Home & Design

On the second story, the main hall leads to the living room, where a curvy Vladimir Kagan sofa fronts a restored fireplace in Crema Marfil marble. © Marcos Galvany

On the facing wall, a Bernd Haussmann painting hangs above a Lona Design sofa accented with pillows in Baker fabric. © Marcos Galvany

Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill furnished the dining room with a custom anigre table made by Keith Fritz and chairs dressed in Romo fabric. Everett Design fabricated the Donghia drapes.

The ethereal palette offsets the saturated hues of a landscape by Wolf Kahn.

A wool-and-silk rug from Mila Carpets blankets the expansive living room, which culminates in a new glass bay overlooking the garden.

The revamped kitchen boasts Calacatta Caldia marble countertops, a Viking range and a center island where the owners and their children gather on bar stools covered in performance vinyl from Ultrafabrics.

The space opens to the family room and breakfast room, featuring a custom cabinet and a decorative wall treatment by Lenore Winters Studio.

Architect Ankie Barnes expanded a former office to create the family room; a new wall of windows opens the space to morning light. Holly Hunt sofas offer a perfect spot for lounging while leather ottomans on casters provide pull-out seating for the children.

A glamorous and serene aura prevails in the owners’ bedroom. Set in a paneled niche, the Liaigre bed is topped with Matouk linens and a sham in Scalamandré fabric. Glass tables by John Richard rest before a sculptural divan. A Vetri pendant of Murano glass crowns the space.

The airy entry hall sets an elegant tone with a Ferrell Mittman divan; its gilded base alludes to the Art Deco period.

Classic Gem

A design team reimagines a 1930 Embassy Row residence while celebrating its traditional heritage

When gifted interior designers, architects and owners come together with a single vision for a home’s future, the results can seem like kismet. Especially when that home, rising among the stately residences of Embassy Row, imparts a distinguished architectural past. Completed in 1930 for a financier whose taste and fortune rose above the Great Depression, the elegant Georgian Revival house presents a gracefully balanced façade, as well as generous, gracious proportions within.

To realize their ideas, the new owners gathered a present-day dream team including interior designers Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, partners in Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, along with Ankie Barnes of BarnesVanze Architects. As Sherrill recalls, “The client respected the traditional architecture of the house and wanted to embrace and restore that.” 

At the same time, the family with children wanted “something a little bit more contemporary and comfortable,” adds Solis Betancourt. “They entertain, so they needed large rooms and lots of seating areas. Everyone was interested in balancing traditional and modern design.”

To achieve that balance, Barnes introduced more natural light through new bays and larger glass doors and windows along the back. These changes were matched by the designers’ monochromatic palette of very light colors, from faux limestone walls in the entry to celadon in the dining room and buttery strié in the owners’ bedroom. “We were trying to keep it very subtle and peaceful, maintaining as much lightness as possible,” notes Sherrill. A foundation of contemporary, upholstered furnishings sporting clean, classic forms mingles nimbly with gilded antique chairs, restored marble fireplaces and artwork from the owners’ collection. 

A hint of what’s to come welcomes the visitor. In the entrance vestibule, modern light sculptures in graceful swirls were commissioned by the interior designers to fit existing niches. The 30-foot-long entrance hall unfurls ahead—its promenade of spaces defined by paired columns and glistening marble floors detailed with dark borders. At its terminus, a small seating area nestles at the foot of a grand staircase.

“For that space, we designed a narrow perching bench,” says Sherrill, likening its carved wood base to fluting on a column, its gilding influenced by Art Deco. Throughout the home, the designers subtly referenced classical revival elements of that period, which, Sherrill points out, “would have been high style when the house was built.” Enfolded by the staircase curve, a life-sized marble figure echoes ancient Rome while opposite, the designers choreographed twin images of ballerinas by artist Umberto Ciceri. As in a hologram, the dancers are set in motion when family or visitors walk by. 

Suffused with light, this area benefits from renovations made to the four-story, six-bedroom house by Barnes, collaborating with project manager Matthew Fiehn. On the staircase landing, enlarged glass doors, newly surrounded by sidelight and fanlight windows, lead out to a sweeping stone terrace. “The connection from the house to the garden on the back was not as strong as it could be,” Barnes explains. “And to my mind the principal rooms were not as well-connected and as generously lit as they should be.” The architect admires the home’s piano nobile plan, in which primary living spaces are placed one floor up. “It means you can organize public rooms in a very grand manner, not complicated by the need to enter,” he observes. “The house is wonderful in that regard—and many others.”

The central stair leads to the main floor’s commodious hall and formal dining room, its entrance framed by symmetrically arranged, sculptural console tables. Above, large paintings by Wolf Kahn bring luminous color to the gently modulated tones that flow through the hall, dining room and living room. Underpinning all three areas, glimmering carpets were custom-woven in tempered patterns to suit the expansive spaces, including the nearly 34-foot-long living room. An archival-design Vladimir Kagan sofa was recreated  for this room; its curves point the way toward a classical Crema Marfil marble fireplace.

Added onto the back of the living room, a new glass bay overlooks the verdant garden. This intimate seating area has become a favored spot for the owners to host small luncheons and teas. In addition to a thorough upgrade of the home’s infrastructure, architectural interventions ordered other spaces for modern living. One floor above, a similar glass bay extends the owners’ bedroom. Three additional bedrooms and a library-cum-family gathering space also grace that floor while on the fourth story, the architects created a sky-lit playroom. 

In the informal wing on the main floor, Barnes transformed darker spaces into a procession of lofty, light-filled rooms that extend from the back of the house to the front. Replacing service stairs behind the elevator with a more compact spiral stairway gained seven feet for the new family room, formerly a 12-foot-wide office. The home’s architectural formality extends into this wing, from the family room facing east to the kitchen and delightful breakfast area on the west-facing front.

Carrara marble, first viewed on the entrance-hall floor, reappears on kitchen countertops, backsplash and deep window wells. “It’s beautiful to have this continuity and uniformity of materials,” muses Sherrill, adding that in traditional European homes it was standard practice to use local stone, with variations, throughout. That refined restraint corresponds to ideas embraced by both the architect and owners, who, Sherrill maintains, “wanted a peaceful and harmonious experience.” 

Solis Betancourt concurs: “It was a real, true collaboration.”

Renovation Architecture: Ankie Barnes, FAIA, LEEP AP, principal; Matthew Fiehn, AIA, LEED AP, project manager, BarnesVanze Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Zantzinger, Washington, DC.


Window Treatments: gretcheneverett.com.

Divan: ferrellmittman.com. Divan Fabric: zimmer-rohde.com. Chair by Divan: Owners’ collection. Chair Fabric: larsenfabrics.com. Photographs & Sculpture: Owners’ collection. Stair Runner: galleriacarpets.com. Sconces: bagues-paris.com. Chairs: Owners’ collection. Chair Fabric: larsenfabrics.com. Fire Screen: johnlyledesign.com. Art: Owners’ collection.

Console: kellywearstler.com. Art: wolfkahn.com; owners’ collection. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Chair by Console: Owners’ collection. Chair Fabric: zimmer-rohde.com. Paint Color: lenorewinters.com.

Drapery Fabric: coraggio.com. Drapery Trim: cowtan.com. Sheer Fabric: Carleton House; 301-330-6400. Window Treatment: gretcheneverett.com. Curved Sofa: vladimirkagan.com through hollyhunt.com. Curved Sofa Fabric: dedar.com. Art: Owners’ collection. Sconce: wired-designs.com. Round Coffee Table: 1stdibs.com. Paint: lenorewinters.com. Sofa: lonadesign.com through johnrosselli.com. Sofa Fabric: kirkbydesign.com. Pillow Fabric: bakerfurniture.com. Side Tables: Owners’ collection. Table Lamps: vetrilamp.it/en. Painting & White Armchair: Owners’ collection. Glass Pedestal: johnrichard.com. Nesting Tables: augousti.com. Chairs by Windows: dennisandleen.com. Chair Fabric: edelmanleather.com. Corner Bar Cart: Owners’ collection. Chairs: Owners’ collection. Chair Fabric: bakerfurniture.com.

Table Top: keithfritz.com. Table Base: bernhardt.com. Dining Chairs: Owners’ collection. Dining Chair Fabric: romo.com. Painting & Chair by Fireplace: Owners’ collection. Mirrors: michaelsmithinc.com. Sculptures: Owners’ collection. Drapery Fabric: Donghia through kravet.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com.

Cabinetry: themasterswoodshop.com; Maryland Custom Cabinets, 301-898-0357. Countertops & Backsplash: rbratti.com. Range: vikingrange.com through abwappliances.com. Hardware: baldwinhardware.com through weaverhardware.com; nanz.com. Hood Design & Fabrication: ventahood.com. Plumbing Fixtures: waterworks.com through weaverhardware.com; dornbracht.com. Bar Stools: R Jones. Bar Stool Fabric: ultrafabricsinc.com. Paint: lenorewinters.com.

Table Top: keithfritz.com. Table Base: centuryfurniture.com. Chairs: fendi.com. Chair Fabric: ultrafabricsinc.com. Chandelier: papillonlighting.eu/en through wired-designs.com. Sheers: Carleton House; 301-330-6400. Drapery Fabric: estout.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Cabinet Design: solisbetancourt.com; barnesvanze.com. Cabinet Fabrication: themasterswoodshop.com. Rug: pattersonflynn.com. Sculpture: Owners’ collection. Paint: lenorewinters.com.

Sofas: hollyhunt.com. Sofa Fabric: pollackassociates.com; fretfabrics.com. Pillow Fabric: fschumacher.com. Coffee Table with Ottomans: James Duncan through profilesny.com. Ottoman Fabric: garrettleather.com. Rugs: starkcarpet.com. Sculpture: Owners’ collection. Table Lamp: visualcomfort.com. Prints: Owners’ collection. Paint: lenorewinters.com.

Rug: pattersonflynn.com. Bed: studioliaigre.com. Bed Fabric: zinctextile.com. Bedding: matouk.com. Sham Fabric: scalamandre.com. Pillow Fabric: hollandandsherry.com. Pillow Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Sunburst Mirror: Owners’ collection. Chandelier: vetrilamp.it/en. Paint: lenorewinters.com. Bedside Table: keithfritz.com. Table Lamp: Phoenix Gallery; 212-759-1153. Glass Tables: johnrichard.com. Divan: ferrellmittman.com. Divan Fabric: zinctextile.com. Divan Trim: samuelandsons.com. Chair: dennisandleen.com. Chair Fabric: hollandandsherry.com. Bench Fabric: edelmanleather.com.

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