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With Middle Tennessee’s hot summer climate by day and more comfortable temperatures by night, we look to the luxury of indoor-outdoor living to beat the heat while enjoying the season’s long and lazy days. It is that desired luxury that fueled a local family’s decision to add an all-season porch to their Green Hills home.

The homeowners turned to boutique design-build firm Van Mol Restoration, who worked with CDP Architecture, to create the final product. They honed in on a Jeffersonian approach as an homage to the client’s alma mater, University of Virginia, and had an octagonal screened porch built that blends seamlessly with the home’s existing traditional style.

University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s, and he designed the original buildings on the university’s grounds, an example of great American architecture. Van Mol’s design team aimed to capture the celebrated designs of the late architect and politician with an octagonal shape reminiscent of Monticello and Poplar Forest with elements of architecture found at the university. With the renowned school grounds as muse, the porch is outfitted with red brick, arches and white columns, and it encourages you to sit and stay awhile, no matter the temperature or time of year.

The style of this alfresco addition is inspired by Thomas Jefferson and his neoclassical style of architecture that the homeowner fondly remembers from her days at University of Virginia. It is the use of red brick, white columns and arches that celebrate this style.

With the rotunda and surrounding pavilions that sit at the north end of campus on the lawn, the university is a historic beauty that captivates onlookers. Living on the grounds and among the timeless architecture is something students, such as this homeowner, hold dear.

Stretching out from the rotunda and the central part of campus, gardens were designed as working gardens but were converted into ornamental ones. The university gardens were a meaningful consideration in the overall project design, and the homeowner (who loved studying in the gardens as a student) found it critical to create a garden gate for her home. “Each of the 10 pavilion gardens is unique in design, including its garden gate,” she tells us. “The serpentine walls that enclose them make for a very private and peaceful retreat right in the center of campus. While we opted not to build serpentine walls, we definitely wanted a garden gate. I snapped a photo of one of my favorite gates when we were back on the grounds for my reunion a few years ago. When it came time to think about the entry into our backyard, I knew I wanted to replicate this gate.”

Within the octagonal design, the layout features living and dining areas. Below the porch, the builders incorporated a game room that is accessed via a spiral staircase.

Inspired by the neoclassical style railings that run along the upper balcony of each pavilion on the lawn at University of Virginia, the homeowner requested a similar design for the custom railings and porch doors. Additionally, arches and columns emphasize the architectural style and as they are two elements often used by Jefferson in his designs.

An untrained eye has a hard time differentiating between the old and the new architecture of the home and screened porch. The porch and lower-level entertainment area blend seamlessly with the home’s traditional bones while introducing hallmarks of Jeffersonian design.

The spiral staircase leads from the porch to a game room below.

Although miles away from the grounds of her beloved alma mater, the homeowner can enjoy the university’s features that she remembers so fondly — including the notable architecture and the peaceful gardens.

Mike Field, the project manager, built this gate as a replica of the homeowner’s favorite gate from UVA.

Beyond the traditional design that pays respect to the university, the clients were looking for a simple space to enjoy a cocktail in the evening and warm up by the fireplace during cooler months. “They were looking for a place that allowed them to spend time outside, but that was still part of their home,” Van Mol founder Derek Van Mol explains. The porch features the requisite living and dining areas and is further enhanced by an all-brick fireplace and a sky-high ceiling. “My favorite part of this project is bringing outdoor living spaces to life. Harnessing natural light and fresh air has never been more enjoyable or important for people,” he says regarding the current shift in how people live in their homes. “We have had the opportunity to be more visionary than ever. Homeowners have more time for the projects that have been hanging on the back burner for months or years. But most importantly, people want their house to be enjoyable in all of the nooks and crannies these days.”

The removal of a walnut tree was necessary to make way for the new porch, but the wood will be used to build a table that will live on the porch.

The porch will continue to experience heavy foot traffic during the long days of the season, and the popularity of the space will remain even as the temperatures drop.

The custom project was finished just in time for summer, and the Jeffersonian style brought the homeowner’s daydreams of her beloved university to life. All that is left is to enjoy every minute of indoor-outdoor living.

Learn more about Van Mol Restoration at vanmolrestoration.com.

This article is sponsored by Van Mol Restoration. All photos provided by Van Mol Restoration. All photography by Shannon Fontaine.