A Potomac couple puts their personal stamp on an older house, updating it to harmonize with their style and its pastoral setting
On a quiet lane in Potomac, past barns, horses grazing in fields and over a little bridge, the home of Rick and Kristy Schultz sits nestled among mature trees. The gracious two-story residence is welcoming and boasts an architectural presence befitting a large rural property. But it hasn’t always looked this way.
Rick, who works in private wealth management, and Kristy, a homemaker, bought the house for $1.8 million in 2010 and then spent considerable time, effort and resources remaking it. “We were living in Darnestown, but our kids were in private school in Potomac, so we wanted to be closer in,” Kristy says. They toured many newer houses, but were dissatisfied with all of the “cookie-cutter” designs. When they found the Cape Cod tucked into a private wooded lot of more than 2 acres, the search was over. “The location was unbeatable,” Rick says. “It’s like a little preserve right in the middle of Potomac.”
The quaint house was built in 1988, and it needed a lot of work to accommodate the new owners and their three growing children. The original 6,500-square-foot floor plan divided the space into small rooms, and the house lacked light, views and a connection to the pool and the trees. “The surroundings are so attractive, but we couldn’t really see them from inside,” Rick says.
The couple never considered razing the house, but a major renovation was always in the cards. “It was too cute to tear down—although it would have been quicker,” Kristy says with a laugh. They lived in the house for a year before embarking on a two-phase, $1.6 million remodeling project that was completed in 2014.
Kristy grew up in Potomac, and Rick is originally from New York City, but the Schultzes both have an affinity for all things Southern. “We love everything from the people, to the food, the culture and the weather,” says Kristy, who graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans. They are big country music fans, all three children now attend universities in the South, and they’ve even purchased a second home in Charleston, South Carolina.
So the directive was clear when the couple enlisted Jim Rill of Rill Architects in Bethesda to articulate their vision of a Southern country home with a sense of history and character. “It’s an amazing lot that deserved an amazing piece of architecture,” Rill says. “The front facade needed more drama, something that would give it a visual impact on arrival.”
Rill replaced the original stoop with a two-story entry portico that features Tuscan columns and a balcony, reminiscent of the Greek Revival style. To add some visual depth to the exterior and complement the environment, the siding was painted a rich blue, and the shutters and new double front doors were stained in warm wood tones. Rill also expanded the home with first- and second-floor additions and porches that bridge the gap between indoors and out.
Even though the house is larger now, at just over 11,000 square feet, the couple says it feels like a comfortable family home. The renovation team, which included builder Conrad Zink of Bethesda-based Zink Construction, made a conscious effort to keep the scale of the new parts consistent with the existing house. The Schultzes wanted all the bells and whistles of a new home—a gourmet kitchen, luxurious master suite, and plenty of entertaining areas—while avoiding an overblown look and feel. “We didn’t want to overdo it,” Rick says. “We wanted to keep it cozy.”