An Artist’s Perspective: Elizabeth Cross-Beard
While in college, Elizabeth Cross-Beard studied art and architecture in Florence and Vienna, developing an eye for structural design. She also became an oil painter, adding an artist’s sensibility to her perspective. Now an interior designer, she melds these influences in her work. “I’m inspired by art,” Cross-Beard says. “I love seeing different color palettes, craftsmanship and the structure of things.”
This two-bedroom condominium in Baltimore offered the designer the perfect empty canvas to work with. The homeowners were a young couple who initially wanted a sophisticated, loft-like environment. However, partway through the process they discovered they were expecting a baby and, according to Cross-Beard, their plans changed.
“We had selected everything,” she recalls. While they kept the look they had wanted, the couple “went with more durable, baby-proof stuff.” Cross-Beard designed an open floor plan with a combined dining room/living room, a convenient layout for the new parents. She used a palette of deep, strong colors such as the copper hue in the master bedroom (above) to create warmth and coziness. A cheerful nursery and foyer (opposite top, left and right) add a touch of whimsy. The living room/dining room (opposite, bottom) offers great views of downtown Baltimore.
The homeowners chose what Cross-Beard describes as a “modern eclectic” look, which reflects her own design philosophy. “I try to meld contemporary and traditional,” she says. “As a designer, I’ve learned how to fuse things, to make things come together and be beautiful.”
For Olexia and partners Kim Mohr and Wesley Thompson, design is a collaborative effort—they are all involved on every project. When they started their firm in 2005, much of their business was in designing homes for custom builders; with their backgrounds in residential design, however, they quickly attracted individual homeowners as well.
For this traditional home on a bustling Fairfax, Virginia, street, the client wanted a haven from the busy world outside. The designers used a light, subtle palette in warm peach and coral tones to create a sense of peace and serenity, and white-painted millwork and moldings to relate the interiors to the home’s Federal-style architecture. The family room is both airy and soothing; the master bedroom, with its coffered ceiling, offers a restful yet elegant respite from the day. Built-ins and elaborate millwork add distinction to the game room and library, while the breakfast room suggests a pleasing symmetry.
Despite the project’s formal style, the designers were able to keep it light and inviting. “We’re inspired by things that are natural and whimsical,” Olexia says. “We don’t want our designs to feel stuffy.”
Complicating the project was the fact that Winebrenner and his partner had inherited a lot of family pieces. But Winebrenner likes to focus on the most meaningful objects he finds already in a home, using them to create uniquely personal spaces for his clients. “I’m inspired by looking at what pieces clients already have, and how to use them in a new way,” he says. “I incorporate a person’s heritage.”
In his own house, he wanted these family heirlooms to play an important role in the new interior. “It was an exercise in figuring out how to use them,” he recalls. Throughout his finished home, familiar objects combine with fresh colors and new upholstery in the brightly hued living room (above and opposite, top left and bottom right). In the elegant yet comfortable dining room (opposite, top right), a polished silver tea service from Winebrenner’s great grandmother adorns a side table.
“When I decorate,” Winebrenner says, “I ask myself, ‘How can I relate this client’s needs, wants and lifestyle and make it work?’ I use their ideas and my design principles to create a three-dimensional space.”