Sofas by Bolier are grouped around a glass-and-wood coffee table by Vanguard.
A rug with a geometric pattern and suede trim delineates the dining room.
The kitchen houses a sitting area with armchairs by Lee Industries.
The custom bed in the master bedroom is by Bernhardt.
An airy hallway leads to the main salon, with views of Bethesda.
The custom banquette in the salon is paired with a mahogany table.
Stainless-steel appliances in the kitchen are by Viking.

Rich Patina

A pair of empty nesters tapped Kirsten Anthony Kaplan of Haus Interior Design to decorate their new condo in Bethesda’s Lionsgate. A professional couple with more than one home, they are never in one place for long—but their hearts held a soft spot for Bethesda, where they had raised their kids and wished to maintain a local base. They also desired a no-hassle move. “My clients wanted it to be turnkey,” says Kaplan. “They wanted to walk in at the end and have the beds already made with linens, the bathrooms set with towels and soap, the kitchen stocked with dishes, glasses and flatware. They wanted everything new and ready to use.”

Kaplan first met with the wife over breakfast and the duo forged an instant bond while poring over inspirational photographs to establish a design direction. Of the images, Kaplan recalls one of shells that ultimately inspired the home’s neutral palette of rich plum, creamy parchment, smoky gray and warm gold. 

The condo’s prior owners had combined two units to create a three-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot residence. Their taste had leaned towards French Provençal, with lots of fussy patterns and primary colors. By contrast, “the look we were going for was tailored, elegant, clean and modern,” says Kaplan. “My client was very hands-off after our initial meeting. She never came on site because she trusted my aesthetic sense and organizational skills.”

The redesign promised to be a dramatic turnaround. It started with the kitchen, which previously sported red cabinets and black counters. With the help of Chantilly-based Dynamic Renovations, Inc., Kaplan transformed the room, painting the existing cabinets a deep, lacquered plum and switching the hardware to polished nickel. Smooth, white quartz countertops delineate the perimeter, while mottled Atlantic Salt quartz tops the reconfigured island, which boasts a wine refrigerator (the husband’s request) tucked into one side and leather-wrapped bar stools on the other.

“From the start, I wanted to convey the use of texture rather than pattern or color,” says Kaplan of her approach. “I used Phillip Jeffries grasscloth in a variety of finishes and shades in the main salon, dining room and guest bedroom, while the master bedroom walls are covered in linen and the foyer’s leather paneling has a metallic sheen.” 

Though the palette flows seamlessly from one room to the next, each space is clearly defined—so the airy main salon, with its parchment-hued wallpaper and monotone wool carpet, is distinctly different from the moodier dining room, which has darker walls and a rug with a geometric pattern. A blown-glass and brass chandelier crowns the dining table.

“My philosophy on lighting is that it’s one element where you have to invest, not skimp, as nothing does more to create ambience,” observes Kaplan. “I like to use lighting to accentuate design goals, rather than add it as an afterthought.” 

In addition to layering textures such as wood, leather, linen and wool, Kaplan creates interest through her use of metal, especially in furniture—from the nailhead trim on the wool-felt dining chairs to the champagne-metal legs on the lacquered night tables in the master bedroom.

“I wanted everything to be worthy of a second look,” says the designer. “The office looks painted, but its walls are really ultrasuede. And the headboard in the master bedroom appears quilted, but close-up [you see] it has an animal print.”

The layout in the main salon turned out to be a challenge, as the room was large with an awkward bump-out that was difficult to work around. “They wanted a space to have their friends, children and children’s friends over to watch football on Sundays,” Kaplan recalls. “It needed to have lots of seating. We decided to build a banquette at one end, an inviting space where people could play cards or have hors d’oeuvres while others watched the game.”

The condo contains several other welcoming niches, including armchairs in the kitchen where the couple can enjoy coffee and read the newspaper in the morning, or a chaise in the master bedroom that is perfect for an afternoon nap or a late-night work assignment. 

“My clients are used to staying in high-end hotels around the world, so their experience is with luxurious finishes, things that work, things that are ready,” says Kaplan, who even filled the pantry with assorted treats after the home was completed. 

The clients came through as well. “They brought three glasses and a bottle of Champagne for the big reveal!” she says, clearly touched. “It was just as one would imagine.” 

Writer Charlotte Safavi is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Helen John is a North Potomac, Maryland, photographer. 

INTERIOR DESIGN: KIRSTEN ANTHONY KAPLAN, Haus Interior Design, Rockville, Maryland