Home & Design

Happily Ever After

Interior designer Annette Hannon refines a family's once-cluttered home in McLean into a comfortable and elegant retreat

Happily Ever After

Annette Hannon overhauled the furnishings in the family room.
Walls in Benjamin Moore Copper Clay beautifully offset a pair of
silk rugs framed as art.

Recognize this fairy tale? Once upon a time a young couple settles into their dream home, has a few children and wakes up one morning blissfully happy but swimming in a sea of toys and a hodgepodge of furniture.

For a McLean couple, the plot was moving decisively in this direction before interior designer Annette Hannon came on the scene. Hannon, who runs Annette Hannon Interior Design in Burke, Virginia, was initially enlisted for the singular task of selecting fabric for curtains in the master bedroom. Her suggestion of an embroidered silk Cowtan & Tout fabric called Kimono so captured the wife’s vision that the two immediately set to work on the rest of the room, adding a curvaceous bureau, a velvet headboard and other pieces that brought texture and serenity to the space. The guest room followed soon after, then the team moved downstairs to tackle the family room, kitchen and dining room.

“I began this project thinking I was there to consult on some drapes and...surprise!” Hannon says. “Nearly three years later we have transformed this home into an elegant space the client is proud of.”

The success of the transformation rests with several goals shared by client and designer. It needed to bring calm and continuity to the rooms, as well as a sense of timelessness. “I really wanted a bliss home design that flowed, so there was not the case of, ‘This room was done in 2005, and this one in 2006,’” says the homeowner. “Cohesiveness was very important to me.”

Also important was the concept of highlighting, not replacing, existing family pieces that the homeowners did not want to part with, including a Karges dining set and custom cabinetry by Jerry Marenburg of McLean Artisans in the family room. Above all, the family that hosts a continuous stream of birthday parties, dinner parties, play dates and out-of-town company. Spill-friendly fabrics, storage galore and easy traffic flow were requirements.

“This family really lives at home,” Hannon says. “That meant the furniture had to be comfortable and the upholstery fabrics had to be able to withstand the everyday use of young children and an active family.”

The family room, the home’s epicenter, benefits from perhaps the greatest design evolution. “Frankly, the [existing] furnishings were not complementary to the gorgeous millwork and cabinetry,” Hannon says. To accentuate the depth of the millwork—which includes a maple and elm burl media cabinet and a floor constructed of bird’s eye maple with a contrasting inlay of wenge, maple and bocote—Hannon opted for a sophisticated continuum of warm hues for the furniture.

The mocha-toned custom sofa in ultrasuede and its matching chair “feel like a pair of men’s wool trousers,” she says. A deep chocolate-colored leather ottoman and pair of playful paisley velvet stools that nest under a curvy console table add texture and warmth. “Everything in this room is meant to be functional and beautiful,” Hannon says.

Offsetting the warm tones is a custom Tibetan wool and silk rug. “The key was introducing that rug. The cool Aegean blue background color of the rug is seen nowhere else in the room but balances out the warm tones of the upholstery pieces and case goods,” Hannon says. “And the chocolate mocha color in the ribbon plays up the wenge tone in the [floor] inlay. There are a lot of recessed lights in this room and when the lights are on, everything sparkles.” Although the lighting plan was particularly crucial in the family room, which is the home’s darkest room, the balance of light and color was an important consideration throughout the project. “I naturally gravitate toward warm, serene palettes and in this house I felt it was critical to utilize those colors,” Hannon says. “The home is sited in a way that doesn’t capture tons of consistent light. A lighting plan is certainly crucial in homes like these, but it doesn’t always interject the mood that color seems to be able to project.”

The warm palette extends into the dining room, where the Karges furniture and an existing, traditional chandelier preside. Hannon and the homeowners fell upon the idea of painting the walls in a mottled matte finish. Charma Edmonds of Silver Spring, Maryland-based Shelter Studios layered deep golden brown over lighter tones and incorporated a subtle cherry blossom and hummingbird design. The walls “make the room so much larger, and the wood really dances against these tones. It’s just magic,” Hannon says.

Even in the guest room, where the soft beige wall color, carpeting and dark headboard were set, Hannon lightened things up by replacing dark crimson and gold bedding with cool blue and silvery tones. “I decided to play up the deep walnut wood with the new dresser and balance it with the cool, crisp blue to brighten and still balance the wood," she says.

As the homeowner looks ahead to her next collaboration with Hannon—the laundry room—she is struck by how much the redesign has permeated her family’s home life. “The quality of our lives has been improved because things simply function better,” she says. “The management of the day to day becomes a lot easier when we have places to put things, and when we can walk into a room and actually relax.” A happy ending, indeed.

Writer Catherine Applefeld Olson is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Angie Seckinger is a photographer in Potomac, Maryland.

Interior Design: Annette Hannon, Annette Hannon Interior Design, Ltd., Burke, Virginia

On the adjoining wall is a carving by Tomás Rivas from
Douz and Mille
to brighten and still balance the mood,”
she says.

In the family room, a new custom sofa and chairs in ultra
suede, along with a custom Tibetan wool and silk rug,
dress up the existing cabinetry made of maple and elm burl.


On the dining room walls, artist Charma Edmonds layered
deep golden brown over lighter tones and incorporated a
subtle cherry blossom and hummingbird design. The paint
treatment and the silk Bergamo drapes provide a light and
airy contrast with the dark wood furniture.


In the master bedroom, Hannon designed drapes using an
embroidered silk by Cowtan & Tout.


Hannon dressed up the guest room with a new bureau
and cool blue and silvery tones.
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