This light-filled quasi modular house design inspires DMV residents to add their own color to a blank canvas.
Seventy years ago, architect Charles M. Goodman’s firm Hollin Hills set out to reshape the future of modern home design in the D.C. area. Their premise: The families of tomorrow wanted more democratic, sensible designs — some that could be easily scaled up or down.
Harnessing Hollin Hills as a laboratory, Goodman aspired to shake up suburban living with homes that infused the flexibility, adaptability and simplicity of Japanese modular design. The blueprint was for well-appointed dwellings unique for their open floor plans, pitched roofs, brick chimneys, exposed wood frames, generous tree scaping, minimally graded land and — most distinctively — floor-to-ceiling garage style windows orientated to optimize sunlight.
Ultimately, Goodman built 900 or so of these homes in the DMV. They exist as coveted, niche suburban real estate.
Silver Spring couple Nikita Purdy and Laura McConnaughy invited us to tour one of Goodman’s original creations — a place they’ve called home for over a year.
The couple says the house perfectly matches their lifestyle, though it was sheer luck that it came to be in their possession. In December 2021, the home was sold to a different buyer, but unforeseen circumstances led them to put it back on the market quickly.
In January 2022, after just five days of searching for homes in the D.C. area, Purdy made an offer on the Goodman home and went under contract. She and McConnaughy moved in and made it their own — and it’s in this same space they will say their vows in August.
“I loved the high ceilings,” Purdy says. “I loved the simplicity of the black and white throughout the house. I also loved the amount of light this house gets.”
Transitioning from a one-bedroom apartment, Purdy wanted a place that was manageable in size and where everything, including their community, flowed organically throughout. Plus, she points out, there’s an extra bedroom that leaves space for their family to grow.
“I strive for the house to be simple: classic, but also very inviting,” Purdy says. “I want people to come in and feel like they can grab a drink on their own or sit wherever they want. This house is also their house when they come here.”
Purdy also sought an aesthetically pleasing habitat, both in physical design and as a blank slate of sorts, which they could fill with a modest collection of knick-knacks, plant life, artwork and furniture, like their sumptuous grass-green velvet couch and chaise. It’s a gorgeous centerpiece.
McConnaughy agrees with Purdy, noting how easy it was to make their home distinct from similar Goodman structures nearby.
“There’s probably 20 or 30 [Goodman homes] in a four-block radius,” McConnaughy says. “They’re the same, but they’re all slightly different. It’s such a simple design, but there’s a lot of opportunity to make it your own.”
As an example, McConnaughy points out the stained-glass artist next door who’s put a unique imprint on their own Goodman home.
Purdy and McConnaughy’s cozy abode blends various expressions of feminist and masculine energy and influence: a colorful and vivacious painting depicting the sundry shapes of women’s breasts, embroidered signs, a race car print, snake plants, candles, one well-loved brown leather office chair, textured dining chairs, an elegant hand-drawn rendering of their home, two pets (one dog, one cat) and one Progress Pride Flag proudly flown at their front door.
One of their favorite features is a former coat closet turned shallow alcove, where a beautiful mid-century bar cabinet, once belonging to McConnaughy’s grandmother, rests.
Their home remains a work in progress, but it’s perfectly theirs, including a lush but feral backyard they’re hellbent on taming before their wedding day.
The couple is grateful for their slice of Charles Goodman-designed nirvana, where they can occasionally bask in the sun over a glass of early afternoon champagne and take in the neighborhood — as the visionary Goodman intended. Photos by Andrew J. Williams III.
Follow Purdy and McConnaughy’s home journey on Instagram @thecgoodman.
Want to learn more about the many ways to experience life in D.C.? Become a member and support local journalism today.