When Sandra Meyer of Ella Scott Design revamped a center-hall colonial in Bethesda, the challenge was how to combine age with beauty. “My clients had a lot of heirlooms,” she recalls. “My job was to figure out how to incorporate them into a larger, more cohesive and aesthetically pleasing design.”
Caroline Friedman, who runs the stationery business Paper Becomes You, and her husband Peter, a lawyer, purchased their home more than a decade ago. With three kids, now ranging in age from nine to 17, they chose the neighborhood because, says Friedman, “It’s really central for getting to work and getting the kids to their schools, which are spread all over.”
In 2015, Friedman hired Gilday Renovations to remodel the kitchen, which now boasts a waterfall-edge marble island and gray-stained oak cabinets. Once that was accomplished, it was time to give the main floor of the five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house a refresh. “I found Sandra online,” recalls Friedman of enlisting Bethesda-based Meyer. “She understood what I wanted: a modern, sophisticated and neutral home that would also be warm and textured.”
Nowhere is this sensibility more apparent than in the dining room. Meyer had the existing table, a family heirloom, refinished, then turned her attention to the couple’s treasured, chrome-framed Mies van der Rohe chairs.
“They’re super-cool and highly collectible,” Meyer says. “We removed the old caning and gave them seats and backs in leather from Holly Hunt with a lacquered finish.” To counteract their boldly curved lines, she embraced geometric patterns elsewhere—for example, in a multi-faceted, blackened-steel light fixture that, she says, adds “strong sculptural presence and spatial definition.”
As a backdrop, the designer selected wood-veneer wall covering in a chevron pattern and a ridged-wood sideboard with a silvered finish. “I wanted the room to feel polished, but I didn’t want anything to compete with the movement in the chairs or chandelier,” she explains.
Across the center hall from the dining room via wide archways is the living room, which leads through French doors to the family room. The living room contains the clients’ piano and vintage armchairs, now reupholstered in chevron-striped viscose.
“Given that the living room is next to the family room, I wanted something a bit more formal and grown-up in there,” says Meyer, who covered the walls in grass cloth and added a contemporary-style sofa with sloped arms and a boxy side chair—a contrast to the clients’ antique chairs, which have a curvaceous profile.
The room also features a rectilinear, Lucite-based cocktail table with a gold top and a circular ottoman that slips beneath the piano when not in use. A double-arm sconce with mid-century lines replaced traditional standing and table lamps.
In the family room, Meyer sealed off a window by the TV and clad the wall with custom shelving and cabinetry for display and storage. The French doors are lacquered black while a bay window on one wall is delineated by frames painted dark blue.
Reproduction Arne Jacobsen Swan chairs are unexpectedly paired with a minimalist sofa and an antique settee reupholstered in velvet. By the bay window, Meyer created a niche for an existing game table and chairs from CB2. “It’s not a ‘matchy’ home,” the designer observes. “Instead, it feels—and has been—collected over time.”
Interior Design: Sandra Meyer, Ella Scott Design, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland.
Sandra Meyer’s Trade Secrets
- When updating an upholstered heirloom, recover it in a modern fabric. Consider removing tufting or replacing buttons with pin tufting.
- Use lighting in unusual places or ways. Many wall-mounted lights are sculptural, so think of them as art, not just as light.
- One of my favorite things about wall coverings is that they finish a space so easily. Wall coverings allow clients to enjoy a polished room without having to find art immediately.
- When working in a neutral palette, add dimension and interest with textures. Use fabrics with different content and slight variations in color to provide that interest.
- Don’t be scared to buy something you love because you’re not sure where to put it. I find there is always a spot for that special piece.