The opportunity to mastermind the interiors of a sprawling, contemporary house by TDI Homes in Arlington was a challenge designer Suzanne Manlove welcomed.
“The homeowners used to live in Miami, so they have a more modern aesthetic than is common in this area,” she says. “They specifically wanted a streamlined, sophisticated space with an open floor plan that would be suitable for entertaining adults, yet satisfying for the daily comfort of their three elementary school-aged children.”
As design plans for the five-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot residence came together, Manlove selected finishes, materials and furniture that could withstand the rigors of active family life while being stylish enough for social events.
Though the furnishings are sleek and modern, Manlove paired them with fabrics that are warm and tactile, from buttery leather and faux Mongolian fur to smooth velvet and textured weaves. Organic wood and stone elements also travel from room to room, ensuring that spaces feel interconnected and not too stark.
“It was important to the family that the house be modern but not cold,” Manlove says. “We achieved our goal.”
What made this project unique for you?
It was a nice opportunity to do a very contemporary family home, not a transitional or traditional one which is more typical for me. The homeowners were hands-on in the design process, so it was a truly collaborative experience.
How did you create a calm vibe in an active household?
I think the palette had a lot to do with it. I went with neutral, monochromatic hues with gray as the primary color. To keep things interesting, I did accents in touches of soft teal and blush. The furniture is also clean-lined and minimalist, not cluttered and busy. There are almost no patterns except in the carpeting; everything is textural and tonal.
Did you have a specific spatial challenge?
The main living area in the open floor plan is a rectangle, both large and long. I wanted a furniture layout that would make it more intimate in feel. It needed to be a space that could seat many people for entertaining, yet also provide an inviting environment where the family could cuddle up and watch TV.
How did you solve that issue?
I broke up the seating area into two connected zones. One section has two deep-seated, 10-foot-long custom sofas upholstered in a durable textured blend; they sit on either side of a tufted ottoman wrapped in leather. The second section has a pair of roomy swivel chairs set about a Platner cocktail table; the swivel function allows the chairs to face the TV and be part of that setup, or to face the adjacent kitchen area. A custom wool rug with a subtle Moroccan-inspired pattern unites the two zones, as does the coffered ceiling detail.
What’s special about the kitchen design?
The homeowners wanted two large kitchen islands: one for entertaining, with enough space for the kids to do their homework or have a snack, and the other for food preparation, with double sinks facing each other. For the islands, I selected different streamlined light fixtures for spatial definition, but the same charcoal-stained cabinetry bases and white quartzite tops.
Talk about a “wow” feature you integrated into the décor.
I love the dining room light fixture, which is a beautiful, custom-designed, hand-blown glass piece composed of 20 globes in different scales and neutral hues. It is so beautiful that we chose a dark blue-gray accent wall for high contrast and to showcase it. That room’s furnishings are also minimal, so the light fixture really is the showstopper. It’s also the first room you see when you enter the home.
How did you bring warmth to the home’s modern aesthetic?
Adding coziness made sense to me. I used warm wood finishes throughout. Stone elements, like the bricked hearth in the living area or the taupe marble in the master bathroom, also added organic warmth. My intention was to bring nature indoors.
How did you create continuity between rooms?
I like to repeat elements. For example, I used a driftwood look on certain pieces like the Crate & Barrel foyer console. The floating cabinetry in the living room also has that finish. I achieved an overall sense of continuity through palette, pattern and fabric.
What’s your design philosophy?
I believe art is very important to completing a space in a personal way. We love the hunt for original art pieces that make a room sing.
How do you create intimate spaces in a big home?
When you break up a larger room into smaller “conversation” areas, it becomes cozier and more functional.
Describe your personal style.
I love to layer neutral textures and bring nature indoors via color, pattern and finish. I’m excited about the Maker Movement; I constantly seek new craftspeople to create one-of-a-kind pieces for clients.
Design pet peeves?
When folks use precious fabrics in family spaces. I am practical at heart and can’t help but worry about stains and longevity.
Your favorite trend?
I love the faux shearling trend for accent pieces. Every time I see a fur-covered chair I want to sit in it!
Architecture & Contracting: TDI Homes, Arlington, Virginia. Interior Design: Suzanne Manlove, Arlington Home Interiors, Arlington, Virginia.