Home & Design

Textural wall covering by Phillip Jeffries defines the formal spaces, including the living room; whimsical Pierre Frey fabric covers a Thayer Coggin sectional. Sourced from Merritt Gallery, an abstract painting by Aron Hill pops on the wall.

A Lee sofa in blue Romo fabric and Thayer Coggin swivel chairs furnish the family room.

A Hunt Slonem painting, sourced from Merritt Gallery, sounds a vibrant note in the dining room, which centers on bentwood chairs and a table by Alfonso Marina.

The revamped kitchen showcases a bright-red RangeCraft hood against a quartzite backsplash.

Framed calligraphy hangs above a Julian Chichester bench in the foyer.

Upholstered in blue velvet, a sculptural bed by Baker takes center stage in the primary bedroom. Draperies by Christian Lacroix depict colorful birds in the same rich hues found on the furniture.

A mod table and bright-yellow upholstered chairs by Tonin Casa enliven the breakfast room; four framed artworks by Ellen Granter hang above the sideboard.

Color at Play

A design team revamps a DC apartment with minimalist architecture and vibrant art

After 30 years in the five-bedroom Potomac house where they raised their kids, the task of seamlessly downsizing to a two-bedroom co-op apartment in Northwest DC wasn’t an easy one—but an empty-nester couple nearing retirement managed better than most.

“We were transitioning to being less than full-time professionals,” says the wife, a technology executive and college professor (her husband is a lawyer). “Our focus was living on one level for aging in place while having enough space to be comfortable. We also wanted a walkable neighborhood with easy access to public transport.”

The 2,700-square-foot apartment in Woodley Park checked all the right boxes. But the unit had not been renovated since the late ’90s. Shortly after purchasing it in 2021, the wife began assembling her ideal design team for an overhaul. First on the list: architect Jeff Hains, who had already completed eight renovations in the complex. “I am very familiar with this building, its nuances and infrastructure,” he explains. “I also knew how to navigate the process with the board of directors.”

Next, interior designer Barbara Noguera came on board. She and Hains clicked—and their professional chemistry was very important to the owners. “Our synergy was dynamic, and we were able to collaborate on transforming this home into something very clean, fresh and modern,” the designer says. Builder Ted Peterson of Peterson and Collins also joined the team.

The mandate was to improve the overall footprint with an airy, more open plan, and to create a clean, modern sensibility in formerly dated spaces. Though the co-op—a corner unit with ample windows—had the potential for strong, natural light, it didn’t take advantage of its attributes. The kitchen was enclosed and a massive, built-in TV cabinet blocked off the family room. Nine-foot tray ceilings with deep bulkheads felt heavy.

The architect and designer devised a T-shaped layout where everything formal—foyer, dining and living rooms—runs along a main axis flanked by informal areas—breakfast and family rooms—that take advantage of natural light and views. The plan demolished the TV cabinet and opened up the kitchen. “New, shallow tray ceilings define spaces on the floor plan while allowing for six additional inches of height, and they have much narrower bulkheads,” Hains notes. The kitchen was renovated in sleek style with help from Jan Goldman of Kitchen Elements, LLC; it’s now separated from the dining area by a breakfast bar.

The design team reinforced the modern aesthetic by eliminating trim, which made for a lighter feel. “We replaced it with just a reveal in the plaster walls, creating a shadow line to imply a reference to baseboards and casings for doors and windows,” Hains relates. Outdated built-ins, including the family room bookcases, were reimagined as cantilevered, floating shelves and clean-lined cabinets. Floors went from light-maple planks to variable-width white oak, stained dark. A new lighting plan by DKT Lighting & Design includes LEDs in the bulkheads.

When the time came to furnish the unit, Noguera considered spatial planning as well as how the couple wished to live. The ability to entertain with ease was important—but they also specified intimate spots for everyday use. And they wanted to ditch the old furniture from their suburban home and start fresh.

Curated global furnishings such as molded Italian leather dining chairs define various zones in the open plan. “The dining room is the first thing you see when you enter the home, so we used it to set the tone for the décor with strong, sculptural furniture that is comfortable and inviting,” the designer says.

The wife, whose taste leans bold and eclectic, hoped the home would reflect her vibrant sensibility. “She wanted elements of surprise that spark curiosity and conversation,” Noguera recounts. “Often, designers have to convince clients to go big; here, part of my job was reining things in and creating overall cohesion.”

The homeowner’s love of primary colors (she jokes that the blue sofa in the family room is her take on beige) led to the selection of a playful Pierre Frey printed textile that upholsters the large sectional in the living room. Its palette, which includes blue, red, pink and chartreuse, became the springboard for the home’s overall scheme. The angular, modern sectional faces a curvy pair of French-style chairs upholstered in cut velvet. A lacquered waterfall cocktail table is centered between them.

Low furniture profiles keep sight lines clear, and special details add interest—from the eye-catching sectional to Christian Lacroix drapes festooned with colorful birds in the bedroom. Says Noguera, “Everything was deeply considered to ensure it would come together as varied yet whole.”

“It was so much fun taking a blank sheet and creating a space,” the wife enthuses. “We truly love our home. I believe the planning and collaboration made all the difference.”

Renovation Architecture: Jeffrey Hains, AIA, Hains Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. Interior Design: Barbara Noguera, principal; Karla Rivera, project manager, Barbara Noguera Interiors, Washington, DC. Kitchen Design: Jan Goldman, Kitchen Elements, LLC, Olney, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Ted Peterson, Peterson and Collins, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland. Styling: Kristi Hunter.

 

RESOURCES

FOYER
Wallpaper: phillipjeffries.com. Bench: us.julianchichester.com. Bench Fabric: romo.com.

DINING ROOM
Art: huntslonem.com through merrittgallery.com. Table & Chairs: alfonsomarina.com. Server: jimeco.com. Chandelier: visualcomfort.com.

LIVING ROOM
Sofa Fabric: pierrefrey.com. Sectional: thayercoggin.com. Coffee Table: bakerfurniture.com. Chair Fabric: manuelcanovas.com. Art: merrittgallery.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com.

POWDER ROOM
Wallpaper: abnormalsanonymous.com. Sink: gramaco.com. Sink Fabrication: unitedstatesmarbleandgranite.com. Plumbing: brizo.com through fergusonshowrooms.com. Lighting: visualcomfort.com. Floor Tile: architessa.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry: showplacecabinetry.com. Backsplash & Countertop: gramaco.com. Hardware: pushpullhardware.com. Hood: Custom through rangecraft.com. Appliances: fergusonshowrooms.com.

BREAKFAST ROOM
Server: Custom by icdwoodwork.com. Table & Chairs: tonincasausa.com. Pendant: visualcomfort.com.

FAMILY ROOM
Server: Custom by icdwoodwork.com. Sofa: leeindustries.com. Sofa Fabric: romo.com. Swivel Chairs: thayercoggin.com. Coffee Table: jimeco.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. End Table & Desk Chairs: us.julianchichester.com.

PRIMARY BEDROOM
Wallpaper: phillipjeffries.com. Bed: bakerfurniture.com. Drapery: Christian Lacroix through designersguild.com. Carpet: starkcarpet.com. Sofa: Owners’ Collection. Sofa Fabric: designersguild.com.

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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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The H&D Portfolio of 100 Top Designers spotlights the superior work of selected architects, interior designers and landscape architects in major regions of the US.

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