The spare modern house, surrounded by traditional side-hall Colonials in a Bethesda neighborhood, is conspicuous for both its form and its function. Artist Jackie Hoysted and information technology specialist Prem Singh built the unconventional, two-level structure so they wouldn’t have to leave home to go to work; the home’s domestic spaces comfortably coexist with an art studio for Hoysted and an office for Singh.
“Living and working in this house has simplified our lives,” says Singh. He and Hoysted chose the home’s location so they could walk to the Metro station, shops and restaurants in downtown Bethesda.
The two had lived in Darnestown, Maryland, before buying a small 1930s home and demolishing it to build a larger contemporary design on the lot. “We felt bad tearing down the house,” says Hoysted. “But to live and work at home, we needed substantially more space.”
To create the hybrid live/work design, the homeowners turned to Bethesda architect Mark McInturff and his colleague, Colleen Healey, who arranged the new L-shaped house around a courtyard. “It opens to the street and makes the house feel bigger,” says McInturff of the outdoor space, which provides an extra dining and entertaining area and another workspace for Hoysted in warm weather.
The walls facing the courtyard are clad in asphalt shingles, a cost-saving measure, and feature playfully arranged windows on the studio side “to reflect the creative part of the house,” says McInturff.
While interspersed among the living spaces, each work area can be accessed directly by visitors making business calls. An entrance to Hoysted’s studio is located off the courtyard, while a spiral staircase on the side of the house ascends to Singh’s second-floor office, located above the studio. Should they decide to sell the property in the future, the homeowners say the studio could be turned into a family or playroom, and the office into another bedroom.
In organizing the house, the architects took advantage of the sloping site to sink the art studio into the lower, rear part of the lot so it sits a half-level below the living area at the front. That position gave the studio higher ceilings than the other rooms in the house.
Hoysted says she selected the Bethesda architect based on the “playfulness and lightness” of his designs. “Modern architecture can be stark, but Mark uses a lot of colors to energize his work,” she observes. On the home’s exterior, blue-painted balconies and black panels enliven flat expanses of light-colored fiber-cement siding.
Inside, lime green paint outlines the kitchen within a large, open space at the front of the house that serves as a living/dining/TV-watching area. “The kitchen is very economical in terms of space and budget,” says Healey, pointing to refrigerator drawers, a backsplash of porcelain tiles laid vertically and a Corian-topped island.
Among the homeowners’ splurges is the steel-faced gas fireplace with a built-in TV cabinet in the living area, where furnishings include the French-designed Togo sofa from Ligne Roset and a cowhide rug from Design Within Reach.
A staircase placed at the center of the house leads from the main floor to the basement and second floor. Stair landings enclosed with glass balustrades and metal grates offer glimpses of the studio, kitchen, living area and courtyard, depending on the level.
The master bedroom suite occupies a second-floor space at the front of the house. A wall of cabinets and drawers and a walk-in closet behind the bed provide ample space for storing clothes and belongings. A metal balcony and a window framing views of crape myrtles put the owners in touch with nature.
The biggest surprise of the design, Singh says, is the amount of sunshine that streams in during the day. He points to floor-to-ceiling windows in his office, noting similar openings in the living spaces. “The whole house is light and airy, and the light creates new shapes inside the house.”
Writer Deborah K. Dietsch is based in Washington, DC. Photographer Julia Heine is a principal with McInturff Architects.
ARCHITECTURE: MARK McInturff, FAIA, and COLLEEN HEALEY, project architect, McInturff Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. GENERAL CONTRACTOR: ALAN KANNER and JOHN LEWANDO, Added Dimensions, Takoma Park, Maryland.
OUTDOORS—Table & Chairs in Courtyard: emuamericas.com.
LIVING/DINING ROOM—Fireplace Wall: Raw metal with custom patina by Jackie Hoysted. Modular Sofa & Dining Table: ligne-roset-usa.com. Small Occasional & Coffee Tables, Rug, Magazine Basket: dwr.com. Dining Chairs: Eames through dwr.com. Cielo Pendants over Table: pablodesigns.com. Stools at Island: Owners’ collection. Flooring: Four-inch-wide white oak with white stain.