Joanne Fitzgerald’s keen design sensibilities stood her in good stead when she first saw the 1926 row house on Capitol Hill. With interiors painted from top to bottom in what she describes as “Pepto-Bismol pink,” the dark, outdated abode had never been renovated—yet she could see that it perfectly met the requirements she and her then-fiancé, Russell Banks, had for the home they hoped to find in DC.
“We bought it because it still had all the original architectural features,” she explains. “We wanted a house that hadn’t had the soul taken out of it.”
Fitzgerald and Banks, who works as a personal trainer, happily embarked on a yearlong renovation that would bring the three-bedroom house up to date while preserving the features they loved. Rooms were repurposed, doorways enlarged and the kitchen and bathrooms overhauled. A ramshackle, eight-foot-deep, two-story sleeping porch off the back was replaced with a 23-foot-deep, two-story addition comprising a family room on the ground level with a master suite above. These airy, open spaces brought much-needed light to the existing 1,250-square foot structure.
The couple was determined to hold onto architectural details—even reinstalling an exterior door and window in their original location in the kitchen, where they now overlook the family room. French doors that once opened to the sleeping porch upstairs now lead to the family room. Broken panes were replaced by old glass sourced from a salvage shop in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Banks stripped and refinished all the original window frames, doors (16 altogether), transoms and moldings. He painstakingly restored each architectural element by hand—including the bannister and stair rail, “which took about 100 hours,” recounts Fitzgerald. It’s now natural-wood colored with a clear finish, and a prominent design element in the foyer. “I focus a lot on the details,” Banks says of his labors. “It’s the restoration of everything to its original condition.”
Visitors to the house walk through a front garden designed and planted by Fitzgerald, and past the white-trimmed porch, which provides a crisp contrast to the deep blue-gray brick exterior—once a dingy brown hue. Inside a modern front door of sapele wood and cross-reeded glass, the dining room (formerly the living room) lies to the right through a doorway that has been widened by 30 inches. A narrow hall leads straight ahead past the staircase to the kitchen and the family-room addition beyond.
The original kitchen measured only six feet wide, so removing the wall that separated it from the adjacent dining room was imperative. The basement stairs also shifted from their location under the main staircase. “It was important we capture the stairway space for kitchen storage,” Fitzgerald notes. A low closet under the stairs is unobtrusively tucked behind a wallpapered door, and the built-in fridge occupies the spot next to it.
Fitzgerald paired UltraCraft cabinetry in a sleek, bamboo finish with crisp, white quartz countertops. However, the encaustic floor tiles are the star of the room. “I had been pining for them for years, since visiting Brazil where they’re everywhere,” the designer comments. “I chose a Moroccan pattern because it was a transitional look, since our style is both traditional and modern.”
The bold, red-and-white floor meant Fitzgerald had to be careful with the backsplash, which combines marble subway tile with narrow glass tile in vibrant red. “I was going to do a random pattern on the whole wall, but with the floor I realized it would be too busy,” she says. Instead, the red tiles, installed in a jagged-edge motif, create a focal point above the range. “The tile installer had to cut every single stone to fit the edges,” she recalls ruefully. “It was a big job.”
The family room now houses a stairway to the basement, as well as a wall of floor-to-ceiling French doors opening out to a Brazilian teak deck. Upstairs, the airy master bedroom boasts matching French doors opening to a false Juliet balcony of wrought iron.
Fitzgerald’s eclecticism is reflected in the home’s art, furniture and finishes, which blend antique, contemporary and ethnic pieces with a wonderfully collected result. “I like spaces to look evolved over time,” she says.
A plush, chenille wall covering by Romo in the dining room provides the backdrop for a contemporary Modloft table and transitional chairs in felt upholstery. Linen Romo draperies frame the windows. In the family room, an engineered-wood floor is wire-brushed and stained dark to match the home’s original pine floors. A reupholstered sectional from Tomlinson and Baker chairs offer space to gather.
Art, sculpture and textiles lend color, texture and interest throughout. The collection speaks to Fitzgerald’s affinity for art and imparts a strong sense of her style. The house is exactly what the now-married couple wanted. “The goal,” says the designer, “was to feel at home.”
Photographer David Burroughs is based in Annapolis.
INTERIOR DESIGN & CONTRACTING: Joanne Fitzgerald, Gatéga Interior Design, Washington, DC.
DINING ROOM Table: modloft.com. Chairs: aidangrayhome.com. Art on Wall: Gary Pettigrew. Sculptures in Corner: Antique Man/Woman Green through thephillipscollection.org. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Wallpaper: omexco.com through romo.com. Drapes: markalexander.com through romo.com.
KITCHEN Cabinetry: ultracraft.com through prokitchenandbath.com. Countertops: Snow White Quartz through alpinestoneusa.com. Bull Painting: katiepumphrey.com. Faucet: latoscanacollection.com. Pendant Lights: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Stools: ericbrand.com. Stool Upholstery: kirkbydeisgn.com through romo.com. Cement Tile: villalagoontile.com. Appliances: thermador.com through abwappliances.com. Wall Tile: Royal Satin white marble through tileshop.com. Backsplash Tile: missionstonetile.com.
FAMILY ROOM Blue Armchairs: americanleather.com. Upholstery: Lambswool through romo.com. Chair Pillows: leejofa.com. Painting over Blue Chairs: nancymcintyrestudio.com. Bench by Sectional. Antique. Sectional: tomlinsoncompanies.com. Sectional Fabric: romo.com. Drapes: markalexander.com for romo.com Throw on Sectional: Alpaca through imagine-home.com. Temple Figures by Stairs: antint.com. Floor Lamp: tracygloverstudio.com. Coffee Table by Sectional: globalviews.com. Rug: Owners’ collection. Figures by Window: Wood, papier maché. TV Cabinet: crofthouse.com. Metal-Framed Chairs: bakerfurniture.com
MASTER BEDROOM Bedstead: restorationhardware.com. Bedding: callistohome.com. Starburst Mirror: arteriorshome.com. Nightstand to Right of Bed: Antique.Nightstand to Left of Bed: woodbridgefurniture.com. Bedside Lamps: curreycodealers. Walnut Floor: American walnut through lumberliquidators.com. Rug by Loveseat: Owners’ collection. Painting over Loveseat: Artist Unknown. Loveseat: Custom by stewartfurniture.com. Loveseat Fabric: romo.com. Drapes: markalexander.com for romo.com. Micro Welt: leejofa.com. Crystal Chandelier: nibahome.com.