Nestled in a venerable Chevy Chase neighborhood, a residence with a weathered stucco façade, long wooden shutters and masonry arches emanates French Provençal charm.
Once inside, however, guests encounter interiors that are anything but Old World. The entry overlooks a living room washed in pale creams and taupes, with clean-lined, geometric furnishings and nary a swag in sight.
A couple of physicians with two young children, the home’s current owners were drawn to the house for its “great bones.” But as the wife recalls, “It was much more ornate, with frilly details that are not in keeping with my taste. I wanted to pare it down and make it sleek and stylish but not cold.”
To realize their vision, they called on designer Kristin Peake, who furnished their previous residence 10 years ago and understood the couple’s aesthetic. Her mission was to trade the home’s “more is more” décor for a chic, modern look and create spaces conducive to entertaining guests of all ages.
“It was dark and dreary; we wanted to make it light, clean and crisp,” Peake explains. “She’s minimalistic and they don’t like a lot of pattern. Everything had to be very uniform, symmetrical and tone-on-tone.”
In the living room, Peake created flexible seating arrangements that would foster conversation. Whether perched on two Art Deco-style chairs near the front windows, ensconced on a chaise upholstered in pewter velour or gathered on the sofa and floating ottomans, guests can linger comfortably in the space.
Rather than make the fireplace a focal point, Peake shifted the emphasis to the walls that frame the sunroom. They are upholstered in the same pewter velour as the chaise and detailed in a nailhead trim motif; benches offer additional seating. “Instead of the fireplace, I wanted to draw your eye back to the beautiful sunroom so I extended the visual symmetry,” says the designer.
Varied textures and forms also make a statement in the dining room. A large, wooden hutch with antiqued mirrors lends some heft to the space. The geometric texture on the flax chair upholstery plays off the curved design on the cabinet doors.
“There’s a method to the madness,” explains the designer, who expertly created harmonious public spaces with little or no reliance on color. “You can never go wrong with tone-on-tone. It’s all in the details of the layers because there’s no color going on.”
Accessible from the living and dining rooms with views of the home’s manicured gardens, the sunroom is defined by window mullions painted in Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal. Peake calls the move a nod to the “European flavor of house.”
Today, the sunroom provides a restful spot where the owners enjoy morning coffee or relax with a book. “My goal is to make sure I spend five minutes a day in the sunroom, no matter how busy I am,” says the wife. “That room makes me happy.”
The restful master bedroom is painted in soft gray. Linen on the stools and drapes contrasts with a chaise in French blue velvet. After the kids are asleep, the parents often work on laptops and iPads in this serene space. “I don’t mind because it’s such a beautiful place,” says the wife.
The owners enjoy hosting casual family get-togethers and grown-up dinners in their newly completed home. “It strikes such a perfect balance: It’s a comfortable, kid-friendly house and at the same time it has enough function and style that we can have a very nice dinner party without even knowing there are children here,” says the wife. “I was really blown away by how right Kristin got it.”
Photographer Geoffrey Hodgdon is based in Deale, Maryland.
INTERIOR DESIGN: KRISTIN PEAKE, Kristin Peake Interiors, LLC, Rockville, Maryland. STYLING: CHARLOTTE SAFAVI.