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This Stunning Renovation Takes Home Recreation to the Next Level

By Michael McCarthy | December 21, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

The architectural team used the home’s design as a design template for the addition.

When Georgetown University and former NBA players are going to occasionally play hoops at your home, the spotlight is on the court—and it better be exceptional. A large Alexandria family (a husband and wife, plus 11 children), who have friends in the NCAA and pro basketball community, wanted to build a recreational space for hoops, volleyball, and weight and cardio workouts. They also wanted the new 1,820-square-foot addition to be flexible enough to host receptions and other large events.

The recreational space entry blends seamlessly with the home.

The couple tapped Marks-Woods Construction Services (, architect Kim Beasley ( and interior designer Gretchen Simon (Pinterest: @gretchensimoninteriors) for the project. Marks-Woods specializes in highend residential renovation projects, from concept to construction. “We get to know clients, not just by project name, but by direct interactions with them and their families,” says Greg Marks, one of the firm’s partners. “Our clients work with the same team on-site while also working directly with all three partners.”

One early design challenge for Beasley: local zoning. Floor area ratio, or FAR, is the sum of all gross horizontal areas under a roof. So, for example, any ceiling height above 15 feet counts double toward the total allowable FAR—which meant the project required a large portion of the roof to be under 15 feet. The ingenious solution? Measure the arc of a basketball shot. Says Marks, “To ensure the space was both up to code and of professional caliber for basketball play, Kim calculated the arc of the average shot to determine maximum height of the vault area. This determined how far the lower portion of the roof could go versus where the vault started.” It worked beautifully.

The court can accommodate basketball and volleyball.

Marks-Woods also had recessed volleyball posts professionally installed into the court slab. Impactresistant drywall also was incorporated around the perimeter of the court, ensuring the walls didn’t dent upon the high impact of game balls or even players. The basketball backboards are custom collegiate-level grade, whose height can be adjusted; the backboard assembly can withstand dunking, since they were tested by the homeowner’s NCAA and pro-level friends.“The gym also needed to house heavy equipment, which required additional reinforcement for the floor system,” says Marks, who adds the equipment had to be installed before the frameless glass enclosure wall made its way into the project.

The space features 15- foot ceilings.

The initial design for the project was created by Beasley, who worked closely with the Marks-Woods team. Beasley says one of his challenges was to ensure the seamless transition from the main home to the recreational space. “The key to achieving a seamless aesthetic was staying faithful to the original home details such as materials, finishes and colors,” he says. “Team effort is everything on a project like this—the homeowner’s vision becomes an architect’s translation, and it’s all brought to life by a good contractor’s construction.”

With the bones of the project in good hands, Simon was brought on board to give the space its look and to streamline functionality. In addition to a place to play and entertain, Simon says the family clients wanted plenty of storage, a second kitchen and wet bar, and an homage to their beloved Georgetown. The latter wish was granted with lots of Hoya Blue on the wet bar by Braemar cabinetry ( and on the basketball court. Simon also incorporated wide-plank porcelain tile by Architectural Ceramics ( to match the court’s hardwood. To ensure uniformity, she used the same trim colors guests will see in the main house.

Braemar custom cabinetry was done in the family’s favorite hue: Georgetown Hoya Blue.

“Our team has had the honor of attending Halloween parties, luaus, graduation parties and other special events in the new space,” says Drew Marks, a Marks-Woods partner and operations manager. “To attend one of these events and see how the space flows and functions is truly gratifying—the family’s dream was unfolding right before our eyes. And even better, the clients couldn’t have been happier.”

Photography by: Jenn Verrier