The problem Michael P. Cook runs into when restoring midcentury modern houses is the previous owners’ mistakes. Too often, they’ve put on an addition that isn’t in keeping with the style of the house, and the architect-developer has to undo their work.
That wasn’t the case with this house in Holmes Run Acres, a community in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, Va. William and Dorothy Hammerschmidt, the original owners of the 1952 house, were mindful of its architectural style. When they added onto the front and back, they carried over elements such as the post-and-beam ceiling. They were careful to match even the style of the red bricks to make the additions appear seamless.
The Hammerschmidts “did the additions with quality and with love,” said Cook, who grew up in Holmes Run Acres and is passionate about preserving its character.
Holmes Run Acres was constructed between 1951 and 1985 by brothers Gerald and Eli Luria. Their aim was to create a subdivision of affordable houses that was in harmony with nature and took advantage of the surroundings. The Lurias hired architects Nicholas Satterlee and Donald Lethbridge to design the houses. The community was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The Hammerschmidts must have loved their home, having spent a half-century living together there and maintaining it as they did. William had been the executive secretary of the Defense Science Board, a Defense Department advisory body. He did operations research for the Defense Department as part of its weapons-systems evaluation group and studies for the Strategic Air Command. He also served on the board of the Holmes Run Acres Civic Association.
William died in 2002 at 86. Dorothy, who was married to William for 64 years, remained in the home until her death last year at 102.
When Cook bought the house from the estate, the challenge was making it more suitable for today’s living. He took down walls and rearranged the spaces inside but kept the same footprint. He didn’t expand the house by even a square foot.
Now with an expansive main living space, the house can accommodate a large crowd for entertaining. “I think the main living space is really successful,” Cook said.
Because some of the wood in the house was difficult to match, Cook brought in other types of wood, such as ash for the floors, to complement the original wood. He also added shou sugi ban-treated boards to the facade, giving the house a more modern look. Shou sugi ban is a Japanese technique of waterproofing boards by charring them.
There are two outdoor spaces for relaxing or entertaining. Cook refurbished the wood deck on the side of the house and put in a brick patio behind the house.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,700-square-foot house is listed at $779,000. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.