As Timothy Zingg was building his new modern-design house overlooking Byrd Park in the past two years, one question he said he kept getting from passers-by on the street otherwise lined with century-old homes was: “Is this a house?”
The rectangular-shaped structure at 810 Westover Road, facing the park’s Shields Lake, could have been mistaken for an office building as Zingg and collaborator Chris Wolf were overseeing construction, doing a lot of the hands-on work themselves, they said.
“I get it,” Zingg said of the recurring question. “Most of the time, it just looked like big rectangles of voids, open spaces, which in theory it is. But once you get into it and once you start to feel and walk around the house, you start to understand it and it becomes more comfortable and more cozy.”
The duo behind 7 Doors, a local design shop ranging from homes and interiors to furniture design and fabrication, recently listed the 4,600-square-foot house with an asking price of just under $2 million.
They listed it with Remington Rand of Rand Properties, who said the price tag takes into account the time and expense put into the project, as well as a lack of comparable homes in the area. While some modern-design homes have popped up in the neighborhood in recent years, Rand described the Westover house as without peer.
“The house doesn’t really have any other comparable properties in the city,” he said. “When you look at the location, the amount of capital that was put into it, including how expensive the lot was to begin with, you have to start recognizing that we are unique and we are the comparable house.
“We needed to put it in a place where it was going to get the job done but also set the bar for what the Richmond real estate market is willing to do for a unique, modern, one-of-a-kind house.”
Years in the making
The house represents a trial run of sorts for Zingg, a Chesterfield native with a background in restaurants whose interest in interior design has led him toward homebuilding.
Having designed and built another modern-style house on Hillwood Road in the West End that he makes his residence, Zingg, 51, said he originally eyed the Westover lot for his home but ended up holding onto it until the real estate market picked up. He and his wife purchased the land in 2006 from local contractor David Gammino, whose residence next door had included the lot.
City property records show the lot was purchased for $300,000. The latest city assessment valued the 0.35-acre property and house at $1.02 million.
Zingg said he had helped Gammino renovate his home when the opportunity arose to purchase the lot, which he said Gammino had been eyeing for a house flip. Zingg said he valued the lot for its view of the park and initially envisioned it for a more-traditional architecture style.
“We were getting ready to go to permit with it, and I just didn’t want to do it,” Zingg said. “In my heart, I wanted to do a modern house, so we decided to scrap that project after a year of development and go with modern.”
Working with Wolf, 39, a local architect whose experience includes a stint at Midlothian-based Balzer and Associates, Zingg said they designed the two-story house to take advantage of the view of the park and surrounding trees, with lots of floor-to-ceiling glass and windows bringing in plenty of natural light.
Zingg said the design mixes several architectural styles, including International, Bauhaus and Mid-Century Modern, with large-scale, linear spaces accentuated with high ceilings and oversized doors, and detailed minimally with wood furniture that he and Wolf designed and built largely themselves.
“Flow and layout were really the most important things for us,” Zingg said. “Knowing a family is going to buy the house, it was important for me for that family to really be able to engage that park every day, from almost anywhere, because that’s what that lot is about: the park.
“The last thing you want to do is close that off, so we didn’t have to think about it much,” he said. “It was meant to be glass, and we just had to figure out how to get as much glass as we could in a house and still make it elegant and inviting and warm.”
Warmth is achieved literally through the home’s concrete floors, which are heated along with an attached two-car garage. LED lighting and other systems controllable by phone are used in the home, which includes a sprinkler system and backup generator.
Pullout cabinets in the kitchen are camouflaged in the walls, and the upstairs is filled with three bedrooms and bathrooms. An additional bedroom and bath are located downstairs, on the other side of a covered patio and courtyard that the horseshoe-shaped floor plan wraps around.
While Zingg and Wolf contracted out certain parts of the project that required more hands, they said they handled the bulk of construction themselves with help from friends and colleagues, hence the amount of time put into the project. While construction started in 2017, they said design work began three years before that.
Having self-funded the project, Zingg said how it sells could determine if more home collaborations are in his and Wolf’s future.
“We just have to see how this one goes,” he said.
Since listing the house April 26, Rand said he’s received some inquiries and lined up appointments to view the property. He created a website to market the house, which he’s targeting to out-of-towners from New York or the West Coast who may be more familiar with modern-style homes.
Modern-design homes have been popping up in unexpected places in Richmond of late, with several developers fitting the style into established neighborhoods.
In and around the Fan, developer Bill Chapman added a row of modern homes along a stretch of Floyd Avenue, while Danny Meyer of Dallan Construction tucked six modern-design townhomes between two alleys near Cary Street Station. Daniel & Co. is planning a similar infill development consisting of 18 modern townhomes at Cary Street and Shields Avenue.
Put on the market April 27, the Westover house joins a select group of Richmond-area listings priced at or above $2 million.
They include a West End house owned by members of Richmond’s Valentine family that recently was listed at $2.49 million. Last week, a 5,200-square-foot Tudor-style house on Riverside Drive hit the market at $3.19 million, while the 10,000-square-foot Windemere mansion at 5501 Cary Street Road was listed in April at $3.4 million.