Home & Design

As an interior designer and mother of two young boys, Marika Meyer passionately promotes functional beauty. “For me, the important message is that you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics,” she asserts. “You can have a home that’s approachable, comfortable and durable yet beautifully appointed too.”

Meyer proves the point beyond doubt in her own Bethesda digs. She and husband Michael, who works in commercial real estate, purchased the post-War Colonial in 2009 just before their first child, Grayson, arrived; Colin came along three years later. Over time, Meyer has crafted an environment that showcases her design prowess, while surviving what she calls, “the chaos of life.”

The living room welcomes visitors to the home. Nuanced neutrals set a sophisticated tone, but durability rules the day. A performance fabric from Perennials covers the custom sofa; its contrasting trim elevates the look. A “very forgiving” velvet covers two armchairs. “Nothing in the house is too formal,” the designer notes. “I like things that feel refined, but I don’t want people to be afraid to sit down anywhere.”

Vintage furnishings, found objects and family heirlooms fill the home. The living room’s cocktail table, for example, was signed by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, a prominent furniture maker until his death in 1976. An antique chinoiserie mirror hangs over the living room sofa and beside it sits a child’s chair that Meyer’s great-grandfather had made for her grandfather more than 100 years ago. Books that once belonged to that same grandfather fill the library’s bespoke, black-painted shelves.

“I prefer a space that feels collected,” says Meyer. “That summarizes my aesthetic perfectly. It is more organic and authentic, and fundamentally reflects the people who live there. This house is very reflective of us.”

Opposite the living room, an “impactful” Farrow & Ball wallpaper envelops the dining room, where guests often gather. “Michael loves to cook, and I love to dress kind of a ridiculous table, so we both get to express ourselves,” the designer reveals. “Grayson says that I put more plants and objects on the table than food.”

Those creative inclinations led Meyer to study fine arts at the University of Maryland and, in 2007, to start her namesake firm. While handling a range of projects, Marika Meyer Interiors also specializes in consulting on construction. That expertise came in handy two years ago as the designer reimagined her own kitchen/breakfast area and improved other spaces.

The casual-dining zone, family room and part of the kitchen sit in an “unusual” 1970s addition at the back. One of the first steps in Meyer’s redo was to remove a dropped ceiling in the breakfast area, which gained nearly five feet of height in the process and now mirrors the family room’s vaulted effect. Freshly installed, V-groove ceiling panels bring vintage charm to both spaces. The dining area’s bay window boasts a new bench seat with concealed storage under its flip-top.

In the kitchen, an upper cabinet that obstructed the view into the adjacent family room came down. The remaining dark-wood cabinets received a coat of off-white paint. As Meyer explains, “The main objective was to make the space feel more open and expansive.” Softly veined granite countertops and a glazed-subway-tile backsplash “bring the aesthetic forward a little bit.” White oak flooring with an ebony stain replaced white tiles throughout the addition (the original hardwood floors in other spaces were refinished to match).

Meyer dialed up the color and pattern in the family room’s recently refreshed scheme. She reupholstered a Lee Industries sofa in a spritely, green-hued indoor-outdoor fabric from Thibaut. “This side of the house definitely goes bolder,” she notes. “I wanted it to be more playful, more fun. It matches the energy of our family.”

The chair and pillow fabrics, as well as the rug, are from the designer’s own collection, Marika Meyer Textiles, which launched in 2016. The impetus for the customizable line was twofold: to solve sourcing challenges for tricky color combinations; and to feed Meyer’s craving for “a new creative outlet.” Fabric options expanded last September with the introduction of the Dumbarton Collection, which draws its name from Georgetown’s historic property and offers three gardenesque designs.

“For me, inspiration is everywhere,” the maker reveals. “I’m always looking at things with a critical eye toward pattern. That’s the blessing and the curse.”

Meyer sought “visual quiet” in the upstairs owners’ suite, where she bathed the walls in warm-gray paint. A cherished portrait that depicts the designer’s great-grandmother, grandmother and mother—all of whom shared the name Marika—hangs in the space. The boys’ rooms, on the other hand, brim with exuberance. For proof, look no further than the wallpaper lining Colin’s pad.

The word “fun” pops up often as Meyer describes both her handiwork and approach. The designer’s sage advice for those embarking on a new build or renovation serves as illustration. “Have fun,” she encourages. “It’s a luxury to be able to do it, so there is no reason that the process shouldn’t be as enjoyable as the end result.”

Renovation & Interior Design: Marika Meyer, Marika Meyer Interiors, Bethesda, Maryland.

RESOURCES

LIVING ROOM
Front Door Paint: finepaintsofeurope.com. Rug: mattcamron.com. Sofa: custom by meyerinteriors.com. Sofa Fabric: perennialsfabrics.com. Pillow Fabric: kravet.com. Drapery Fabric: marikameyertextiles.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Round Table: vintage. Table Lamps: vintage through misspixies.com. Wall Paint: Manchester Tan by benjaminmoore.com. Mirror Over Mantel: johnrosselli.com. Mirror Over Sofa: meyerinteriors.com. Side Chair: vintage through hickorychair.com. Side Chair Fabric: marikameyertextiles.com. Arm Chairs: vintage. Arm Chair Fabric: cowtan.com. Chest: vintage.

DINING ROOM
Table & Chairs: vintage. Chair Seat Fabric: perennialsfabrics.com. Chair Back Fabric: fschumacher.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Chandelier: circalighting.com. Wallpaper: farrow-ball.com. Drapery Fabric: fschumacher.com. Drapery Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Ceiling Paint: Iceberg by benjaminmoore.com. China Closet: vintage. China Closet Paint: billetcollins.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinet Paint: White Dove by benjaminmoore.com. Countertops: unitedstatesmarbleandgranite.com. Backsplash: mosaictileco.com. Stove: kitchenaid.com. Lamp: vintage. Sink Fixture: perrinandrowe.co.uk through fergusonshowrooms.com. Runner: vintage.

BREAKFAST AREA
Table: allmodern.com. Chairs: serenaandlily.com. Chandelier: vintage. Window Seat Fabric: thibautdesign.com. Window Seat Pillow Fabrics: clarencehouse.com; galbraithandpaul.com. Roman Shade Fabric: China Seas through quadrillefabrics.com. Roman Shade Fabrication: gretcheneverett.com. Wall Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com.

LIBRARY
Wall Paint: Manchester Tan by benjaminmoore.com. Bookshelves: custom by meyerinteriors.com. Card Table & Chairs: vintage. Chair Fabric: China Seas through quadrillefabrics.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Light Fixture: circalighting.com.

FAMILY ROOM
Wall Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com. Rug: marikameyertextiles.com. Pink Table & Table Lamp: vintage. Sofa: leeindustries.com. Sofa Fabric: thibautdesign.com. Lucite Table: ballarddesigns.com. Photograph: Slim Arons. Sculpture on Wall: custom.

BOY’S ROOM
Animal Wallpaper: scionliving.com. Desk: westelm.com. Desk Chair: amazon.com. Desk Lamp: vintage. Blue Dresser: vintage through misspixies.com. Dresser Lamp: homegoods.com. Bed: crateandbarrel.com. Pillow Fabric: kravet.com. Mirror: vintage. Roman Shade Fabric: lucyrosedesign.com.

 

 

OWNERS’ BEDROOM

Wall Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com. Bed: custom. Headboard Fabric: fabricut.com. Bedding: matouk.com. Pillow: marikameyertextiles.com. Armchair & Drink Table: vintage. Rug: coecarpetandrug.com. Roman Shade Fabric: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. Art & Night Table: vintage. Table Lamp: circalighting.com.

Looking for a place to unwind, a pair of DC-area professionals considered buying a weekend retreat near the shore—but then changed tack. Their new approach: to build a sanctuary in Bethesda they could enjoy full-time. As the husband, a corporate communications executive, recalls, “We thought, ‘Let’s rent a house when we go to the beach and make our primary home a vacation home.’”

A vacation-house-in-the-city mindset informed decisions along the way, starting with the lot selection. When a one-acre, woodland parcel belying its close-in location became available in 2018, the couple grabbed it. “The integration between indoors and outdoors was key” to their vision for a permanent haven, says the wife, a political consultant. “This was pre-covid, so the idea was to be able to relax in a Zen-like space when we came home from work and to have guests feel calm, comfortable and relaxed too.”

With demolition slated for an existing 1950s house, they tapped architect Mark Kaufman to design airy new digs that would showcase the property’s natural splendor. “They wanted a contemporary home with a lot of glass on the back side and some sense of privacy in front,” recounts Kaufman, a principal at GTM Architects. “They also wanted to be able to walk in the front door and see through to the beautiful backyard.”

Kaufman forged an L-shaped plan that fit the bill. “We started taking in all these parts and pieces—what’s the best view on the lot, where are we getting the best daylighting, how do we want to organize the more public and private spaces—and the L shape started to make a lot of sense,” he explains. “We created two wings that are connected by a glass hyphen.”

Soaring windows and sliding doors, all framed in black, dominate the back without overexposing the occupants. “Because of the home’s shape, you feel protected,” observes Kaufman. “You don’t feel like you’re on display here, even though you’re surrounded by glass.” On the exterior, those gleaming expanses are interspersed with sapele siding and deep-blue-painted stucco.

Skillfully sited, the 7,800-square-foot dwelling takes full advantage of the sun. The L opens up to southern exposure, ushering in natural light. Additionally, 80 solar panels on the flat roof help the homeowners approach their goal of net-zero energy consumption. According to the husband, “For months in the spring and fall, the meter is running backwards.”

Visitors step first into the glass link, where floor-to-ceiling windows reveal the backyard vista. To the left, the dining room sits up front, saving the stellar views for the glass-lined kitchen/breakfast area/family room, which crescendos to a 20-plus-foot ceiling. A screened porch housing a double-grill outdoor kitchen extends off that space. The opposite wing holds the living room, floating stairs and library. On the second floor, a gathering spot situated in the hyphen separates the primary suite from three other bedrooms (the couple’s adult son and daughter each claim one). The walk-out basement comprises recreational areas, a gym and guest quarters.

Before ground broke, designer Annette Hannon joined the team, specifying everything from finishes to furnishings. She and Kaufman collaborated on the kitchen design, which was predicated on entertaining. A lengthy, marble-topped island with a waterfall edge offers plenty of prep and serving space; it’s also where the wife prefers to work from home.

Wood accents warm up the sparkling interiors. Sapele pocket doors on the family room’s fireplace/television wall conceal a bar and storage space; the same wood reappears on the breakfast-area banquette. Walnut built-ins wrap around the library, which doubles as the husband’s office.

Nature dictated the décor. “The driving force for the whole project was marrying the interior with the exterior,” asserts Hannon. Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak, Hannon’s pick for most public-area walls, creates a neutral canvas for the “living artwork” outside. Comfortable seating selections sport durable fabrics in tranquil shades of blue and gray that complement the view.

The lighting choices, she adds, “respect the interior architecture’s contemporary aesthetic.” Case in point: a sleek, 19-light pendant from Koncept Lighting that drops from the family room ceiling.

That social space spills out to a tumbled-travertine terrace, complete with swimming pool and hot tub. A bocce ball court lies along the side yard, opposite a changing room and outdoor shower. Fritz & Gignoux, who masterminded the landscape plan, added a modern garden that further ties the built environment to its surroundings. “We made it so that the house feels merged with the natural landscape,” observes Leslie Gignoux, who founded the firm with husband Scott Fritz. “There’s a very thoughtful and peaceful presence to the place that is intentional.”

Hannon established zones for outdoor dining, relaxing and lounging with Brown Jordan furniture. The porch table can extend to accommodate a crowd. Two sofas join a streamlined Paloform fire pit on the terrace, creating a spot, she says, “to hang out and have cocktails.”

The completed property offers a halcyon respite for owners and friends alike. “When the weather is warm, we have people over almost every weekend,” reveals the wife. “There’s lots of eating, lots of getting wet in the pool, hot tub and outdoor shower. It’s just like a vacation home.”

Architecture: Mark Kaufman, AIA, LEED AP, GTM Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. Interior Design: Annette Hannon, Annette Hannon Interior Design, Burke, Virginia. Builder: Thorsen Construction, Alexandria, Virginia. Landscape Design: Leslie Gignoux and Scott Fritz, Fritz & Gignoux Landscape Architects, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Joel Hafner, Fine Earth Landscape, Poolesville, Maryland.

 

RESOURCES

THROUGHOUT
Windows: thesanderscompany.com. Home Automation: htarchitects.com.

OUTDOOR
Pool Chaises, Dining Table & Dining Chairs: brownjordan.com through americaneyewdc.net. Sofa, Sectional & Chairs: brownjordan.com through americaneyewdc.net. Coffee Table & Pedestals: Clients’ collection. Grill: lynxgrills.com through ferguson.com. Hood: Custom by Mark Kaufman through gtmarchitects.com. Hood Fabrication: custommetalsofvirginia.com. Paving: fineearth.com. Outdoor Sconces: kuzcolighting.com. Fan: montecarlofans.com. Pool Contractor: crystalpoolsrs.com. Outdoor Shower Plumbing: signaturehardware.com through ferguson.com.

FAMILY ROOM
Sectional: vanguardfurniture.com. Sectional Fabric: kirbydesign.com through romo.com. Pillow Fabric: rosemaryhallgarten.com through hollandandsherry.com. Armchairs: vanguardfurniture.com. Armchair Fabric: kirbydesign.com through romo.com. Armchair Pillow: brentanofabrics.com through hollyhunt.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Cocktail Table: rh.com. Chandelier: koncept.com. Side Table: rh.com. Millwork Fabrication: Maryland Custom Cabinets; 301-898-0357. Fireplace: davincifireplace.com. Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com.

KITCHEN
Banquette Design: Mark Kaufman through gtmarchitects.com. Banquette Fabrication: Maryland Custom Cabinets; 301-898-0357. Banquette Fabric: designersguild.com through osbornandlittle.com. Table & Chairs: dwr.com. Cabinetry: Maryland Custom Cabinets; 301-898-0357. Hardware: omniaindustries.com through pushpullhardware.com. Range & Combination Steam Oven: mieleusa.com through ferguson.com. Refrigerator, Freezer & Wine Refrigerator: subzero-wolf.com through ferguson.com. Vent Hood: bluestarcooking.com through ferguson.com. Dishwasher: bosch-home.com through ferguson.com. Pendants: umage.us through lightology.com. Countertop & Backsplash: imaginesurfaces.com through unitedstatesmarbleandgranite.com. Plumbing Fixtures: kohler.com through ferguson.com. Stools: Clients’ collection. Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com.

HALL (POOL VIEW)
Bench: hollyhunt.com. Bench Fabric: kirbydesign.com through romo.com. Art: Clients’ Collection. Flooring: wellbornwright.com. Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com.

LIVING ROOM
Fireplace Surround: imaginesurfaces.com through unitedstatesmarbleandgranite.com. Ledge: unitedstatesmarbleandgranite.com. Sofa: aneesupholstery.com through hinescompany.com. Sofa Fabric (Interior): designersguild.com through osborneandlittle.com; Sofa Fabric (Exterior): kirbydesign.com through romo.com. Pillow Fabric: markalexander.com through romo.com. Armchairs & Armchair Fabric: rh.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Cocktail Table: Clients’ collection. Round Table: mgbwhome.com. Wallpaper: S. Harris through fabricut.com.

LIBRARY
Millwork Fabrication: Maryland Custom Cabinets; 301-898-0357. Rug: carpetimpressions.com. Desk: Custom by annettehannon.com. Desk Leg: custommetalsofvirginia.com. Wood Desk: Maryland Custom Cabinets; 301-898-0357. Chair & Ottoman: Clients’ collection. Paint: Pale Oak by benjaminmoore.com.

Veritable treasures await around every corner of a century-old Kalorama townhouse recently reimagined by Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, principals of Solis Betancourt & Sherrill. A second-century statue of the Roman goddess Diana beckons from a living room perch. A nearly 300-year-old harpsichord commands the stair hall. Ancient Greek pottery sits among cherished books on the library shelves.

Each piece survived a rigorous paring-back process to earn its place.

When a longtime client decided to downsize from a Tudor-style manse to a more manageable abode nearby, she sought to lighten her vast trove of furniture, antiquities and art—as well as her aesthetic. She enlisted the design duo to orchestrate both endeavors. The pair certainly knew her collection well, having helped assemble it decades ago for the previous residence.

“The pieces had been in that house for a very long time,” reveals Solis Betancourt. “They have a new life in this one and that is exciting to see. It was an editing job, curating the whole collection for this smaller residence.”

First, the designers drafted a plan to reconfigure the spaces to suit the owner’s needs and create an appropriately elegant envelope for the remaining ensemble. “It started sort of academically with her program—how she really wanted to live and entertain on this particular property,” Sherrill explains. “The program will allow her to age gracefully in this home.”

BOWA joined the team as contractor, executing a renovation that touched every space. “The house was in fine shape when we started, but it certainly wasn’t what it is today,” states principal Steve Kirstein. “We added, subtracted, moved things around a bit and put in some cool touches.” Retrofitting the four-story townhome with an elevator proved a major, though not insurmountable, challenge.

A redesigned staircase ascends from the gracious, ground-level entry hall to a main-floor landing situated between the living and dining rooms. Newly raised and expanded openings visually connect and define these spaces and allow light to flow. As Solis Betancourt relates, “In this project, in this new phase, the client really wanted to embrace natural light.”

The third-story layout changed dramatically. Three bedrooms were combined to create a large owner’s suite, complete with a sitting area and dressing room. A separate library gratifies the avid reader and history buff; it also serves as a snug spot to watch television.

New moldings and other millwork add refinement throughout, in keeping with the home’s classically inspired exterior architecture. “The interiors sort of lagged behind the style of the exterior,” recounts Sherrill. “We took the classical façade as a jumping-off point and developed the interior architecture to support that.” For example, fluted pilasters with Ionic capitals adorn the library’s built-in cabinetry. In sum, he notes: “It’s an understandable backdrop for a Grand Tour collection.”

A Marmorino plaster finish, applied on most of the public-area walls by The Valley Craftsmen, “gives gravitas to the architecture,” Sherrill continues, while subtly shifting tints of blue and green unify the spaces. “We kept the palette one that would be more reflective of natural light,” he states. Light-enhancing materials, such as the kitchen’s Mystery White marble countertops and the breakfast room’s limestone floor, enhance the sense of airiness.

Meanwhile, owner and designers culled the most meaningful pieces from her considerable cache. “She’s well-travelled and knowledgeable about the history of different pieces she has,” says Sherrill. “This is not a random collection. We had to make a couple of difficult choices in our attempt, at her request, to lighten the feeling.”

Solis Betancourt adds: “She was willing to part with things because she understood the idea behind it. That was the fun part.”

Viewing the scaled-down trove through a fresh lens, the design duo carefully composed the Kalorama spaces. Take the living room, for example. Two salvaged Ionic columns, found through a New York dealer and recently freed from years in storage, anchor the space. The crumbling relics stand comfortably alongside fine European antiques and clean-lined, contemporary pieces.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a minimal project,” says Solis Betancourt, wryly. “It’s very well-edited. Finding that right balance in the spaces was important.”

The creative vision for the gardenesque breakfast room included incorporating a group of hefty stone antiquities into the wall architecturally—a tricky structural maneuver. The result speaks volumes about the designers’ reverence for the familiar collection as a whole—not to mention the 30-year client relationship that corresponds with it.

Sherrill recaps: “This project was a nice way to revisit the things we worked with our client to collect and curate over the years.”

Interior Design: Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: BOWA, McLean, Virginia.

RESOURCES

GENERAL
Paint: benjaminmoore.com.

ENTRY
Desk: Antique. Chairs: Clients’ collection. Paint: Marmorino Plaster through valleycraftsmen.com. Chandelier: Clients’ collection. Chair: Antique. Paint: Marmorino Plaster through valleycraftsmen.com. Harpsichord: Antique.

LIVING ROOM
Coffee Table: Owners’ collection. Rug: Custom through galleriacarpets.com. Left Living Room Sofa: Antique. Right Living Room Sofa: Custom through solisbetancourt.com. Sofa Fabric: scalamandre.com. Center Chairs: saladinostyle.com. Drapery: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Drapery Trim: rogersandgoffigon.com. Drapery Fabrication: Potomac Draperies; 240-676-3642. Lavender Pillow Fabric: romo.com. Paint: Marmorino Plaster through valleycraftsmen.com. Statue: Antique.

LIVING ROOM WITH FIREPLACE
Sconces: artisanlamp.com. Paint: Marmorino Plater through valleycraftsmen.com. Chairs: Antique. Chair Fabric: kravet.com. Chair Trim: samuelandsons.com. Acrylic Side Table: bernhardt.com. Painting above Fireplace: Anthony Van Dyck. Porcelain: Antiques.

DINING ROOM
Table: Clients’ collection. Chairs: Antique. Fabric on Chairs: ralphlaurenhome.com. Wall Finish: valleycraftsmen.com. Console & Screen: Clients’ collection

BREAKFAST AREA
Credenza, Chairs & Table: Antique. Table Base: Design by solisbetancourt.com. Table Lamps: saladinostyle.com. Chandelier: marstonluce.com. Shades: conradshades.com. Paint: Marmorino Plaster through valleycraftsmen.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry: Existing through themasterswoodshop.com. Countertop & Backsplash: marblesystems.com. Plumbing Fixtures: graff-designs.com through ferguson.com.

 

 

 

BEDROOM

Bed: Custom through solisbetancourt.com. Side Tables: Clients’ collection. Sham & Toss Pillow Fabrication: rockvilleinteriors.com. Bed Drapery Fabric: rubelli.com. Sham Fabric: fabricut.com. Sham Trim: decordeparis.com. Throw Pillow Fabric: cec-milano.us. Throw Pillow Trim: samuelandsons.com. Bench: Clients’ collection. Side Lamps: Clients’ collection. Paint: Frosted Café by benjaminmoore.com.

 

BEDROOM SITTING AREA

Lounge Chair & Ottoman: Custom. Side Chair: Clients’ collection. Table & Floor Lamp: Clients’ collection. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Chandelier: Vintage. Drapery Fabric: romo.com. Drapery Fabrication: Potomac Draperies; 240-676-3642. Built-in Design: solisbetancourt.com. Paint: Snowfall White by benjaminmoore.com.

 

STUDY
Wall Covering: fschumacher.com. Sofas: Owners’ collection. Sofa Fabric: kvadrat.dk. Drapery Fabric: coraggio.com. Pillow Fabric: fortuny.com. Drapery Fabrication: Potomac Draperies; 240-676-3642. Chandelier: Clients’ collection. Paint: Pristine by benjaminmoore.com.

 

 

 

 

Dreams for a custom home can take many shapes, as one local couple discovered when talks began in earnest. While the husband voiced his preference for traditional design, his French wife advocated a more modern approach. “I had this idea of what American architecture should look like,” she explains. “I wanted Frank Lloyd Wright.”

Her husband, an investment banker, came around with a little coaxing. “My wife had this excellent argument,” he concedes. “As an immigrant, when she thinks of the United States, she thinks of progress, innovation. She wanted something that represents the New World, and a contemporary style is what we both agreed would do that best.”

The pair secured a leafy lot in an established McLean neighborhood, knowing they would soon replace the brick rambler inhabiting it. They then asked Cunningham | Quill Architects to synthesize myriad images and ideas they had gathered over time and conjure their new home. A collaborative process ensued. “These clients understood from the beginning that it was going to be a team approach,” says founding principal Ralph Cunningham. “They were very engaged.”

First and foremost, the couple envisioned an open-plan nucleus that would support frequent entertaining—ranging from intimate dinner parties to 100-person charity fundraisers—and daily family life (their 18-year-old son lives at home and 20-year-old daughter studies abroad). “It was a mix of trying to make sure we had an environment where lots of people could mingle easily without moving through a maze,” explains the husband, “while also keeping it to a livable size and preserving a sense of home, comfort and snugness.”

The layout evolved from there. “It was very important to them that the center of house be a three-part room—dining, living and den—and that it be a big, tall, welcoming space,” discloses architect Angie Yu. “Our job was to figure out how everything else fit around that.”

In the architects’ 7,000-square-foot plan, an assembly of interlocking boxes forms a U-shape around a rear courtyard. The main volume holds the social hub on the ground level and three en-suite bedrooms above; the lower level includes hangout spaces, a guest suite and a gym. An office for the wife, who volunteers with many charitable groups, and the owners’ suite are housed in separate cubes to the right; the kitchen occupies a back wing to the left. A service extension off the kitchen contains a back stair connecting to the garage. The main staircase sits in a tower at the front.

To execute their geometric design, the architects chose a material palette of stucco, ipe and steel. “We took it consistently around the house,” Yu points out. “The material palette is very simple and clean yet playful at the same time.”

Cunningham adds, “I would describe the style as ‘warm modern,’ and the wood helps with the warmth.”

Several characteristics reflect Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy. “One thing that Wright did consistently was to build on the brow of a hill, and that concept went into this project,” offers Cunningham. To take advantage of a sloping site, the team, which included Potomac Valley Builders, tucked the base of the house into the grade. That move helped to de-emphasize the street-facing garage doors, as did placing them in shadow and painting them a charcoal hue. It also allowed for a dramatic, ascending approach to the residence. As Cunningham explains, “The house sort of floats up in the air on a very dark base.”

Vast stretches of shaded glass—another Wright signature—establish the strong indoor/outdoor relationship the owners requested. In the main living area, kitchen and primary bedroom, sliding doors open onto the courtyard, with a pool and garden beyond. Large windows and several skylights amplify natural light. Black-painted, aluminum-clad wood frames on the doors and windows contribute a modern edge.

The couple also sought to evoke an inviting spirit with their see-through home. As the husband reveals, “We wanted an open house, not just for being able to see outside, but also the idea that it would be a house where our friends would feel welcome and people could come and enjoy themselves.”

And they do. The wife, who grew up in Provence, often prepares French favorites, such as blanquette de veau, to share with guests. “We like a good meal and good wine,” she readily affirms. Despite its heavy use, the kitchen projects a pristine aesthetic thanks to sleek, white cabinets and countertops from Porcelanosa.

Natural materials figured prominently in the owners’ vision for their interiors. Anchoring each end of the public core is a fireplace boasting a floor-to-ceiling, slate surround. Horizontal panels of French oak flank both fireplaces, decoratively concealing storage cabinets and adding desired texture. Wide-plank, white oak floors span throughout.

Striving for what she terms “simple elegance,” the wife created a minimalist vibe with neutral, clean-lined furnishings sourced mainly through RH. Bold, original artwork introduces color and personal meaning. As she sums up, “We wanted our house to have soul.”

Architecture: Ralph Cunningham, FAIA, principal; Angela Yu, AIA, Cunningham | Quill Architects, Washington, DC. Builder: Potomac Valley Builders, Bethesda, Maryland. Landscape Contractor: Fine Earth Landscape, Poolesville, Maryland.

 

RESOURCES

THROUGHOUT
Paint: Kendall Charcoal, Distant Gray & Amherst Gray by benjaminmoore.com.

GENERAL
Light Fixtures Over Stair: moooi.com.

DINING ROOM
Table & Chandelier: rh.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry & Countertops: porcelanosa-usa.com. Ovens & Refrigerator: mieleusa.com through abwappliances.com. Barstools: ikea.com.

LIVING AREA
Sofas, Leather Chair & Coffee Table: rh.com. Artwork: original by Dan Badea.

DEN
Leather Sofa & Coffee Table: rh.com. Mirror: antique.

OFFICE
Desk & Chairs: rh.com.

COURTYARD
Dining Table: rh.com. Dining Chairs: cb2.com.

POOL AREA
Sofas: rh.com. Lounge Chairs: cb2.com. Pool: alpinepool.com.

 

Admittedly, it wasn’t the smoothest start. Designer Jamie Ivey joined a new-build project just as framing neared completion. Her clients—a Powhatan, Virginia, couple crafting their forever home—had come to the realization that they needed help with interior choices. And fast. “I came on board a little behind the gun,” she concedes. “The plumbers were going to be there the next week and nothing had been selected. We had to make some decisions quickly.”

Looking at the end result now, that less-than-ideal launch is hard to imagine. Everything, from the finishes to the furnishings, contributes to a carefullybalanced composition. As the designer notes, “It’s sophisticated and upscale, but still down-to-earth, fun and family-friendly.”

Ivey’s handiwork responds to the home’s Modernist architecture and bucolic vistas, as well as to the owners’ goals. Back in 2017, the husband, a construction project manager, and wife, a former executive with a financial-planning software company, had snapped up a 10-acre parcel that encompasses dense woods and a picturesque pond—all within a 40-minute drive west of Richmond. “We loved the privacy of the land, the pond views and having close access to the James River,” the wife reveals.

The pair then engaged SMBW, a Richmond-based architecture firm, to design digs to meet the needs of their active, outdoorsy clan that includes two adolescent boys, a pair of dogs and a cat. “We knew we wanted a modern home,” the wife continues. “We aren’t very formal, so it needed to be casual and comfortable.”

First, SMBW pinpointed the optimal building site. “There was a spot that we really tucked the house into so that, from the living space, you would be able to look down over a rolling meadow to the pond,” recounts project manager Michelle Mikita (architect Rich Fischl has since joined another firm).

Walls of glass afford that panorama in the open, L-shaped living/dining/kitchen area. The main floor also harbors a den, the primary bedroom suite, an office and a utility space, dubbed the “life management room.” Down a half-flight of stairs sit a game room and in-law suite. The upstairs comprises a bedroom and bath for each son, as well as a guest suite. As the wife affirms, “We love having friends and family over and that was a big part of the layout of the house.”

SMBW conceived the preliminary, 9,000-square-foot design before passing the reins to architect Mike Foltz of McAllister + Foltz Architecture, who finalized the plans, designed outbuildings and oversaw construction. Foltz and Ivey collaborated on many of the interior details, such as the extensive woodwork that offsets the glass surfaces. A cedar ceiling crowns the first floor’s open living area and extends outside to the covered patio. White oak floors with a natural, matte finish flow throughout.

Ivey tested umpteen shades of white paint before landing on Sherwin-Williams’ Snowbound for most of the home’s public-area walls. “We tried to keep it clean and crisp for the most part,” she explains. “In the main space, we’ve got exposed steel beams, the wood ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows. I wasn’t going to muddy that up with wallpaper or curtains or do anything that would distract from the glorious views.”

This minimal-leaning approach is anything but boring. “There’s enough color and unexpected touches to make it inviting,” the designer asserts. “It’s definitely not a cold modern. We came in with some fun furniture, interesting countertop and backsplash selections, and color in key spaces to warm it up and show off the owners’ personality.”

An abstract Kravet print, for example, adorns the fronts of two swivel chairs in the living room; marine-hued leather graces the backs. The dining area’s Saarinen chairs sport lime-colored upholstery that echoes the surroundings. “I knew when it came to patterns, my clients were either going to like something real funky or plain,” the designer reveals. “No frills or florals.” In the kitchen, navy-blue paint covers the walls, prep island and lower peripheral cabinets (the uppers are soft gray), while a dynamic quartzite enlivens the breakfast bar, hood, backsplash and countertops. A calmer atmosphere prevails in the owners’ suite, where Ivey employed “a sea of neutrals and tons of texture.”

Practical considerations entered the conversation. “Any time Jamie and I discussed a fabric or flooring, we tested it to see how much dog hair it would show,” recounts the wife. “I have two boys who still like to play ball in the house, so we needed to be sure everything was livable.”

Since taking up residence in July 2020, the family has socialized largely around the outdoor pool, fireplace and sport courts. “We moved into this house in the middle of covid so we haven’t had the chance to entertain as much as we would like,” says the wife. “We are looking forward to hosting family here for Thanksgiving this year.”

Architecture: Rich Fischl, AIA, project architect; Michelle Mikita, project manager, SMBW, Richmond, Virginia. Mike Foltz, NCARB, McAllister + Foltz Architecture, Richmond, Virginia. Interior Design: Jamie Ivey, Ivey Design Group, Richmond, Virginia. Builder: Jeff Jarrelle, Powhatan, Virginia.

 

RESOURCES

SITTING ROOM
Sectional: Custom through tcsdesignsfurniture.com. Sectional Fabric: kravet.com. Ottoman: Custom through tcsdesignsfurniture.com. Ottoman Fabric: kravet.com. Rug: Antrim through stantoncarpet.com. Pillow Fabric: surya.com. Art: harrisondwalker.com. Paint: Greenblack by sherwin-williams.com.

MAIN LIVING AREA
Sofa: americanleather.com. Sofa Fabric: sunbrella.com. Small Black Table: ethnicraft.com. Pillow Fabrics: etsy.com; surya.com. Coffee Table: taracea.com. Leather Chairs & Ottomans: ciscohome.net. Rug: custom through juliedasherrugs.com. Built-In Design & Fabrication: kdwhome.com. Art: bethanymabeeart.com. Swivel Chairs: thayercoggin.com. Swivel Chair Fabric: kravet.com; garrettleather.com. Round Table: antique through vervehomefurnishings.com. Paint: Snowbound through sherwin-williams.com.

DINING AREA
Fixture: gabriel-scott.com. Table: trueformconcrete.com. Chairs & Chair Fabric: knoll.com. Cabinetry Design & Fabrication: kdwhome.com. Bar Area Backsplash: annsacks.com. Countertop: caesarstoneus.com. Console: noirfurniturela.com. Art: justinjamesreed.com. Paint: Iron Ore & Snowbound by sherwin-williams.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry: kdwhome.com. Backsplash, Hood, Countertops & Island: tritonstone.com. Light Fixtures: juniper-design.com. Sink Faucet: thegalley.com. Ovens: subzero-wolf.com through kdwhome.com. Bar Stools: sossegodesign.com. Cabinetry Paint: Hale Navy and Classic Grey through benjaminmoore.com.

MAIN BEDROOM
Chaise: thayercoggin.com. Chaise Fabric: S. Harris through fabricut.com. Chaise Table: potterybarn.com. Armchair: thayercoggin.com. Armchair Fabric: thayercoggin.com. Armchair Table: noirfurniturela.com. Rug: stantoncarpet.com. Wallcovering: elitis.fr/en. Bedding: parachutehome.com. Fireplace: custom through bbmetalweld.com. Closets: poliform.it/en.

MAIN BATHROOM
Cabinetry Design & Fabrication: kdwhome.com. Countertop: neolith.com through marvamarble.com. Flooring: porcelanosa-usa.com.

“I  like to take credit for finding it,” quips Neada Onufrychuk, referring to the captivating parcel of former farmland she discovered on the outskirts of Vienna, Virginia. The lot’s now-owner vividly recalls the day she happened by a for-sale sign and followed a gravel road to the site of her future home. “The property was so magical. The way the light came through the trees,” she describes, “I could just see my kids running down to the creek and being free here.”

Neada and husband Brian, a wine and spirits distributor, were living in downtown Vienna with their two young children at the time and searching for a buildable plot. After purchasing the five acres in 2017, they assembled an expert team, which included architect Stephen Vanze and designer Lauren Liess. The brief: Conjure a timeless, built-to-last abode that supports casual living and social gatherings. Airy interiors that capitalize on the sylvan setting figured prominently in the couple’s vision.

With a demolition on the horizon, the pair not only gave short shrift to the tumbledown brick residence on the lot, they overlooked altogether an attached log cabin obscured by dense bushes. Vanze and his colleagues, however, spotted the 1800s-era edifice on their first visit and recommended a course correction. “Our initial instinct was that we had to save that log cabin,” Vanze recounts. “It’s an important part of the story of the site.”

The Onufrychuks quickly got on board. And the storied structure, which was lovingly restored and improved, was integrated into the residence’s three-volume plan. It now serves as a dinner-party venue/pool house at one end of the main residence, while a three-car garage, with an office above for Brian, forms an “L” at the other. Glass-lined hallways link the side volumes to the center. Says architect Melanie Giordano, “We wanted to make the log cabin feel like part of the composition.”

Landscape architect Jennifer Horn reinforced the home’s old-meets-new narrative with thoughtfully designed gardens and outdoor living areas. For example, she specified irregular pavers with planted joints for the cabin’s more informal “remnant garden” and clean-lined bluestone for the terrace and pool surround. “The idea was to create the feeling that everything around the cabin had been preserved and had existed for generations,” she reveals.

At the heart of the 11,000-square-foot plan, an expansive great room celebrates its scenic surroundings. Abundant windows drench the well-used hub with natural light. “The house is an expression of the way [the Onufrychuks] live,” asserts Vanze. “All the rooms, including the upstairs, are organized around that living space.”

The architectural style, which Vanze dubbed Modern English Country, borrows from homes that came out of England’s Arts & Crafts movement. In particular, the work of pioneer architect C.F.A. Voysey (who was active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries) inspired the home’s asymmetrical design, sloping roofs and white-stucco exterior, as well as the spare interior detailing. “We essentially did a modern version of a Voysey house,” says Vanze. “It’s cleaner, simplified a little bit.”

Natural materials play a starring role inside—from the great room’s ceiling beams to the library’s white-oak built-ins. The plainspoken architecture—and outdoor splendor—provided a perfect backdrop for Liess, who espouses a down-to-earth design philosophy.

As she pored over the wife’s archive of inspiration images, a project vocabulary emerged. “Soulful, quiet and romantic, with a little bit of edge—that’s how I saw it,” she states. Starting in the kitchen, the designer selected decorative finishes and paint colors in muted shades “that got spread throughout the house and then embellished with tonal, watercolory fabrics,” she says. “I didn’t want anything in the house to overpower what was going on outside the windows.”

White-washed walls showcase original artwork, passionately curated by Neada. Lighting selections sport dark finishes for added contrast. “Bringing in that little bit of black creates a tension that makes it interesting and not so one-note,” offers Liess.

For the laid-back furniture plans, the designer specified many pieces from her own upholstery and case-good collections. A smattering of found elements, she points out, introduces “a bit of patina and quirk.” A pair of antique mirrors, hanging in the entrance hall, sets the tone.

The resulting blend is just what Neada had envisioned. “I wanted a mix of some old, some new but I didn’t want it to feel too dusty,” reveals the homeowner. “This is a nice in-between and it feels authentic to me.”

Friends and family gather for game days in the great room and relaxed dinners by the cabin’s fireplace. Says Neada, “It makes me love my home even more when I feel like other people enjoy being here too.”

Architecture: Stephen Vanze, FAIA, LEED AP, founding principal; Melanie Giordano, AIA, principal; Sydney Davenport Katz, AIA, LEED AP, project manager; Nancy Rizk, project architect, BarnesVanze Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Lauren Liess, Lauren Liess, Great Falls, Virginia. Builder: CarrMichael Construction, Oakton, Virginia. Landscape Design: Jennifer Horn, RLA, Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture, Arlington, Virginia.

RESOURCES

GENERAL
Flooring: cochranslumber.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry & Countertops: caesarstoneus.com. Backsplash: cletile.com through annsacks.com. Range: thermador.com. Flooring: architessa.com. Sink Faucet: watermark-designs.com. Sconces: laurenliess.com. Paint: Greek Villa by Sherwin-williams.com.

BREAKFAST AREA
Lighting: laurenliess.com.

GREAT ROOM
Sofa & Arm Chairs: laurenliess.com through taylorking.com. Sofa & Arm Chair Fabrics: taylorking.com. Sofa Pillow Fabrics: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. ; arabelfabrics.com. ; laurenliess.com. ; rosetarlow.com. ; peterdunhamtextiles.com. ; legracieux.com. Coffee Table & Stone Table: laurenliess.com through woodbridgefurniture.com. Nesting Tables: vintage. Round Side Table: noirfurniturela.com. Pendants: laurenliess.com. Rug Underlayment: laurenliess.com. Layered Rug: frenchmarketcollection.com. Sofa Table: antique. Floor Lamp: vintage. Sitting Area Chairs: laurenliess.com through taylorking.com. Sitting Area Chair Fabric: taylorking.com. Sitting Area Coffee Table: arteriorshome.com. Sitting Area Stump Table: etsy.com. Additional Floor Lamps: curreyandcompany.com. ; visualcomfort.com. Paint: Greek Villa by sherwin-williams.com. Art: marylittle.com.

ENTRY HALL
Drapery Fabric: laurenliess.com. Drapery Fabrication: laurenliess.com. ; pauldavid.design. Window Shade: horizonshades.com. Runner: vintage. Lanterns: laurenliess.com. Mirror: antique. Demilune & Hanging Console: laurenliess.com through woodbridgefurniture.com. Paint: Greek Villa by sherwin-williams.com.

LIBRARY
Chair: frenchmarketcollection.com.

CABIN
Dining Table: sarreid.com. Chairs: industrywest.com. Chandelier: laurenliess.com.

LINK TO CABIN
Bench: arteriorshome.com. Ceiling Fixtures: laurenliess.com. Paint: Greek Villa by sherwin-williams.com.

OWNERS’ BEDROOM
Bed: tarashaw.com. Bed Fabric: suzannetuckerhome.com. Bedding & Pillows: peacockalley.com. Accent Pillow: vintage. