Home & Design

In the family room, a down-filled sofa makes a perfect foil for a leather-topped lounge chair of Schmidt’s design topped with shearling that suggests a nomadic origin.

Over the rustic kitchen table, the designer chose a Hinkley chandelier of dangling globes to keep rectangles from overwhelming the space.

The entry foyer is enhanced by a marble console of Schmidt’s design and artist Dina Broadhurst’s Purple Reign.

Kelly Wearstler wall covering enlivens the office, centered on a bleached-oak desk.

The double-height owners’ bedroom is furnished with a custom bed through Michael Dawkins Home and vintage chairs. Art by David Carlson was commissioned for the space.

A stair from the owners’ bedroom leads to a loft, which Schmidt cast as a yoga studio furnished with a CB2 daybed and Lulu and Georgia pedestal.

The crisp-white owners’ bathroom houses a Balteco soaking tub and a glass-enclosed shower.

Schmidt installed a sauna near the loft bathroom.

The kitchen balanced existing white walls, chocolate-brown cabinetry, wood floors and expanses of quartz with relaxed furnishings and natural materials.

Modern Allure

Jennifer Wagner Schmidt outfits a family’s new Bethesda home in airy, organic style

Dream jobs come in all shapes and sizes. For Jennifer Wagner Schmidt, the ideal interiors project was a $3 million contemporary Bethesda residence, just built and waiting to be furnished, and a client seeking a fresh start.

“Everything was from scratch,” Schmidt recalls. “The client’s only proviso to me was ‘do your magic.’

The three-story stucco, glass and brick house strikes a dramatic presence on its quarter-acre corner lot. There are six bedrooms, five and a half baths, a multi-feature recreation room on the lower level and a roof deck up top. The foyer and primary bedroom are double-height spaces, enhanced by floating staircases with glass railings. 

Designed and built on spec by Prime Solutions Group, the 7,000-square-foot house was purchased in the spring of 2021 by a CEO from New York and his wife, who have two young children. Seeking help in selecting furniture and art for the main level and bedrooms, the owners discovered the Ashburn, Virginia, designer behind JWS Interiors through social media.

“The husband reached out,” explains Schmidt, whose Instagram followers number in the six figures. Her online posts show a taste for creamy textiles on cushy sofas, monumental marble coffee tables, spare architectural lighting and a touch of humanizing handiwork, be it a wooden stool, a woven rush seat or a coal-black ceramic bowl. It’s the warm side of modernism, but totally fashion-forward. Schmidt’s projects demonstrate a penchant for art that pops, including a sassy image of Marilyn Monroe blowing an enormous bubble of pink gum—though whether her Miami client sprang for the $30,000 limited edition or the $15 reproduction poster is not revealed. 

In fact, the designer’s success on the Bethesda project rested as much on her ability to marry high and low elements. “I combined high- and medium-end with custom to create an entirely custom look,” she says. “That’s how I stayed on budget.” 

The Bethesda home had been staged for sale as a glam singles pad—not for a couple with two kids and a dog in tow. Schmidt, who has two teenage daughters, understood that the family would appreciate comfort over cool metal and glass. “I wanted it to feel naturally modern and comfortable,” says the designer, who set out to create clean, airy interiors that evoke a sense of serenity. “I started with a white canvas so it would all flow.”

She went for drama in the foyer. A clean-lined marble console of her own design rests below a bold digital photo collage by Australian artist Dina Broadhurst. 

In the main-level living spaces, the existing envelope of white walls and European white oak floors is enlivened by strategically placed windows. Schmidt softened the floor-to-ceiling glass with simple linen panels over sheers in the family room. “The house gets amazing light,” she says. “I wanted to incorporate natural sunlight and play off that with the furniture.” Nubby textiles look touchable, and they are: They have been professionally sprayed for stain resistance.

Significantly, the designer defined the primary living area not as formal living and dining spaces, but as a laid-back family room and eat-in kitchen. For maximum functionality, the family room is organized in two conversation groups: one by the fireplace, the other facing the opposite wall. In keeping with Schmidt’s more relaxed concept, she scouted popular retailers such as CB2, West Elm and RH for casual but stylish furnishings; choices were guided by availability, practicality and her particular aesthetic. She elevated the look with custom designs including a statement marble coffee table, a chair that conjures a nomadic past and an oversized, upholstered ottoman. “I wanted the home to read as naturally modern and comfortable, really just a clean, airy feel,” she says. 

To the left of the foyer is the husband’s home office. Schmidt papered one wall with Kelly Wearstler’s Crescent, an oversized geometric pattern in an ebony colorway. Behind the desk hangs a painting by David Carlson; a second work by the Arlington artist and community activist was commissioned for the owners’ bedroom, furnished with a custom upholstered bed and vintage chairs. A loft accessed from a floating staircase in the primary bedroom is staged as a tranquil retreat and yoga studio. A sauna was added to an existing bathroom that Schmidt detailed in black marble. She also applied her aesthetic in two upstairs children’s bedrooms and a serene guest room.

The owners were able to move in after a remarkably quick 10-month decorating process. “My clients were very easy to work with,” says the designer. “The attitude was, ‘Just show me your designs; you’re the professional.’ It was a dream project for me.”

Interior Design: Jennifer Wagner Schmidt, JWS Interiors, Ashburn, Virginia. Architecture & Custom Builder: Prime Solutions Group, Potomac, Maryland.

RESOURCES

KITCHEN/LIVING AREA
Pendants: shop.thedpages.com.
FIREPLACE AREA
Sofa & Armchairs: cb2.com. Sofa & Armchairs Fabric: cb2.com.
SITTING AREA
Sofa & Sofa Fabric: cb2.com. Coffee table, Corner Chair & Drapery Fabrication: Custom.
DINING AREA
Light Fixture: hinkley.com. Table: rh.com.
FOYER
Console: Custom.
OFFICE
Desk: cb2.com. Wall Covering: kellywearstler.com. Rug, Sofa & Coffee Table: westelm.com.
UPPER LANDING:
crateandbarrel.com. Pedestal: luluandgeorgia.com.
PRIMARY BEDROOM
Bed: Custom through michaeldawkins.com. Chandelier: rh.com. Chairs: vintage. Night Table: custom. Rug: luluandgeorgia.com.
SECOND BEDROOM
Bed: cb2.com. Chandelier: rh.com. Chair: custom.

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