Nestled in the bucolic Northwest DC neighborhood of Spring Valley, this year’s DC Design House was a classic brick center-hall Colonial built in 1956. Twenty-three area design teams transformed this stately residence into a showcase of 21st century design, both inside and out, using innovation, creativity—and the paints and wall coverings of sponsor Farrow & Ball (with a strong emphasis on shades of gray). In case you missed it, the remarkable results of their efforts are shown on the following pages; proceeds from the month-long event benefited Children’s National Medical Center.
To see before and after photos CLICK HERE.
Kelley Proxmire (Kelley Interior Design) dubbed her room L’Orangerie, and her choice reflects one of her strong suits as a designer: the ability to use color fearlessly. “I’ve always loved color, even as a child,” she says. “It’s second nature to me.” In this room, Proxmire contrasted the orange hues of a Manuel Canovas toile table skirt, linen draperies and upholstery with walls painted in Farrow & Ball Cornforth White (actually pale gray).
John Matthew Moore (John Matthew Moore Fine Art & Home) designed the foyer and reception hall in a traditional style, but sleek gray walls and a striking Mid Century-inspired chandelier by Rick Singleton lent the space a contemporary flair. “When the entrance respects the architecture, the transition from the outside in is smoother,” Moore says. “Here there’s a balance of traditional and modern so the interiors feel at ease with the house itself.”
Blake Dunlevy and Gina Benincasa (D&A Dunlevy Landscapers, Inc.) placed mature arborvitae at either end of the home’s front façade, effectually bookending the design of the front garden. Newer, seasonal plantings flanked the graceful split stairway leading to the main entrance, and azaleas and large containers of flowers added color. Manicured boxwood hedges bordering the front entry provided structure. All year round, textures and shades of green will impart interest to the horticultural design.
Annette Hannon (Annette Hannon Interior Design, Ltd.) defined the parlor with a coffered ceiling and wall moldings, then grouped together comfortable chairs and a settee, which she terms “acquired pieces.” She explains, “These were a driving force of the design. We have four different chair styles and a sofa, one-of-a-kind Swedish chairs (shown) and custom accent pieces.” Hannon expertly balanced the furniture and color palette: Farrow & Ball Stony Ground, Slipper Satin and Light Gray.
The family room by Daniel K. Proctor (Kirk Designs, Inc.) was intended as a multipurpose room, the center of family activity. Architectural panels faux-painted by The Valley Craftsmen concealed a doorway and grounded the seating area. Traditionally styled upholstered pieces were generously sized. A coffee table with pull-out stools served various functions, from dining to card playing. “Comfort does come with style,” says Proctor. “A family can relax in a space that’s aesthetically pleasing.”
Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey (SCW Interiors) designed the dining room as a glamorous but versatile space. Custom banquettes and tea tables occupied the corners of the room, and a console divided the conversation and dining areas and served as a buffet. Upholstery in hues of coral and blue provided an energizing backdrop, and as Cavin-Winfrey says, the distinctive Lewis & Wood marbleized wallpaper on the ceiling “took the space to a whole new level.”
Victoria Sanchez (Victoria Sanchez Interiors) designed the Teenager’s Getaway with her own children’s aesthetic in mind. She tapped Missoni Home to help her create the bold, colorful look she was after, ultimately combining the company’s brightly patterned fabrics on furniture and window treatments with a pouf, striped carpet and a large, globe-shaped fixture—all of which were also by Missoni. Hip, kid-friendly furnishings included a desk for tackling homework and plenty of room to lounge.
A simple back hallway became a destination in itself in the hands of Christopher Boutlier (Boutlier Design, LLC). To emphasize the length of the hall, the designer used the space as an art gallery, showcasing the work of a variety of DC-area artists, including a triptych by Lisa Tureson. “This allowed me to use a space that could have easily been dismissed as a non-space,” he says, “and to make it functional and beautiful.”
In updating the guest bath, Brian VanFleet (BVF Design Consulting) traded old plumbing and lighting for a modern look. Farrow & Ball Down Pipe and Railings—both shades of gray—added drama to a room that deftly combined old and new elements. “Make sure what you keep is in good condition,” VanFleet advises. He recommends artwork that will withstand high humidity. “I put photos printed on aluminum in this bath because they can take the moisture.”
Designed by Nadia Subaran (Aidan Design), the kitchen married classic and modern style. She chose slate gray-painted cabinetry from Wood-Mode and a walnut island, paired with quartzite counters and a white shell mother-of-pearl backsplash that the designer says “feels like great jewelry.” In the breakfast area, a built-in bar area included laminate cabinetry and a hand-carved marble backsplash. “I want kitchens to be living spaces that flow with the surroundings,” Subaran says.
An Oushak rug with punches of indigo and pale citrine provided inspiration for Marika Meyer’s (Marika Meyer Interiors, LLC) morning room. “I fell in love with the palette,” Meyer recalls. She created two conversation areas: one with a round table before a bookcase flanked by wing chairs and another with a tufted settee upholstered in natural linen with vintage bamboo chairs. Floor-to-ceiling drapes in Quadrille linen offered a serene backdrop.
