There is not a single period or style I don’t like,” observes Katalin Farnady, standing in the open plan living/dining room of her house. She’s surrounded by a carefully edited assortment of furniture and accessories that attests to her statement. An Art Deco coffee table coexists beside a Mid-Century occasional table, while a contemporary sofa rests on an animal hide rug. Overhead, two imposing black Murano glass chandeliers add drama, and matching chairs found at auction and covered in Mongolian lamb’s wool provide a playful touch.
For Farnady, who is originally from Hungary, her home is a canvas that reflects the journey of her life thus far: The kitchen showcases a series of still lifes by Hungarian artist Károly Kassai—as well as artwork by the designer’s three daughters (seven-year-old twins and their nine-year-old sister). “Being from somewhere else and living here has given me a global view,” she explains. “I bring back things from my travels. I also like to surround myself with my kids’ creations.”
Farnady’s home is a remarkable feat of design ingenuity, combining antique and vintage finds with clean-lined pieces and striking modern art. “I like to mix and coordinate materials,” she explains. “This is what allows me to blend eras and styles.”
As the principal of Farnady Interiors, the designer adapts her unique vision to fit the preferences of her clients. She’s been practicing for 10 years. “Right now I’m working on seven projects, and they’re all different,” she says.
Farnady and her husband, a surgeon, were living in the neighborhood two years ago when the house, ideally situated on Crab Creek, came on the market. They decided to buy it; a traditional center hall Colonial, it had the makings of the home Farnady wanted though it needed some work.
The designer’s first move was to completely dismantle the layout of the first floor. Before, the wide entry with its grand, curved staircase opened to dining and living rooms on either side. Now, those openings are closed off so that visitors are drawn towards the back of the house where one big room now houses the dining and living areas. A home office, accessible through the kitchen, occupies the former dining room, while Farnady’s own office is where the living room used to be.
The kitchen adjoins the living/dining room at the back of the house. It has a sleek, contemporary look and a convenient, functional layout. SieMatic cabinetry juxtaposes a glossy white finish with a rosewood veneer, and countertops are Corian. A brown wallpapered accent wall behind the Wolf stove picks up the dark cabinetry, unifying the space.
Farnady closed the kitchen off from the living/dining room, installing French doors for access and a large, mullioned window that connects the spaces visually. A banquette, table and chairs on a custom cowhide rug provide space for family meals. Off the kitchen, a mudroom leads to a guest bedroom and full bath.
Upstairs, the master suite was overhauled to accommodate a roomy walk-in closet using space borrowed from the bedroom. The renovation created a cozy sitting area at one end of the bedroom. At the other, Farnady installed a gas fireplace with a striking surround of solid marble that arrived as a single slab weighing 1,000 pounds (the ceiling had to be cut to accommodate its height). Next on the agenda: a new master bath to go with the rest of the suite.
A newly finished basement now accommodates a guest area, delineated by wallpaper in an Art Deco motif; a lounge area with a leather sectional, TV and built-in bar with a countertop clad in a tropical wood-like veneer; and a workout space.
The home’s original flooring was a piecemeal assortment of wood, tile and marble. Farnady retained the existing oak floors and replaced the other surfaces with matching oak. All the floors have been ebonized, creating a uniform look throughout. It works well with the neutral palette the designer chose for her home. “I went with monochromatic colors, but relied on shapes and patterns for interest,” she explains.
In order to take full advantage of the water views, Farnady installed sets of glass doors at the back of the house that open from every room, Mediterranean-style, out to a terrace that stretches the home’s length. A swimming pool beckons and beyond it, the family keeps a boat docked at water’s edge. “For me, the biggest compliment is when someone says, ‘I haven’t seen this before,’” Farnady comments. “I like to achieve the unexpected.”
Gwin Hunt is a photographer in Annapolis.
INTERIOR DESIGN: KATALIN FARNADY, Allied ASID, Farnady Interiors, Annapolis, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: BERNARD CHAMBERS, RBC Enterprises, Severna Park, Maryland.