On a bleak morning in February, the living room in the Chevy Chase, Maryland, home of U.S. Senator Kit Bond and Linda Bond is positively radiant. Pale shades of cream and gray create a sense of calm. The muted color scheme and unexpected accents, including a pair of antique window frames hung on a wall in lieu of art, immediately convey that this is not your typical Washington-area Colonial.
A former gatehouse to the mews of Chevy Chase, the 1937 property possesses good bones, with tall windows and original molding. When she and her husband, a fourth-term Republican senator and former governor of Missouri, purchased the home in 2007, Linda Bond set her sights on updating its traditional interiors. “I knew when I moved that I wanted to really make a transition to a lighter, country look,” she says. “We have a home in Missouri that is a very substantial Georgian Colonial, the house that Kit’s mother built. It’s a little different here. It could be a little more creative. I wanted a fresher, sophisticated cottage-style look.”
Linda Bond was drawn to the simple, unpretentious style of Swedish antiques. These imports often mimic their English or French counterparts in line but were painted, ostensibly to brighten up homes in a country where daylight hours are precious few during the winter months. Bond likes Swedish antiques for their refined lines and for the patina that makes the furniture “less intimidating,” she says. “With their layers of paint, they don’t look like antiques that you don’t want to sit in. They look like antiques that have been worn and are homey and inviting. At the same time, there’s a formal look about them.”
Her plans clicked when she discovered Tone on Tone, a Bethesda shop specializing in Swedish antiques. “Linda came in one day and just absolutely loved what we had,” says co-owner Loi Thai. “I think that it [our collection] really appealed to her because it’s so understated and not pretentious. I explained how the pieces could work with the English and French pieces they already had.”
The two hit it off right away. Thai helped Bond hone her collection, selecting pieces with clean, delicate lines and sending many of the couple’s English antiques down to their home in Mexico, Missouri. He explained that despite their pale coloring, the Swedish pieces do have subtle undertones of blue, green and beige and must be combined with care. But while Thai offered advice on furniture, it was Linda Bond who drove the design process. “Linda has an artistic eye and she knows what she likes,” says Thai.
One of the first steps she took was to bleach and whitewash the wooden floors throughout the home. Then she selected a light gray wall paint to create “a very calm and unified” ambience.
To ground the Swedish furniture, the Bonds retained some of their existing mahogany antiques in the Maryland home, including the three-pedestal Regency dining room table and the Federal mahogany sofa in the living room (one of a pair; its twin now resides in Missouri). “They give the rooms a little more weight,” says Bond. Natural linen upholstery reinforces the simplified look. The icing on the cake is the silk gray Holly Hunt drapery that frames the tall windows with a hint of glamour. “They are a heavyweight silk, which really does contrast with the peeling paint and linen fabric,” says Bond. “I thought they gave the room a formal feel.”
Except for a few botanical prints, the Bonds kept traditional artwork at a minimum. Instead, unadorned architectural elements make bold yet monochromatic statements. A pair of early 19th-century columns discovered at an antiques show in Annapolis flanks a Swedish settee in the living room. On the opposite wall, Bond hung window frames that were once part of a castle in Sweden. “I was going to put some gold or antique mirrors on that wall,” she says. “The frames ended up being simpler, but more interesting.”
The setting provides the perfect backdrop for the Bonds’ silver and china collections displayed in niches in the living and dining rooms. “All of the silver is from Kit’s mother,” says Linda Bond, who grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. “She was a real collector. I never knew her but I feel like I’ve gotten to know her through all of the things that we have here and the things we have in Missouri. She had great taste.”
Ironically, Kit Bond’s mother and wife both collected Old Paris china, which dates back to the 1800s. “When we were married, I discovered that Kit’s mother had all of this Old Paris china. I have one tureen and platter that were hers and one tureen and platter that I collected and it looks like they’re matching pairs.”
The Bonds frequently entertain friends and colleagues in their home. Kit Bond, who serves on four committees in the Senate, is Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Linda Bond is a consultant for not-for-profit organizations including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation. Their dinner guests have included ambassadors and members of Congress. Linda Bond says that first-time guests are often pleasantly surprised by the subtle palette in her home. “When you first walk in,” she says, “it’s a little hard to put your finger on. It’s almost more of a feeling than a look.”
Loi Thai agrees. “It’s not just the aesthetic. It’s how it makes you feel. It really is beyond furniture.”
Thai credits the Bonds for having the vision and confidence required to pull off the project. “They really surprised me, because in Missouri their house is so traditional,” he says. “But they really appreciate and understand patina and surface. They got it right away.”
Photographer Lydia Cutter is based in McLean, Virginia.