Located on a street in Falls Church lined with large, recently constructed homes, a quaint, 1938 center-hall Colonial stands out. When the owners bought the stone-clad house nine years ago, it was dark and traditional in style, mired in a dated 1990s renovation. The couple and their two kids lived with the home’s inefficiencies and outdated look until they reached that predictable moment when growing pains made a decision necessary: Should they move somewhere more family-friendly, or should they stay and upgrade the house they had?
With ties to the neighborhood and a love for the house itself, they decided to stay put. Starting small, the wife remembers contacting interior designer Roxanne Lumme—their daughters are in the same Girl Scout troop—and requesting “a color consult, a new countertop and maybe a few new pieces of furniture.” Eventually, this small wish list grew by leaps and bounds to encompass a whole-house remodel focusing on the kitchen and the master suite but also giving the rest of the house a significant facelift.
There was one caveat, however: To keep costs down, the owners, who also have a home on Martha’s Vineyard, wished all the work to be done without expanding the existing house. “We kept the footprint,” Lumme says. “But there was definitely a lot of shifting of spaces.”
To begin with, the outmoded kitchen needed to be gutted. Lumme created a design that would open it up to the adjoining family room by tearing down the wall that separated the two spaces. In the center of the kitchen—previously a wasted space where the owners kept the garbage can, having no other place for it—Lumme installed a convenient island topped with Bianco Antico granite. Her plan also relocated the adjacent laundry room, creating enough space for a wall of kitchen appliances on one side and a new powder room on the other.
In the family room, a breakfast nook with a built-in banquette now encompasses the area just beyond the kitchen; it’s delineated from the rest of the room by knee walls that provide storage and display space. In the adjacent seating area, a wall of built-ins now showcases the clients’ mementoes while colors evocative of the beach—the owners’ favorite palette—impart warmth and light. “We didn’t change its footprint but we took this room down to the studs,” Lumme says. “We tried to give the space its own purpose, with a breakfast nook and a mudroom area. When you look at the space you really know what each part is for.”
While the kids’ rooms are upstairs, the master suite is part of a ground-floor addition dating back to 1995. Accessible through a breezeway on one side of the living room, it’s comprised of a hall that leads to the laundry room, master bedroom and bath.
“It was not very functional,” says Lumme. “We moved the wall in a little to make the bath bigger and moved the door to the bath from the bedroom to the hall.” The master bath is now clad in Carrara marble, with a herringbone pattern in the shower surround and a basket weave on the heated floors. Two large custom closets and a long vanity with a Carrara countertop provide plenty of storage. In the small but comfortable master bedroom, a wall of custom cabinetry streamlines the space.
When Lumme and her clients began, they searched for the right vibe for the rejuvenated home. “I had no way to describe my design aesthetic,” the wife recalls. “I told Roxanne I wanted to ‘make it reflect the era when the house was built, but make it modern.’”
With this directive, Lumme developed a decorating plan that lightened the whole house, de-emphasizing its Colonial roots. She combined traditional furnishings with a light-hearted, modern use of materials, patterns, textures and accessories. “The most fun part was that it happens to be my taste as well,” Lumme observes. “That is not always the case!”
To enliven the entry and stairwell, she paneled the walls, then brought them into relief with glossy Elephant’s Breath paint from Farrow & Ball. In the dining room, walls clad in grasscloth with a metallic thread by Phillip Jeffries add shimmer; with satiny Fabricut draperies in strong blue and an elegant chandelier, the dining room is both dramatic and fun.
An abstract painting by Lisa Tureson occupies center stage in the living room, where a custom-cut Stark carpet and seating from The Charles Stewart Company feel elegant yet comfortable. A custom coffee table and bench by Salvations play off the traditional furnishings, and existing built-ins now have mirrors at the back that reflect the room, making it feel larger and lighter.
Initially, Lumme wondered what to do in the awkwardly shaped breezeway. Since the room gets plenty of natural light, she decided to create a sunroom “that would bring the outdoors in.” A custom rug echoes the botanical motif in draperies by Designers Guild, and open metal shelves keep the space airy and light. Matching sofas from The Charles Stewart Company provide comfortable perches for curling up in the sun.
Exposed exterior stone walls embellish the family room and breezeway, remnants of a time before those rooms were added. They impart character while also connecting the residence to its past. This was important to the clients. “They loved the house and wanted to make it their dream home—within its original footprint,” says Lumme. “This flew in the face of what everyone else on the block was doing, which is what I love about this project.”
Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
INTERIOR DESIGN: ROXANNE LUMME, Roxanne Lumme Interiors, McLean, Virginia. CONTRACTOR: STEVE BARBER, Barber’s Construction, LLC, Falls Church, Virginia.