Classic Chameleon


HomeHome / Blog / Classic Chameleon

Mar 23, 2024

Classic Chameleon

Designer Annie Frankfort’s stately, supremely comfortable family home | Photos by Ansel Olson by Kim Catley August 8, 2023 9:20 AM 1 of 9 The cabinets have a simple profile yet maintain a classic

Designer Annie Frankfort’s stately, supremely comfortable family home | Photos by Ansel Olson

by Kim Catley

August 8, 2023

9:20 AM

1 of 9

The cabinets have a simple profile yet maintain a classic image. The brick fireplace walls, originally part of a small den, were painted to match. The leather and brass pendant lights are by Studio McGee.

2 of 9

The form of the plaster range hood and the stone Stoke shelf were inspired by historic architectural elements. The walls and range hood are painted Sherwin-Williams Swiss Coffee.

3 of 9

Frankfort updated the classic brick facade with a coating of white paint, added a new steel-framed front door crafted by Wellborn & Wright, cleared the exterior sightlines, and added a driveway.

4 of 9

Frankfort says they rescued the antique workbench — which once belonged to her great-grandparents — from its moldy state after discovering it in a shed at her parents’ house.

5 of 9

Old Mill thin brick provides a durable surface in this high-traffic area. The mudroom cabinets are by Modernboy Woodshop.

6 of 9

Farrow & Ball Pett high-gloss paint adds a little drama and a little shine to this hidden feature.

7 of 9

The designer added molding above and below the chair rail to create depth and streamlined the original crystal chandelier by removing some of the crystal drops. Farrow & Ball’s Bancha Estate Emulsion, a vellum-like flat-finish paint on the walls, ceiling and woodwork, unifies the space.

8 of 9

The design of the floating mahogany vanity is a nod to one Frankfort’s parents had made in the early 1990s that was also designed by Modernboy Woodshop. The shower walls are tiled in Clé zellige, handmade Moroccan tiles.

9 of 9

To get it up the stairs and into the primary bedroom, the iron canopy bed was disassembled and then re-welded in place.

When interior designer Annie Frankfort and her husband, Stuart, decided to move away from the Fan, they set out to find a home that remained largely untouched since its construction — a solidly built house with great character and good bones.

Eventually, they stumbled on a stately colonial on Cary Street Road. The home was built in 1959 and purchased by the University of Richmond in the late 1970s. It served as the longtime residence of the university’s former president, E. Bruce Heilman, who died in 2019. When the Frankforts purchased the house in May 2020, it was sitting vacant and unused.

Frankfort, the owner of Frankfort Design, loved the rich history of the home — its roots in academia and its place at the center of the Heilman family. She says it also featured several “secret touches,” like a “Mad Men”-esque bar hidden in one of the rooms.

Above all, she adds, “It was a blank slate to enact my design vision for our family and the narrative of how we wanted to live in the house.”

The Frankforts spent two months removing carpets, replacing major systems and adding a laundry room while they refined the design. Then, they moved into the basement for a yearlong renovation that concluded in August 2022.

When approaching the home’s design, Frankfort says she turned her attention to the backyard and worked her way forward. One of their first decisions: replacing a patio door and window with a dramatic folding glass wall from NanaWall, creating seamless movement between the kitchen and the porch.

They built the porch to match the dimensions of the kitchen, further reinforcing the link between the two spaces. A 108-inch outdoor dining table sits parallel to the kitchen table inside, while a pair of couches establishes a nearby seating area.

“We wanted to be true to its place on Cary Street, with a classic, demure front,” Frankfort says, “but it’s a party in the back when we open up the accordion doors.”

Designer Annie Frankfort preps the table for a family event. The pergola is the same height as the interior ceiling, creating a true indoor-outdoor extension. The flowers are from Dragonswood Farm and River City Flower Exchange.

Inside, Frankfort removed a wall between the kitchen and den to construct an open and airy kitchen with plenty of morning light.

“It was a small kitchen and very chopped up. There were no sightlines through it,” she says. “We didn’t need a formal living room, but having a large kitchen that flowed into the backyard and that was easy to entertain in — that was important.”

The centerpiece of the kitchen is a 48-inch range with a plaster hood, pot filler and quartzite slab backsplash to match the countertops from Brazilian Best Granite. Atop the backsplash is a stone ledge — a classic element Frankfort says can turn a salt-and-pepper shaker set into a work of art. Custom cabinetry in a deep blue by Paul Borzelleca of Modernboy Woodshop in Staunton completes the space.

While Frankfort designed the home around the kitchen and porch, every room received the same attention to detail. In the primary bathroom, brass faucets are mounted directly into the Arctic Carrara marble backsplash, while finger pulls on the cabinet and glass shower doors create a clean, streamlined effect.

It’s an easy house to live in and to entertain in, and we want to enjoy all of it.

—Annie Frankfort

The dining room, which Frankfort affectionately calls the “coffee corner,” nods to the home’s ties to the University of Richmond. The walls, ceiling, trim and molding are painted a solid matte green from Farrow & Ball, meant to convey the dark aesthetic of an academic library. The room is furnished with a Danish midcentury table and chairs from Frankfort’s godmother and a light fixture original to the home, updated with a new chain.

Frankfort encourages her clients to begin any project with a deep understanding of the natural flow of their home and how they move through it. Nothing embodies this concept better than the mudroom Frankfort built in the empty space between the house and the garage.

“It had been the back door [at one point] and was a natural place to come up to the house, even when there was no opening there,” she says.

She outfitted the mudroom with an easy-to-clean brick floor and individual lockers and cubbies for each family member. These “visual cues,” Frankfort says, foster an intuitive sense of organization and prevent clutter in other areas of the home.

“We wanted to make beautiful spaces that we use,” Frankfort says. “It’s an easy house to live in and to entertain in, and we want to enjoy all of it.”

by Kim Catley

August 8, 2023

9:20 AM