Virginia Traditions 

An active family achieves order and tranquility in a country house with classical proportions.

Though mostly completed, the project continues to have special meaning for Tayne Renmark, Ronnie's daughter and partner in the firm (his wife Carole and designer Edgar Parrish round out the team). Tayne has shepherded the assignment as if it were an extension of herself. For starters, she has known the client intimately since the 1980s when she baby sat one of the couple's three sons. And this closeness has led to an insightful appreciation for the likes, dislikes and daily patterns of the client, a dynamic young family on the go.

"They have strong personalities," says Tayne. "It's the people with weak personalities that don't know what they like. These are people with strong personalities and you get a solid idea of their styles."

When the family decided to build a house in Goochland, Tayne took drives with her client and explored various areas of the county. "They had needed lots of room for the boys to run around— they are rough and tumble," she says. "They like to play with snakes and spiders. And their mother loves the outdoors, having grown up in upstate New York in the Finger Lakes region."

After the pair settled on a ten-acre tract of wooded land, they engaged Richmond architect Dennis Atkinson to design a house that is traditionally "Virginia" in spirit.

Franko LaFratta & Farinholt was contractor, and Charlie Troy, a long-time local craftsman, was the brick mason.

Family and guests follow a circular driveway to approach the classically proportioned house. The design includes a center hall with this passage extending the depth of the house. But the hallway is divided into two sections: Upon entering, one is in a foyer that is connected to the rear, stair hall via a Palladian-inspired archway.

While there is axial rhyme and reason, even formality, to the floor plan, there is nothing stuffy about the interior.

The living room is a generously scaled space designed for entertaining as well as daily activities. Renmark placed the furniture in groupings that should encourage conversation. The mostly upholstered pieces are a lively mix of patterns in hues of blue. It is a cool, relaxing room.

Across the hall, in the dining room, the walls are papered in a wine-colored pattern from Boussac, a French company. A large, round dining table is the scene of family meals as well as more formal gatherings. A still life painting of pomegranates was created specifically for the room by Ronnie Renmark, and recalls the canvases done by Flemish artists of the Baroque period.

Just beyond the dining room is the combination kitchen and family room with walls painted a rich, deep green.

Tayne Renmark says that her design point of departure in this room was the dark granite that had been selected for the counter tops. This led to the choice of cherry for the extensive system of kitchen cabinetry designed by Jane Staley, who also designed the kitchen layout.

The sitting area, flooded with natural light from large windows, is adjacent to the kitchen and populated with furniture upholstered in a tapestry-like, oak leaf-patterned fabric. The sofas and chairs face additional cherry cabinets that contain or hide books, a television and entertainment systems. The space is further enlivened and expanded by a winter landscape painted by Ronnie Renmark.

The kitchen, like other rooms throughout the house, is brightened by constantly changing arrangements of fresh flowers.

A sumptuous guest suite is situated just beyond the living room. It is done in cheerful creams, yellows and blues. The wallpaper, with a delicate oak pattern, is by Osborne & Little. And while the four-poster bed is inviting, it would be equally tempting to soak in the tub in the oversized bathroom.

Upstairs, there are two boys' rooms, one of which has bunk beds set against walls the color of coffee with cream.

But beware! Critters in action. Not just the wildlife that Ronnie Renmark has painted on the walls, but crawling things in terrariums, and snakeskins hanging on pictures.

Off the rear hall and living room is a raised terrace. Its steps lead to a formal garden with a central fountain that was designed by Ronnie Renmark. On beautifully crafted frame arbors that flank the carefully arranged borders, climbing roses all but smother the latticework.

In the wild woods beyond this tightly configured formal garden, the family envisions establishing a good-sized pond.

This house in the country isn't huge by Goochland standards. But a visitor senses a distinct order and organization to the placement of each piece of furniture, every object. If there is ship-shape discipline to the place, there may be a reason: This is a family of sailors.

And whom have they recently engaged to design the interiors of their Annapolis-based yacht?

You got it, Renmark. HS




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