Bordering a stream in Mclean, Virginia, this green, steep seven-acre lot accommodated an old building known as the Difficult Run Residence. Robert M. Gurney Architect took on the challenge of renovating the construction and extending it with a detached garage and guest house. Additionally, “stone paths and stairways, corten steel walls, gabion stone walls, a swimming pool with an infinity edge, a reflecting pool, terraces, decks, and structured plantings continue to organize the site and provide an abundance of outdoor living spaces.” The simple narrow, meandering driveway on the property was thus replaced by a rich and visually appealing landscaped environment.

Initially built in 1965, the building was gloomy and cluttered: “The space was wrapped in a muted palette of materials including dark flagstone flooring, gray stone walls and fireplaces, and dark wood walls and ceilings. In renovating the main house, all interior finishes were stripped, walls were removed, spaces were opened up and windows were enlarged and replaced, in an effort to reflect the light rather than absorb it. A series of small additions were implemented as required and located within the footprint of the existing roof.” Complex and rejuvenating, the villa is now a holiday-inspiring refuge offering pleasant surprises at every step. [Photography by Maxwell MacKenzie Architectural Photographer]