Todd Walker's clients wanted a pool house for their second home in the bucolic Virginia countryside, and the architect responded with a 1,100-square-foot gem befitting the scenic location.

“It started as a renovation of a second home,” Walker says. “[The client] thought it would be great to have a guest house for people to stay and an area for parties. It evolved into this multi-use pool house.”

The form of the structure directly relates to its function, Walker explains. Tall and narrow and sited in a way to take advantage of a sloping grade, the house has four levels: a lower-level garage; a main-floor entertaining space with a kitchen and access to the pool deck; a second-floor living area with a kitchen and full bath; and a loft.

Walker's idea was to create spaces that serve dual purposes, so the garage doubles as a boat storage area and the entertainment area services the pool users. “The loft is also multipurpose,” says the architect. “It can be used as a sleeping quarter for the kids.” An exterior staircase gives upstairs occupants egress to the garage without having to disrupt a party downstairs.

The main living space is marked by 10-foot ceilings and a durable wood beadboard wainscot salvaged from the main house renovation, while a reclaimed floor offers a durable surface for damp feet.

Located about 60 miles outside of Washington, the house references the rural barns and outbuildings of the area in massing and in material selection. The client and the architect, however, wanted a modern interpretation of the vernacular. In lieu of wood, the architect clad the house in crisp, maintenance-free fiber cement. Weather-resistant ipe lines the deck, and a standing seam metal roof tops the structure. A coat of clean white paint helps the retreat stand out.

Category: Outbuilding; Entrant/Architect: archimania, Memphis, Tenn.; Builder: Levick Construction, Sperryville, Va.; Landscape architect: Planterra, Washington


In an age when pastiche dominates suburban housing, it is refreshing to see a building with pure and simple architectural forms. That was no accident, says architect Todd Walker. “What builders should take away from this house is that a subdued, simple project can make a statement. You don't have to do a lot to get good architecture.” Sometimes all it takes is a slightly different application of a standard material—in this case fiber-cement siding. Instead of installing it in the typical shiplap style, Walker turned the 4-inch boards vertically and butted them together. The painted white boards don't scream for attention, but their vertical orientation does command a second look.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Memphis, TN.