In this age of gut renovations and teardowns, finding a home in mint, move-in condition requires a rare confluence of luck and timing. A couple in search of a new roost stumbled upon just such a gem in Bethesda.
As luck would have it, the previous owner happened to be an architect who’d beautifully renovated the split-level dwelling, much to the couple’s delight. They envisioned cozy dinners and downtime with their three young children in the spacious kitchen and family room. The more tailored living and dining rooms fit their bill for entertaining parties large and small. Landscaped grounds complete with a pool and a pool house cinched the deal.
The new owners saw no reason to tinker with most of the design elements the architect had created—from cabinets and stair-rail details to moldings and millwork. Designer Marika Meyer, tapped to outfit the home’s interiors, wholeheartedly agreed.
“We were able to come in, without doing any heavy lifting on the architecture front, and decorate the home with all the treasures the previous owner had left behind,” Meyer remarks.
One of these treasures—William Morris botanical wallpaper in the foyer—would become a springboard for her overarching plan. A 19th-century British artist and designer who spearheaded the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris celebrated the natural world in his oeuvre. Likewise, Meyer played up organic themes as she marshaled the interiors in new directions to suit her clients’ aesthetic and functional desires. “We were focused on how we could make the personal, private spaces appropriate for kids while creating public rooms appropriate for how the owners wanted to entertain,” she explains.
The open family room and kitchen inhabit a new wing in the home, split by a secondary staircase leading to the upper-level bedrooms. An aqua ceramic-tile fireplace surround in the family room provides a vibrant background for furniture that “is a study in durability,” says Meyer, who selected indoor/outdoor fabrics to withstand the wear and tear of kids at play in this space and throughout the home. A skirted bench of her design became a spot coveted by the children for reading and watching TV.
Meyer’s clients retained the stepped railing on the back stair and the kitchen’s retro-style cabinetry, both of which convey a mid-century vibe. They also kept an antique stove that the previous owner had left in place for decorative purposes only. “The stove is a great focal point and adds character in the clean-lined kitchen,” says the designer, whose color scheme was inspired by the cabinets’ pale lime-green hue.
Color took a bold turn in the living room, where two Lee Industries armchairs are covered in a botanical Schumacher linen. The large-format print—which wouldn’t look out of place in a William Morris catalogue—creates drama against the neutral carpet and walls. “Going for that bold pattern, with its greens, aquas and other tones, was a real leap of faith,” Meyer admits, “but it opened up the color palette. And pairing the chairs with a beautiful Century sofa in red makes for a more dynamic space.” The sofa and Hickory Chair stools, also upholstered in red fabric, weave a common thread with fabrics in the adjacent dining room.
Here, Meyer contrasted a red-and-gold Giati chevron on the chair fronts with a strong GP & J Baker damask on the backs. “In the dining room, the colors are classic and timeless,” the designer contends. “With the muted walls and drapes, having the dialed-up color on the chair backs is not overwhelming.”
Meyer, who has her own eponymous textile collection, judiciously blended colors and fabrics throughout the home. “There’s a fair amount of color, but this house shows how you can integrate it,” she comments, noting the way creamy, neutral shades on the floors and walls subdue the mood. “It’s a matter of careful balance.”
One wall in the dining room displays the owners’ butterfly collection, organized in simple frames. The assemblage softens the room’s formality with a natural flourish. “There’s a classic element in the frames—they are not an exact match but very complementary,” says Meyer. “They create a collected feeling, which was our goal throughout.”
Upstairs, a blue-and-white floral motif sets a breezy tone in the serene master bedroom. The pared-down, upholstered bed and geometric night tables play off this classic embroidered textile. “The whole house has that story of traditional paired with modern,” says Meyer. “It was a joy to be able to step into this home and put our twist on it.”
Looking back now that the project is complete, Meyer returns to her Craftsman-era muse. “The William Morris wallpaper is a testament that classical design and traditional elements are timeless,” she says. “It is still fresh today.”
One can imagine that the visionary Morris would have been happy to pay it forward. In fact, he once wrote, “The past is not dead. It is living in us, and will be alive in the future, which we are now helping to make.”
INTERIOR DESIGN: Marika Meyer, Marika Meyer Interiors, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland.
Sofa & Pillows: Custom through meyerinteriors.com. Pillow Fabric: fschumacher.com. Custom-Sized Bench: kravet.com. Bench Fabric: delanyandlong.com. Striped Ottomans: ballarddesigns.com. Ottoman Fabric: kravet.com. Coffee Table & Side Table: Owners’ collection. Rug: coecarpetandrug.com.
Table, Chairs & Pendants: Owners’ collection.
Sofa: centuryfurniture.com. Chairs: leeindustries.com through americaneyewdc.net. Chair Fabric: fschumacher.com. Coffee Table: salvationsaf.com through americaneyewdc.net. Floor Lamps: arteriorshome.com. Stools by Fireplace: hickorychair.com. Blue Chairs: vanguardfurniture.com. Rug: coecarpetandrug.com. Art: Owners’ collection.
Table: centuryfurniture.com. Chairs: woodbridgefurniture.com. Chair Fabric (front and seat): giati.com through jlambeth.com. Chair Fabric (back): gpjbaker.com through kravet.com. Sideboard: lexington.com. Chandelier: curreyandcompany.com. Rug: coecarpetandrug.com. Drapery Fabric: fabricut.com through jlambeth.com.
Bed: Custom by meyerinteriors.com. Throw Pillow, Roman Shade & Drapery Fabric: kravet.com. Nightstand: centuryfurniture.com. Chair: leeindustries.com through americaneyewdc.net. Chair Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com through americaneyewdc.net. Rug: starkcarpet.com.