston.
Someone who likes to entertain, his condo is large enough to comfortably host friends and family. He recalled, “After a few visits, one set of friends dubbed my home ‘Hotel O’ and gave me the hand-painted Italian tiles, which now hang in the hallway.”
Plus, the lifestyle afforded by the “eco-system of the self-contained” Town Center — walking distance to restaurants and shops and other services — was very appealing.
A “recovering packrat … subject to accumulation creep,” he is grateful that the move forced him to purge.
“You find out that you can live with much less,” Olcott said, noting “the things I kept are very special … and make me smile. I’m very careful not to buy something unless it is special to me.” And each “brings back a flood of memories. It is like living in a three-dimensional scrapbook … and are a reflection of me.”
Among the eclectic items he loves are: rugs from China, a complex mosaic made with 70,000 pieces of painted paper that hangs over the fireplace by an American artist he met in Tuscany, a piece made of layered marble that looks like a painting of a country fishing scene, early 20th century posters, an Eastern-African mask and beautiful colored Murano glass.
Olcott’s favorite place in his condo has nothing to do with what he has collected. It is the incredible view from the condo’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which face west. “It takes my breath away,” he said.
Living at the Paramount, he said, “has really exceeded my expectations. I’m a block away from Reston Town Center, not in the middle of it, but close enough. It’s just the right balance.”
Joanne and David Bauer
Living in their own nature sanctuary
Joanne and David Bauer found their “forever” house 21 years ago.
The house has many great features, Joanne Bauer said, including a mainfloor master bedroom, which makes aging in place easier, enough extra bedrooms for family and friends to visit, including their two grown sons, enough lower level space for an art studio, attached garage and a spectacular wooded setting with access to beautiful trails.
On a very private one-acre lot, it opens onto the Glade Stream Valley, one of the most beautiful, protected areas in Reston.
Joanne Bauer, 63, an artist and, until recently, director of exhibitions at the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), and David Bauer, 64, an environmental consultant, are both avid birders. They lead walks for the Reston Association, monitor bluebird boxes and help with annual bird counts.
Every morning, after feeding the dog and making coffee, David Bauer sits in their living room where he watches the birds and other wildlife
“Twenty-one years ago,” Joanne Bauer recalled, “we did not set out to buy a new home. We were seriously thinking of adding on to our Hunters Woods home [of 11 years], which at 2,000 square feet was feeling cramped for our two soon-to-be adolescent boys and their friends.”
Looking at other Reston properties to confirm that remodeling was their best option, when they walked into their current home house, the Bauers began rethinking their plans.
However, after two decades of living there, their home needed substantial updating.
In 2009, Peabody Architects substantially remodeled the home. “We wanted a more open flow and for it to be more open to the lot than it was before,” Joanne Bauer said, noting they lived in the home’s lower level (now returned to her art studio) during the renovation.
A major change was redoing the former galley kitchen, which was the “black hole of the house” and had no views. Now it is the social hub of the house for the Bauers, who are known for hosting lots of parties and other celebrations.
After 32 years in Reston, they have a large and varied group of friends, some dating back to her sons’ preschool days. One of the Bauers sons recently wed in South Africa, and the whole wedding party was made up of friends from LANK (Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten), Reston’s first preschool. David Bauer’s brother and his family also live within walking distance.
Joanne Bauer describes her home’s aesthetic as contemporary, in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, but eclectic — many antique family pieces and craft items mixed with some newer mission-style furniture and art. Among those who influenced their aesthetic is David Bauer’s father who is an architect.
An artist and curator, Joanne Bauer’s love of art and artists is found everywhere in the home. There are her own paintings — which frequently explore the underside of portraiture and the complexities of inner emotional life.
The paintings and drawings in the living room are all Joanne Bauer’s, except for the large family portrait in the dining room niche, done by friend, Robert Huitt.
Two little marionettes hanging on the wall are part of a group made by David Bauer’s grandfather, who was a fruit farmer and used his winters to make toys for the children. He also made the many chess boards found around the house so that he could play several games at once with pen pal partners, exchanging moves via postcard.
