A yearlong renovation and interior-design project typically starts with a lengthy list of homeowner must-haves. But not this one. When DC architect and designer Andreas Charalambous met new clients at their recently purchased flat in Georgetown, the ask boiled down to a single request: “Tell us what the space could become.”
As Charalambous explains, owners David and Ruthie Carliner “wanted to bring [the condo] to its full potential” yet had not arrived at any specifics. “They were open to exploring the possibilities. It was an interesting process, a conversation.”
The empty-nesters, who live in northern Baltimore County, longed for an in-town getaway where they could enjoy the District’s many attractions. “We love the scale and walkability of Washington,” says David, a retirement-community developer. “And access to the Kennedy Center was definitely an important draw.”
Housed in a 12-year-old building, the unit they bought—lined along the back with floor-to-ceiling windows framing views of the C&O Canal—hardly constituted an eyesore at the outset. “The realtor said we should buy it because it was in perfect condition,” David recounts. “Then Andreas came in with all these great ideas. We ended up demolishing everything.”
At first, Charalambous focused on maximizing every inch of the 1,400-square-foot flat. He opened up the living area by removing a wall separating it from an adjacent den. A double-sided gas fireplace—organically shaped with televisions on both sides—now divides the long space into two zones: a sitting area and a lounge.
An aesthetic direction began to emerge with the selection of large-format, stone tiles to replace the existing wood floors. “The moment we made the decision on the stone, things started to fall into place,” recalls Charalambous. “The flooring choice guided the other decisions we made.”
With streamlined flooring on its way, the mundane kitchen begged for an update. Sitting to the left of the entry, the space “needed to look good because it’s the first thing you see when you enter,” notes Charalambous, who collaborated with Vincent Sagart of Poliform | sagartstudio on the redesign.
Glossy white cabinets and countertops replaced darker versions in stained wood and granite, respectively. The team traded a solid wall of cabinets and integrated appliances—which stretched to the ceiling—with an airier arrangement of base cabinetry and a floating, LED-lit upper unit. As Sagart reveals, the goal was “to create the illusion of more space” in the open-plan living/dining area.
The couple’s escape-the-everyday Georgetown lifestyle dictated the kitchen’s functional aspects. “The storage and cooking areas are fine-tuned to their needs for a second home, where they come to unwind,” says Sagart. Scaled-down appliances, including under-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers, made sense.
“There aren’t any pots or pans because I don’t cook here,” admits Ruthie, a culinary school-trained chocolatier. “We go out to eat when we’re here. We walk to dinner. It’s so much fun.”
Opposite the kitchen, the office multi-tasks as a guest room for visiting grandchildren. Its customized desk/storage system rotates to reveal a Murphy bed. In the master suite, Charalambous flanked the bed with smoky mirrors to expand the space visually. Both the master and guest bathrooms received full-gut upgrades.
A nuanced palette of beige and gray throughout plays up the owners’ collection of vibrant abstract artwork. “We let the art bring in the color,” says Charalambous.
The architect introduced lighted cove ceilings to “subtly define” certain spaces. “The theme of the ceiling starts in the dining area, unites the two living areas, and then reappears in the master bedroom,” he explains. The dining-area recess follows the size and shape of the table below, while the bedroom cove acts as a canopy over the bespoke bed. Charalambous finished the mod forms with white-on-white Venetian plaster that shimmers in the LED lights.
The furniture plan blends mid-century finds with contemporary selections—a mix that developed naturally during designer-client shopping excursions. “We didn’t have one style in mind,” says Charalambous. “We went to see a lot of different things.” Four Pelican club chairs, designed by Finn Juhl, make up the living-room sitting area, while the opposite lounge groups several customized pieces, including a sofa and armchair, from L.A.-based creator Stephen Kenn.
As David reveals, the condo’s clean design offers a welcome change from the French Country interiors of the Carliners’ Maryland abode. “Our favorite thing about the apartment is how it makes us feel,” he shares. “We love the fact that it always feels new and special, but also familiar and comfortable.”
The couple generally spends one night a week in their Georgetown getaway. “It’s a little vacation when we’re here,” says Ruthie. “It’s our date night.”
Architecture & Interior Design: Andreas Charalambous, AIA, IIDA, principal, and Juan Martin Gutierrez, FORMA Design, Washington, DC. Kitchen Design: Vincent Sagart, Poliform | sagartstudio, Washington, DC. Builder: CMG Construx, Washington, DC. Home Automation: Casaplex, Kensington, Maryland.
Flooring: stonesource.com. Venetian Plaster Ceiling Inserts: Tim Thompson, Creative Transformations, Inc.; 410-458-7136.
Finn Juhl Pelican Club Chairs & “Sheep” Rocker: furniturefromscandinavia.com. Chair Fabric: kvadrat.dk. Ottoman: kmpfurniture.com. Console: todvon.com. Custom Area Rug Design: formaonline.com. Rug Fabrication. chachafurniture.com. Floor Lamp: usa.flos.com.
Floor lamp: usa.flos.com. Sofa, Armchair, Coffee Table & Ottoman: stephenkenn.com. Sofa, Armchair & Ottoman Fabric: stoneleathergoods.com. Round Side Table: Eileen Gray. Handmade Mohair Throw: lenarewell.fi through furniturefromscandinavia.com. Accent Wall Material: maharam.com. Art Wall: peterglassford.com.
Murphy Bed + Desk Millwork: resourcefurniture.com. Area Rug: maslandcontract.com. Lounge Chair, Ottoman, Side Table & Desk Chair: furniturefromscandinavia.com. Chair & Ottoman Fabric: kvadrat.dk.
Bed: Custom by formaonline. Bed Fabrication: ferrisllc.com. Bench: kmpfurniture.com. Custom Area Rugs: chachafurniture.com. Pendants: pablodesigns.com. Side Tables: poliformdc.com. Accent Wall Material: nappatile.com. Reading Lights: marset.com/usa. Handmade Mohair Throw: lenarewell.fi through furniturefromscandinavia.com.
Wardrobe & Cabinetry: poliformdc.com.
Vanity: Custom by formaonline. Vanity Fabrication: ferrisllc.com. Rain Shower & Sink: us.kohler.com/us. Countertop: silestoneusa.com. Shower Tile & Feature Wall: porcelanosa-usa.com. Painting: Karen Silve through callowayart.com.