Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

James Woodyard's "Casa de Suenos"

If the Eastern Shore used to be a well-kept secret, virtually no one but its inhabitants had ever heard of the small town of Sherwood, Maryland. But that was before Home & Garden Television constructed their seventh annual "Dream House," here encouraging 11.2 million people to vie for ownership in their HGTV 2002 give-away contest.
Washington architect Suman Sorg of Sorg and Associates designed the three bedroom, three and a half bath contemporary dream house and James van Sweden was the landscape architect. In addition to showcasing their professional talents, both Sorg and van Sweden had a personal stake in the home's appearance since each owns neighboring properties. Not surprisingly then, the talented team collaborated to design a coastal retreat that beautifully blends into its natural surroundings.

Together Sorg and van Sweden have achieved the perfect marriage of home and garden for the Home & Garden house by replicating and reinforcing the existing bayfront landscape in their designs. The 2,800 square-foot house sits just 100 feet from the water and is divided into three sections, each with a steep pointed silvery white roof reminiscent of sailboats which appear to float over a meadow in a garden that flows together even as the river flows into the bay and the bay into the ocean. Highlights include a spiral staircase that connects the ground floor with a loft, sliding glass doors that open to the waterfront deck, three fireplaces, blue hardwood floors, a courtyard and a guesthouse.

A Texan named Milton O'Bryant won the HGTV house, but like most of the Dream Home winners before him, he chose to sell his prize rather than assume the enormous tax burden. Enter James Woodyard, president of Communications Development Corp. (TDC) which provides project management services to the District 's Unified Communications Center, IT security to the ATF, and telecommunications training to Verizon. Woodyard needed a place to escape from the fast-paced world of high-speed technology. Since moving to D.C. a few years ago, he had been spending significant sums seeking solace along the Eastern Shore. Ultimately, he decided that as a cost-effective alternative to renting rooms at the Ashby 1663 Bed and Breakfast, "it would pay to have a vacation home."

James Woodyard bought the fully furnished house last August, a few months after O'Bryant won it. Now enjoying his first full summer there, Woodyard makes the 90-minute drive from his home in Adams Morgan most weekends. His parents also vacation here, "with or without me," he says. Other regular guests include his girlfriend and his business partner, TDC's vice-president Roger Richmond and his family. To accommodate still more guests, Woodyard may consider adding another bedroom to the main house or to the existing guesthouse, may construct a pool house with an additional bedroom.

Any other changes he would make to the house itself involve paring down the décor. "It's homey, but not exactly my taste," he explains, noting that "it is over furnished." Consequently, he "jokes about having a HGTV yard sale" and seems quite serious about selling any unnecessary or undesired objects. "There were thirty-six picture frames in the house," he exclaims, giving just one example of a few of the items he could do without. Nonetheless, the successful young executive is comfortable with the interior's contemporary feel. He is happy to report, "it has the same flair and similar finishes (such as concrete countertops) as his renovated brownstone in the District.

Woodyard also designed and built a beautiful infinity pool with three waterfalls, placed exactly where van Sweden's original blueprints indicate a pool should be so that the water within seems to flow into the bay beyond. To further give the impression that the pool is a natural component of the landscape, Woodyard has asked van Sweden "to do the plantings around it" so that it looks more like a pond, and has succeeded in making the pool appear more like a natural swimming hole by lining the sides and bottom with black pebbled tile. The dark interior also has the added benefit of ensuring that the water is warm.

When not playing swimming in the pool or relishing what he describes as "the best sunsets on the Eastern Shore," Woodyard can be found unwinding in his Bowes' home theater enjoying an evening of DVDs and gearing up to oversee his the rapidly expanding young communications technology company.

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