At their best, weekend retreats hold the promise of fantasy and escape. For a Washington couple, a spectacular site on the Severn River provided the perfect opportunity to break from the Colonial conventions of their weekday home in the nation’s capital. With the help of decorator Sandra Meyers and architect Chris Gretschel, the owners embarked on a design odyssey that would maximize views of the river near Annapolis while creating a welcoming refuge with deep roots in its woodsy setting. The result is a spacious home with the natural charms of an Arts and Crafts cottage. Tall poplars and hollies are visible through imaginatively placed transoms and peek-a-boo windows. Nature is present inside in expanses of wood and stone. But period décor stops short under the peaked ceiling: A glass-block skywalk zings through the upper reaches of the great room in a bolt of enlightened contemporary design. Like the weekend retreat, the walkway is a bridge to adventure.
“As you enter the house, you look out into the main space through wood columns, under the glass catwalk, then out beyond the windows to endless water,” says Meyers. “It’s magical.”
The owners acquired the property six years ago. As is typical of Chesapeake Bay watershed sites, their options were restrained by the footprint of an existing dwelling, which was removed. By adding a second story, the owners coaxed a 2,872-square-feet dwelling onto the site, with a kitchen and dining level under a 25-foot ceiling. A step-down living area opens to the Severn with a 23-foot-wide expanse of glass. A slate staircase leads upstairs to the glass bridge and three bedrooms. Near the front door, a library can double as a fourth bedroom. “By stacking bedrooms and connecting them with the bridge, we created a variety of ceiling heights and kept the house really open,” says Gretschel, formerly of Creaser/O’Brien Architects in DC and now in private practice.
Meyers, who had helped with the clients’ Washington home, arrived during the blueprint stage. She established a palette of natural materials, including stone veneer for dramatic accent walls in the dining and living areas, a cherry wood-paneled ceiling that warms up the extreme heights and intricate Frank Lloyd Wright-style windows, which cast inspired shadows on the stair wall. Mission-style oak woodwork and maple floors lend solidity and a sense of timelessness.
Meyers specified bold-patterned Roman shades throughout the house. She chose fabrics with natural designs, a nod to William Morris’s 19th-century motifs, but a departure from the small-scale patterns of the past. Fabric and wall colors hew to muted blues, sedate reds or shades of cream. The natural theme continues in copper and bronze light fixtures and in the glass tiles of a symbolic “waterfall” mosaic in the master bath. A mesmerizing quartz backsplash suggests a Japanese screen print of tree branches.
“It’s Arts and Crafts style with contemporary flair,” says Meyers, whose vision was to blend the experience of indoors and out. “The goal was to be very harmonious.”
Linda Hales, former design critic at The Washington Post, writes about architecture and design. Photographer Gordon Beall is based in Bethesda, Maryland.
ARCHITECTURE: CHRIS GRETSCHEL, Creaser/O’Brien Architects, Washington, DC. INTERIOR DESIGN: SANDRA MEYERS, Sandra Meyers Design Studio, Rockville, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: Saddler Construction, Inc., Stevensville, Maryland.
**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs. Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas to life.