Simply Chic Just before New Year’s Eve in 2011, Ashley Taylor and her then-fiancé Matt Bronczek made a resolution to buy a new house. The couple ended the year by touring a 1940s Tudor-style home in Northwest Washington and falling in love with its well-proportioned rooms and layout. “All the spaces on the main level flow into each other, so it’s great for entertaining and it’s near where my grandmother lives,” says Ashley.
A gemologist active in Washington’s charity-gala scene, Ashley is the granddaughter of jeweler Ann Hand and Lloyd Hand, former chief of protocol for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Matt, son of FedEx CEO and president David Bronczek, worked for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He is now co-owner of Federal Home Company, a design-build firm in McLean.
Soon after purchasing the house in 2012, the couple married in Mexico and returned to complete a renovation of the property that would provide a larger master suite, upgrade the basement and improve bathrooms, kitchen, and outdoor spaces. The eight-month project involved Matt and his business partner Doug DeLuca; architect Frank Durkin; and interior designer Erica Burns.
The team worked to modernize the most outdated rooms, but with a gentle hand. “The first things I noticed were the beautiful details from the original architecture, like the curved walls in the foyer and dining room,” says Burns. “The intention was never to change the architectural feel of the home, but make improvements that allowed it to be more functional.”
Many original features were left in place, including the Tudor-inspired limestone fireplace in the living room and the entrance hall’s gracefully curving staircase. “The house didn’t need to be gutted,” says Matt. “It needed a lot of love.”
One of the major changes is a new staircase leading from the family room at the side of the house to the remodeled basement and its billiards room and au pair suite. “Since Matt and Ashley entertain often,” notes Burns, “it was important to provide better circulation throughout the house.” New paneling around the windows above the stairs seamlessly fits into the home’s traditional architecture. A mahogany door salvaged from the Old Executive Office Building slides open to the basement game room.
The renovation extended to the outdoors, where a new stone fireplace and a built-in grill are now part of the terrace outside the dining room. “We love to entertain and use our dining room all the time,” says Ashley. “The terrace is a great overflow area for parties and the view of the fireplace from inside the house creates a cozy environment.”
On the second floor, revamped his and her walk-in closets flank the enlarged master bathroom with its centrally located soaking tub and steam shower. The paneled shower enclosure and wood flooring “make space feel more like a living room than a bathroom and tie into the rest of the house,” notes Burns.
On the third-floor, the Bronczeks created a Parisian-inspired garret retreat for guests with the ceiling covered in reclaimed wood from a Maine barn.
For Burns, the project involved mediating between the different tastes of her clients. “Ashley loves French Country and shabby chic, but Matt likes more traditional masculine design,” she says. “It meant finding a middle ground.” Her solution was to blend new designs with vintage pieces collected by the homeowners on their travels—chairs and a settée from the Paris flea market in the living room and a floral chandelier from Italy in the dining room. Added to the mix are furnishings from the Bronczeks’ previous DC home, also designed by Burns.
On the main level, a palette of muted tones unifies the various rooms. “I love the color, but not in your face,” says Ashley. “So most of the furniture is neutral and patterns are in the pillows.”
One of the brightest spaces is the dining room, where a nature-themed mural was painted by Matt’s cousin, DC artist Nicolette Capuano. More recently, Capuano completed colorful scenes in the bedrooms of the couple’s young children: birdcages for daughter Bridget, nicknamed “Birdie,” and sports uniforms for infant son Brody. “We tried to choose murals that would grow with the kids instead of being super age-specific,” says Matt.
Some vestiges of previous renovations in the house were kept, including the terracotta-tiled kitchen floor. “Ashley, who grew up in California, wanted to keep it as a reminder of home,” says Burns. “This is an example of when it’s okay to color outside the lines a bit in terms of architectural style. If you love it, it should stay.”
Writer Deborah K. Dietsch is based in Washington, DC. Stacy Zarin Goldberg is a photographer in Olney, Maryland.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: FRANK DURKIN, Frank Durkin Architecture, Arlington, Virginia. RENOVATION Design & Contracting: MATT BRONCZEK and DOUG DeLuca, Federal Home Company, McLean, Virginia. INTERIOR DESIGN: ERICA BURNS, Erica Burns Interiors LLC, Bethesda, Maryland. LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR: Wheat’s Landscape, Vienna, Virginia.