A deck was added onto the back of the home, accessible from the spacious family room.
In the hands of Carnemark systems + design the home
The spacious family room.
Pocket doors with etched-glass panels lead to the dining room.
Dining Room Before
Kitchen Before
A spacious spa-like retreat  completes the master suite with his-and-hers sinks, wenge cabinetry and a roomy shower enclosure.
The clean-lined, renovated kitchen now opens onto the family room.

Home Improvement

Jonas Carnemark's team updates a 1940s home in Falls Church

MARCH/APRIL 2011

For many years, the home of Sherry Keys and David Parker stood out as the one with the pink stucco and teal trim, perched on a tree-lined street of brick ramblers and Cape Cods. The couple purchased the house in 1992 with plans to replace bathrooms and do something (anything!) with that pink façade—but years passed before the first changes took place. The house, originally a rambler, had undergone a major renovation in the mid-’80s, and it wasn’t until 2000 that Keys, an ophthalmologist, and Parker, a scientist, were ready to renovate.

The couple tapped Jones Carnemark of Carnemark systems + design for the job, but oddly enough, that first renovation didn’t include either the bathrooms or the home’s exterior—a fact that today has Sherry Keys laughing and shaking her head. Instead, they opted to overhaul the kitchen and family room; living in the house for a while had turned those areas into a priority. “There was a pagoda-like structure on the back of the house for storage,” Carnemark recalls. “We enclosed it to increase the size of the family room, making it one big space.”

The wall between the dining room and kitchen became an entryway, establishing circulation between the two rooms; Carnemark installed pocket doors in the dining room entry, with an etched glass design that echoes the window design in the home’s front door. Today, the back of the house consists of one spacious room, with the kitchen flowing into the family room as well as the dining room. Behind the house, Carnemark replaced a small brick patio with a larger deck.

After this initial phase, Keys and Parker took a break to “recover,” as Keys puts it. In 2009, she and her husband finally got back in touch with Carnemark to update those bathrooms and tackle the home’s exterior. “I wanted the space cleaned up visually,” Keys explains. The second renovation, spearheaded by Carnemark lead designer Michael Stehlik, included the bathrooms and the front and side façades.

The result is a streamlined space that is clutter-free and exudes a feeling of tranquility and comfort—with renovated bathrooms that perfectly reflect this sensibility. The powder room has smooth, Brazilian gray slate floors (also installed on the floor of the foyer and around the living room fireplace for continuity), and clefted, gray slate walls. “The ceiling line was a problem,” says Stehlik. “We moved it over to create a recess along the wall for the lighting.” Positioned to reflect off the walls, the lights make the space seem bigger than it is. A square sink made of layered green glass creates a focal point in the room.

Upstairs, the bathroom shared by the couple’s two boys was re-tiled in a bright, blue-green ceramic glaze. In the master suite, the designers reconfigured the closet and bathroom areas, opening the space by removing the wall that had separated the closet from the bath. They also borrowed about two feet from a neighboring bedroom to accommodate a new, spacious shower enclosure at the far end of the bath. A separate room houses the toilet and a tiny, glass-topped sink with a painted underside and a polished steel frame.

In the master bath, sleek his-and-hers sinks face each other across an expanse of limestone flooring. “The walls are all a combination of limestone and Lagos Azul,” says Stehlik. “The cabinets are wenge. And we strategically relocated windows for light.” The shower, enclosed by etched glass for privacy, is a rectangle with a long, narrow drain at one end; the floor slants about two inches towards the drain so that there is plenty of room to stand at the other end and dry off without getting wet. And—Sherry Keys’s favorite part of the renovation—the bathroom floor is heated.

The outside of Keys’s and Parker’s home changed even more dramatically than the inside. Pink and teal were replaced with charcoal gray and black trim, and the front door was painted a dark red. The walkway was straightened to provide cleaner angles. Carnemark used an impervious stucco product in place of the old, leaky stucco, and replaced the living room windows with ones with larger panes and a more contemporary look. “We also added new energy systems,” he says. “Spray foam insulation in the attic and a tank-less hot water heater that heats only as it’s being used.”

Lighting the exterior correctly was important to Carnemark—and the results were worth the effort. Keys and her husband love their home’s new façade, as well as the changes inside. As Stehlik describes it, “The house really glows.”

Maxwell MacKenzie is a photographer based in Washington, DC.

DESIGN & RENOVATION: Jonas CARNEMARK, principal; MICHAEL STEHLIK, lead designer, Carnemark systems + design inc., Bethesda, Maryland.

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