For designer Patrick Sutton, it was almost too much—the way the woodland surrounding his clients’ home sent dappled sunlight through its thick canopy. He thought, “I might as well be in the Shenandoah Valley,” rather than 20 minutes from downtown Baltimore. What’s more, the early-20th-century home featured multiple slate-shingled rooflines that capped charming dormer windows and stuccoed walls. “It feels like Hansel and Gretel wandered out of the woods, and all of a sudden you’ve landed at this fairytale home,” Sutton marvels. “It really does feel enchanted, as though wood nymphs and fairies might flit by a window at any moment.”
When his clients purchased the four-bedroom home about 10 years ago, its interiors didn’t live up to this storybook potential. So the designer has spent the past decade helping them rewrite the narrative room by room, transforming its dated finishes and white walls to create a moody refuge that celebrates its lush surroundings and highlights the owners’ vast art and antiques collections.
Sutton started in the oak-paneled family room, applying a cerused finish to the existing woodwork and textured chartreuse grass cloth to the backs of shelving. He hung striped drapery in a shade of green that fosters dialogue with the trees outside. Green-linen pillows adorn oversized lavender sofas, he says, “to dress the room up a little bit and make it cozy for the owners and their kids who watch TV there.”
Once the family’s gathering spot was established, Sutton embarked on a more complex phase: reworking a problematic arrangement of rooms across the front of the house that had relegated the kitchen to a tiny galley and an office to a large vaulted room that lay adjacent to a bare, little-used sunroom. Letting nature dictate a new order, Sutton moved the kitchen to the office, which has its own mansard roof over exposed trusses. He expanded the views by replacing the side wall with an old industrial, steel-framed window; a new skylight in the roof illuminates a large kitchen island. The former kitchen now houses the office, plus a pantry and potting area.
Where a warren of rooms existed before, direct sight lines now connect the expanded foyer to the dining room and backyard beyond, and the new office/pantry to the big kitchen window.
Sutton reworked the sunroom into a leafy retreat for casual dining, reading and homework. He painted the window trim black to draw the eye outward, then paneled the ceiling in white oak. Decorative green floor tiles further emphasize the natural connection.
Over the sunroom table, Sutton added a pendant light made with vintage electrical insulators—an eclectic detail, he says, that creates a “happy tension” between his client’s antiques and more contemporary gestures. This contrast plays out in the kitchen, too, where an antique chair under an Old World painting stands in relief against a concrete-washed wall and shelving made with gas piping. “They really have a nice mixture of things that are old and traditional with an affinity for things that are a little more contemporary,” Sutton says of his clients. “Their interests span a lot of genres, which I love because it shows depth of character.”
The designer took cues from the home’s existing details for recent upgrades to the dining and living rooms. Deep, blue-green floor tile was original to the dining room, which is bathed in natural light via a side window—a setting that inspired Sutton with thoughts of a Vermeer painting. To accentuate this vision, he highlighted a formerly diminutive fireplace with a marble surround and set it into an entire wall of white oak. Then, he applied a shimmering, green-gold glaze to the remaining walls, and topped the room with an Art Deco-era crystal chandelier. With the owners’ impressive collection of Delft porcelain on display, the room easily conjures an imagined Dutch still life.
The living room also got an architectural makeover that complements the home’s wooded locale. “We were looking for warmth and tactility,” says Sutton, who covered the fireplace wall in stone and applied oak across the ceiling and around a bulkhead that frames a wall of sliding-glass doors. “It’s that hovering ceiling that makes the room feel warmer and lodge-like, like you’d expect to see in a cabin in the woods,” he says.
That “cabin” now properly celebrates its history and surroundings, as well as its owners, Sutton says—fulfilling the potential he saw from the start. “This house already had a story it was telling us, with that mature woodland and that Northern European quality, like you see in Vermeer or the modern interiors of Axel Vervoordt,” he explains. “We heightened that feeling, which drew these people in the first place.”
Console, Table & Chairs, Small Chest: Clients’ collection. Chandelier: 1stdibs.com. Fireplace Surround: Belgian bluestone through Case Builders LLC; 443-829-0951. Fabrication: Case Builders LLC.
Leather Wing Chairs: leeindustries.com. Chest under Circular Painting: antiquerowstalls.wordpress.com. Circular Painting: Clients’ collection. Sconces in Bulkhead: objetonsolite.com. Sofa: verellen.biz through patricksutton.com. Green Chairs: lawsonfenning.com. Sofa & Chair Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Coffee Table: paul-delaisse.squarespace.com through patricksutton.com. Hand-Knotted Custom Rug: starkcarpet.com. Drapery Fabric: elitis.fr. Poufs & Round Side Table Base: hickorychair.com. Table Top: Fior de Bosco marble through marmistone.com. Pouf Fabric: Vervain through fabricut.com. Table Lamps: bdantiques.com. Wide Upholstered Chair: arudin.com. Chair Fabric: Romo.com. Cube Table: bojayinc.com. Writing Desk: theodorealexander.com. Table Lamp: bedfordstreetantiques.com. Table between Green Chairs, Desk Chair & Painting over Sofa: Clients’ collection.
Sofas & Fabric: verellen.biz. Roman Shades: hinescompany.com. Wallpaper in Shelves: phillipjeffries.com. Rug: Siphon through society6.com. Side Table: kravet.com. Marble-Topped Coffee Table: bolierco.com. Pillows: houseofcindy.com.
Dining & Side Tables: Custom by hubbardcabinetmakers.com. Sofa: leeindustries.com. Lamps: bdantiques.com. Dining Chairs: hickorychair.com. Chair Fabric: sunbrella.com through hickorychair.com. Floor Tile: annsacks.com. Wing Chair: Clients’ collection. Chandelier & Chest: bedfordstreetantiques.com.
Custom cabinetry & Shelving: duncancabinetry.com. Shelf Design: patricksutton.com. Fabrication: Case Builders LLC. Counters & Backsplash: avantitilestone.com. Range: bluestarcooking.com. Hood: subzero-wolf.com. Cabinet Hardware: rockymountainhardware.com. Stools: arteriors.com