After years in New York City—crammed into apartments where space was at a premium—Jennifer and David Stier relocated to the DC area. While house hunting, they soon found what they’d been missing in a spacious center-hall Colonial in Potomac. They loved the
expansiveness, location and layout—but both Jennifer, a software product manager, and David, an attorney, were less than thrilled with the interior decoration.
After scouring the Internet for DC-area interior designers, Jennifer came across Marika Meyer’s portfolio. “I loved her style,” she says. “Everything she did fit into my world.”
The couple bought the house, and Meyer was waiting in the wings before the closing even took place. By coincidence, designer and client were both far along in their second pregnancies when they embarked on the project. “We could really relate,” Meyer says. “I understood that she needed a beautiful home but that it had to work for a young family.”
By this time, Jennifer was busy gathering ideas on Pinterest. “I would pin a bunch of things and send them to Marika,” she recalls. The result was that Meyer quickly gleaned what her client was after. She looked at options based on what Stier sent her and, as Jennifer recounts, laughing, “she would then tell me what I really liked. She was always spot-on.”
The house was built in the 1980s and the décor had a bland, French Country aesthetic. Meyer and her client envisioned a casually elegant, family-friendly home with “a soft, ethereal look” embodied by light colors and a fresh, yet traditional vibe. While the Stiers brought very little furniture from their New York City abode—they hadn’t had room for much—the couple wanted select family heirlooms to be incorporated into the design scheme.
Meyer’s first task was to darken the traditional oak floors, which were bleached an unfortunate yellow hue. To counteract the home’s blandness, she also introduced extensive millwork that lends an architectural feel to the public rooms.
In the foyer, vertically striped wallpaper that seemed to elongate the two-story space was replaced with a restful teal paint color above white wainscoting, which continues up the stairs. Painted risers lighten the atmosphere while darker railings provide crisp contrast. A custom console and a dramatic metallic chandelier add vibrancy.
The dimensions of the living room were long and narrow; Meyer addressed the issue by installing built-in cabinets at one end of the room to shorten it visually. Open cabinet shelves display a collection of ceramic birds that Jennifer inherited from her grandmother. The shelf backs are painted in pale teal, which picks up accents of the same color in the upholstery and pillows, while a Masland rug in the same soft tones is a unifying element.
Tall, bright aqua table lamps rest on side tables, which are also family heirlooms. Standing at either end of the custom sofa, they break up the long expanse of wall, as does a series of antique botanical prints from Evelyn Avery framed in silver leaf. Armchairs by Lee Industries—one upholstered in a subtle zebra stripe and the other two in fabric by Hodsoll McKenzie—are grouped around a glass-topped coffee table. In front of the bay window, a console by Hickory Chair is paired with ottomans from Restoration Hardware.
The inspiration for the dining room was a set of dessert plates, a wedding present to Jennifer and David. Meyer covered the backs of the dining chairs with a Victoria Hagan fabric that mirrors the colors on the plates, and painted the wainscoting pale periwinkle. The sideboard—found by Jennifer at a shop in Brooklyn that imports furniture from India—has also been painted periwinkle, while a grasscloth wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries and a sisal carpet lighten the room. The circular dining table is from Horchow and the chandelier is from World’s Away.
“The family room is a departure from the tone of the other rooms,” says Meyer. Taking their cue from the heavy, fieldstone fireplace, she and her client opted for earth tones, with spool chairs and draperies by John Robshaw.
“This is the room where we spend most of our time,” Jennifer says. “It had to be comfortable.”
On the second level, an elegant bedstead, softened by a luxurious tester with custom tiebacks and headboard, grounds the narrow master bedroom. The adjoining master bath was the only area of the home to undergo structural changes during the project. The couple converted a former entry to the master bath—which once housed vanities—into a dressing room lined with mirrored closets.
The poorly designed bathroom has been transformed into a serene spa that now accommodates a large tub, separate W.C., double vanities and spacious shower. Clad in Carrara marble, the room boasts a particularly striking marble floor in a distinctive chevron pattern. “We wanted traditional materials in the bath, but with a modern twist,” says Jennifer.
The Stiers are thrilled with their redesigned home. And despite the travails of advanced pregnancy, Jennifer and her designer were able to enjoy the process. “It’s a luxury to be able to design your home,” Meyer observes. “So you have to have fun while you’re doing it.”
Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
INTERIOR DESIGN: MARIKA MEYER, Marika Meyer Interiors, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland.