With its coveted spot on the corner of 15th and P Streets in trendy Logan Circle, the newly completed Metropole apartment building is perfectly located. So when Sid Stolz and David Hatfield were looking to move into a vibrant DC neighborhood, the building was the logical choice. However, as Stolz describes it, “We bought it off plans. The finishes and detailing were not what we expected.”
Enter architect Andreas Charalambous of Forma Design about four months after the couple had moved in. “They were still living out of boxes,” he says. “They were frustrated and didn’t know how to use the space.” Rooms had been designed with too many doors, there was not enough cabinetry in the kitchen and while the main living room had a soaring, two-story ceiling, it didn’t feel open to the rest of the apartment. “The bottom line,” Charalambous explains, “is that a building on this spot is unique. The apartment needed to be brought up to par.” The architect proposed a plan that would increase storage throughout the home, create more wall space to display the owners’ dramatic art collection and open up the second floor to bathe the interiors in natural light.
Charalambous began by making the living room more functional. By closing off two doors to the adjoining guest room, he created a new wall to accommodate shelving, cabinetry and a flat screen TV on a side of the room that had previously been dead space.
The kitchen also presented problems. As Charalambous explains, “It was full of incomplete ideas.” The cabinetry didn’t extend the full length of the main wall, which was dominated by a door to the pantry, and an empty niche to the left of the stove was basically useless. Charalambous balanced the space by installing additional cabinetry and concealing the pantry door behind a matching panel to create a streamlined look. For visual continuity, he used the same quarter-sawn oak cabinetry in the new entertainment area as well as in the office upstairs. A custom-designed wine rack now occupies the kitchen’s empty niche.
On the second floor, Charalambous combined the home’s master and second bedrooms to create a suite that encompasses a sleeping area and a home office. Though the first-floor atrium offers breathtaking views through two-story windows, a drywall balcony rail and bi-fold doors obstructed the view on the upper level. Charalambous removed the drywall and the doors, replacing them with cable railing that duplicates the apartment’s existing stair rail. Now, the second floor offers an uninterrupted panorama of the cityscape and a view of the whole apartment as well, imparting the sense of openness the space had lacked.
Stonework was added to create texture and interest while unifying the interiors. The striated and chiseled limestone appears by the entry, along the entertainment area wall, as a backsplash in the kitchen and upstairs. “The stone comes up two stories,” Charalambous explains, “to emphasize the open, two-story expanse.”
Because Stolz, a healthcare consultant, and Hatfield, an animal-rights activist, collect contemporary art, it was important that their new home would effectively showcase their collection, which includes a custom-made Graham Caldwell hand-blown glass sculpture that hangs in the two-story space between the office and one of the banks of atrium windows. “A lot of things were done so we could display our art,” says Stolz.
In this apartment, lighting also constitutes art, from the Foscarini Caboche Suspension pendant in the dining area to the huge 60-bulb FLOS Taraxacum ’88 Suspension in the living room that, according to Stolz, draws gazes from the street at night.
However dramatic, floor-to-ceiling windows can be problematic in warmer months, when sunlight can heat the apartment. Charalambous installed mechanized, two-story double shades throughout. Daytime shades counteract summer temperatures while still admitting natural light. Blackout shades provide privacy and darkness for sleeping.
Once all the structural changes were made, it was homeowner David Hatfield’s strong design sense that completed the job. “All the furniture came from Contemporaria,” in Georgetown, Hatfield says. They worked with designer Jessica Mowery, who worked for Contemporaria at the time and has since started her own firm, MOW design studio, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Mowery helped the homeowners choose the sprawling, Molteni & C Freestyle modular sofa that anchors the living room. Upholstered in hand-woven, black-and-white Italian fabrics, it creates a vibe that is both casual and chic. Punches of bright color add vibrancy; the coffee table and side tables are yellow, as is a sculptural Cappellini chair that stands out in one corner of the room. A pale calfskin rug covers the expansive dark-wood floor, the ceiling is painted a light taupe color and exposed HVAC and sprinkler pipes reinforce the urban look.
The homeowners couldn’t be happier with the results of their labors. “We feel like we live in a great location with a great view,” Stolz says. “We have everything we wanted. We just love it here.”
Photographer Geoffrey Hodgdon is based in Deale, Maryland.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: Andreas Charalambous, AIA, IIDA, + Juan Gutierrez, Forma Design, Washington, DC. RENOVATION
CONTRACTOR: MCA Remodeling, Inc., Washington, DC.