A New York-based couple approached Robert Cole and Sophie Prévost of ColePrévost Incorporated with a time-sensitive proposition. They had just purchased a new penthouse apartment in DC, where the husband frequently commuted for work, and they needed help with its interiors. The catch? With a second child on the way, they wanted this second home completed and fully furnished before the birth a few months away.
“We had to find things that were in stock,” says Prévost. “That was a challenge. But it went really smoothly. The client was wonderful to work with and she knew what she liked.”
With a few bold strokes, Cole and Prévost, a husband-and-wife architecture and design team, transformed the bare, two-bedroom apartment with a study and loft into a warm and inviting home that reflects their clients’ modern aesthetic. The designers established clean lines and a stronger sense of proportion by replacing the standard trim throughout the home with taller, flat-paneled base and crown molding. They departed from the typical layout in the main, L-shaped living space, shifting the dining area away from the kitchen to create a casual spot for lounging and TV—a practical arrangement with little ones afoot. This family room area opens to more formal living and dining areas rimmed by walls of windows on three sides.
The homeowners, who have lived in Hong Kong and Beijing and collect Asian antiques, wanted their home to reflect an Eastern sensibility. In the living room, they selected comfortable furniture with simple lines and calm, neutral colors. For contrast, Prévost sought fabrics and rugs that are “sophisticated and elegant but quiet, without large patterns. It’s all about the texture,” she says. A coffee table by Moroso has two separate, overlapping forms that are moveable, so the owners can morph its overall size and shape. “I just love what it does to a space as opposed to having one big square or rectangular table and everything becomes very stiff,” says Prévost. “It’s much more organic.”
Prévost designed a few custom pieces for her clients, including the sleek round walnut dining table that expands to seat eight guests and the narrow tables flanking the family room sofa, which are made of walnut and hot-rolled steel.
A wall of custom walnut cabinetry provides display and storage space—and lends the dining area a more finished look. Cole created sliding panels painted a bold pumpkin color to conceal the glass doors leading into the home office. “It’s not so great to be staring into an office from the dining room, so we created this really nice backdrop,” says Prévost, “which makes it a cozy, warm, yet more formal space.”
In the kitchen, the designers traded the original Shaker-style cherry cabinet fronts for walnut doors and a darker, more uniform look. They also re-built what was a bulky island, creating a curved granite top that now serves as a breakfast bar for casual meals.
Upstairs, the loft doubles as a guest room with a sleep sofa and a play space for the kids. A vinyl rug from France inspired the cheery blue and green color scheme. ColePrévost widened the stairway leading to a spacious roof deck, where the owners can entertain guests. “We wanted the space to be great for the kids but still be a grown-up place,” says Prévost. “You can have a party up here and it wouldn’t look like you were in the kids’ play room.”
Cole and Prévost also upgraded the condo’s two bathrooms with new doors on the existing cabinets, new limestone countertops and sinks and nature-inspired backsplashes.
Without major construction, ColePrévost was able to elevate the home’s standard fixtures and finishes to a new level. “Changing the framework and adding some accents, like re-doing the bathrooms, makes a big difference,” concludes Prévost. “It really changed it from a developer’s model to a well-designed place.”
Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
INTERIOR DESIGN: Robert Cole, RIBA, and Sophie Prévost, ASID, ColePrévost Incorporated, Washington, DC.