A number of art works are by metro-area artists whose shows she curated at GRACE. There are four abstract Foon Sham sculptures and drawings, an edgy mixed-media sculpture by Elissa Farrow Savos, and a painting by D.C. painter and muralist, Rik Freeman, whose traveling exhibition, “The Chittlin Circuit Review,” was first shown at GRACE in 2008.
A small painting of haystacks in the front hall was painted by Alice Warfield during a Christmas visit to a family farm in Illinois in 1893. It is one of their favorite works.
Joanne Bauer said: “One of the great joys of living here on the edge [of nature] is that each day brings something new. Every morning when we take off with our dog we never know what we will see, but we always know that we will see something wild.”
Artist’s home on Lake Thoreau
Abstract painter and longtime Restonian Connie Slack is one of Northern Virginia’s best-known artists. In fact, several of the homes on the Home Tour are proud owners of Slack paintings. Matt Lammer’s sleek contemporary boasts four.
So when Slack, who works primarily at her Torpedo Factory studio in Alexandria, recently decided not only to update her master bathroom but to turn it into a luxurious, serene spa she called upon two other “artists” — Jerry DeSantis and his brother Tim of DeSantis Designs, who updated Slack’s kitchen in 2005.
In 2005, Slack said, she worked primarily with Jerry DeSantis, “giving him an outline of what I wanted to accomplish and letting him use his talents to create something that would make both of us proud.”
She recalled, “I brought my artist’s eye, but I didn’t impose my artist’s eye.”
Beyond the kitchen, the 2005 update included Slack’s open plan dining/living room area as well as the foyer. The finishing touch was the front door, a collaborative design built by the fine craftsmen in DeSantis’ shop.
The elegant and highly functional kitchen that DeSantis created — with its custom cabinets (designed to function with her small stature) of bird’s eye maple and space to display art and curly maple flooring — is Slack’s favorite room. Although her new well-appointed spa bathroom is fast closing in as a favorite.
Overlooking her flower-filled deck and view of Lake Thoreau, Slack, 73, can often be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes, and baking unique desserts for birthdays and other special occasions that include her two grown children and their families who live nearby in Reston and Herndon.
Slack and her ex-husband, who moved to Reston in 1966, had just settled into a new home on Sugarberry Court when they learned that a section of lots on Lake Thoreau were about to be released. They even showed up on the doorstep of Reston Properties at 6 a.m. with their beach chairs in hopes of getting a lot.
They rehired Warren Katz, who built their Sugarberry Court home, and Mike Oxman, their architect, to build their new home on Cutwater Court, too. Like their other house, its basic layout consists of four pods without interior supports, connected by a center entry/stair area. They moved into their new lakeside home in 1979.
Not surprisingly, Slack’s home is filled with art — her own and others — and fine crafts. Everything has a special meaning or is something that struck her fancy.
One of her most recent acquisitions is “The Magic Garden” by Reston painter Dana Scheurer, whose framable art illustrates the tour’s large-size ticket.
Several woodcarvings are pieces Slack made in years past. The pair of cats over the front door was a senior project at Western Michigan University. The owl in the family room was carved from a firelog while on a camping trip. To the left of the fireplace is a photograph of Slack at 16 while doing a carving demonstration at the Midland County Fair.
The large painting in the family room is also by Slack. Titled “Redwall Cavern,” its genesis, she said, was a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon.
Slack also constructed the Kiva ladder in the family room from maple trees that grew on her parent’s property in Northern Michigan.
The living room painting “Pow Wow” is Slack’s remembrance of attending an all-day pow wow in Northern Michigan with her sister.
The large raku ceramics are by Ramone Camarillo, who was a fellow Torpedo Factory artist. And the striking all-white sculptural relief in the dining room is “Olympian Cavalry” by Mirella Belshe. Slack traded one of her own paintings for it.
Her home, Slack said, is “very much my sanctuary. … Sometimes I rather be home than anywhere else, watching the birds on the lake … sitting by the fireplace with the cat on my lap.”
