Home & Design

Beck juxtaposed a gilded chair and a modern Iatesta coffee table in the living room.

Yellow accents warm the kitchen, from a Timothy Paul rug to Romo wallpaper.

A landing between the living room and kitchen sports Lee Industries chairs in Métaphores fabric flanking a boho-style ottoman.

A custom Carpet Creations runner sends a white squiggle from the foyer to the fourth floor.

After a baby girl arrived, Beck created a whimsical nursery with Daydreams wallpaper by Matthew Williamson; Stroheim taffeta drapes boast a velvet Samuel & Sons border.

Handmade tile and an Elsa Foulon Studio chandelier adorn the primary bath; R. Bratti fabricated the marble vanity top.

Faux-suede wall covering envelops the owners’ bedroom.

On the fourth floor, Beck upgraded a guest bath with a wall of Pratt + Larson tile.

Flooring from Renaissance Tile & Bath grounds a Victoria + Albert tub.

Sterling Mirror & Glass completed the enclosure.

Phillip Jeffries wallpaper and a chair and ottoman by Stewart Furniture grace the revamped study/guest room.

Beck (pictured) designed the built-in desk, fabricated by Kleppinger Design Group.

A new iron railing, along with a Brown Jordan sectional, Roberta Schilling chairs and a Stark rug, outfit the roof terrace.

Great Plains sheers and chairs in Villa Nova fabric strike a playful note in the second-story living room.

Striking Path

Nick Beck fosters a sense of the unexpected in a Dupont Circle row house

A young couple who’d recently purchased a Dupont Circle row house turned to DC designer Nick Beck to outfit its interiors. Built in 1888, the 2,300-square-foot residence was renovated in 2015 by New York architect Olson Kundig. “He redid the crown molding and created beautiful fireplace surrounds,” Beck reports. “Those details sold my clients on the house.”
Beck’s interior plan—which included two bathroom rehabs—respected the four-bedroom home’s provenance while weaving in a sense of fun. “Sometimes young people’s homes read very youthful to me. I like to take a more sophisticated route and that’s what we did here,” he says. “The clients love design and were really supportive of the vision.” The following Q&A details the process.

Describe the overall aesthetic you were after.
We leaned into the stateliness of the house, but also kept it fresh and cool by mixing traditional pieces with contemporary furniture and art. I replaced dingy-looking checkerboard tile in the entry and added a Barbara Barry chest to create an elevated, Park Avenue sort of vibe. And in the living room, we offset a gilded Dennis & Leen chair with a modern coffee table and painting.
I like to throw in something unexpected whenever I can. For example,
the living room sheers are a funky material, but they’re trimmed in velvet for a bit of elegance.

What inspired you to turn the empty landing into a cozy hangout?
It’s the first thing you see as you walk up the stairs and I wanted to make it really pretty. I laid it out with two Lee Industries chairs, thinking it could function as a space to read or have a cup of coffee. My client asked if we could do yellow drapes, and this Fadini Borghi fabric was the perfect shade. We had fun with the ottoman, covering it in a Vervain print with Houlès fringe to keep it playful.

Why are window treatments important to you?
To me, window treatments are the most transformative thing in a room. I love layering drapes and shades. Some clients worry about drapes blocking the view but I think they actually enhance it. Nicely done custom drapes in a beautiful fabric elevate any space.

How do you create drama with lighting?
Light fixtures have become such a focal point. They create an opportunity to add something cool and oftentimes sculptural to a space. Given the opportunity, I love to introduce sconces like we did on the landing. Whether you choose something like the Circa Lighting chandelier that picks up brass accents in the kitchen or the Currey & Co. lamp with a textural woven shade in the owners’ bedroom, light fixtures are like pieces of jewelry.

What drove the primary bedroom décor?
We kept it simple but luxurious. I mixed a variety of interesting textures, from the bed upholstered in silky Nobilis fabric to Made Goods nightstands clad in leather. I designed the shams and the ikat is an antique pillow. Phillip Jeffries faux-suede wall covering gives the room a luscious softness.

Tell the story behind the glass-enclosed fourth-floor bath.
It was a claustrophobic little space with no windows. We added French doors to open it up and mimic doors off the landing below.
I wanted to do something dramatic for the back wall so I covered it in hand-painted Pratt + Larson tile. I love how the wall tile blends with the patterned marble floor. People have said the vibe feels kind of Moroccan.
I enclosed the bathroom in glass so it would look like a lightbox—something very unexpected. The glass also saved us six inches (the depth of a wall), making the space that much larger.

Share your philosophy on original art.
I find art to be incredibly important. It can elevate and enhance décor, but unfortunately it can also bring down the look and feel if it’s not well-curated. In most of my work, I am involved in art selection. On this project, it was a very collaborative process with quite a bit of back-and-forth before we landed on the majority of pieces you see.

How did the primary bath evolve?
After the upper bath was done, the owners decided to redo their bathroom and wanted something fabulous. I had an idea of vines coming down from the ceiling and worked with New Ravenna to design a mosaic for the main wall. It makes a huge statement when you walk in.
A rectangular vanity would have felt too heavy, so I designed a curved one with Lacava and they built it for us; it’s topped with white Dolomite marble that has a beautifully detailed edge.

Why is it important to support artisanal makers?
Mosaics have been around for thousands of years and I’ve always loved them. New Ravenna, one of the world’s premiere workshops, is located right on Virginia's Eastern Shore. If designers aren’t showing this kind of craft to our clients and incorporating it into our work, it will go away. And that would be a shame because these beautiful creations stand the test of time.

Interior Design: Nicholas Beck, Nicholas Beck Interiors, Washington, DC. Primary Bath Contractor: John Waugh, McLean, Virginia. Upper Bath Contractor: Impact Remodeling and Construction, Washington, DC.

ASK NICK

Name a design pet peeve.
I see a lot of super-minimal, modern bathrooms, even in really stately homes that have been beautifully renovated. To me, it seems like a missed opportunity to do something a lot more interesting, specific and fun.

What products are you excited to try?
I’m dying to use one of Lala Curio’s incredible hand-painted, -beaded and -embroidered wall coverings, available at Rue IV. I’m also in love with the cool and unique wallpaper by UK-based Timorous Beasties, now at Hines & Co.

What’s your most cherished piece of furniture?
An 18th-century Italian cabinet that’s stunning and beautifully inlaid. I keep all my treasures in it and will probably be buried with it.

What color do you predict will be big in 2024?
Cornflower blue is definitely having a moment. It works in many spaces and gives you color but is still kind of subdued. I’m doing a guest room in it right now.

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