Caring for a Classic

Frank Lloyd Wright House in Virginia Beach

Frank Lloyd Wright House ImageWhile every home project is important, working on a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Virginia Beach was still special for the technicians of H.J. Holtz & Son. The task – to put it simply – was to refinish and repaint every inch of the home.

The house, built for Andrew & Maude Cooke largely after Frank Lloyd Wright’s death, showcases many of the American architect’s signature features: an irregular and uninterrupted ceiling that floats over room dividers; wood paneling throughout with built-in shelves and furniture; and unexpected angles.

The current owner, who purchased the house in 2016, says his goal was to return the private residence to its original state, but with updated kitchen and bathrooms. “I want to live comfortably,” he says, “but I also want to respect the integrity of the house.”

Respecting the integrity was the focal point for company president Rick Holtz, who began by taking a small sample of paneling from a hidden location behind a bed. Back in Richmond, Holtz experimented with different techniques to find the safest way to remove the varnish and layers of dust that had accumulated over the years.

“The wood just looked old and worn when we started,” Holtz said.

Work initially began on the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Virginia Beach with a liquid stripper. But, Holtz said, the team quickly recommended a different approach.

“The guys realized that using a sander with an attached vacuum was cleaner,” Holtz says. “I thought that was a good suggestion.”

Once the paneling was exposed, the current homeowner decided to keep it simple, opting for a satin finish to let the natural grain shine through. Over six weeks, the team sanded and resealed every inch of wood and also painted the ceiling.

Holtz says that this architectural masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright in Virginia Beach wasn’t treated any differently than any other home project. “This house took a little longer, because we were doing everything,” he notes, adding that the all-wood interior leaves little room for error. “When you’re painting, you can use fillers and caulking to manage imperfections, because it’s covered,” Holtz says. “Here, everything shows.”

The homeowner, who hired H.J. Holtz & Son on the basis of recommendations from Richmond kitchen designer Marvin Daniel (kdwhome.com), could not be happier.

“I had never heard of [H.J. Holtz & Son],” the homeowner says, “but I feel they probably had more respect for my property than I would ever show for it. They were a real class act.”