The word “retreat” has both negative and positive connotations. In conflict, retreat can indicate a weak position, or retreat. But even then, the decline offers the opportunity to recover, to cut costs, and to recalibrate. If we’re lucky, our home is a trusted sanctuary – a place to restore spirit and reconnect with loved ones.
Mitish and Nima Amin believe in the concept of home as a retreat. Years ago, the couple built a home on the banks of the James River, away from the hustle and bustle of their city jobs. As their children grew older and more involved with school and extracurriculars, the Amin family realized that family time was happening in the car, not in their home. So, they decided to make a change.
They found a plot of land in the suburbs in a neighborhood close to their kids’ school, and went back to the architect who designed their first home: Mike Foltz, principal of McAllister + Foltz Architecture PC. “This last home was incredibly practical,” says Nima. “Fortunately, this home is just as practical.”
The Amin family kept the contemporary style they favored, but changed the layout to make full use of the roughly acre plot. The new home is not on the water, but has privacy in the back thanks to the mature trees. Balconies attached to the master suite and children’s bedrooms overlook a spacious outdoor living area, which includes an indoor pool, hot tub, pool house, fire pit, and deck, in a prime location to promote cluster gatherings. The covered outdoor kitchen, located just steps away from the main cooking space, is a family favourite.
“We used it all summer last year, even if we were just grilling a few vegetables,” says Nehme.
The house itself, which began construction in the fall of 2020 and finished in the spring of 2022, has five levels. The main floor contains the kitchen, living and dining rooms, study space, and in-laws suite. Going upstairs, there is a half floor containing an in-house gym and lounge with an attached deck. The entire upper floor contains three bedrooms and a laundry room, and the upper floor is dedicated to the master suite. The lower level is all about fun: a regulation-sized squash court hosts matches between Mitch and the kids, while the cinema hall is perfect for showing movies with family or friends.
The family managed to move a lot of their furniture into their new home and decided to use Sherwin-Williams Pure White for most of the walls, with accent colors in muted natural tones. “It has this feeling that it’s also modern and earthy, comfortable and organic,” says Nemah.
This home is all about textures and layers. … It’s a clean palette and feels very calm.
– Melissa Molitor
Wood, stone, metal, and glass also feature prominently. Expansive windows throughout are framed in black metal, as are glass balustrades. The floors are made of wood and stone, and flow seamlessly into one another. Dark vertical wood slats define the entry and dining spaces, and highlight the 24-foot ceiling in the family room. Stone and pottery planters line swathes of walls and decorate wooden shelves.
In the upstairs lounge, a slate wall behind the bar has been resin treated and then peeled off, creating an irregular finish that gives the impression of clouds floating on top. Standing against the wall is a bold 8-foot bronze island, with a gleaming brass finish. In the dining room, the brass finish of the chandelier matches the chair legs, offsetting the table’s dark bronze base.
Designer Melissa Molitor, who worked with Nima on the design process and helped choose lighting and fixtures, says the combination supports the home’s natural look. “This house is all about textures and layers,” she says. “We wanted to use patterned accents to stop you and let you rest, so it’s not all white. It’s a clean palette and it feels very calm.”
Additional visual interest is found in the woven chandeliers, especially those above the dining room and kitchen counters, which appear as airy architectural elements. Plush throws and pillows on chairs and sofas throughout the home encourage relaxed, casual living.
“Our children really liked our old house, but they are happy here, in the neighborhood where friends from school live,” says Nima. “Once our kids are out (of the house), we can live in an apartment with a maintenance-free life. But if we want to build a dream home, it has to be done when they live in it.
(tags for translation)homes