Home & Design

A vintage-style poster in the foyer makes a splash against a neutral backdrop.

On the opposite wall, the skull of an elk the husband felled in Idaho serves as a minimalist sculpture above the fireplace; Skylar Morgan chairs in Romo fabric gather near a black twig table from Made Goods.

More black—in the form of cabinetry and veining on the Silestone countertops and backsplash—anchors the open kitchen.

Seen from the Patuxtent River, the new home combines low-maintenance Nichiha siding and standing-seam metal roofs; decks and porches promote al fresco living. PHOTO: KYLE WEAVER

The dining room centers on a Design Within Reach table and McGee & Co. chairs.

The cozy home office is furnished with hanging Blu Dot desks, Design Within Reach armchairs and a Croft House table.

Molnar jumped at an opportunity to go bold in the powder room with black-and-white wallpaper by Olivia & Poppy; pendants are from Hubbardton Forge.

A TV room beyond the kitchen accommodates extra guests on a Room & Board sleep sofa.

The owners’ bath echoes the palette with a white soaking tub and Clé floor tiles.

The primary bath.

A black four-poster bed, a CB2 bench and Room & Board night tables ground the airy primary suite, where a strategically placed side window extends expansive river views.

Marvin windows provide long views in the great room, where sofas from Interior Define flank a limestone table from Space Copenhagen; the leather chairs are by Forom.

Nature Retreat

A design team fashions a stylishly laid-back getaway on the banks of the Patuxent River

The Patuxent River, Maryland’s longest waterway, meanders through miles of farmland and scenic terrain on its path to the Chesapeake Bay. A DC-area attorney fell for the tributary and its environs during a yacht charter with college pals. “We rented a boat in Annapolis, sailed down to the Patuxent and then went upriver,” he recalls. “I fell in love with the geography—rolling hills line this gorgeous, winding waterway.”

As it turned out, the journey was serendipitous. The lifelong sailor and his wife, a physician, had been toying with the idea of acquiring a waterfront family getaway, so they narrowed their sights on properties fronting the Patuxent. “We were trying to find a place that was close to nature, where we could get away from the city but that was still easy to reach, even for a day trip,” explains the doctor.

A search ultimately led them to Lusby, a pastoral hamlet north of Solomons, where a vacant, one-acre property was on the market offering vast water views at one of the Patuxent’s widest points. “It feels almost like you’re on the sea,” marvels the wife.

The duo acquired the land and set out to design a serene retreat that they could enjoy with their two teenage kids, extended family and friends. “We wanted to focus on the expansive view and also wanted the home to be modern,” she continues. “The idea was to combine those two elements so that even when we were inside, we’d always feel like we were in touch with the water.”

They turned to architect Jacob Weaver, interior designer Darlene Molnar and builder Julian Johnson to make their vision a reality. Weaver situated the now-complete dwelling far enough from the shore to satisfy set-back regulations but close enough to retain towering pine trees that shade the front façade. Low-maintenance Nichiha panels clad the freestanding, three-car garage and 4,000-square-foot main residence. The architect established open, airy interiors where generous glazing forges a strong connection to the site. “We took advantage of opportunities that the views presented to get panoramas of 180 degrees or more,” he avers.

Guests arrive in a bright foyer where tall windows near a floating staircase filter daylight into the home. To the right, a shared home office lets the busy professionals keep up with work while a guest suite awaits on the left, beyond the stairs. The main attraction lies straight ahead: An open great room comprising the kitchen, living and dining areas faces a mesmerizing blue horizon sure to wash away the cares of the day.

Aside from a splashy poster in the foyer, a subdued palette that includes walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove and pale oak floors gently embraces residents like a perfect, white shell afloat in a dazzling marinescape.

The simple backdrop was born after a careful and deliberate discovery period. Taking inspiration from conversations and photos the couple shared on Pinterest, Molnar embraced an airy, minimalist vibe. “They wanted it to feel like an oasis, an escape. That is what’s behind the calm palette,” reveals the designer. “We were going for an indoor-outdoor feel, but in an elevated way.” She curated furnishings with sculptural lines in organic materials and textures, from a limestone coffee table to leather-bound chairs. The end result leans decidedly Scandinavian.

“Darlene captured a cozy, modern feel that’s not at all cold,” reflects the wife. “She also helped us pick fittings and finishes—cabinetry, hardware and lighting—which created seamless interiors.”

Black accents add gravitas—especially in the kitchen. “Black cabinets anchor the space so that it’s not all white,” says Molnar. “And concrete pendants and stools lend an industrial touch without going overboard.”

The second floor harbors bedrooms and a shared bath for the owners’ son and daughter, plus the primary suite. In the latter, a black four-poster bed and simple nightstands appear to float in a cloud-white aura with river views providing a living art show.

Clearly, Weaver and Molnar heeded their clients’ wishes for a refuge where they could decompress, far from their busy schedules in DC. “Creating situations that reduce stress was an important part of our architectural design,” says Weaver. “In the owners’ room, we tried to get that zero-edge view so that when they’re in bed and look out, they just see water.”

