Home & Design

Inside the home, AK Metal Fabricators fashioned the staircase of steel, glass and cherry.

The living room showcases iconic Scandinavian furnishings atop a hand-woven Matt Camron rug; the Poul Kjaerholm daybed faces coffee tables by Sebastian Scherer.

A Betty Woodman woodcut adorns a wall near the kitchen.

The archway separating the living and dining rooms is flanked by built-ins enhanced with bronze inserts.

A black-and-white palette brings drama to the remodeled kitchen, where Eames stools pull up to an island lit by glass Louis Poulsen pendants.

In the breakfast nook, a Bourgeois Bohème Atelier chandelier illuminates a Hans Wegner table and Arne Jacobsen chairs.

Design Within Reach chaises take in expansive river views.

Upstairs, an airy communal area boasts a homework zone with water views; furniture includes a Prouvé table and chairs and a sideboard by Finn Juhl. A hand-woven Moroccan rug from Matt Camron and a Louis Poulsen pendant complete the tableau.

In the library, Ballou embraced a moody, masculine vibe with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chairs upholstered in leather beside an &Tradition coffee table.

The primary bath features custom walnut vanities flanking a sculptural Aquatica tub.

A small study adjoins the primary bedroom (above), where an Iatesta bed rests atop a handwoven wool rug.

Two water closets and a shower are enclosed behind bronze-framed, frosted-glass doors. Porcelain wall and floor tiles conjure the texture of linen; the Conrad shade is from Rockville Interiors.

A terrace featuring JANUS et Cie furniture overlooks the Wye River.

Double Vision

A design team reimagines a Queenstown getaway flanked by stunning water vistas

A  narrow peninsula in Queenstown, Maryland, is a magical spot for admiring the Eastern Shore’s estuary environment. Homes situated on this enviable spit of land are treated to panoramic vistas of both Eastern Bay and the Wye River—a double whammy that lured a couple to purchase a weekend getaway there. “The house looks at the bay and backs onto the river; we loved the beautiful water views in both directions,” says the wife. “The location was perfect, not too far from home, and the size was just right for our family.”

She and her husband—lawyers living in DC’s Logan Circle—bought the 5,000-square-foot, 1980s-era abode early in the pandemic, then scrambled to get it ready for sheltering in place with their two young teenagers. Designer Kate Ballou, who had worked with the couple before, updated stodgy, traditional interiors in a hurry, with her clients’ spare, mid-century sensibility in mind. “They love Danish furniture and are real collectors,” Ballou recounts. “We completed the job over an eight-week period, mainly with beautiful pieces that were in stock at Furniture from Scandinavia by Annette Rachlin in DC.”

Streamlined, mid-century Nordic furnishings such as a RadioHus sofa and &Tradition chairs in the living room quickly modernized and simplified the rooms—despite a backdrop of heavy trim and dark cherry wood floors and millwork. Subtly patterned and textured rugs from Matt Camron add softness and woven Roman shades by Woodnotes let in the light. Ballou elevated the dining room with grass-cloth wall covering in deep blue tones and hung beloved, modern artworks from the couple’s collection.

Within the year, the owners were ready to embark on a more thorough makeover that would upgrade finishes and impart contemporary character to the interiors. Remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms was also on the list. “We wanted the house to be comfortable and not overly formal, with clean lines and open spaces,” says the wife. Ballou introduced the couple to architect Colleen Healey, who shares her—and her clients’—affinity for Mid-Century Modern design.

As it turned out, Ballou’s original vision was instrumental to the project’s next phase. “They wanted what we did to relate to the beautiful furniture Kate had already selected,” Healey notes.

The front entrance facing Eastern Bay opens to a two-story foyer dominated by a graceful, open stair; straight ahead, glass rear doors capture the Wye River expanse. Living and dining rooms lie to the left of the front door, with the kitchen and the home’s utility areas—laundry, garage and back stairs—beyond. The foyer opens on the right to a wood-paneled library and, down a short hall, the main-floor primary suite. At the top of the stairs, a communal space with facing banks of windows takes in both views; it leads to the kids’ ensuite bedrooms.

The architect masterminded small alterations that retained the home’s structure and scale, yet made a dramatic impact. Simplifying trim and lightening the cherry floors in a matte finish created a modern shift. Bronze elements add interest—from inserts in the built-in living room shelving to integrated wardrobes with bronze frames in the primary bedroom closet. A coat of white paint freshened up the interiors of the floor-to-ceiling library bookcases.

On the airy foyer’s staircase, iron balusters mimicking sea grass made way for a glass railing anchored by curved iron pickets (the original railing was repurposed as a fence outside). A soffit over the doorway between the living and dining rooms was softened into an archway “that has its roots in modern architecture,” Healey says. She played up the living room’s fireplace in slabs of veneered stone and lined the hearth and firebox in bronze.

Faux-wood ceiling beams were removed to “allow the focus to be on the windows,” she explains. “Those small tweaks made a huge difference in the feel of the house.”

The kitchen underwent a major transformation though its layout didn’t change. Healey collaborated on the update with Julia Jensen of Boffi | DePadova in Georgetown. Dark cabinetry is lacquered in a soft, metallic finish; the bronze-clad island is topped with Corian while the peripheral countertops are made of thin, almost-black porcelain slabs. A textured-limestone backsplash anchors the BlueStar range and white Corian covers the sink wall.

Bathrooms were also revamped. The two ground-floor powder rooms now sport custom vanities and textural tile or wallpaper. And the primary bath was elevated with walnut vanities, a sculptural soaking tub and bronze-framed shower and water-closet enclosures.

Since buying the house, the owners have added a pool, a screened porch, a patio with a built-in grill and outdoor furniture groupings curated by Ballou. “The house is functional and beautiful at the same time,” enthuses the wife. “I love the details.”

Healey concurs. “The project was a study in how to change a space without destroying or modifying its utilities and structure,” she notes. “We kept those things yet completely transformed the home.”

Renovation Architecture: Colleen Healey, AIA, Colleen Healey Architecture, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Kate Ballou, Hendrick Interiors, Washington, DC. Kitchen Design: Julia Jensen, Boffi | DePadova, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: West & Callahan, Easton, Maryland.

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