Hot Talent

Hot Talent
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.”
A Personal Touch: Dream House Studios

Being a small firm, the client relationship is key to us,” says designer Erin Olexia. “We want the process to be a relaxing and fun experience. If you really get to know your clients, that will make your ultimate design more personal to them.” 

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.”
The Meaning of Home: William Winebrenner

When William Winebrenner purchased a 1940 Tudor-style home in the Crestwood neighborhood of DC, he was anxious to make it his own. The previous owners had done the house in a Colonial Revival style, and Winebrenner’s vision was to bring it back to its original Tudor roots using a more English sensibility. 

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.”
A Natural Aesthetic: Shanon Munn

The owners of this McLean, Virginia, home were seeking a designer who could help them achieve two main goals: to create a modern décor that would balance simplicity of line with warmth of style, and to source natural, sustainable materials wherever possible. For designer Shanon Munn, their project embodied important aspects of her design philosophy, which emphasizes tenets of green design and the use of natural materials. “I create spaces that are luxurious yet respectful of the environment,” Munn says. “I make sure there’s an undercurrent of sustainably influenced design.” Fortunately, the designer adds, the best materials tend to be eco-friendly so that quality is seldom sacrificed for principle.
Munn also stresses client involvement, and this project was no exception. The clients were “very hands-on but easy to work with,” she notes. They wanted a home that would be contemporary yet calming, warm and full of textured, tactile surfaces. The result is a space in which the rooms flow together in a palette of pale yellows and grays and where, for example, Munn would pair a velvet chair with a smooth, Lucite glass table. In the dining room (above), yellow walls and crisp white woodwork provide the backdrop for an elegant meal. The gray and yellow living room (opposite, top left and bottom) communicates a modern sensibility—spare yet welcoming; and the family room (opposite, top right) adds a punch of color through its artwork.
“I like things to look simple and coordinated,” Munn says. “I like the nature of materials—woods, marbles, textiles. Things have to look good and feel good.”