When a couple moved to Washington, DC, from San Francisco four years ago, they wanted a retreat where they could escape the demands of city life with their teenaged son and daughter. Out West, they’d had a home on Lake Tahoe and loved its refined yet rustic setting. So when friends introduced them to Maryland’s Gibson Island, where they found a five-bedroom home for sale, they discovered a new place where they could connect with the water—and bring a touch of West Coast style to the East.
“This house is on [Otter] Pond, which is such a nice place, and we thought it had a good soul,” says the wife of the 1920s-era Shingle-style residence she and her husband purchased.
“We loved the bones of the house and didn’t change the footprint at all,” she adds. “But West Coast style is different in that it is more modern and we wanted to bring that forward. We wanted to refresh the house and update it to be family-friendly.”
The owners hired Gibson Island-based interior designer Erin Paige Pitts to help them accomplish this. Pitts soon realized that the 4,000-square-foot home, which had been under the stewardship of its previous owner for several decades, needed a facelift to meet her clients’ needs. “They are hip and wanted something they described as ‘modern camp,’” says the designer. The couple explained that they wanted to bring a bit of the Tahoe aesthetic to the house—its situation on an expansive fresh-water pond lent itself to a lake house vibe. But, says Pitts, they cautioned against a look that was either too “cabiny” or too “beachy.”
Looking through images with the owners, she quickly grasped the concept, which was inspired by the work of the Nashville-based design firm McAlpine. It’s a style that is both modern and moody, featuring saturated hues and natural elements such as woven rugs and leather accents applied with a contemporary eye.
The owners wanted dark floors and a rich color palette of blue, green and orange for the communal areas, and cool, clean bedrooms. “It couldn’t be stuffy,” explains the wife. “And while we wanted everything to be beautiful, it also had to endure being sat on in wet bathing suits.”
The redesign did not require alterations to the floor plan, but there was still much that needed to be changed, as most of the house was finished in uninspired drywall. Pitts redid the floors in durable, deep-toned hickory and detailed the living-room walls with paneling painted a deep gray. In keeping with the owners’ color preferences, the room features deep-blue sofas and leather stools in what the designer dubs “Hermès orange.” The stools evoke that “modern camp” aesthetic—as does the natural sisal rug. The room accommodates two seating areas, perfect for flexible entertaining, each presided over by a massive, four-foot-tall hanging lantern.
The use of deep tonal color continues in the kitchen, where Pitts restored the original 1920s tile floor and complemented it with cabinetry painted a high-gloss blue-gray. Throughout the home, she painted window frames and mullions dark gray, which feels more modern than the traditional white. This was particularly important in the large dining room, with its wall of Palladian windows.
The homeowners requested seating for 12 in the dining room. Pitts selected a 125-inch-long table made of reclaimed wood and surrounded it with benches and leather and woven chairs to underscore the collected, camp style. “The dining-room end chairs are something you could imagine seeing on safari, something Ernest Hemingway might have sat in,” says Pitts.
“Everything needed layers of interest without being stodgy,” she continues, noting the selection of a pair of modern Visual Comfort light fixtures over the dining room table. Their articulated arms can be moved to ensure appropriate lighting for the entire, large entertainment space.
Although the house fulfills its mandate of being rich and atmospheric, Pitts explains that every room couldn’t be moody or the interiors would be too dark—especially in winter, as her clients use the retreat year-round. Thus, the family room overlooking the pond features a light, neutral sectional and bright turquoise pillows. According to the wife, this is their favorite room in which to gather as a family, play games, relax and, of course, enjoy the extraordinary view that first drew them to this home.
Interior Design: Erin Paige Pitts, Erin Paige Pitts Interiors, Gibson Island, Maryland.
THROUGHOUT Floors: Hickory through shannonwaterman.com
SUNROOM Sectional & Fabric: nafurniture.com. Coffee Table: palecek.com. Rattan Chair: roostco.com. Stool: bungalow5.com. Rug: fibreworks.com. Throw Pillows: Custom. Table: hookerfurniture.com. Pendant over Table: arteriorshome.com. Banquette: vanguardfurniture.com.
GREAT ROOM Blue Sofas & Fabric, Round Coffee Table: vanguardfurniture.com. Coffee Table, Orange Folding Stool & Wood-Framed Occasional Chair: noirla.com. Rug: fibreworks.com. Fireplace Surround: Crema Marfil marble through atlasstonefabricatorsinc.com. Screen: arteriorshome.com. Fixture over Sitting Area: visualcomfort.com. Console: fourhands.com. Candlesticks: selamatdesigns.com. Mirror over Console: madegoods.com. Table Lamp: roostco.com. Wingchair: sherrillfurniure.com.
KITCHEN Cabinetry Color: Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray. Stools: arteriorshome.com. Woven Chairs: palecek.com. Breakfast Table: fourhands.com. Pendants over Table: hudsonvalleylighting.com. Pillows on Banquette: Custom.
MASTER BEDROOM Bedstead Chair & Ottoman: sherrillfurniture.com. Bedding: legacylinens.com. Pillows: Custom. Bench & Fabric: noirla.com. Floor Lamp: visualcomfort.com. Bedside Lamp: Kelly Wearsler for visualcomfort.com. Rug: kravet.com.