When Ward Westrick retired from commercial real estate development, he and wife Ginny were happy to sell their home in McLean and leave the density of Northern Virginia behind to settle on the Chesapeake Bay’s calmer shores. While Ward may have made a living in development, he and Ginny did not want to build a home. However, after looking at as many as 50 houses from Gibson Island to Mayo and finding nothing but disappointment, they snapped up a 2.25 acre parcel on the South River in Annapolis (before it was even listed) on which to build an empty-nester’s dream.
The Westricks knew they wanted a contemporary, Annapolis-style home with a cedar shake exterior, an open floor plan and a first-floor master suite. “We didn’t want it to be formal at all,” says Ward, 64, who adds that he wanted a “man cave” and for there to be rooms for their two daughters and other family members (he and Ginny have 15 siblings between them) when they visit. Perhaps most important, the home needed to be a de facto gallery space for the Westricks’ original, stone lithograph posters. The couple has collected the vintage posters for 30 years and has amassed about 45.
“We’ve been to auctions, fairs. We even went to Boston one time to get one,” says Ward. “Most are from 1890 to the 1920s …we generally look for the larger, more colorful ones, though they are harder to find now.”
Like collecting, building a home takes patience, and the Westricks were not interested in a quick build just for the sake of instant gratification. Before ground broke on the house, the couple invested time and money to remediate erosion on the lot’s 150-foot stretch of waterfront. Then they worked with Scott L. Rand, AIA, to design a home in which almost every room would have a view of the water.
“This is one of my favorite houses,” says Rand. “It fits its site so well, and it fits them as a couple.”
The Westricks selected builder Dizebba & Sons to breathe life into Rand’s design. It didn’t hurt that early in the bidding process, Ginny, 59, and Guy Dizebba, a third-generation builder, discovered that Guy’s father had built Ginny’s childhood home.
At approximately 7,000 square feet, the new home embraces its expansive water view. A stone porch wraps from the bath house to the master suite and has different sitting areas, a pool and hot tub. Phantom screens can be dropped to make a screened porch when mosquitoes become oppressive. The cedar shake exterior is punctuated by six-foot-tall windows on the first floor and gracious, elliptical arch windows on the second story. Arches are carried into the interior, too, where they are used in doorways and as niches for artwork.
Inside, much of the square footage is dedicated to the open plan kitchen and great room. Soaring, 11-foot ceilings create a spacious feel and ample room for large posters to be displayed. The kitchen is separated from the entertaining area by a massive island. This is Ginny’s territory.
“I cook every day,” she says, “so it needed to be light and bright. And I wanted to be where the action is, not off alone doing the cooking.” As an added bonus, Ginny customized the cabinetry height to suit her petite stature.
The couple worked with Dream House Studios to create a “coastal casual” interior design. The home has a serene interior that allows the water setting outside and the architectural detailing and posters inside to stand out. There is a predominance of clear poplar painted white with pops of warm cherry wood on the floors and trim. Window treatments are minimal to nonexistent. The wall and furniture colors are soft grays and steel blues, like the striations on an oyster shell. The kitchen cabinetry, for example, is lightly distressed antique white and, on the island, a distressed gray-blue. The backsplash is a simple, white subway tile except for a subtle design behind the Wolf range. The great room is gray, though it seems to change depending on the light and the mood of the day.
Ward got his man cave, which flanks one side of the main living space and is entered through an arched-top pocket door. In keeping with the color scheme, Ward obtained custom gray felt for the billiard table, while the wet bar features an onyx counter in swirling earth tones. Ward is a fan of vintage cars from the ’50s and ’60s, especially the sculptural quality of their grilles. Online he found a “tooth” grille from an old Packard that he restored. It now hangs over the sofa.
The opposite wing contains the master suite. Throughout the home, architectural details like beams, coffered ceilings and paneling are used to provide interest and scale. In the master bedroom, the molding Dizebba’s crew handcrafted on site is used to create a paneled effect that frames the bed and art pieces.
The home also presents homages to the bonds the Westricks share with family. Ginny stumbled upon a stained-glass studio, Renaissance Glassworks, on a trip to Nashua, N.H. “It’s special to me because it’s a part of New Hampshire where my dad is from,” she says. The studio crafted windowpanes for placement over the soaking tub in the master bath (as well as glass cabinet fronts in the kitchen). The windows add warmth to the bathroom, while the limestone countertops, inset with real fossils and shells, provide interest and a subtle nod to the Bay without being cliché.
Some aspects of the design evolved over the process, like the stunning circular stair. “A stair should be an organizing element,” says Rand. Although it fits into an area just 10 feet by 10 feet, it feels like a sweeping architectural element. “It’s a focal point, but not overwhelming,” says Rand, “and it is designed to unify the great room below to the sitting room above.”
Upstairs, the home opens to a gallery like hallway for six of the Westricks’ posters. At its end is a back stairway that was largely designed to accommodate one of their more statuesque collectibles, a 12-foot tall poster by PAL (Jean de Paleologu). There is also a sitting area, which Ward says gets the best view of the sunset in the evening, rooms for the Westricks’ daughters, and a recreational room and exercise studio.
The Westricks have been in the home just over a year. Though they also have a home in the Caribbean, Ginny says they still pinch themselves each time they open the front door of the South River home. They love the home, the community and the fact that the house fulfills its original purpose: to be a home for two and a gathering place for friends and family.
Architect: Scott L. Rand, AIA
Builder: Dizebba & Sons
Landscape: Environmental Landcare
Interior Design: Dream House Studios