Parents and kids are delighted with their southern Maryland escape, which came with a dock in a protected cove nearby that’s now stocked with kayaks, a Boston whaler and other water toys. “We are constantly being pulled there,” says the dad. “I occasionally sneak away in the middle of the week to work there for a day. It’s such a peaceful place.”

His wife agrees, “With the busy lives we lead, there’s something so lovely about pulling up in just an hour and a half and being able to immediately release all the tensions of the week.”

The Patuxent River, Maryland’s longest waterway, meanders through miles of farmland and scenic terrain on its path to the Chesapeake Bay. A DC-area attorney fell for the tributary and its environs during a yacht charter with college pals. “We rented a boat in Annapolis, sailed down to the Patuxent and then went upriver,” he recalls. “I fell in love with the geography—rolling hills line this gorgeous, winding waterway.”

As it turned out, the journey was serendipitous. The lifelong sailor and his wife, a physician, had been toying with the idea of acquiring a waterfront family getaway, so they narrowed their sights on properties fronting the Patuxent. “We were trying to find a place that was close to nature, where we could get away from the city but that was still easy to reach, even for a day trip,” explains the doctor.

A search ultimately led them to Lusby, a pastoral hamlet north of Solomons, where a vacant, one-acre property was on the market offering vast water views at one of the Patuxent’s widest points. “It feels almost like you’re on the sea,” marvels the wife.

The duo acquired the land and set out to design a serene retreat that they could enjoy with their two teenage kids, extended family and friends. “We wanted to focus on the expansive view and also wanted the home to be modern,” she continues. “The idea was to combine those two elements so that even when we were inside, we’d always feel like we were in touch with the water.”

They turned to architect Jacob Weaver, interior designer Darlene Molnar and builder Julian Johnson to make their vision a reality. Weaver situated the now-complete dwelling far enough from the shore to satisfy set-back regulations but close enough to retain towering pine trees that shade the front façade. Low-maintenance Nichiha panels clad the freestanding, three-car garage and 4,000-square-foot main residence. The architect established open, airy interiors where generous glazing forges a strong connection to the site. “We took advantage of opportunities that the views presented to get panoramas of 180 degrees or more,” he avers.

Guests arrive in a bright foyer where tall windows near a floating staircase filter daylight into the home. To the right, a shared home office lets the busy professionals keep up with work while a guest suite awaits on the left, beyond the stairs. The main attraction lies straight ahead: An open great room comprising the kitchen, living and dining areas faces a mesmerizing blue horizon sure to wash away the cares of the day.

Aside from a splashy poster in the foyer, a subdued palette that includes walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove and pale oak floors gently embraces residents like a perfect, white shell afloat in a dazzling marinescape.

The simple backdrop was born after a careful and deliberate discovery period. Taking inspiration from conversations and photos the couple shared on Pinterest, Molnar embraced an airy, minimalist vibe. “They wanted it to feel like an oasis, an escape. That is what’s behind the calm palette,” reveals the designer. “We were going for an indoor-outdoor feel, but in an elevated way.” She curated furnishings with sculptural lines in organic materials and textures, from a limestone coffee table to leather-bound chairs. The end result leans decidedly Scandinavian.

“Darlene captured a cozy, modern feel that’s not at all cold,” reflects the wife. “She also helped us pick fittings and finishes—cabinetry, hardware and lighting—which created seamless interiors.”

Black accents add gravitas—especially in the kitchen. “Black cabinets anchor the space so that it’s not all white,” says Molnar. “And concrete pendants and stools lend an industrial touch without going overboard.”

The second floor harbors bedrooms and a shared bath for the owners’ son and daughter, plus the primary suite. In the latter, a black four-poster bed and simple nightstands appear to float in a cloud-white aura with river views providing a living art show.

“The owners wanted it to feel like an oasis, an escape.” —Darlene Molnar

Clearly, Weaver and Molnar heeded their clients’ wishes for a refuge where they could decompress, far from their busy schedules in DC. “Creating situations that reduce stress was an important part of our architectural design,” says Weaver. “In the owners’ room, we tried to get that zero-edge view so that when they’re in bed and look out, they just see water.”

Parents and kids are delighted with their southern Maryland escape, which came with a dock in a protected cove nearby that’s now stocked with kayaks, a Boston whaler and other water toys. “We are constantly being pulled there,” says the dad. “I occasionally sneak away in the middle of the week to work there for a day. It’s such a peaceful place.”

His wife agrees, “With the busy lives we lead, there’s something so lovely about pulling up in just an hour and a half and being able to immediately release all the tensions of the week.”


Architecture: Jacob Weaver, LEED AP, Jacob Weaver Architecture, Harwood, Maryland. Interior Design: Darlene Molnar, NCIDQ, ASID, LEED AP ID+C, Darlene Molnar LLC, Reston, Virginia. Builder: Julian Johnson, J. Johnson Enterprises Inc., Hollywood, Maryland. Styling: Limonata Creative.

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