The Rivah provides the perfect weekend escape from Central and Northern Virginia’s stifling summer heat. Thanks to breezes over the wide waters, those lucky enough to have second homes at the Rivah count on finding their waterside properties at least 5 degrees cooler than their main residences upon arrival on Fridays. When temperatures moderate at home and the real new year begins in September, weekend getaways to the Rivah often become infrequent, and many homeowners close up their houses for the season.
For other homeowners, though, the Rivah provides a year-round getaway from the stresses of work. Regularly reacquainting themselves with the ebb and flow of the tides keeps their schedules in tune with the rhythm of Mother Nature. Life becomes less complicated as they focus on fishing for the succulent local rockfish, harvesting oysters from their cages and and blue crabs from their traps, and spotting osprey, herons, egrets, pelicans, oystercatchers and even the occasional bald eagle who soar in the skies above the waterways and nest along the wooded banks.
jBr and her husband are one of those couples who escape to the Rivah every chance they get, no matter the season. About seven years ago they purchased their own piece of the Rivah outside of White Stone on the Northern Neck as a retreat for themselves, their boys and their ever changing cast of pets. With wide views to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the three bedroom ranch house was a find despite its 1960s-era kitchen, baths and mechanicals. Easily settling into the Rivah lifestyle, her husband immediately embraced the life of a waterman, while jBr pored over issues of Coastal Living plotting how to at least get the old yellow linoleum-clad kitchen updated without breaking the bank.
When the appliances became unreliable, jBr’s husband gave her the go-ahead to find a local contractor to open up the kitchen to the uninsulated sunporch and create a new space that would suit them for the long-term. As these things often happen, the contractor, Janet Wright of Janet Wright and Associates, got a little carried away with her plans, and before they knew what was happening, jBr and her husband had agreed with most of Janet’s vision, which required a complete gut-job. Although more elaborate than they had originally planned, the new open living space, commodious master bedroom suite and additional upstairs living area take full advantage of their views and perfectly suit the way this family lives year-round at the Rivah.
Once they decided to bite the bullet and take the house down to the studs, jBr engaged Janie Molster and her talented crew at Janie Molster Designs to complete the vision of a year-round Rivah home that would stand up to all the males in the family but still appeal to jBr’s sophisticated female tastes. jBr required washable slipcovers on all upholstery and wanted nothing precious to cause worry when her boys or the dogs (or both) get boisterous. The result is a home that remains comfortable and inviting all four seasons, allowing for oyster shuckings and crab pickings one weekend and a beautiful wedding (like the one featured in This Memorable Wedding Embraces Rivah Style) the next.
hickory floors in a natural finish cover the main living space
I am fortunate to be a regular guest and invite myself as often as I can. Tension leaves my shoulders the moment I walk through the front door and immediately begin relaxing in the open and intoxicating design of this year-round retreat. I’ll head straight up to the in-laws suite that I usually claim for my own to drop my bags and pause to take in the water views from the second floor.
the cable railings are practically transparent
After freshening up in the upstairs bath that we featured in Dana Gibson’s “Twig” Design is Worthy of a Sneak Peak into a Recently Renovated River House, I make a beeline to one of my favorite spots in the house: the blue and white kitchen.
Designed with plenty of space to entertain and feed a crowd, I could sit at the bar
or at the comfy bench of this chic round breakfast table
for hours visiting with whomever jBr has invited to join the party. With a choice of dining table options, jBr can accommodate a cozy get-together or a larger crowd in the casually chic dining area
cord-wrapped pair of wire chandeliers light the long table
anchored by a long Restoration Hardware farm table.
If the weather keeps us inside,
we can curl up by the fire on one of the bench-cushioned sofas
and often watch sports
a blonde twist on the classic bobbin chair
in the adjoining tv area.
Honey and Sookie get comfortable
If the teens and twenty-somethings in the group want an escape, they head to the charming guest house over the garage. In addition to this comfy sitting room with views to the water,
the blue bedroom (with vintage bobbin beds) and the orange bedroom,
as well as the kitchen and laundry facilities, make a great getaway all on their own. The guest house provides one more example of Janet’s detail-filled design.
Other elements making this house timeless, user-friendly and captivating include wide covered porches
and a Rivah home must-have: an outdoor shower.
Influenced by her mother, well-regarded artist Margaret Ryan, jBr has amassed a diverse collection of artwork, which
Vernon Kerr who painted in Laguna Beach where one of jBr’s grandmother’s lived is a favorite artist
Janie helped her to display throughout the neutral spaces. The pieces, like this pressed seaweed from Blackwell Botanicals of RVA,
lend additional character and warmth to the open floor plan.
Since completion of the house and garage last summer, jBr and her husband have hosted numerous family reunions with up to 14 staying overnight in the house,
fabulous soft white spindle bed in the master bedroom
as well as several moms’ getaways and guys’ fishing weekends.
The home’s new design makes it easy for them to simply say, Come on down to the Rivah. Fortunately they love company, and their masterfully designed and renovated year-round second home brims with welcoming hospitality no matter the season.
August 11, 2016