Home & Design

Show Stopper

Designers revived a Georgian mansion in the 34th Annual NSO Decorators' Show House

Show Stopper
Ayrlawn, a Georgian mansion in Potomac, was site of
the 2006 NSO Show House.

HOME & DESIGN was one of the 2006 sponsors of the annual National Symphony Orchestra Decorators’ Show House, always an anticipated autumn event. The site, a Georgian mansion in Potomac known as Ayrlawn, was built in 1992 by Washington architect Alfredo Echeverria for the former Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States and his wife. The gracious, four-level, 16,672-square-foot residence situated on two wooded acres provided 25 interior and landscape designers ample opportunity to create their magic. As often happens, the finished product was amazingly cohesive; colors flowed, themes intertwined and the spaces seemed harmonious—like a good piece of music. In case you missed it, here are some highlights of what we saw.

Stan Kelly's Stairway.Stairway
Stan Kelly, Stan Kelly Interiors, Washington, DC
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland

Creating a sweeping first impression is the two-story stairway, which brings outdoor elements inside. “It sets the tone and shows off the bones of the house while providing a gathering place for visitors,” explains designer Stan Kelly. The architecture offers a glimpse of the garden beyond the French doors on the main level and through the windows on the landing above. Kelly covered the walls with a green-on-white Farrow & Ball botanical print, which influenced his color choices in the fringed and beaded silk draperies. Further enhancing this enfolding space are an iron settee and a chandelier created from a piece of architectural salvage.
David H. Mitchell's Living Room.Living Room
David H. Mitchell, David H. Mitchell & Associates
Photography: Erik Johnson, Alexandria, Virginia

David Mitchell honed in on a pale, subtle color palette in this comfortable yet elegant living room. Everything was chosen with one objective: making the living room serene. “We are all about serenity, harmony and comfort,” he said of his design focus. As with most of his projects, this one started with the fabric choices: colors and patterns that range from muted designs in off-white and ethereal blue-green to soft pastels and harmonious stripes that add just a touch of spice. Even lighting choices were implemented to accentuate the room’s subtle texture and to soften the graphic edge of the dramatic art Mitchell selected as a visual focal point. The walls mimic a subtle linen texture, which can hide a multitude of imperfections, and provide a backdrop for furniture that includes an unexpected blending of styles, including a Biedermeier pedestal table and Swedish rococo chairs. Windows are lavishly draped in linen with Mitchell’s signature contrasting grosgrain ribbon trim.
Basha White's Dining Room.Dining Room
Basha White, Basha White Interiors, Chevy Chase, Maryland
Photography: Gordon Beall, Bethesda, Maryland

Basha White infused her dining room with glam, but also with great subtlety. Creating a shimmering setting for an elegant dinner started with the walls in a finish by The Valley Craftsmen that took inspiration from silver leafing. Then focusing on the diners, White suspended two six-arm Murano glass chandeliers over two round tables that comprise a versatile seating arrangement accommodating up to 20. The Grecian dining tables by Keith Fritz are finished in honey-tone antiqued pear wood, and are surrounded by inviting Klismos chairs upholstered in coral silk by Jim Thompson. Draperies are elegant yet minimal, while the soft reflective walls are a fitting backdrop for the owners’ collection of art. Other accents, such as bronze metal sculpture, glimmering picture and mirror frames and crystal obelisks, add light-reflective accents and a magical air to the space. Keeping the background simple allows the defining elements of the room to have their place in the spotlight.
Suite Sanctuary by Karen Luria and Starlin Interiors.Suite Sancturary
Karen Luria, Karen Luria Interior; Identity, Alexandria, Virginia, and
Starlin Interiors, Rockville, Maryland
Photography: Lydia Cutter, Arlington, Virginia
Designed to be a contemplative, restful space, the suite sanctuary incorporates natural elements like leopard-skin upholstery, a rosewood table and a garden waterfall for atmosphere. “The combination of harmonious earth-tones and textures illustrates the complexity and color of the fabric of our lives,” says Karen Luria. While recognizing that we live in a world of man-made and natural elements, she attempted to soften the effects of wood, glass and steel in the space by adding the fluidity of the waterfall and the natural beauty of flowers.
The Family Room by Sandra Meyers.

Family Room
Sandra Meyers, Sandra Meyers Design Studio, Rockville, Maryland
Photography: Lydia Cutter, Arlington, Virginia

The large gathering space of the house was made to feel more intimate and comfortable by Sandra Meyers’s high-contrast color choices and zones of lighting. Staining the floor dark and painting the ceiling a saturated color helped de-emphasize the 12-foot-high walls. Invitingly comfortable chairs and sofas beckon, and the rich terracotta walls help create a feeling of warmth and welcome. To further enhance the intimacy of the space, she designed zone lighting, individually controlled for ambient or task illumination. Luscious draperies and accessories with distinctive textures add an element of surprise, as does the plasma TV that, with the push of a button, is concealed by an artful panel.

