Showhouse DramaLike a Broadway play, a show house is meant to entertain, bedazzle and inspire. The designers who transformed 2017’s DC Design House last fall pulled out all the stops—despite challenges posed by its setting in a 27,000-square-foot Potomac “chateau.”
“It was a matter of taking a vast space and creating something that felt relatable, intimate and elegant,” said designer Josh Hildreth. Like his colleagues, he approached the exercise as a “term paper,” layering the grand salon with a carefully considered mélange of furniture, art and storied finds.
It was all done to support a worthy cause: Since its inception 10 years ago, the DC Design House has raised $2 million for Children’s National Health System.
See additional photos and “before” shots in the slide shows below.
DINING ROOM by Bridget Beari Designs, Inc.
Despite the room’s innate grandeur, designer Susan Jamieson went for a “modern Parisian” look that was anything but stuffy. She downplayed ornate millwork by hanging metallic grass cloth (Roux Bling Bling) from her eponymous wallpaper line between panels of molding. Bridging past and present, Jamieson placed mid-century-style dining chairs in groovy blue velvet on an antique Persian rug, while her grandmother’s china played off modern art and a sculptural chandelier by Julie Neil.
A STUDY IN BLUE by Kelley Proxmire, Inc.
In her concept for this two-story retreat, Proxmire envisioned a fresh take on the celebrated library Albert Hadley designed for Lady Astor in the 1970s. Undeterred by the directive to retain the room’s existing dark-wood paneling, the designer brightened the space with blue accents in a Brunschwig & Fils floral sofa fabric and Stark rug. Draperies in an animal stripe by Kravet framed Palladian windows and a glass-topped coffee table by Salvations imparted a lighter touch.
THE COLLECTOR’S CABINET by Josh Hildreth Interiors
Inspired by Givenchy’s Chateau du Jonchet near Paris, Hildreth transformed a “heavy and overdone” grand salon into a relaxed escape, layering furniture, art, and accessories to create a sophisticated, lived-in aura. An antique Chinese screen anchored one of two seating areas, flanked by sculptural wooden floor lamps and bold, modern paintings. In one corner, an Art Deco-style bar of Hildreth’s design combined lacquered wood and a gilt-bronze inset.
LIVING ROOM by Margery Wedderburn Interiors, LLC
A fresh coat of white paint created a clean slate for Margery Wedderburn and Melanie Hansen, who transformed a dated and overly ornate space into a sophisticated “French Modern” salon. In one corner, a metallic Niermann Weeks screen of Wedderburn’s design, modern art, and the room’s classical mantel forged a dialog that transcended centuries and styles.
THE GALLERY by Grossmueller’s Design Consultants, Inc.
In the gallery, which connects rooms at the back of the home, Cindy Grossmueller McClure and Jenna Randolph David illuminated the existing barrel-vaulted architecture with LED lights installed above the door moldings. They covered the ceiling with a textural Zoffany wallpaper reminiscent of patterned plaster and detailed it with nail-head trim. Walls in Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik added appealing contrast.
LADY’S RETREAT by Marika Meyer Interiors
What well-traveled stylist wouldn’t delight in a chic chamber decked out with a game table, bar cart and vintage Hermès scarves? The latter, sourced by Meyer on eBay, were framed and hung in a grid, creating a colorful tableau on one wall. Draperies in cheery fabrics from Meyer’s eponymous textile collection, a dreamy wool rug from Galleria Carpets and a cozy clutch of furniture further animated the space.
LITTLE JEWEL BOX SITTING ROOM by Camille Saum Interior Design
The designer instilled her space with radiant color and a spirit of joie de vivre. From the custom rose-quartz wall treatment to the green, faux-lizard pouf and window panels upholstered in contrasting check and striped fabrics, this playful aerie didn’t take itself too seriously. Saum tied it all together with a Doris Leslie Blau rug sporting a colorful
JEWEL BOX BAR by Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.
Designers Allie Mann, Elena Eskandari, Alex Hubbard and Hope Hassell gave a cramped, drab bar off the gallery a new lease on life. First, they painted the brown cabinetry in Sherwin Williams Marshmallow and Utterly Beige. Then, by removing one cabinet above the sink, they established an open feel. A marble-tile backsplash in a herringbone pattern introduced organic texture; concealed LED lights gave the new glass sink an inviting glow.
POWDER ROOM by Mary Amons Design
Tom Ford’s moody film Nocturnal Animals
inspired the vision for this private space. The jade velvet on a slipper chair of Amons’s design evoked the dress Amy Adams wore in one of the movie’s climactic scenes. Inky, crocodile-textured Thibaut wallpaper, along with ceilings painted in Sherwin Williams Tri-Corn Black, enhanced the noir vibe. A figure drawing by DC artist Annie Carroll of Swatchroom
left a powerful impression.
THE IDEALIZED FAMILY ROOM by Home on Cameron
Designers Todd Martz and Susan Nelson set out to deliver a cozy and casual haven for all ages despite the room’s imposing architecture. Covering the walls in bold, yellow-and-white wallpaper by China Seas did the trick. An antique rug from Lahore, India, extended the sense of whimsy to the floor. Practical, kid-friendly fabrics, such as red “pleather” on a pair of Lee Industries chairs, made this a fun-filled retreat for both the young and young-at-heart.
