Home & Design

Rill replaced a traditional stair railing in the foyer with a modern metal version; the floor is wood-look porcelain.


Retro appliances and a farmhouse sink add rustic flavor in the kitchen.

In the living area, a sofa from Blu Dot is paired with an EQ3 coffee table.

A coat rack and mirror from Rejuvenation hang above a custom bench.

The owner’s Instagram photos were converted into wallpaper for a personal touch in the powder room.

The kitchen flows into the living area, where a Visual Comfort chandelier hangs.

Tiny Jewel

A cookie-cutter condo trades run-of-the-mill interiors for charm, functionality and rustic flair

After purchasing a condo in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, the owner contacted architect James Rill and interior designer Nancy Harper to improve its bland main level, which encompassed a combination kitchen/living area and foyer. At the top of her wish list was “a sense of personality,” says Harper. “She wanted to reflect the look of a Wisconsin cabin she’d loved growing up. We tried to thread the needle between rustic and a chic sophistication that would acknowledge the city location.” The owner also requested changes to the kitchen layout to make it function better for entertaining.

Rill began by replacing a peninsula that blocked the kitchen’s flow with a mahogany-topped island that creates space for gathering. Millwork throughout adds character and detail, from ceiling treatments that define the spaces to built-ins and V-groove panels in the living room. “We left the spaces open but still provided a sense of scale,“ he notes.

Custom, ceiling-height cabinetry in white and navy by Danish Builders; a subway-tile backsplash with contrasting grout; and open, mahogany shelving all convey a rustic-chic sensibility in the kitchen, while in the living area, a mid-century vibe channels casual elegance. “This was really a vanilla space,” observes Rill. “But with articulation and detailing, we were able to turn it into a little jewel.”

Renovation Architecture: James F. Rill, AIA, Rill Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. Interior Design: Nancy Harper, Studio Miel, Washington, DC. Contractor: Danish Builders, Rockville, Maryland. 

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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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