Bill Beyer and Laura Urgellés
House of their dreams on Lake Thoreau
Bill Beyer was living in the West Market community, near Reston Town Center, when friends with a lake house invited him for a ride on their floating dock. He was “hooked.”
In 2004, he purchased his own contemporary home on the edge of Lake Thoreau and started remodeling it the next year. After Laura Urgellés moved into the home in 2009, it became “a place to build dreams together,” a peaceful sanctuary.
A Deloitte partner, Beyer is a former ballet dancer turned entrepreneur and executive. Also an accomplished triathlete, he is a three-time finisher at the World Championship Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.
Urgellés, who was born in Cuba, came to United States in 1995. A former principal dancer with The Washington Ballet, she retired in 2010 and has been an adjunct professor of dance at George Mason University since 2009.
Together they started The Yoga Fusion Studio in Chevy Chase, Md., in 2010.
Beyer said, “As a triathlete I had also found the perfect place for training, Reston offers the best running paths anywhere, tree lines, great conditions. The bike trail is around the corner and swimming, well … in my backyard.”
For Beyer and Urgellés, their home is a place of great joy and fun where they do a great deal of entertaining. Every Halloween they have a large theme party. They also had the wedding of a friend there.
Beyer recalled: “The bride arrived with her father, floating across the lake on the floating dock. The groom was waiting at the dock to take her through the rocky path up to the deck for the ceremony. It was very romantic
Beyer and Urgellés remembered their own romantic moment in their home. When they were first dating, they would go upstairs through an improvised ladder. The stairs were being repositioned and had been taken down.
“It was fun, like playing mates in a tree house,” Beyer said, noting “we still like to think of the home as a tree house since, from the inside, it looks as if it could be nestled at the top of the trees.”
In keeping with the Tree House effect, they have designed their home to “bring the outside inside.” A large glass panel in the master bedroom, which they designed together in 2010, gives them this feeling. They also attempted to create the same calm and natural feeling in the master bathroom.
They enclosed an outside patio with glass and placed the large soaking tub there for “a feeling of being under the stars.”
The extensive renovations, which included demolishing the walls of many small rooms, substantially opened up the home’s space and created one large room that combines their dining, cooking and living room space.
Beyer recalled that when he met Urgellés in 2006, “this last area was a complete hole without walls, floors or anything resembling a house.”
Working with Jerry DeSantis of DeSantis Designs (like neighbor and fellow home tour participant Connie Slack), the home boasts much of DeSantis’ signature beautiful woodwork.
All the doors were custom-made by him as well as the stairs, the cabinetry of the bathrooms and kitchen and the master bedroom build-in drawers and dividing wall behind the bed.
They also recently started working with interior designer, David Mitchell. “He and his team have really helped bring all the elements together to make the house feel more special and fun,” Beyer said.
Urgellés passion for the outside inspired her to create a landscape “that would feel like a happy Buddha — both calm and colorful,” Beyer added. Working with her to create this special garden was Peter Murray, president of Hidden Lane Landscaping and Design.
Murray explained, “The client wanted a lush backyard with Zen-like qualities, keeping the planting simple while adding color, texture and year-round interest.”
Inside, their home is filled with art from their travels, by family and treasures found at Reston’s annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festivals.
A Murano vase at the bottom of the stairs was bought on a trip they took to Venice after Beyer completed the Frankfurt Ironman Triathlon.
A painting in the dining room is by their neighbor and well-known Northern Virginia artist Connie Slack. A commission, it represents flying pink flamingos, which is Beyer’s spirit animal
Another commissioned work of art is a tribute to Beyer and his adult son and daughter — who both now live in Australia — and their passion for participating in triathlons. The work symbolically represents the three stages of a triathlon race: the glass (swimming), the bike tires etched on the glass (bicycles) and the stairs (running).
Framed red ballet slippers were a gift from Urgellés to Beyer on Valentine’s Day 2011. They were the ballet shoes she was wearing during the Washington Ballet performance in which he first saw her dance in 2006.
They regard the house as still a work in progress. Lovers of wine, they plan to build a wine cellar soon.