With three teenage daughters, a Reston, Virginia, homeowner had her hands full. When she decided to renovate her 1980s-era house, her goal was to accommodate the family’s busy yet casual lifestyle; along the way, she also hoped to modernize the design. She contacted designer Elizabeth Krial, who had previously worked with the family on an oceanfront property renovation, to realize her vision.
“They wanted a home that would be refined but relaxed enough for everyday life,” recalls Krial. “This family is very active, but has a laid-back, easy-going attitude. So having comfortable spaces that are practical was key.”
The result was a dramatic transformation—and nowhere is the change more evident than in the dining room. Prior to the remodel, the space was “heavy”—filled with traditional Queen Anne furniture and painted crimson with shiny moldings and lots of shadow boxes. Krial softened the room’s design, adding a round table that makes it a more comfortable space to congregate for meals. “The round table is modern and more suitable for relaxed gatherings,” she explains.
Light fixtures were chosen to make the room sparkle, and a handmade jardinière from France with layers of rich hand glazing offers a reflective focal point. “It’s really important to have light that casts shadows and reflections to pick up on the details of the ceiling,” Krial says. “I placed the jardinière on a pedestal so that it can be used as a luminaire during dinner parties; the candle flame dances and throws out intriguing patterns on the walls.”
To give the illusion of more depth in the room, the designer commissioned a stunning triptych panel of flowering dogwood branches. Throughout the home, organic forms and hues are present—from the intricate design of placemats that mimic a butterfly’s wings to the serene, milky quality of the sage palette. Inspired by nature for its soothing, familiar qualities, Krial considers these signature elements of her work.
Even the draperies on the main level evoke the outdoors with their pebbly texture.
Krial worked closely with the team at Tassels Window Couture to ensure that all the draperies would create a billowy effect. She chose a modern silk fabric, but made it more transitional by lining it with a flannel-like English bump cloth and hand-sewn trim.
According to Krial, each room in a house should serve a purpose. This was especially true for the study, a long narrow room with a large stone fireplace. “It was a very masculine poker room with sports memorabilia,” explains Krial. “As the function of the room changed, its identity needed to be rediscovered.” She revamped it into a multifunctional space that includes an organized home office area where the homeowner can pay bills, a computer station for the kids to do homework and a sitting area for board games and relaxing.
Krial also gave purpose to the rarely visited living room, turning it into a glamorous music room where one of the homeowner’s daughters plays the piano. “When I thought of the room, I envisioned jazz music playing with people hanging out and having a great time,” she says. “Now it’s a room in which to sip a cocktail and listen to music.”
In fact, this is the homeowner’s favorite room in the house. “I love the vintage trumpets on the walls, the sound of my daughter playing piano and how my friends enjoy being in there,” she says. “We jokingly call it ‘The Lounge.’ The room just has a great vibe and people always gravitate to it at parties.”
The piano room may be the homeowner’s most beloved spot, but it’s the master suite that holds a special place in the designer’s heart. “This space is dedicated to luxury and relaxation,” she says. “I was thrilled that the client agreed to the palette for the master bedroom, as it is decidedly feminine!”
Inspiration for the suite came from an Atlanta-based artist’s work called “Golden Goose,” an eglisome done on a black mirror with a cut-out in the shape of a large goose filled with golden straw. “I kept all the colors very classic so that the lavender walls would have more longevity,” explains Krial.
Described by the designer as “the piéce de resistance” of the project, the adjoining dressing room area was originally a sitting room with very dark, oversized leather furniture. “When I saw the shape of the space, all I envisioned were fabulous rows of mirrored closets,” Krial says. “This is every girl’s dream!” To frame the space, the designer chose curvy, laser-cut taffeta drapes that mimic the pattern in the carpet, which serves as the room’s focal point.
With the addition of the new dressing room, Krial could eliminate the existing smaller closet and open up the floor plan for the master bathroom. She made room for a grand double-door entry and designed an 11-foot custom vanity stained a chocolate shade to anchor the predominantly light-hued space.
“When we started this renovation project,” recalls the homeowner, “my main objective was to create a relaxed, calm environment that was more transitional and updated. We achieved this—and more—by selecting subdued and subtle colors, bringing more natural light into the house and keeping a reference to nature.”
Author Kelli Michele is based in Baltimore. Gordon Beall is a Bethesda, Maryland, photographer.
INTERIOR DESIGN: ELIZABETH KRIAL, Elizabeth Krial Design, Reston, Virginia.