Photography: Paul Burk

Remodeling: Case Study

Glass + Light: Ossolinski Architects designs a sleek Chevy Chase, DC, addition to an older home

A couple who had lived in a traditional DC neighborhood for 30 years decided it was time to update their home. A new master suite would allow them to dedicate the existing bedrooms to guests, while creating an oasis for themselves. They hired Ossolinski Architects for the job, which entailed creating a structure above the front entry.


“The original house was bland,” recalls principal Matthew Ossolinski of the 1930s house. “But over the years [the clients] had given it modern aspects.” Clearly, the addition would need to convey a contemporary sensibility, so Ossolinski and his team created a modern plan that emphasized glass and light. This would also keep the structure from overpowering the front doorway.

The completed addition encompasses a bedroom, dressing room and master bath. It’s clad in horizontal panels of glass—some opaque for privacy and some transparent—that admit light throughout the structure. Inside, a raised ceiling in the bedroom incorporates clerestory windows for added light.

A glass-tile bath connects to the bedroom through a convenient dressing room; both are furnished with custom built-in vanities in ebonized oak. Floors in the bedroom and dressing room are also ebonized oak, while in the bath, striated porcelain tile from Architectural Ceramics adds to the streamlined look. In the bedroom, the oak-paneled walls and doors have been stained to emphasize their grain.

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: MATTHEW OSSOLINSKI, AIA, LEED AP-BD&C, Ossolinski Architects, PLLC, Washington, DC. INTERIOR DESIGN: WHITNEY STEWART, Whitney Stewart Interior Design, Washington, DC. CONTRACTOR: SIMON LEY, The Ley Group, Washington, DC. PHOTOGRAPHY: PAUL BURK.

MATTHEW OSSOLINSKI’S TRADE SECRETS:

  • Collaborate with your architect. Let him or her in on the details of your life: how you use spaces, your motivations. Let your architect get to know you. When we know our clients well, we do an excellent job.
  • Make decisions up front if possible, starting with larger-scale items such as the relationship between rooms and how the house will fit into the neighborhood. The larger decisions will inform the smaller ones—and you’ll save time, money and aggravation during construction.
  • Be willing to change your ideas. It may be that something you’ve chosen doesn’t work with other selections.
  • Use AIA construction contracts when working with an architect. These contracts offer the most protection to the homeowner if things go wrong.