KITCHEN/BREAKFAST ROOM by Samantha Friedman Interior Designs, LLC
Despite a mandate not to alter the existing cabinets and countertops, Friedman freshened up the kitchen in French Country style. First, she painted the peachy walls a soothing cream. Echoing a floral motif in the backsplash tile, she repeated botanical elements in artwork and the Vervain window-shade fabric. Finally, she replaced a dark, heavy chandelier with a blown-glass fixture by Tracy Glover for a clean, airy effect.
THE LOUNGE by Perceptions Interiors
Modern design met neoclassicism in this daring space carved out of a hallway near the back stair. Elements such as an acrylic table with an ornate base and formal draperies in fuchsia chenille defied period labels. Designers J. Allen, Michelle Borden and Mark Borys also explored the idea of impermanence with a chiaroscuro treatment, painting walls, and ceiling in Sherwin Williams Greenblack, then embellishing them with faux architectural details in white chalk.
THE STUDY ROYALE by Lorna Gross Interior Design
The designer’s dramatic redo balanced existing dark, heavy bookshelves by painting the formerly white window casements a mocha shade. In addition to a built-in desk (see the photo online), an elegant seating area featuring vintage Sgabello chairs, a custom sofa, and armchairs covered in blue velvet proved that an office need not be sterile to spark creativity and thought. Bold paintings in a cool blue palette fostered contemplation.
POOLSIDE OASIS by Country Casual Teak
Designed for carefree days in the sun, Kimberly Asner’s plan provided comfortable seating on Country Casual Teak’s Hudson Lounge Chairs and outdoor Square Poufs. A cabana featuring crisp white privacy curtains evoked a resort feel. Pots of greenery from American Plant and striped outdoor rugs completed the al fresco perch.
THE HIVE FAMILY FOYER by Studio Artistica
This colorful, back-entry gallery, decked out with works of art rendered by patients of Children’s National Health System, served as a reminder of the DC Design House’s worthy beneficiary. Artist Lisa Tureson, whose fine art and decorative-painting graced many of the rooms in the 2017 show house, collaborated with the hospital’s art therapy program to mentor these youngsters and bring their creations—all depicting the world of bumblebees—to life.
OUTSIDE ENTRY by Clinton & Associates
Seeking to soften the feel of the imposing front stairs, Lauren Fisher-Nagia tapped into the home’s French Chateau style with a series of orangerie boxes holding forest pansy redbud and hibiscus trees that lent vertical scale. Modern seating by Dedon, framed by stately Campania pots full of seasonal plants in varied colors and textures, added a further welcome note.
TRAVELER’S RETREAT by Interiors of Washington
Tailored to suit a couple of discerning globetrotters, designer Karen Snyder’s oasis of calm spoke to a collected sensibility focusing on the artisanal and the authentic. The Niermann Weeks chandelier was forged by hand; the ottomans of Snyder’s design were covered in a luxurious cashmere-and-wool blend. The Beacon Hill linen drapes in an African-print motif displayed cotton embroidery to sumptuous effect.
UPSTAIRS FAMILY ROOM by Erica Burns Interiors, Inc.
Large-scale pressed botanicals sourced in North Carolina lent a touch of outdoor exotica to this stylish and relaxed sitting room—designed as a TV-free zone. A J. Redmond sectional in Manuel Canovas fabric could have cosseted a whole family for a cozy night of board games. A neutral, woven wall covering by Cowtan & Tout reinforced the room’s soothing palette.
GUEST BEDROOM Caryn Cramer, LLC
An ode to color, the guest room heralded the arrival of fall. Cramer took inspiration from the Canyon colorway in her own textile collection, covering the walls and some of the furniture with fabrics of her own design. The layering of natural textures and materials continued with Moroccan rugs overlapping on the floor while hand-hewn wooden beds with Greek mattresses created a warm, whimsical reverie.
MASTER BEDROOM by Interiors by Design, LLC
Dennese Guadeloupe Rojas went glam in her overhaul of the master bedroom—previously painted peach with a pale-green ceiling and white coffers. Her update bathed the space in soothing pewter and gray, with a metallic finish on the ceiling. This palette created the ideal backdrop for an upholstered bedstead and a striking Currey & Co. chandelier. Refined details, such as a beaded Vahallan wall covering, set a luxurious tone.
LUSH LAUNDRY ROOM by Paula Grace Designs, Inc.
It’s easy to overlook the drudgery of doing the wash in the midst of a marble-tile backsplash and brass cabinet pulls embellished with Swarovski crystals. Paula Grace Halewski even made space for a dog bed, fashioned by Rockville Interiors in Kravet fabric. An improved lighting plan brightened the once-dreary spot.
LE BOUDOIR by Romain Baty, LLC
While the word “curated” is way overused, it’s an apt description of how carefully Baty selected every object in the boudoir, from the au courant Doris Leslie Blau rug to the 1789 portrait by Thomas Hasting. “I ask what kind of emotion a piece brings to the person who’s going to look at it,” Baty reflects. Also, a study in contrasts—black and white, new and old, classic and modern—the room suspends every day and thereby encourages repose.
MODERN PROFESSIONAL’S STYLISH RETREAT by Anthony Wilder Design/Build
From the ceiling painted Sherwin Williams Watery to the faux-cork Thibaut wallpaper and Romo window panels, tranquil blues set a calm tone in this inner sanctum designed for a busy marketing guru. With colorful throw pillows and fabrics on the sculptural canopy bed cavorting with a lavender Lee Industries settee on the opposite wall, designers Keira St. Claire-Bowery and Dana Schwartz forged a perfect interplay of fun and Zen.
Click here for DC Design House Resources.