A painting by Sibel Kocabasi makes a powerful first impression in the dining room of a grand Bethesda home. With a pattern that suggests ice floes reaching toward a distant horizon, the abstract work is a harbinger of what’s to come inside this one-of-a-kind residence.
The owners invited McLean-based designer Barbara Hawthorn to decorate the home in clean, contemporary style. She zeroed in on natural materials and motifs that resonated with her clients, both scientists. From mixed metals to exotic woods, luxurious textiles and semi-precious stones, Hawthorn wove organic accents throughout the interiors.
But first, she had to set the stage. The recently completed spec home’s gracious proportions, generous windows and mature, three-acre landscape won over the owners from the start. But its dark finishes, iron lanterns and ornate millwork had to go. They bought the five-bedroom, Tudor-style property while conceding that a makeover was a must.
“We basically had to strip out everything and start fresh,” Hawthorn recalls. “But I could see beyond the heavy-handed stuff. I loved the sense of light and seeing through, like Palladio’s enfilade, to beautiful views from north, south, east and west.”
She introduced clean, crisp crown molding and simplified the overdone ceiling details to create the right backdrop for contemporary furniture and art.
To help outfit the home in the style she and her clients envisioned, Hawthorn then tapped into a network of artists, artisans, gallery owners and tradesfolk. Her mission: to acquire original paintings and sculpture; custom furniture, rugs and window treatments; and state-of-the-art lighting and automation for every room in the house.
“Barbara collaborated with us on the redesign and everything else,” says the husband. “It went well beyond the normal furniture side of it.”
As the designer reveals, “My clients like things that are unique rather than stock or store-bought. Therefore, we created just about everything from our own imaginations.” She commissioned artist Barton Rubenstein’s “Let it Flow,” a stainless-steel sculpture with undulating forms, to set a dramatic tone in the foyer. The artist and Hawthorn collaborated on its base—made of semi-precious white quartz that they shattered on site to approximate floating ice.
Furniture maker Keith Fritz crafted numerous pieces for the home, including the dining room table. With a base of interlocking circles in a Santos rosewood veneer, it’s a sculpture in its own right. And in the adjacent gallery, abstract works by Campbell Maloney represent the words “Less” and “More” in niches typically reserved for more conventional fare.
Textiles add a sense of luxury. In the sunroom, for example, metallic threads shimmer in the Romo sofa fabric, the carpet and the mantel’s mosaic tile. “We were playing with light, iridescence and reflection,” Hawthorn notes.
In the library at the opposite end of the foyer, decorative painter Paula Checkosky transformed standard, builder-grade cabinets with fine grain and detailing. Massive windows celebrate the landscape.
The great room and kitchen overlook the backyard, complete with a pool for themselves & for their dog (to keep dog cool in hot weather ), pool house and manicured gardens. Stairs near the kitchen lead to a lower level and its spacious sitting room, home office and gym.
Hawthorn designed several pieces for the great room, including a game table, fabricated by Keith Fritz in burled ash. A second table of her design in the breakfast room echoes an octagonal dome in the ceiling above.
A dome on the upper-level landing evolved into a conversation piece. “Because they’re scientists and love the cosmos,” says Hawthorn, she proposed a light installation mimicking a night sky. Fabric for the dome was gilded and stretched and LED lights installed behind it to create an imaginary constellation based on images she researched on her laptop. “Everything had layers of meaning,” reflects Hawthorn, “to make the house personal, to tell a story.”
The master suite is an oasis of calm, its white furnishings playing up a painting by abstract expressionist Paul Jenkins. The sitting room displays a work by Sam Gilliam while a large collage by that artist commands a rear stairwell. The owners gravitated to the work of Gilliam and other Washington Color School artists such as Leon Berkowitz and Paul Reed, all of whom are represented in the house.
“Barbara suggested a lot of things I never would have thought about,” attests the wife. “She helped us to see what’s possible—the sculptures, the artwork. We’re so pleased with everything and I cannot imagine the top of my back stairs without a Gilliam. It makes you sing every time you see it.”
Reflecting on the finished project, Hawthorn says, “It was a creative person’s dream. My clients inspired me because they gave me an opening that said, ‘We want you to be creative.’ If you have the right community of artisans,” she adds, “anything is possible.”
Interior Design: Barbara Hawthorn, Barbara Hawthorn Interiors, Ltd., McLean, Virginia. Renovation Contractor: Josh Cooper, Old Dominion Trim Specialists, Arlington, Virginia. Home Automation: Avi Benaim, A.B.E. Networks, Rockville, Maryland.
