Almost 20 years after purchasing their stately McLean, Virginia, home, former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and his wife, Kimberly Olson Dorgan, had grown weary of its less than optimal spaces. The two-story family room was a case in point. “There was nothing warm and cozy about it,” Kim reflects. “It was cold and you felt like a little speck in this very tall room.”
The home’s spacious but poorly designed kitchen and run-of-the-mill finishes also left room for improvement. So after their two kids departed for college, the Dorgans decided it was time for an overall lift, and turned to Washington designer Andy Staszak for help.
“There was no flow to the house,” recalls Staszak, who came recommended by a friend of Kimberly’s. “It was just as the builder left it. They wanted to step it up.”
Taking cues from Kimberly, who, he says, has “fabulous personal style,” Staszak got busy defining a continuous color palette of sage, terracotta and warm yellows and conjuring a look that would give the interiors a “European edge.”
Now, ochre walls and new hardwood floors warm up the family room and an oversized chandelier “brings the focus down to the level in which you live,” says Staszak. He covered the windows in “matchstick” bamboo shades that act as a scrim, letting in natural light during the day and providing privacy at night. A painting by North Dakota artist Walter Piehl hangs above the sofa; it once graced Byron Dorgan’s Senate office, where he served his home state from 1992 to 2011. He is now a senior policy advisor at Arent Fox and founder of the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute.
The family room opens to the revamped kitchen, designed by Jennifer Gilmer of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath with input from Staszak. During the transformation, the island was repositioned to provide more room for food prep and circulation during parties. “It’s so much more functional than what we had,” says Kim, senior executive vice president at the American Council of Life Insurers. Fabulous new finishes, from Costa Esmeralda granite countertops to a travertine backsplash, update the space with style.
In the living room, which opens to the study, Staszak mingled diverse furnishings and fabrics, creating a surprisingly harmonious effect. Asian elements (bamboo-legged stools and a Chinoiserie print) contrast with French bergères, a sisal rug and pillows in a formal brocade. “There is a slight tension in the juxtaposition,” he explains. “It’s kind of sophisticated. And even though there are about eight patterns in the room, there’s nothing hectic about it. I like the soft, serene look.”
Staszak repurposed the couple’s existing furniture when possible, suggesting they splurge on one-of-a-kind pieces while reupholstering some of their own classics. One of the new investments is a Habersham secretaire in the study, paired with Dorgan’s chair from the Senate floor. “We tried to use as much of what they already had as we could,” Staszak explains. “It was partly budgetary, but it’s also more personal.” The all-new rugs are from Carpet Impressions.
In the dining room, Staszak contrasted a highly polished Milling Road table with a breakfront by Zentique in a weathered finish. “I like the old rustic feel with the more refined Regency table,” he says.
Upstairs, Staszak redesigned the bedrooms in stages; the master bathroom was recently renovated by Carolyn Thomas of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath. A soaking tub, marble floors and an oversized shower with a mosaic-tile wall create a pampering refuge.
The Dorgans love entertaining in their redesigned home. “As you feel more comfortable in how the rooms flow, it’s a lot more fun to entertain,” says Kim. “Byron and I are very casual, informal people. We wanted to warm up the house and I think Andy did a wonderful job.”
Photographer Bob Narod is based in Herndon, Virginia.