Several period features have been preserved in this midcentury modern, such as the dark stained wood trusses that run through the house. (BTW Images)

Updating this midcentury modern in the Brook Hills Estate neighborhood of Annandale proved a rewarding challenge for architect Jobi Jones.

The owners had “wanted a true midcentury modern, and they found one, which is great,” Jones said. “But the downside is, they found a true midcentury modern.”

Once they started tearing down the walls, they realized how much attention the home needed.

“We joked that it’s almost a new construction home based on how much new infrastructure we had to put into it,” Jones said.

The house was built by Henry V. de Longfief for Julian Leysath, who owned it from 1954 until the owners bought it in 2016. De Longfief, a Frenchman, was a newspaper reporter in France before moving to New York with his wife to teach French. That venture failed, and he went to work for a French news service, eventually moving to Washington to cover the White House.

After World War II, he became a salesman in an Arlington real estate office before going out on his own to build houses. According to Andrew Friedman in his 2013 book, “Covert Capital,” de Longfief was “an active Falls Church builder known for shaving prices for those agreeing to do some of the work, such as painting.” He later was the developer of Blue Mountain resort in Front Royal.

When renovating the house, Jones said the owners “didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the home and the style. They were very dedicated to maintaining the essence of the house.”


Period features such as the awning windows in the dining room were preserved. (BTW Images)

Because of that insistence on preserving the home’s original features, Jones had to come up with creative solutions to design problems. To add recess lighting would have meant covering up the dark wood trusses that run through the house. Instead, she strung cable lighting.

With de Longfief’s original drawings to guide her, Jones looked for ways to maximize the space without increasing the home’s size.

“We wanted to achieve something the family could live in,” she said. “We didn’t want to add onto the house.”

The original floor plan was a rabbit warren of rooms that didn’t make the most efficient use of the space. Jones took down walls to create a better flow, which made the home feel bigger even though the square footage remained about the same.

A pair of walk-in closets in the master bedroom became a spacious master bathroom. The old master bathroom became a walk-in closet for a second bedroom.

“I’m a big proponent of living within your means,” Jones said. “My heart breaks [when she sees] some of these massive homes with rooms with no purpose.

“I’m just really proud of what we achieved with the space we had and how generous the house feels even though we didn’t technically add onto it.”

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 2,195-square-foot house on an 0.59 acre wooded lot is listed at $1 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.

Listing: 5100 Rappahannock Pl., Annandale, Va.

Listing agent: Jason Walder, Wydler Brothers Real Estate

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