Home & Design

An airy foyer leads to the living room, where an angled wall disguises troublesome columns.

In the dining room, a Visual Comfort chandelier floats above sophisticated yet informal furnishings. 

In the kitchen and breakfast area, a geometric, glass-tile backsplash from The Tile Shop offsets Shaker-style cabinetry.

Quartz counters and Viking and Miele appliances from Ferguson meet baking and cooking needs.

BEFORE: The existing kitchen.

BEFORE: Once-dark and drab spaces gave way to bright interiors. 

Custom- built shelving and cabinetry frame a contemporary electric fireplace that is set in a gray, ceramic-tile accent wall reminiscent of the home’s stone exterior.

Clean lines—from the re-styled tray ceiling to the streamlined mantel around the gas fireplace—enhance the bedroom’s calm and restful ambiance.

On the lower level, a sense of fun prevails with separate zones for work and play. The custom, wood-slatted wall covering in the seating area adds lift and unifies the spaces.

The speakeasy-style game room and bar speaks for itself. 

BOWA transformed McLean townhouse, which won a 2024 PRO Remodeler of the Year award for Entire House over $750,000, as well as Home & Design’s Award of Excellence.

Lighten Up

A revamped McLean abode sets the stage for a couple’s next chapter T

Downsizing has its upsides, as a couple from McLean, Virginia, discovered when they moved from their longtime, single-family home to a 20-year-old townhouse community in a historic district nearby. Although they loved the gracious, Georgian-style residence with its gray stone façade, they wanted to change up the flow and feel to make a more personalized statement. Their realtor referred them to experts at BOWA who, in consultation with the homeowners, created a plan that gave each room “a modern, elegant look where every element was functional, intentional and cohesive,” says senior project designer Lindsey Britten.  

Achieving a client’s wish list requires a disciplined approach based on “a deep understanding of how they live their lives, engage with their space and what they want to see in their new home,” explains BOWA vice president and project leader Jim Harris. “Budgets and desires don’t always align so it’s important that even before the work begins, everyone shares the same goals and speaks the same design language.” 

For these homeowners—Ann, a vegan chef, and Tim, a senior-level executive—the vision was clear: an aesthetic and functional floor plan that would open up the closed-off rooms and reconfigure the interiors with space enough for them to entertain, work from home and relax in a luxurious private suite. They also wanted an elevator to connect the lower level to their bedroom on the third floor as well as a separate recreation zone with a game room, gym and office.

Although the design team was determined to surpass the owners’ expectations, “there were a few challenges involved,” Harris admits. “The dysfunctional set-up of the original floor plan paired with outdated finishes, gaudy stacked moldings and columns off the entry were our main pain points.” 

Nevertheless, notes Britten, “We were able to transform the dated house into a bright and welcoming home that gave our clients the ability to live, work and entertain in a way that perfectly fits their lifestyle.” 

The completed, four-story dwelling measures 4,650 square feet with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. Off the main entryway, an intimate living room serves as a liminal space and sets the stylistic tone for the rest of the interior. It is partially enclosed by an angled wall that’s cleverly designed to hide existing structural posts. A serene, gray-and-white palette with hints of blue and furnishings in warm wood and brass extend from room to room.

Whiter shades of pale on walls and picture-frame molding set a sophisticated yet casual mood in the dining room, where a dynamic, sculptural light fixture provides an intriguing contrast to the more substantial, guest-friendly trestle table and chairs. 

Inviting and sleek, the kitchen features a butler’s pantry with two wine fridges and extra space for guests to sit and sample the owners’ latest vintage. Behind the backsplash, an appliance garage houses the chef’s tools of the trade, keeping clutter out of sight. 

The white, blue and gray color story continues into the family room. Custom-built shelving and cabinetry frame a contemporary electric fireplace that is set in a gray, ceramic-tile accent wall reminiscent of the home’s stone exterior.

Upstairs, the elevator opens into the primary suite where everything, Britten marvels, “is at your fingertips.” Clean lines—from the re-styled tray ceiling to the streamlined mantel around the gas fireplace—enhance the bedroom’s calm and restful ambiance. Gray velvet chairs bring a touch of luxurious comfort. A small adjacent bedroom has been transformed into a walk-in closet that conveniently accesses a laundry room. Beyond, a spa-like bathroom indulges all the senses with a huge steam shower, statement soaking tub and double-sink wooden vanity.

Upstairs on the fourth floor, BOWA turned a previously underutilized and empty space into an elegant guest suite, adding two more bedrooms, a large closet and a Jack-and-Jill bath.

A sense of fun pervades the lower level, where an integrated space with separate zones encourages work or working out, game and cocktail nights with friends or simply decompressing. Rooms include
an office area, family room and his-and-her home gyms.                       

The design-function balance seen upstairs is also reflected in the basement makeover, which features wood flooring and a custom, wood-slat wall covering for textural interest. Fittingly, it also conceals the door to the moody, speakeasy-themed game room/cocktail lounge, complete with a bar and beverage cooler. 

The owners, who also have a home in Florida, were gone for most of the reno. But they had total trust in the design and production teams and kept in touch during the nearly eight-month process. Was it worth it? “When they arrived at the house for the big reveal, they were thrilled,” Harris recounts. “And as Tim opened the door to the speakeasy, his smile lit up the room. That’s what makes me love what I do.” ⎯

Renovation Architecture, Interior Design & Contracting: Jim Harris, project leader; Lindsey Britten, senior designer; Colin Sonnenday, production, BOWA, McLean, Virginia and Middleburg, Virginia. 

Q&A with BOWA pro

What should homeowners know about the renovation process?

Jim Harris: There are thousands of details to consider. Make sure you find a company with a single point of
contact and accountability so you never have to worry about details
falling through the cracks. 

We hear a lot about renos that go on forever. What’s your process?

Jim Harris: We typically devote 16 to 20 weeks to design and another 13 or 14 weeks to production. Everything is done and approved up front before work begins. 

What was your biggest challenge on this project and your greatest joy?

Lindsey Britten: The kitchen was challenging because the wife is a chef and I knew this room was most important to her. I watched her cook in her old home so I could understand how she worked and used the space. My greatest joy? The primary suite. It’s beautiful yet functional.

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