Tradition with a Twist

Arlene Critzos and her design team interpret a client's vision into a stately and elegant home full of contemporary surprises


Larry Pratt’s McLean home evokes Old World charm with its
stone walls, dormer windows and slate roof tiles.

For many, building a dream home represents a culmination of a lifetime of hard work, a vision and the resources to bring the dream to fruition. Larry Pratt’s journey to build his dream house includes all of these elements. Founder and CEO of a mortgage banking company, Pratt’s success in business and the inspiration for his newly completed home in McLean, Virginia, took root in his small hometown of Athens in eastern Tennessee. “I remember the stately house of a local judge who was on my paper route,” recalls Pratt. “His home was made of stone, and I associated it with someone who had achieved great success in life. I grew up in a modest house and thought that if I ever had the opportunity to build my own home, it would be a stone house with a fireplace.”

Pratt’s circuitous route to building his dream home began after his graduation from the University of Tennessee and a job change that brought him to McLean in 1985. “This area reminds me of parts of Tennessee, and I decided I wanted to settle here—I like the proximity to Washington and culture, and also enjoy the beauty of the area,” he says. Pratt focused his energies on establishing and building his company, and it wasn’t until four years ago that the entrepreneur decided it was time to achieve his longtime goal of building a home made of stone. “I began looking for property and waited a few years until a suitable parcel in Langley Farms became available,” says Pratt. Now complete, his traditional European-styled home is reminiscent of an English carriage house, with its stone walls, dormer windows and slate roof tiles.

“While construction was underway, I interviewed several decorators, but ultimately hired Interior Concepts based in Annapolis. I was impressed with a friend’s home in Ocean City, Maryland, that Arlene Critzos, the company owner, had designed,” says Pratt. “It was sophisticated, but warm and had edgy details. Our first meeting was in Arlene’s 45,000-square-foot warehouse, where she walked me through and showed me accessories and furnishings. During the course of my business and personal travels, I had collected ideas I wanted to incorporate and I felt confident [that] Arlene and her team would be able to successfully interpret those.”

Pratt, who entertains frequently for business, desired elegant, traditionally inspired interiors, but with contemporary twists. “Larry was adamant about wanting the ‘wow’ factor and high design concepts,” confirms Critzos. “We utilized timeless designs for most of the furniture, but mixed it up with contemporary takes on fabrics, accessories and wall and window treatments.” In addition to the furnishings, Critzos worked with Pratt on interior architectural details, including her recommendation to utilize plaster for moldings and other details found throughout the house. “I really love using plaster in my designs. It’s a material that is used a lot in Europe. There really is no limit to what you can do with it creatively,” notes the designer.

The spacious entrance hall with a pair of tortoise glass chandeliers, gleaming pale gold and russet marble floor tiles and plaster moldings in a rich bronze set the elegant tone for the rest of the house. The hall divides a music room and dining room at the front from the kitchen, family room and an adjoining media room (that also serves as the homeowner’s office) to the rear.

The music/sitting room directly to the right of the entrance features a black baby grand piano and comfortable, plush seating. “This room pays homage to my late brother, who was a concert pianist,” says Pratt, pointing out a black-and-white performance photo of his sibling. A rich bronze patina on the walls highlights the quietly luxurious space. “This room originally was painted, but after living here a while, I felt it needed more impact. We utilized faux finishes in the dining room, so I called the artist back to recreate this room.” The finish, called pressed leather by the artist, Kimberly Majerowicz of Heavenly Interiors, is achieved through the application of five layers of a custom-colored material applied using a trowel technique. The final layer is then painstakingly waxed by hand. A warm, sand-colored painted ceiling allows the white, ornamental custom plaster cove moldings to stand out. “This room is an example of how we used both traditional designs and contemporary fabrics,” explains Critzos. “The upholstered chaise, for example, has a very traditional fringe; the side chair is covered in a leopard print; and the coffee table is a very contemporary piece in glass and metal.”

The dark russet walls of the adjacent dining room are also faux-finished in multiple layers, stenciled, then sealed with a final coat of a cherry wood stain, lending an Old World Mediterranean charm. Wood furnishings in the space include a round dining table by Oscar de la Renta and a romantic rock crystal chandelier. “The table is designed so that sections can be removed to create a smaller table for more intimate dinners,” says Critzos.

The light-filled kitchen behind the dining room at the rear of the house features a large granite-topped central island, a faux stone stove hood and taupe-glazed, cream-colored custom cabinetry (concealing appliances) that complements the tiled walls and a cobbled-stone floor. “The neutral palette and size of the kitchen demanded elements to anchor the space,” explains Critzos. “We added plaster crown moldings to the cabinets, then continued the design on to the ceiling and added an additional plaster molding detail over the island.” A bright tomato red wall provides a splash of color and an inviting backdrop for a built-in dining nook. Seating is supplied by a chenille-covered banquette and Klismos-styled leather dining chairs that surround an oval, honed soapstone table mounted on a pair of oversized metal and stone pedestals.

The family room, directly opposite the kitchen, is painted a soothing slate blue and features a plaster fireplace that anchors the far wall and houses a built-in television above the mantel. Furnishings here include two side chairs flanking the fireplace, separated by a hexagonal, contemporary ottoman in a caramel color that acts as a coffee table and provides additional seating. A tray ceiling with plaster and faux-painted detail continues the visual interest. The slate blue color scheme carries through to the adjacent media room.

Collaboration between the designer and homeowner is most evident in the lower level and master bedroom. “Both these spaces are pure Hollywood,” says Critzos. Pratt says that inspiration for the rooms came from Las Vegas hotel suites where he has stayed. A smoked-glass wall made its way into his master bedroom and the onyx bar featured in the lower level was inspired by the Versace mansion in South Beach, Florida.

When questioned if he has a favorite room in his eclectically furnished house completed last year, Pratt says, “The best compliment I can give Interior Concepts is that I enjoy each and every room. The design team really listened to the concepts I envisioned, and brought them to life. It’s a house I really like coming home to.”

Freelance writer Tracy Mitchell Griggs is based in Annapolis. Gordon Beall is a photographer in Bethesda, Maryland.

INTERIOR DESIGN: Arlene Critzos, Cathy Belkov and Joyce Pearl, Interior Concepts, Annapolis, Maryland


A rich bronze patina on the walls highlights the quietly
luxurious music/sitting room.

In the family room, directly opposite the kitchen, a plaster
fireplace houses a built-in television above the mantel.
A tray ceiling with faux-painted detail continues the visual
interest.

The dark russet walls of the dining room were faux-finished
in multiple layers, stenciled, then sealed with a final coat of
cherry wood stain.

The light-filled kitchen features a large granite-topped
central island, a faux-stone hood and custom cabinetry
that complement the tiled walls and a cobbled-stone floor.

The table in the breakfast nook was custom-designed by
Arlene Critzos. A bright tomato red wall provides a splash
of color.

Inspired by Las Vegas hotel suites where Pratt has stayed,
the master bedroom presents a masculine mix, with its wall
of smoked glass and its rich blend of textures and fabrics.

The media room doubles as Pratt’s office. The pair of “turtle”
tables is by Maitland Smith.

The lower level, says Arlene Critzos, is “pure Hollywood,”
with its built-in banquette and game table. The banquette
was inspired by the Moroccan room in Miami’s Versace
Mansion, where Pratt visited when it was a private club.