Cynthia Sayers's Breakfast Room.The Breakfast Room
Cynthia Sayers, Creative Design Solutions, Alexandria, Virginia
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland

It’s never easy to bring the outdoors in, but the seemingly disparate elements of Cynthia Sayers’s breakfast room did so beautifully. Sayers took inspiration from the historic “Trellis” wallpaper designed by William Morris and now available through J. Lambeth in Washington, DC. She applied it to the ceiling, and then chose to upholster the walls in a coordinating wool herringbone from Morris and Company. Iron chairs were deftly skirted in fabric matching the ceiling paper, and faux-bois table bases completed the woodland setting. Illuminating the table is a well-chosen drum pendant fixture, which highlights both the ceiling above and the tabletop below.

Kelley Proxmire's Sunroom.

Kelley Proxmire, Kelley Interior Design, Bethesda, Maryland
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland

This is a gem of a room—especially in the afternoon sunlight. Bright white walls and furniture are punctuated with clear turquoise and lime. A stylized floral on the small armchairs was Kelley Proxmire’s inspiration for the room; the fabric from the Designer’s Guild Collection gave the appearance of being hand-painted. Grass cloth applied to the walls and then painted white adds subtle texture. Full-length draperies, in crisp white cotton dramatically banded with turquoise, frame the windows and conceal the top of the tropical-looking woven shades. Wood tables, elegant silver accessories and crystal bibelots add Palm Beach sophistication to the otherwise casual space.

The Kitchen, by Rosalia Kallivokas of Clive Christian.

Rosalia M. Kallivokas, Clive Christian, Washington, DC
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland

Before the luxurious new elements of this incredible kitchen were installed, the space was overhauled. Walls were removed, allowing for a better flow of light and traffic. Then Rosalia Kallivokas transformed the space into a warm and lovely place that’s as conducive to casual conversation as it is efficient in the preparation of a formal dinner. Enfolding beauty belies its functionality. Among the details that make it such a special space are the elegant crystal chandeliers, the gold-leaf detailing highlighting the elaborate molding on the cream-colored cabinetry, the freestanding island and serving peninsula and the marble and wood countertops.

The Master Bedroom and Sitting Room by Annette Hannon.
Master Bedroom & Sitting Room

Annette Hannon, Annette Hannon Interior Design, Ltd., Burke, Virginia
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland

A restful retreat was the design direction of the master bedroom, and inspiration came from the beautiful French damask that Annette Hannon used throughout. From the corona over the bed to the draperies at the French doors, it captures the elegance and inspired the aqua-glazed walls with portrait-framed faux finished mother-of-pearl insets. Sprinkled throughout the space are other light-reflective elements: the chandelier, the floating glass shelves displaying a coral collection and the ceiling medallion inspired by an antique brooch. A fruitwood chair and silver-inlay chest are subtle counterpoints to the cool colors elsewhere.

Lynni Megginson's Boy's Room.The Boy’s Room
Lynni Megginson, L&M Designs, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland
The oft-repeated line about “snips and snails, and puppy dog tails” inspired Lynni Megginson’s use of Thibault’s “Best in Show” wallcovering for the boy’s bedroom. The idea of soft burnt-orange as a complement to the aqua blue in the wallpaper was the genesis for the room’s unusual color scheme. “Sometimes the most unexpected combinations are the ones that bring the most delight,” she says. Mixing traditional and contemporary themes, rough-and-tumble furniture with Ultrasuede, and “furry” fabrics and whimsical accents with practical elements like built-ins for storage created a well-rounded, utterly useful space for an active boy and his dog who has a playful behavior of whirling his tail, just to seek some attention. If your dog also has this playful behavior then you should consider reading about why do dogs chase their tails?

The "Granny" Nanny Bedroom, by Shanon Munn.“Granny” Nanny Bedroom
Shanon Munn, ASID, Ambi Design Studio LLC, Springfield, Virginia
Photography: Angie Seckinger, Potomac, Maryland
Preferring the term “smart design” to “green design,” Shanon Munn cozied up the granny suite with eco-friendly elements. Her personal philosophy includes a preference for natural textiles such as cotton, linen, silk and wool; earth-friendly wood products; and low-VOC paints that look just as refined as their conventional counterparts. Munn prefers natural fibers because “they tend to be more aesthetically pleasing,” and always installs compact fluorescent bulbs throughout her spaces, even in the antique lighting. Here she deftly mixed a hand-carved, eco-friendly rubberwood headboard with a generous sprinkling of antiques because she says, their use “is a great way to recycle.” The ceiling medallion was inspired by the detailing on the antique Hungarian trunk. Jeanne Blackburn is a freelance writer based in Montgomery Village, Maryland.

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