In the hands of Romain Baty, a dilapidated row house became a showcase for mid-century design. The designer, who hails from France, tapped into a host of influences, from Italian design of the 1960s to 1950s American diners and 1930s Hollywood glamour.
The three-bedroom abode suffered from two typical row-house ailments: cramped spaces and a shortage of light. Baty addressed these on the main floor by enlarging the opening between the kitchen and the living/dining room and installing double glass doors from the kitchen to the backyard, thereby creating openness and bringing in natural light. “I also used color to lighten everything,” he explains. “Pale blue on the walls and ceiling gives the impression of a little sky inside.”
In fact, color plays a major role in the design. Inspired by a painting by contemporary artist Jules de Balincourt, Baty painted the ceiling and upper walls in Sherwin Williams’ Icelandic, complemented with the deeper Sherwin Williams’ Refuge on and below a chair rail he added in the main living space. A line of gold “creates contrast and adds richness without being overwhelming,” he notes. Soothing shades of gray are similarly juxtaposed in the master bedroom, with dark-blue lines painted to mimic moldings on the upper half of the walls.
In the renovated kitchen, Sherwin Williams’ Lite Lavender walls and a black-and-white marble floor reference the ’50s-diner look. Custom cabinets, painted the same amethyst hue as the walls, are encased in thick, heavily veined Black Pearl marble. The thickness of the stone was important to Baty’s vision. “I wanted to create a sense of opulence and generosity,” he says.
Why do you paint the ceilings in your projects?
I don’t like white ceilings. I like the same color on the walls and ceiling because it creates a sense of unity. Also, ceilings are usually not that interesting and you can de-emphasize them this way.
How do you unify spaces in a home?
I’m always trying to create a link between rooms for continuity. Spaces have to connect and communicate. The lines painted on the walls upstairs and downstairs in this project create that connection.
How would you define your design philosophy?
The future resident is the starting point for it all. My goal is to materialize who they are while bringing taste and attention to the aesthetic. I feel you are truly at home when your space could not belong to anyone else.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
The moment when my clients first discover their new home. Not very original, I know, but it is still the most pleasant moment for me!
Interior Design: Romain Baty, Romain Baty, LLC, Washington, DC. Contractor: CHE–BENZ, Inc., Lanham, Maryland. Styling: Stylish Productions.