The patio terrace was a two-fold challenge for Stephen Wlodarczyk (Botanical Decorators—Landscape Architecture, Design-Build): to integrate the outdoors with the interiors and to refurbish the plantings around the house. “The bones were there, but there were overgrown trees and mismatched azaleas,” Wlodarczyk says. He and his team constructed a stone fireplace and a flagstone seating area, and fabricated cushions to draw on colors from inside. A metal sculpture on the hill above the seating area added interest.
Carolyn Wilson and Elizabeth Boland (Design in a Day) opted for dramatic black, white and yellow in the second-floor foyer. It was the smallest room in the house, so they removed an adjacent linen closet to enlarge the space, then boldly hung black alligator-stamped wallpaper by Thibaut. “Most people are afraid to go bold, especially in a small space,” says Wilson. “But by using [reflective] wallpaper instead of black paint we kept the space bright.”
In the study, Lorna Gross (Savant Interior Design) created a sophisticated yet cozy retreat. She installed silk window treatments featuring teal Suzani medallions as a focal point, then hung artwork with teal accents to tie it all together. “The drapery and artwork are ‘bookends’ in the room,” she says. An iron sunburst mirror above a tufted velvet sofa reflected light and a sisal carpet was paired with a silk damask rug to convey a lush, welcoming vibe.
Shanon Munn and Amanda Welch (Ambi Design Studio, Inc.) wanted the deck off the master bedroom to feel like an extension of the interior. “We used furnishings that are comfortable and generously scaled,” Munn says, “then added softness through bright pillows, rugs and planters.” Munn designed a “feature wall” of pedestals and benches as a focal point. Art panels adorned the side of the house and draped fabrics created a sense of intimacy.
Sharon Kleinman (Transitions) used the nearby garden as inspiration for the master bedroom. Brown and green fabrics and framed leaf etchings echoed nature, while a mix of modern and antique furnishings appeared to have been acquired over time. Kleinman painted the walls in Farrow & Ball London Clay to convey a cocoon-like ambiance. “People can’t decide if the walls are brown, charcoal gray or purple,” she says. “I call them bittersweet chocolate with an undertone of aubergine.”
The awkward layout of the master sitting room turned out to be a positive, according to Tricia Huntley (Huntley & Co. Interior Design), the room’s designer. “Contending with three entrances drove the decision to put a sofa in the corner,” Huntley says. The curved sofa allowed for traffic flow while also directing visitors toward the carved marble fireplace. Huntley chose Mid-Century furnishings and muted fabrics to “relax the formality of the room and create a casual vibe.”
“Dreams evoke feelings of serenity,” says Wendy Danziger (Danziger Design, LLC), who in her serene guest room chose gray and white bedding embroidered with an Italian quote about dreams. She concealed asymmetrical windows behind a hand-painted, six-panel screen, and removed the door and interior of the closet to create a display niche. Restful shades of gray throughout—the walls were painted in Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone—were punctuated with red and crystal accents.
For the small, third-level bath, Christopher Patrick (Christopher Patrick Interiors, LLC) wanted “to embrace the existing vintage details” while upgrading the space. With the original pinwheel tile floor as inspiration, he covered the walls in The Ranelagh Papers by Farrow & Ball to bring out burgundy accents in the tile. He added classic, white subway tile and a custom vanity with a Carrara marble top. Teak accents abounded, from the shower tray to the medicine cabinet, unifying the space.
Elizabeth Krial (Elizabeth Krial Design, LLC) designed the nursery for a baby girl, “but made it a space that she can grow into,” the designer says. She selected Farrow & Ball Peony and Petal Stripe wall coverings in Churlish Green, then incorporated vibrant pink in the window treatments and fabric around the crib to give the room an unexpected pop. White painted furnishings, light pink poufs and bleached wood floors kept the room bright and cheerful.
In the nursery bath, Allie Mann (Case Design/Remodeling) chose to replace the old pink tile and silver wallpaper with a white color scheme and green accents. The walls were decorated with crisp, vertical white and green stripes in Farrow & Ball Pointing and Green Ground. The shower was clad in white subway tile and the vanities were painted white and topped with marble counters. An old bidet by the window was replaced with a window seat.
Nancy Twomey (Finnian’s Moon Interiors, LLC), who specializes in children’s rooms, devised a calm, cool palette of blues and neutrals in the little boy’s room. She selected a forest theme with a whimsical tree bookcase and window treatments sporting a deer motif. “My favorite touch is the striped legs,” Twomey says of the fully upholstered platform bed that revealed striped legs beneath the linen duvet. The wool rug was “reminiscent of a cable-knit sweater.”
A love of color and pattern contributed to Susan Nelson’s (Susan Nelson Interiors, LLC) vision for the daughter’s bedroom. She chose a faux bamboo daybed as the focal point, topping it with a floral coverlet and patterned pillows. A club chair in a confetti print played off a background of Farrow & Ball Vermicelli wallpaper. A lavender and cream rug covered the floor.
Writer Jeanne Blackburn is based in Montgomery Village, Maryland.