Hard Bargain prior to construction.  Image Courtesy of Middleditch Realty

Hard Bargain prior to construction.

Image Courtesy of Middleditch Realty


"Hard Bargain"

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1870's home known as Hard Bargain is located in one of Charlottesville's oldest and most historically significant areas.  After remaining empty for a number of years, our clients approached us to transform this weathered beauty into a well-appointed family home. With its prominent siting on one of the largest residential lots in Downtown Charlottesville, this project presented a number of design challenges, including preservation of a centuries-old oak tree at the rear of the existing house. 

While the front portion of the house is an exceptionally crafted example of Italianate Victorian architecture, a slightly younger addition on the rear of the house did not possess quite the charm, historical significance, or quality of the original structure.  In conjunction with the clients and the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review, we decided to surgically remove this addition in order to better highlight the beauty of the main house while paving the way for a new addition that would better compliment the property and realize the clients' desired program. 

Over the last year of construction, the property has seen profound changes and we're excited to share some highlights of the project's progress


Early rendering of finished property

The design process for this project was particularly exciting as we considered the many ways the house could take on new life. This rendering shows one of the early iterations of the current plan. As is evident when compared to the construction progress photo at right, many of the elements from the conceptual schematic design stage were retained through the final design development. 

Renovation progress

A primary goal of the clients was to create as much open flow between landscape and interior of the house as possible, so the addition of a gracious living wing and wraparound porch to the rear of the house allowed us to take advantage of the verdant 5 acre lot.



Historical Details

One of the most exciting things about historical restoration and renovation is the surprise discovery of details that reflect lost-art craftsmanship rarely seen in modern day construction. As an example, the beautiful bay window on the front of the house appeared to be a straightforward three sided bay with well-proportioned interior paneling and detailing. However, as the demolition crew began sanding away the layers of paint, we discovered that the original builder had seamlessly hidden secret shutters within the paneled frames of the windows. As is obvious in the photos below, the level of attention to detail is truly stunning and we were thrilled to find such a unique piece of the architectural history of the house so well-preserved and functional.



The dramatic entry stair was found to be particularly well-maintained and in excellent condition. Many of the original details of the stair, such as the turned newel post and sweeping rail, will be carefully restored to their original condition. A nearly identical stair to the basement of the house was painstakingly removed piece by piece to be reassembled once major construction of the basement spaces is completed.