Sometimes it’s necessary to step outside the box a little in order to get a client what they want. That’s exactly what Mark Kohler and his team at Kohler Homes did in order to give this Clifton, Va. family the addition they wanted. With a creative design, Kohler Homes added needed space without upsetting water drainage on the property.
Challenged with a natural swale that wasn’t to be disrupted, Mark Kohler’s group had to figure out how to build a $600,000 addition that would include a living room, master suite, office, deck and add more basement space to the carriage house. Luckily, this is what Mark loves to do and by developing a plan to platform the living room over the swale he was able to bridge the old and the new for this home.
“I grew up with my dad as an architect and he actually tried to discourage me from becoming an architect,” says Mark Kohler, president and CEO of Kohler Homes and Kohler Associates Architects. “Ever since we were little kids we were building tree and underground forts. We had a shop at our house and whenever I wasn’t at school I was building something.
After three weeks in architecture school I just loved it and never looked back. I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Kohler Enterprises, started in 1963 by Mark’s dad, Karl Kohler, specialized in design-build at a time when it was frowned upon by the American Institute of Architects. “Of course Thomas Jefferson did the same thing, so that’s come about full circle,” adds Kohler
Kohler Homes spun off as sort of an extension of Kohler Enterprises in the early ’90s. That way Mark Kohler would have exclusive ownership of the company and it allowed his father to retire. No money had to exchange hands and Mark could continue doing what he was doing.
Until 1990 or so Kohler Homes, a Class A general contracting company, did a mixture of light commercial and residential, then after the recession of 1990/1991 the company made the switch over to all residential work. “Kohler Homes is the company where we construct our projects,” explains Mark. “It’s a design-build company and even though we don’t build every project, we built about 90 percent of them.”
Kohler Homes generally builds 15 to 20 projects a year. Out of those, there are usually two or three custom homes, with the rest of the work usually in high-end additions and renovation projects.
Bridging the Gap
Mark met the owners of the project, David and Phylicia Wright, at a home show and through a big renovation Kohler Homes did for David’s business partner. When they decided to move forward with the project, Dave contacted Mark with some preliminary drawings of what he was thinking about. Dave is president of a large masonry company, specializing in commercial work, so he wanted to do the masonry work on his home but have the rest of it contracted out. After meeting and liking Mark’s ideas, Dave hired Kohler Homes as an architect to take the home to the next level.
Dave had built his carriage house home when working for a contractor in the early 90s. The existing three-bedroom house was originally constructed as a carriage house to serve a future estate home that would be located further up the hill on the property. After the contractor went belly up, the property was sold at auction and Dave bought the property. After living in the house with his family for many years, Dave felt it was time to look at expanding the existing house.
With the Wright’s desire to expand, they wanted a new family room area, an entry that would bring people into the house instead of just walking in the door and something that would also integrate the carriage house into the new proposed addition.
So as part of the new layout Kohler Homes designed a stone tower with a copper roof that included an all wood look on the inside for the entry feature. From there the team went on to create the family room, new master bedroom suite and an office for Dave.