A couple, both in their forties, wanted to combine households. Each brought his own distinctive style and preferences to the table; one was coming from an all-white row house in Columbia Heights while the other occupied a contemporary Dupont Circle condo. They searched for a year before finally settling on a semi-detached 1927 residence designed by the prolific early-20th-century architect Harry Wardman, located near Washington National Cathedral. “It was perfectly livable,” says one of the owners. “It just hadn’t been updated in 15 or 20 years.”
To remedy the home’s problems, the owners—a communications executive and an attorney—turned to a mutual friend, architect and designer Patrick Brian Jones. They tasked him with drawing up architectural plans and creating an initial furniture scheme, then made their own interior selections based on Jones’ ideas. “The house was designed for a family of five,” he recalls. “We reimagined it for a professional couple who really like to entertain. They wanted to enjoy the entire house. We transformed the original spaces to do different things.”
During the year-long renovation, Jones and his clients altered every room on the home’s three floors, capitalizing on the property’s abundant natural light and cathedral views. The windows were replaced by black-rimmed custom panes from Pella’s Architect Series. The arched front door stayed, but the opening from the foyer to the living room was widened and is now centered on the statement-making original fireplace. The existing galley kitchen and large dining room were combined; in the new iteration, the kitchen—featuring a marble-topped center island complete with counter seating and a wine fridge—encompasses a sitting area that leads out to the deck. The open-plan space flows into the dining room, which is now smaller, as Jones borrowed from it to create the sitting area.
The second floor was completely reoriented. A large master suite was fashioned from three small rooms at the rear of the house and a small sitting room doubles as a home office. The former master bedroom became another sitting room with an adjacent bath. The laundry was moved to the second floor. Prior to the renovation, the third floor was only partially finished, with a long, skinny bathroom, an airshaft and not much usable space. Now, it holds a guest suite complete with a full bath, two roof decks and a wet bar.
When it came to aesthetics, says one of the owners, “The house is a marriage of classic and contemporary that pays homage to its original style, but updates it to maximize light, space and the outdoors. The objective was to create a serene and comfortable environment.” He and his partner had sold their previous homes furnished, so they were able to start with a clean slate.
“My clients have definite taste,” Jones notes. “They were very involved, in a good way. And the design phase went quickly, since we had worked together before.” They chose a neutral palette of pale gray with white trim as a gallery-style backdrop for original artwork that dominates almost every room. A graphic painting by local artist Nicolette Capuano leans above the mantel in the living room, while the bedroom showcases two commissioned canvases by Iranian artist Kazem Shirazi.
Furnishings include vintage wood-framed chairs in the living room, gifted by a friend in San Francisco and restored by the clients. Sisal carpets have been custom-fitted throughout the house and are sometimes overlaid by area rugs. The dining room table was custom-made out of fir timbers salvaged from the demolished wall between the kitchen and the dining room. A dramatic chandelier from RH is nearly as big as the tabletop, and the large-scale abstract painting in vibrant red was purchased at auction many years ago.
The move from their more urban neighborhoods gave the owners coveted outdoor space in a leafier part of the city, so Jones capitalized on the scenic location with French doors at the rear of the house that flow onto a deck. This comfortable outdoor-living area is semi-enclosed by cedar privacy screens. Jones executed the hardscaping plan and his clients spearheaded the landscaping themselves.
The home’s fieldstone façade was a big draw for the couple, who loved the story, told to them by neighbors, that the same stonemasons who built the nearby National Cathedral also worked on their residence. What they didn’t realize was how important the cathedral views would become to them. “The cathedral is one of the most enjoyable elements of the house,” says one owner. In addition to a convenient patio off the third-floor guest suite, he and his partner requested that Jones design a rooftop deck, accessible from the third-floor patio via a ship’s ladder. From that enviable perch, the spires of the cathedral are easy to see, rising just a few blocks in the distance.
Sofa: roomandboard.com. Wood-Framed Chairs: Vintage. Coffee Table: Custom. Square Glass-Topped Side Table & Yellow Table Lamp: williams-sonoma.com. Rug: abchome.com. Painting over Mantel: Nicolette Capuano through saatchiart.com. Painting by Entry: Tuscan watercolor, owners’ collection.
Bedstead & Nightstands: rh.com. Bedding: johnrobshaw.com. Console: ligne-rosetdc.com. Abstract Paintings over Console: Kazem Shirazi. Nelson Bench at Foot of Bed: hermanmiller.com. Rug: Custom. Sofa & Coffee Table: cb2.com. Eames Chair: dwr.com. Platner Side Table: knoll.com.