Friday, December 1, 2023

Where We Live: A Carlton Abbott-designed home near William & Mary

Lee Kostel always liked acclaimed Williamsburg-based artist and architect Carlton Abbott’s work, so much so that she hired him to design her contemporary home some 20 years ago.

For those who may not know, Abbott’s renowned career has spanned decades and produced more than 100 award-winning pieces of art. He was recently recognized by the Virginia Arts Commission as a recipient of the “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration” award. To recognize his achievements, the City of Williamsburg and Williamsburg Regional Library, working with Triangle Arts & Culture League Inc., will honor Abbott’s career and his award with a solo exhibition at the Stryker Center through the end of November.

The home Abbott built for his father, Stanley, an accomplished landscape architect known for his visionary work on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Queens Lake neighborhood has won awards and was featured in Southern Living. There is no shortage of talent in the Abbott family.

Kostel knew Abbott would be the perfect person to design her home, so she contacted him in 1996 when she and her late husband, Harry, decided to move from Newport News to Williamsburg. Both Lee and Harry were graduates of the College of William & Mary and were very active in alumni and athletic programs.

“Even though we lived in Newport News, I felt like we really never left Williamsburg because we were always at the college for so many events,” Kostel said.

The Kostels found the perfect lot off Indian Springs Road, only a short walk from the historic area and the university. Located on a small hill and surrounded by foliage, the location was ideal and offered both privacy and easy access to college functions.

Kostel gave Abbott only a few parameters when it came to the design of the home. She wanted something that could “sit in any place in the world and look like it belonged there.”

“I think he achieved that,” she said.

Kostel also wanted the downstairs to serve more as a recreational area for visiting family and future grandkids and for the upstairs to be more formal. The home was also designed to serve as an amazing entertaining space.

“It has a wonderful flow, especially now that I have the courtyard out front,” said Lee.

Several sets of glass doors not only let in a lot of natural light into the upstairs, but they also make it easy for guests to move in and out of the indoor/outdoor spaces. When hosting events for the college, Kostel recalls having musicians play in the private courtyard while a bartender served drinks on the back patio.

In addition to the stellar outdoor space, the inside is just as remarkable. The nearly 4,000-square-foot home features four bedrooms, six gas fireplaces, heart pine flooring and high, vaulted ceilings.

Lee’s favorite room, however is the kitchen. In addition to a large island perfect for entertaining, there’s plenty of space to cook and built-in cabinetry offers plenty of room to store gadgets and cookware. A gas fireplace, eat-in area and skylights make it all the more inviting.

What really draws you in is the architecture and ease of design throughout the home.

“I’ve had some people tell me it reminds them of a Japanese farmhouse,” Kostel said.

The home continues the international feel into the courtyard with beautiful Italian cypresses. The evergreens are native to the eastern Mediterranean region and are an idyllic addition to the outdoor space.

For the past 20 years, Kostel has enjoyed everything about the home. She’s had grandchildren take advantage the spacious downstairs, dinner parties, and even had the opportunity to share her space with graduate students at the college looking for a quiet home close to campus.

Having recently moved into Williamsburg Landing, Kostel has put the home on the market.

“It’s such a beautiful home, and I hope the next owner will enjoy it as much as my family and I did,” Kostel said. “It’s timeless.”

More information about the home can be found online.





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