Table: keithfritz.com. Chairs: niermannweeks.com. Chair Fabric: nancycorzine.com. Chandelier: allan-knight.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com. Drapery Fabric: lelievreparis.com through starkcarpet.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Painting: sibelkocabasi.com through bethesdafineart.com.
Chandelier above Stair: hudsonfurnitureinc.com. Metal Scupture: rubensteinstudios.com. Sculpture Base Stone Supplier: gramaco.com. Consoles: keithfritz.com. Mirrors: niermannweeks.com. Glass Sculptures on Consoles: calebnichols.com. Large Painting: Leon Berkowitz through bethesdafineart.com. Rug: hollyhunt.com. Dome Gilding: splashbypaula.com.
Sofas: allan-knight.com. Sofa Fabric: romo.com. Pillow Fabric: donghia.com. Coffee Table: ebanista.com. Rug: therugcompany.com. Painting above Fireplace: johnmatthewmoore.com. Accent Tile on Mantel: bfceramics.com. Shade Fabric: fischbacher.com. Shade Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com.
Sofa: donghia.com. Sofa Fabric: fabricut.com. Arm Chair: victoriahagan.com. Coffee Table & Arm Chair Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Faux Painting: splashbypaula.com. Acrylic Console & Dictionary Stand Designs: Custom by barbarahawthorninteriors.com. Acrylic Console Fabrication: allan-knight.com. Acrylic Dictionary Stand Fabrication: spectrumcollections.com. Rug: dorisleslieblau.com. Sofa Pillow Fabrics: dogwoodfabrics.com, osborneandlittle.com. Shade Fabric & Fabrication: hartmannforbes.com. “Striped” Painting: tombollesart.com through merrittgallery.com. Floor Lamp: portaromana.com.
Sectional, TV Console, Coffee Table, Game Table & Bench Designs: Custom by barbarahawthorninteriors.com. Sectional Fabrication: aristocraftupholstery.com. Chair & Ottoman ferrell.mittman.com. Sectional, Chair & Ottoman Fabric: romo.com. Rug: hollyhunt.com. TV Console & Coffee Table Fabrication: atrium-interiors.com. Acrylic Console & Game Chairs: spectrumcollections.com. Shade Fabric & Fabrication: hartmannforbes.com. Shade Fabric Accent Band: sabinafaybraxton.com. Game Table Fabrication: keithfritz.com. Large Painting: barbaraj.info. Small Paintings by Benches: Dan Kuhne through bethesdafineart.com. Bench Stone: gramaco.com. Bench Fabrication: marblex.com. Bench Fabric: casamance.com.
Table Design: barbarahawthorninteriors.com. Table Base Fabrication: ar2designstudios.com. Table Stone Fabrication: marblex.com. Chairs: liaigre.com. Chandelier: bbitalia.com. Shade Fabric & Fabrication: hartmannforbes.com. Shade Fabric Accent Band: sabinafaybraxton.com. Desk Chair: plexi-craft.com. Painting over Desk: tombollesart.com through merrittgallery.com.
Diptych: paulreedart.com through bethesdafineart.com. Constellation Design: barbarahawthorninteriors.com. Constellation Installation: brilliantceilings.com. Painting in Hall: rdelatorre.com through merrittgallery.com.
MASTER SITTING ROOM
Chairs & Ottomans: niermannweeks.com. Chair & Ottoman Fabric: manualcanovas.com. Drapery Fabric: larsenfabrics.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Table: nuevoliving.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Shelf Design: barbarahawthorninteriors.com. Shelf Fabrication: artisangroupservices.com. Painting by Shelf: Sam Gilliam through bethesdafineart.com.
Sofa, Chair, Ottoman, Bed & Nightstand Designs: barbarahawthorninteriors.com. Bed Fabrication: keithfritz.com. Headboard Fabric: romo.com. Bedding Fabrics: pierrefrey.com, osborneandlittle.com, romo.com, clarke-clarke.com. Bedding Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Sofa Fabrication: aristocraftupholstery.com. Drapery & Sofa Fabrics: larsenfabrics.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Chair & Ottoman Fabric: andrewmartin.co.uk. Acrylic Side Table: munizplastics.com. Large Painting: pauljenkins.net through bethesdafineart.com. Bedside Lamps: portaromana.com. Night Stand Fabrication: keithfritz.com. Floor Lamp: johnrichard.com.
Millwork Design: barbarahawthorninteriors.com, atriuminteriors.com. Millwork Fabrication: atriuminteriors.com. Countertop Stone: Crema Marfil marble. Countertop Fabrication: marblex.com. Rug: bellbridge.com. Wallpaper at back of Cabinets: phillipjeffries.com.