A software executive seeking a new home knew he’d spotted a gem in DC’s coveted Foxhall neighborhood. Though its formal interiors were not his cup of tea, he saw potential in the Georgian-style home’s good bones, generous size and leafy backyard. He acquired the six-bedroom property, built in 2008, with an all-out renovation in mind.
Assembling a seasoned design team to take on the challenge was a no-brainer: Architect Scarlett Breeding, landscape architect Kevin Campion, interior designers Helen Sullivan and Nancy Twomey and builder Bret Anderson had completed five previous residences for him. With these pros on board, the project took off in early 2017 with the ambitious goal of finishing before the owner’s young son would start school that September.
The team set out to foster easy living, whether their client was hosting a grown-up soiree or a movie night for kids; to freshen up what he called “fussy” architecture while respecting the home’s classical roots; and to create custom finishes and built-in features to elevate form and function.
The main volume of the house squarely faces the street, with the dining room to the right of the foyer and the living room to the left. Set on an angle near the dining room, a separate wing contains the kitchen and family room on the ground floor and the master suite above.
“Part of our program was to work with the geometry of the house,” says Breeding. “We realigned the angled interior portions and instilled the home with the classical order it was crying for.” For example, in the master suite, tiny his-and-her bathrooms and closets made way for an expansive master bath and dressing room. The plan also removed walls dividing the original mudroom, kitchen, breakfast room and family room, creating one large space that embraces light and the outdoors.
Reapportioning spaces not only introduced symmetry to awkward rooms, but allowed the team to install an elevator, which was on the owner’s wish list. “Scarlett made so much sense of the existing real estate,” he says. Breeding and associate Richard Anuszkiewicz (who has since moved to Nashville) created a gourmet kitchen and butler’s pantry where streamlined built-ins eliminate clutter.
Sliding doors seamlessly open the family room to a rear terrace. In the backyard, landscape architect Kevin Campion traded a large play set dominating the far end of the existing pool for a fireplace and terrace that were “strategically located to create a dynamic view across the pool,” he says. “It’s a nice, warm place to sit on summer evenings and in the fall.” A row of Emerald Green arborvitae screens the scene from neighbors; hydrangea, Russian sage and coneflowers add seasonal color.
While the renovation plans took shape, the team orchestrated new interior finishes and furnishings, following the owner’s call for a transitional, unfussy aesthetic. Crisp millwork and bold, oversized light fixtures got the ball rolling. “We wanted to update the look without making it incongruent with the traditional bones of the house,” explains Twomey. She and Sullivan sourced sophisticated yet durable textiles to accommodate guests of all ages.
A serene palette of blues and grays carries through the home. In the dining room, a bold, modern seascape contrasts with the pale walls and glazed-linen upholstery; a bouclé brings texture to armchairs in the adjacent living room. “There’s a menswear quality to the fabrics, from wool plaids to cashmere, checks and stripes,” says Twomey. “It all came together like a nice suit.” The team also introduced a new vibe in the study off the living room, painting its faux-blond wood cabinets a rich taupe and removing Gothic-style trim.
Though the homeowner gave the designers a mandate to avoid precious materials, explaining, “I don’t want to freak out if my son or his friends spill something,” one-of-a-kind casework and architectural details certainly came into play. For example: the butler’s pantry where brass detailing and metallic Zoffany wallpaper dress up custom cabinetry. Or the spa-like master bath where hand-cut strips of marble and brass are inlaid into the vanity drawer fronts.
The staircase leading to the lower level is clad in walnut millwork; its builder-grade handrail was replaced with brass and its balusters wrapped in leather. The former basement now features a custom wine cellar, state-of-the-art media room and gym. “The rest of the house is so light and airy, I wanted the lower level to be an homage to an old yacht club in New York or San Francisco where it’s okay to ‘live dark,’” says the owner. “We wanted a little history; that’s really, in some ways, what we were striving for all over the house.”
Despite this high level of craftsmanship, the renovation was completed on time. “We did 12 to 14 months of work in about six and a half months,” says Pyramid’s Bret Anderson. “It’s one thing to do that in a house with baseline finishes. But this project, with its sophisticated cabinetry and integration of materials and details, was far from that. We had to order parts that were in fabrication before we even completed demolition.”
Reflecting on the finished home, the owner is glad his team took it that extra mile. “In a house so new, we wanted to ground it with some gravitas. It needed to feel its foundation and place,” he remarks. “Good design and quality construction hold up—they’re not just frosting.”
Architecture: Scarlett Breeding, AIA, pricipal in charge; Richard T. Anuszkiewicz, casework and interior architecture design, Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Nancy Twomey, Finnian Interiors + Finnian’s Moon, Alexandria, Virginia; and Helen Sullivan, Helen Sullivan Design, Washington, DC. Builder: Bret Anderson, Pyramid Builders, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: Kevin Campion, ASLA, Campion Hruby Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, Maryland.
Cabinetry: premiercb.com. Range: lacornue.com. Appliances: subzero-wolf.com; mieleusa.com. Backsplash & Counters: neolith.com. Backsplash & Counter Installation: rbratti.com. Island Countertop: caesarstoneus.com. Cabinetry: premiercb.com. Plumbing & Hardware: waterworks.com. Custom Bar Stool Design: finnianinteriors.com. Bar Stool Upholstery: hollyhunt.com. Paint Color: benjaminmoore.com. Butler’s Pantry Wall Covering: stylelibrary.com/zoffany. Butler’s Pantry Lighting: bakerfurniture.com. Sink: officinegullo.com/us.
Window Wall: marvin.com. Sofa: Custom through Helen Sullivan Design. Sofa Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com. Gray Chairs: finnianinteriors.com. Gray Chair Fabric: robertallendesign.com. Blue Chairs & Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Coffee Table: Vintage through through finnianinteriors.com. Drapery Fabric: jab.de/us/en. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Gray Throw Pillows: fabricut.com/stroheim. White Throw Pillows: zimmer-rohde.com. Paint: benjaminmoore.com. Fireplace Stone: waterworks.com. Fireplace Installation: rbratti.com.
Chairs: Custom through finnianinteriors.com. Bench & Chair Upholstery: hollyhunt.com. Blue Armchair: hickorywhite.com. Blue Armchair fabric: hollyhunt.com. Table: Custom through finnianinteriors.com. Paint: benjaminmoore.com.
Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Dining Table: Custom through Helen Sullivan Design. Dining Chairs: hollyhunt.com. Dining Chair Fabric: rogersandgoffigon.com. Light Fixture: hudsonfurnitureinc.com. Drapery Fabric: cowtan.com. Wall Covering: zimmer-rohde.com.
Sofa & Coffee Table: Custom through Helen Sullivan Design. Sofa & Throw Pillow Fabric: markalexander.com. Armchairs, Ottomans, Rug & Throw Pillows: Custom through finnianinteriors.com. Floor & Table Lamps: curreyandcompany.com. Armchair Fabric: romo.com. Drapery Fabric: rogersandgoffigon.com. Fireplace Surround: chesneys.com. Consoles: madegoods.com. Ottoman Fabric: duralee.com. Paint: benjaminmoore.com.