The clean-lined, functional kitchen may be separated from the breakfast area and family room by ribbed-glass pocket doors.
In the family room, a wood-framed chair from Holly Hunt shares space with custom built-ins by Barnes Vanze.
The master suite encompasses a vestibule and hallway embellished with Phillip Jeffries wallpaper.
The entry welcomes visitors with an antique chest and colorful artwork.
In the dining room, existing furnishings are enhanced by a chandelier by Marian Jameson and a hide rug from Galleria Carpet.
A cube-shaped four-poster bed adorns the master bedroom.
The master bath is clad in Thassos marble with custom cabinetry.
The living room is updated with reupholstered furnishings, a plush rug and soft silk drapes.

Touch of Class

A design team elevates a mundane 1980s home to new levels of function and form

Nestled into a picturesque corner of Georgetown, one of DC’s few gated communities sprawls over 42 hilly acres of grounds dotted with red brick homes. The neighborhood boasts an appealing combination of location and amenities—but with these pluses come certain restrictions. For example, expanding the footprint of any house is forbidden. So when a couple was ready to renovate their home after raising four kids there over the course of 16 years, they were limited as to what they could do to gain the space and convenience they desired.

The owners turned to a design team they already knew well: architect Anthony Barnes and interior designer Jodi Macklin. Both had remodeled the couple’s house in Rehoboth Beach. The wife, who calls them “the dream team,” says, “There was no question about who we’d work with” on the DC project.

Today, the front door opens to a central foyer flanked by the dining and living rooms. Straight back, the family room leads out to an inviting, pergola-covered backyard patio. But the layout wasn’t always so seamless. In its previous iteration, the family room felt cavernous, while the adjacent kitchen was accessible only through a narrow doorway. Between the kitchen and dining room, a cluttered service area was both unappealing and useless; it accessed the basement stairs, swallowing available wall space and interrupting the flow between rooms. 

For the wife—an avid cook and entertainer who teaches a cooking class in her home—maximizing the kitchen’s space and functionality was the first priority. Barnes re-oriented the stairwell to open into the family room, freeing up enough space to create an attractive home office and bar between the kitchen and dining room. “It was a logical change,” the architect says. “Now the stairs are under the first-floor stairwell, which is where they belong. People can circulate with ease in a donut-shaped flow of traffic.”

Opening the kitchen and family room to each other was another priority. Barnes enlarged the doorway between the two spaces, installing eight-foot-wide, ribbed-glass pocket doors so that closing the kitchen off is still an option. To bring down the scale of the family room, he added crossover beams. “There’s a relationship between the stove at one end and the fireplace at the other that ties the spaces together,” he points out. The fireplace, surrounded by figured soapstone, now lies between cerused oak built-in cabinets.

While the architect and his team were doing their job—which included raising doorway heights and embellishing the main-floor rooms with crown moldings and trim—Macklin was creating a fresh, transitional look for the interiors. “The vision was an update that would be beautiful yet inviting, comfortable and livable,” says  the designer, who stained the original oak floors dark for an updated, uniform look. Though she retained her clients’ existing furniture in the dining and living rooms, she was able to impose a clean-lined, modern style through new upholstery fabrics, draperies, rugs and wall colors. 

In the family room, a palette of grays provides the backdrop for new furniture, including a sectional by Verellen that divides the dining and lounging areas. A charcoal-and-white rug from Stark complements the soapstone fireplace; walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s Blackened give the room depth.

In the kitchen, custom cabinetry designed by Barnes Vanze, Absolute Black granite countertops and a geometric Thassos marble backsplash create a clean, modern vibe. Over the island, spherical pendants from Bobo Intriguing Objects add drama. “Things like those light fixtures elevate this house above its [spec house] origins,” Barnes observes. “Every time you look at the kitchen it’s fabulous.” For this renovation, he adds, “every surface was considered and every piece of material carefully chosen.”

Upstairs, the team directed their attention to the master suite, which was poorly laid out and lacked privacy. Barnes rearranged the spaces, borrowing from the big bath to enlarge the his-and-her closets and shifting the location of the bedroom door. A vestibule provides privacy by separating the entry to the bedroom from the main hallway; it leads past the closets to the spacious master bath—a study in Thassos marble and custom cabinetry and paneling. 

The wife wanted a look that would be “more sophisticated as the family grew older,” so Macklin chose a black-and-white palette with a geometric motif to impart a chic, stylish vibe. In the bedroom, shallow ceiling coffers give the room scale while mimicking the grid made by built-in bookshelves along one wall. A patterned rug and cube-shaped four-poster bed by Bernhardt add to the geometry. The vestibule pops with wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries and light fixtures by Nuevo.

The kids’ baths have been given facelifts, with colorful glass-tile shower accents and vibrant paint colors. A small airshaft now houses an elevator that makes trips to the lower level easy.

Because the house was built on a hill, the owners enter at the basement level from their garage. Barnes reconfigured the formerly inconvenient space to include a mudroom, wine cellar, workout room, laundry and rec room. The family is very happy with their new home—and particularly with the people who made it a reality. “I’ll work with them again in a minute,” says the wife. “Whatever comes next, they will be my team.” 

Photographer Gordon Beall is based in Bethesda, Maryland.  

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: ANTHONY BARNES, AIA, LEED AP, principal, and MELANIE GIORDANO, project architect, Barnes Vanze Architects, Washington, DC. INTERIOR DESIGN: JODI MACKLIN, Jodi Macklin Interior Design, Chevy Chase, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: MICHAEL LERNER, Meridian Homes, Bethesda, Maryland.