Home & Design

BEFORE: The music room.

In the dining area, Hickory White chairs surround a custom table by The Old Wood Company. The room incorporates a seating enclave at one end centered on a Lee Industries sofa and a custom glass coffee table by Salvations Architectural Furnishings.

The renovation opened up the main level and enhanced indoor/outdoor flow. The living room boasts a new wet bar.

BEFORE: The living room.

Custom cabinets, MSI quartz countertops and Circa Lighting pendants grace the kitchen, enlivened by a glossy ceramic tile from Architessa.

The design team integrated the kitchen and dining area, where a bank of cabinets now serves as a buffet.

BEFORE: The kitchen.

The plan created an intimate family room between the kitchen and living room, furnished with Crate & Barrel swivel chairs, a Lee Industries ottoman and a Carpet Impressions rug.

French doors lead out to a spacious verandah featuring RH furniture.

BEFORE: The backyard.

Phillip Jeffries’ Solstice Silk wall covering details a niche in the owners’ bedroom.

A Bernhardt chair provides a perch in the couple’s renovated bathroom.

Double vanities fabricated by Potomac Woodworking and tile from Architessa enhance the owners' bath.

The serene music room, located to the left of the entry, is furnished with a sofa by Lee Industries and a Rebel Carpets rug.

Breathing Room

A design team gives a dated Chevy Chase Colonial a much-needed refresh

When a pair of empty nesters decided to remodel their Chevy Chase, Maryland, home of almost 20 years, they started off in an unusual direction. Instead of vetting, selecting and supervising the design team themselves, the owners turned to project consultant and interior designer Deborah Miller of The Tesh Project to manage the process.

“My job was to define the clients’ needs, wants and visions, and recruit the right team to execute them in a timely manner within the prescribed budget,” recounts Miller, who splits her time between San Antonio and DC. She hired architect Evelyn Pierce Smith of Evelyn Pierce Design Studio, builder Scott Taylor of Taylor Concepts Inc., Jodi Macklin and Lauren Sparber of
Jodi Macklin Interior Design and landscape architect Holt Jordan of Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture.

The team embarked on a two-year, whole-house renovation that added 954 square feet of exterior living space to the 5,204- square-foot home, while opening up the choppy, four-bedroom center-hall Colonial, imbuing it with a lighter sensibility. “The house had not been updated in years and had a very traditional, ’80s feel,” recalls Smith. “Imagine salmon-colored, faux-finished walls, heavy drapery with tassels, a cherry-and-granite kitchen and lots of dark rooms.”

On the owners’ to-do list: adding a screened porch and an adjacent veranda onto the back; gutting and reimagining the kitchen and bathrooms; creating custom built-ins; widening case openings to improve circulation; replacing outdated windows and French doors; and trading out the dated color palette for walls and trim in Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White. Existing orange-toned oak floors were stained espresso throughout.

To the left of the entry, a rarely used formal living room became a music room; to the right, a dining/sitting area flows into the renovated kitchen where the island was reoriented to make the transition between spaces smooth and inviting. “Living graciously was important to the homeowners,” affirms Smith, who added space for a sofa and armchairs beyond the dining table for after-dinner gatherings.

Along the back of the house, the new kitchen adjoins an open yet intimate family room—a roost where the couple can eat breakfast or watch the evening news; custom built-ins house a small TV, display the owners’ cookbooks and store serving pieces. The family room links to the remodeled living room via a custom, dark-stained wooden bar—a favored item on the husband’s wish list—complete with fridge and wine storage. The living room is spacious enough to accommodate two seating areas; one centers on a roomy sectional facing a big TV while the other is positioned in front of inset bookshelves that showcase collections acquired during the clients’ travels.

The transitional kitchen features Shaker-style cabinets designed by Smith and Miller and fabricated by Potomac Woodworking. Finished in a glossier version of the ivory wall color, they’re embellished with oil-rubbed bronze pulls and knobs. Similar cabinets, extending into the dining area, do double duty as a buffet for linens, cutlery and dish storage. “The owners like to cook and entertain, so every cabinet was laid out from the start, including an appliance garage and corner drawer storage for spices,” Smith notes. “Literally everything has its place.”

When it came to furnishing the remodeled spaces, designers Macklin and Sparber embraced clean lines and an airy feel. “Our collective approach was to give the house a lighter, updated look and move it away from its very traditional, darker base,” Sparber explains.

They combined high and low furnishings with family pieces. “We used existing traditional furnishings that we reupholstered, and also mixed in newer items,” Sparber says. For example, the Crate & Barrel sectional in the living room sits atop an heirloom Persian carpet that inspired the room’s pops of color.

Built-ins also enhance the owners’ bedroom, which lost its yellow floral wallpaper in the makeover. The retreat is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Calm, with a contrasting textured wallpaper defining its headboard niche. New carpeting, updated lighting and fresh window treatments complete the look. An en-suite bathroom, once a warren of nooks with a never-used bathtub, is now open and accessible, boasting a double vanity and a roomy, glass-enclosed shower.

The owners got additional outdoor living space via their spacious new screened porch off the living room and adjacent curved, columned veranda. “With its ceiling fans and heaters, the porch is suitable for year-round use, while the veranda creates lots of open space for entertaining,” Smith says.

Landscape architect Holt Jordan revived both front and back yards. He jettisoned an awkward red-brick path that cut across the front in favor of an expanded driveway court and elevated the backyard with a picturesque fountain and hardy plants that line the lawn and fill the garden beds.

The project wrapped up in June 2019, and the clients are thrilled with the results. Says Miller, “What ultimately emerged is a sophisticated but comfortable home with integrated organization and a clean, fresh look.”

Renovation Architecture: Evelyn Pierce Smith, Associate AIA, principal; Gretchen Maia, AIA, lead architect, Evelyn Pierce Design Studio, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Jodi Macklin, principal; Lauren Sparber, lead designer, Jodi Macklin Interior Design, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Scott Taylor, Taylor Concepts Inc., Rockville, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: Holt Jordan, ASLA, PLA, Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Wray Brothers Landscapes, Bethesda, Maryland. Styling: Charlotte Safavi, Stylish Productions.

 

DRAWING BOARD
What’s key to rethinking a dated, choppy floor plan?
Evelyn Pierce Smith: I seek to create visual—and walkable—flow through a house. In this project, for example, it’s nice that you see the rear glass door from the foyer; it opens things up.

How do you approach a kitchen redo?
I design kitchens based on how the owners live, eat and cook. And I try to connect the kitchen and sitting areas so the cook can feel connected to activity in the rest of the house.

Explain your paint-selection strategy.
I like to paint walls, trim and ceilings the same color, but in different finishes. This approach makes a space feel bigger, taller and modern.

How do custom built-ins elevate a home?
Along with providing necessary storage, built-ins lend visual interest and balance to a space.

Secret to combining recessed and decorative lights?
I use smaller recessed lights to create less clutter on the ceiling and bring more focus to decorative lights.

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