Downsizing can be a good thing—especially when the transition is seamless, as it was for a McLean, Virginia, homeowner and her five-year-old son. It helped that her interior designer, Liza Jones, had once lived in a similar 1950s tract house on an adjacent street and was familiar with both the home’s layout and its neighborhood.
“My client was moving from a much larger house in Maryland that was furnished with big, over-scale pieces that simply wouldn’t fit in this home,” Jones recalls.
Instead of trying to cram her existing furniture into the new 1,400-square-foot house, the owner decided to start over. Her design mandate was pretty simple. She said she wanted a “happy home” that would be fun and kid-friendly—and mentioned that her favorite color is orange.
Certain changes were needed straight away to update and refresh the three-bedroom, circa-1959 house. Jones had the oak floors stained a darker brown, removed the dated brass light fixtures, repainted the walls and trim and took a good, hard look at the kitchen.
“We decided to keep the overall footprint of the original kitchen, but completely reconfigured its layout, eliminating an unnecessary door to the backyard in favor of a whole new bank of much-needed cabinets,” says Jones, who worked with Chantilly-based Virginia Marble & Granite on the space.
The sink was relocated beneath an existing window that was enlarged for additional light and centered for visual balance. The opening between the kitchen and dining room was also expanded.
“We chose clean-lined taupe cabinets by Kemper and installed a tall, built-in pantry to one side,” Jones says. Glass-fronted cabinets open up the space and showcase the homeowner’s collection of dishes and glassware. Countertops of practical engineered quartz by Cosentino are paired with a ceramic-tile backsplash laid horizontally rather than vertically for an unusual look.
All the appliances are stainless steel, and a mix of pulls and knobs in brushed nickel lends a cottage-like vibe. Jones counteracted the room’s neutral simplicity with a lively botanical print by Kravet for the window treatment—a relaxed Roman shade that introduces vibrant color into the space.
A neutral, pale-gray palette took shape throughout the rest of the main floor, which encompasses the airy, open-plan foyer, living and dining areas. The brick fireplace surround received a coat of black paint, and the old hearth was replaced with one of Carrara marble.
Soft, gray tone-on-tone linen curtains from Restoration Hardware blend with the wall color to create a monochromatic backdrop for strong accents of orange and turquoise. “Because we planned to use vibrant pops of color, I wanted to ensure some areas were quieter and more toned down,” Jones explains.
With the home’s facelift complete, the designer and her client tackled the task of furnishing the space. One of the first purchases was a living room rug in orange and cream that inspired their furniture selections—casual pieces appropriately scaled to the house.
“We didn’t want anything with a high profile because the front door opens right into the main room and you see everything at once,” Jones notes. “But we did want everything to be super-comfortable and user-friendly.”
In the living area, a tufted-velvet Ethan Allen sofa in taupe and a plush, low-backed armchair in white chenille pull up to a round leather ottoman/coffee table. The wingback chair, also from Ethan Allen, has a higher back that works in the space because it stands against the fireplace wall.
“Creating a sense of foyer was challenging,” observes Jones. “So we picked out a couple of statement pieces—a round mirror with a pieced edge and a faux-leather console on a chrome base—to create presence within the open floor plan.”
Twin velvet ottomans with contrasting orange piping tuck beneath the console and serve as extra seating. The homeowner, a sales executive in the defense industry, uses the main living area as her “woman cave,” popping her feet up on the ottoman to watch TVafter work. All the furniture on the main floor is safely treated for stain-resistance in case of spills. However, her son has the run of a playroom on the lower level, which also contains a guest suite.
But the owner’s biggest design move was the addition of a screened porch and deck on the back of the house, which afforded extra living and dining space. Architects Cathy Purple Cherry and Alan Cook of Annapolis-based Purple Cherry Architects designed the addition, which entailed removing a dining room wall and installing sliding-glass doors. Complete with inviting wrought-iron furniture and durable indoor-outdoor fabrics, the porch has become one of the owner’s favorite perches in the home. As Jones explains, “She wanted the extra space for entertaining or hanging out when her son is playing in the yard, but she’s out there all the time now. It’s cozy, pretty and fun.”
Writer and stylist Charlotte Safavi lives in Alexandria. Stacy Zarin Goldberg is an Olney, Maryland, photographer.
ADDITION ARCHITECTURE: CATHY PURPLE CHERRY, AIA, principal; ALAN COOK, LEED AP, project architect, Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. INTERIOR DESIGN: LIZA JONES, Liza Jane Interiors, Sterling, Virginia. BUILDER: Clemens Builders, Bethesda, Maryland.