Home & Design

Ireland added a slab of Rainforest Brown marble on the kitchen island, along with a backsplash of hand-poured glass tile from Architessa.

A panel of hand-painted Fromental wallpaper creates a colorful backdrop behind the existing fireplace.

Custom rugs by Galleria Carpets float like islands in the main living area, featuring a curvy sofa and ottoman of Ireland’s design.

A vintage chest and mirror occupy the foyer paneled in walnut.

A portrait of the owner’s cats hangs on a bank of millwork with built-in tunnels designed for feline entertainment.

Seen from the catwalk, the millwork features cantilevered shelves and a built-in pet bed.

Ireland retained the apartment’s glass wall with pivoting doors framed in steel, embellishing some of the panes with pastel-colored film.

City views steal the show on one of the second-floor roof decks, equipped with a coffee table and lounge chairs from Dedon’s Ahnda collection.

In the upstairs owner’s suite, a garden scene by Mural Source anchors the velvet-trimmed bed designed by Joe Ireland.

The bedroom also features a bench covered in Misia Paris velvet.

A chic Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams chair takes advantage of city views.

A bird’s eye maple vanity of Ireland’s design and a marble backsplash elevate the owner’s bath.

Phillip Jeffries wallpaper and vintage French sconces enliven the dining area; the owner acquired the custom, rolled-steel table from the former residents.

Luxe Loft

Joe Ireland steers a two-story Logan Circle penthouse in a mod direction for a client who’s crazy about color

The act of Congress limiting the height of Washington buildings to a mere 130 feet not only protects the city’s skyline, but also enables residents to enjoy dramatic views of its iconic buildings. Such a vista presented itself when a DC dweller searching for a new home toured a two-level corner penthouse in Logan Circle a few years ago.

“What attracted me were the amazing views of the Washington Monument, as well as the wide-open spaces that are ideal for entertaining,” recalls the engineer/patent attorney. “The apartment has an amazing rooftop deck with a perfect view of the Fourth of July fireworks!”

She purchased the property, which 10 years earlier had been tricked out by the DC firm of Robert M. Gurney, FAIA Architect. Starting with a raw space boasting double-height windows, Gurney and his team accentuated views throughout open living spaces cleverly demarcated by millwork. Their plan created an upper level complete with a primary suite, a glass catwalk and access to two separate roof terraces.

Though the owner loved the modern lines and airy spaces perfect for entertaining, she wanted to recast the home’s masculine tones and overhaul its primary bath. So she enlisted DC designer Joe Ireland to help craft interiors that would reflect her penchant for color and sense of joie de vivre. “I’m an engineer, so design is not my forte,” she quips. “I gave Joe full rein.”

A quick study revealed that Ireland had inherited a gem. “We were excited that Robert Gurney had worked on the apartment before us. I tried to respect what was there,” he recalls. “He made such good use of the space and there was plenty of storage, so we kept the layout but just freshened it up. I wanted it to feel feminine without going overboard.”

Ireland set out to create a “happy, eclectic” vibe that, like his client, doesn’t take itself too seriously. To achieve the right look, he orchestrated a mix of custom, vintage and artisanal pieces—from hand-carved dining room chairs to a bespoke bed upholstered in soft velvet.

One challenge was accommodating his client’s two cats, along with others she occasionally fosters. Not only did Ireland ensure that furnishings and finishes could withstand pets, but he also designed a creative alternative to the carpeted cat “castles” he encountered on his first visit: a bank of geometric walnut cabinetry that greets guests when they enter the apartment. While some shelves in the unit are used to display collectibles, others harbor beds for the lucky felines, who can also play hide-and-seek in tunnels that traverse the millwork interior.

The kitchen and dining room await to the left of the foyer, with the living room, office and guest room located on the right. The designer employed colorful, oval-shaped rugs from Galleria Carpets to delineate areas in the open plan. “Because everything is at an angle in the apartment, I threw in some curves to give it balance,” Ireland explains. “The carpets make the spaces feel more organic.”

He reinforced the concept in the living area with a curvaceous sofa and ottoman of his own design. “I wanted furniture to float in the space and not feel constrained,” he adds.

Gurney’s oak floors were left intact. But in lieu of other wood finishes that dominated the existing apartment, Ireland softened the palette with creams and pastels. He painted the kitchen’s base and side cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s Alaskan Skies, while a whitewash muted upper cabinets in zebrawood.

A library Gurney created behind pivoting, steel-framed glass doors is used by the current owner as a gym and guest room, thanks to a Murphy bed. There’s also a home office tucked behind bookshelves housing a TV in the living room.

Strategically placed wall coverings animate the interiors. Case in point is a hand-painted Fromental floral motif that brings to mind a work of art near the living room’s suspended fireplace. And upstairs in the owner’s suite, a niche papered in a botanical mural conjures dreams of an exotic garden.

Ireland’s overhaul of the primary bath elevated the glam factor. He designed the vanity in bird’s eye maple, its rich wood tones offset by a Calacatta Retro marble countertop and a backsplash of marble tile inset with brass accents. Glass sconces by Waterworks add shimmer.

Now that the dust has settled, the owner is delighted with the apartment’s décor and custom accoutrements. Ireland affirms that its many bespoke furnishings solve issues of color and scale—but they also inject the project with meaning and lasting allure. “With every project we do,” the designer reflects, “we try not to repeat anything. And we try to make every single space a destination.”

Interior Design: Joe Ireland, JD Ireland Interior Architecture and Design, Washington, DC. Contractor: Winchester, Millersville, Maryland.



Table: Custom by robertgurneyarchitect; modified by jdireland.com. Chairs: 1stdibs.com; jonathanfield.co.uk. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Chandelier: Owner’s collection. Wallpaper: phillipjeffries.com. Sconces: 1stdibs.com; jeanmarcfray.com. Art: paulabarragan.com. Millwork Fabrication: Refinished and painted by jdireland.com; winchesterinc.com. Fireplace: Refinished and painted by jdireland.com; winchesterinc.com. Paint: Alaskan Skies by benjaminmoore.com. Window Shades: owner’s collection.

Countertop: stoneaction.net. Hood & Cooktop: Owner’s collection. Tile Backsplash: architessa.com. Cabinetry: Refinished and painted by jdireland.com; winchesterinc.com. Faucets: deltafaucet.com. Bar Stools: jakewhillans.com. Lights: circalighting.com. Paint: Alaskan Skies by benjaminmoore.com.

Floating Fireplace: Owner’s collection. Rugs: galleriacarpets.com. Ottoman: Custom through jdireland.com. Ottoman Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com. Curved Sofa: Custom through jdireland.com. Curved Sofa Fabrics: arabelfabrics.com. Pillow Fabrics: zakandfox.com; jimthompsonfabrics.com. Drink Table: michaelclearyllc.com. Leaf Art & Tapestry: fromental.co.uk; samuelandsons.com. Tapestry Installation:  installation by Michael DiGuiseppe; 202-731-2634.

Glass Door Design: Color film added by jdireland.com.

Chest: 1stdibs.com; tomrobinsonmodern.com. Table Lamp: Jean Pierre Antiques; 202-337-1731. Mirror: krbnyc.com; corbincruise.com; marynelsonsinclair.com. Walls: winchesterinc.com. Art: otlpets.com.

Chairs, Tables & Chair Fabric: dedon.de.

Bird Wall Covering: themuralsource.com. Bed: custom through jdireland.com. Headboard Fabric: jiunho.com; Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Bedding: christopherfarrcloth.com. Lumbar Pillow Fabric: caryncramer.com. Chest: centuryfurniture.com. Lamp: artisanlamp.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Bench: wayfair.com. Bench Fabric: misia-paris.com. Paint: Alaskan skies by benjaminmoore.com. Chair: mgbwhome.com. Side Table: michaelclearyllc.com.

Vanity: Custom through jdireland.com; fabricated by michaeljamesfurniture.com. Hardware: schoolhouse.com. Tile & Countertop: marblesystems.com; stoneaction.net. Sconces: waterworks.com. Mirror: cb2.com. Sink Faucet: waterworks.com.

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