When interior designer Diane Gordy opens the door of her condominium in Chevy Chase, Maryland, visitors enter an elegant aerie 15 floors above the gridlocked streets and swanky shops below. One’s gaze passes through the interior space to leafy green treetops, blue sky and billowing clouds beyond.
It was this panorama that attracted Gordy to the property on her first visit. “I loved the view…and the potential for strong symmetry,” she says. As a seasoned designer, Gordy recently returned to school for a Masters in Architecture. So once she and her husband eventually moved into the apartment, she began with the bones, modifying the floor plan to suit their lifestyle. “I moved walls so everything was as symmetrical as it could be,” she recalls. To achieve this, she seized footage from the living room and added it to the sitting room, much to the astonishment of her contractor.
Once the revised layout was in place, Gordy set out to furnish the home based on her husband’s affinity for luxury-hotel living. “He’s a businessman with a strong sense of style,” she says. Traditional furnishings, lush fabrics and antiques appoint the interior spaces, which consist of a foyer, living room, home office, master bedroom and bath and a sitting room that doubles as a guest room.
Viewed from the foyer, the living room is diamond-shaped with a bay of windows at the point. “Most people are quite flummoxed by what to do with a bay,” Gordy notes. The answer in this case came with her husband’s desire for a baby grand piano. “He wants a baby grand in every home,” she explains. “Not that we play or entertain that much, but when we do, he will hire jazz musicians, usually a duo. So it is important for him to have this beautiful monster.” A lifelike sculpture of a concert violinist by Duane Hanson interacts with room, the furnishings and the décor, just as the artist intended. Turning the “monster” piano into an asset, Gordy amplified the theme with doors and moldings in “black, high-gloss luster” appointed with brass, enriching these functional elements rather than ignoring them or allowing them to detract from her décor.
A decorative artist brought the sky inside, painting the living room ceiling blue with puffy clouds. Walls were painted a rich cinnamon—originally the base for a striae treatment. But Gordy loved the depth in the warm tone and abandoned the original plan. Sisal carpet is installed on the floor. “If the mood should ever arise to throw a rug on top, it will work beautifully,” the designer explains.
On each of the two interior living room walls, Gordy has placed large mirrors to reflect the changing views throughout the day. Deftly placed Regency pier tables on both sides of the room, each flanked by a pair of chairs, fragment the reflection so guests don’t see their own images in the mirrors’ expanse.
There is no formal dining room in the residence because, says Gordy, “We never eat in.” In the space adjacent to the living room that would typically be reserved for a dining room, Gordy created a home office that she shares with her husband. Walls are lined with storage cabinets and a large desk runs down the center of the room. One side of the desk is high-tech for her; the other is low-tech for him. Antique analytiques (elevation drawings of a façade) grace the wall above the desk, conveying Gordy’s love of all things architectural.
Another design adaptation to their personal lifestyle is the sitting room on the opposite side of the living room. Gordy’s husband is a late riser and she is an early bird, “which is why all our homes are designed with a sitting room,” says the designer (who also owns apartments in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and West Palm Beach, Florida). This room is a place to read or watch television, and for Gordy to build models at the drafting table by the window. In one corner, a stylized club chair and ottoman sit in front of a vintage poster by Italian artist Leonetto Cappiello. A leather Chesterfield sofa converts to a bed for overnight guests.
In this apartment, privacy comes with the height of the building. “I don’t have window treatments,” Gordy says. “There is nothing in the living room, a black sunshade in the office and a woven wood shade in the sitting room.”
In the bedroom, a row of custom screens with cherry frames and insets of antique lace control light. A duvet in a Scalamandré ribbon pattern “is soft and yet it has some vigor” against the Belgian Blue walls by Sherwin Williams.
Throughout her home, Diane Gordy has veered from the expected. She has created a retreat full of personal style and sophistication—with views beyond compare.
Contributing editor Barbara Karth resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
INTERIOR DESIGN: Diane Gordy, ASID, Diane Gordy Interiors, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland.