A Summer House

Inspired by this warm and carefree season, Washington-area design teams interpret summer eight different ways


The Boardwalk Entry by Judith Loomis

“A Summer House” is the name of the bright and breezy Spring 2007 Design House at The Washington Design Center, co-sponsored by HOME & DESIGN. Eight design teams were charged with creating spaces that evoke feelings of summertime or living on the shore. As you’ll see on the pages that follow, their creations are not so much about designing interiors for a summer house, but rather about bringing the essence of that most-relaxed of all seasons into any home.

Boardwalk Entry
Judith Loomis, Judith Loomis Designs, Reston, Virginia
The European influences on this sophisticated space are unmistakable. Taking cues from The National Gallery of Art’s Boudin exhibit, Loomis selected a mural-size painting of the Ashley River Marsh to replicate the beach scene at the entry. She also makes the connection between South Carolina’s beaches and their French ancestry, evoking the rich history of Marie Antoinette’s “Petite hameau” at Versailles—à la Sophia Coppola. Gilded accents reinforce the point.

As do most entry spaces, this one sets the tone for the other rooms. It encourages the visitor to stop and reflect on decorative elements such as the reproduction tapestry, the “treasure” chests, and the 18th-century Giallo Antico stone columns from Tunisia. Loomis’s foyer immediately and deliberately sets the pace slower—all the better to enjoy the rest of the house.


Mary Mitchell and Andre Sabbagh created this Surfside
Living Room.

Surfside Living Room
Mary Mitchell, Mitchell Designs, Alexandria, Virginia with Andre Sabbagh of TAS Interiors
Summer strategies have been liberally applied here: soft sandy colors, draperies cleverly gathered at the hem to mimic a tent flap, the use of sheers as a throwback to earlier days when all rooms were seasonally lightened with “open” window treatments and slip-covered furniture. The soothing and sensual palette proves that summer can be a state of color—not only a place and time. And with the clues left here, any room can offer a glimmer of summer: light-reflective accents such as the mirrored-panel screen, coffee table and dining-table base; dune-colored fabrics that visually blend the design elements together; and shimmery crystal accents that look like sunlight on water.

To keep things from floating away, Mitchell has grounded everything with a trace of dark colors in the frames of chairs, tables and prints on the walls, and added a touch of colorful whimsy in the vase of flowers painted, mural-style, on the wall in the dining area.


Stan Kelly’s Oceanfront Dining Room. Photography by
Kevin Allen.

Oceanfront Dining Room
Stan Kelly, Stan Kelly Interiors, Washington, DC.
This oceanfront dining room seems a most appropriate space for Kelly to introduce his new white-washed and distressed wide plank wood floor laid in a dramatic herringbone pattern. The room is a tribute to the 18th century—when herringbone floors were introduced—interpreted for today. Echoing the whitewashed wood element are the dining chairs and antique Swedish painted clock. Floral upholstery fabric unifies chairs of distinctly different periods, and rich silk draperies add elegance.

Kelly’s understated style calls to mind wide open living spaces along the coast from Maine to the Carolinas. Driftwood colors, serene and slightly masculine, balance the soft draperies and curved chairs; Farrow & Ball wallpaper that revives an 18th-century pattern makes a strong statement. Accents from other periods prevent a too-literal interpretation of the look.


Tricia Huntley’s Palm Beach Powder Room & Lounge.

Palm Beach Powder Room & Lounge
Tricia Huntley, Huntley & Company Interior Design, Inc., Washington, DC
Gathering diverse elements, Tricia Huntley set about creating a setting that’s great fun to be in—just like summer. Yet she imparted the space with the sophistication of Palm Beach—the destination that inspired her concept. The romance of Palm Beach lies in the mingling of elements, and this space proves the point that details make the difference.

Inspired by a town that offers everything from quiet beach time to non-stop shopping, the designer chose to surround visitors with a bevy of her favorite things:
shell-encrusted multi-arm torchères flank either side of the deeply tufted, high-back settee. A clear Lucite table and a faux-Shagreen mirror frame flanked by slightly botanical metallic sconces add to the interest. Delight- fully mixed in are a seemingly unrelated Sputnik-inspired chandelier, luscious pillows, original artwork and a rich ochre paint on the walls. But it all works, beautifully.


The Sunset Retreat by Nestor Santa-Cruz.

Sunset Retreat
Nestor Santa-Cruz, IIDA, SKB Architecture & Design, Washington, DC
For Nestor Santa-Cruz, inspiration for his summer place came from the more relaxed pace of Europe and some of the prized possessions collected on his travels there. Surrounding himself with objects that foster relaxation and colors that are in high contrast yet restful to the eye, Santa-Cruz created an end-of-the-day space that will adapt to almost any home. He incorporated paintings and objets d’art with furnishings that span styles and periods, from the Art Deco coffee table and desk to the 18th-century bench and painting. A modern Danish chair further emphasizes the dichotomy between modern and traditional. Pieces of coral, water-like acrylic and crystal accessories, and a cotton Moroccan rug are reminders that this is, after all, a summer house.


Kelley Proxmire’s Sleek Summer Suite.

Sleek Summer Suite
Kelley Proxmire, Kelley Interior Design, Bethesda, Maryland
As startling as it might seem, this black bedroom is surprisingly relaxing. By reversing a traditional white-with-black summertime palette, this b lack-with-white space becomes an enfolding and cool retreat after a hot day in the sun, a cocoon of serenity highlighted with white and shots of coral throughout. The stark white fabric counterpoints and defines the main elements of the room, and Proxmire has deftly given heft to the bed by draping it from the ceiling to break up the black walls. White architectural accents serve the same purpose and the whole is warmed and brightened by her use of red-to-orange shades of coral, both in the stunning, branch-coral motif fabric and the coral sculpture on the mantel. Tucked into the interior of the bed drapes but out of sight is a flat-screen TV—another clever touch.


Andre Sabbagh and Mary Mitchell designed this
Ocean View Bedroom.

Ocean View Bedroom
Andre Sabbagh, TAS Interiors, Falls Church, Virginia with Mary Mitchell, Mitchell Designs
What could be more romantic than a bedroom on the beach? Shells and sea glass have gathered in the corners and the mural-painted wall offers a wrap-around view. This space reflects some of the same elements as the adjacent living room that Sabbagh and Mary Mitchell designed together: colors that whisper, mirrors and crystal that shimmer. But more spare and restful, the bedroom brings the outdoors in thanks to its nearly monochromatic color scheme—an updated tribute to traditional by the designers—and the use of a variety of textures in the smooth upholstery and tactile accents. There’s more romance in the windows draped in gauzy fabric, the French doors presumably leading to a private sandy beach and the glorious sweep of a bed frame flanked by gilded and mirrored side tables. The result is a getaway that’s relaxed and inviting.


A Room with a View, by Sheree Friedman and
Ricardo Ramos.

Room with a View
Sheree Friedman & Ricardo Ramos, Allied ASID, Studio Nuovo, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland
According to these designers, no place says summer all year round like Miami. So what better way to embrace the season than with a view from the penthouse overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean beyond? This dramatic room exemplifies the designers’ fearless use of bold colors. Strategically placed seascapes above the back of the sofa create a mini-mural, giving visitors an unmistakable sense of overlooking the beach. And accessories reinforce the mood: a large painting of shells, a collection of coral, raffia-weave ceiling panels and an area rug incorporating shades of blue and sand.

More good ideas for the casual lifestyle of the beach: the wipe-clean leather on the sofas that makes a practical upholstery choice for an oceanside condo and tables that move easily for flexible entertaining indoors and out.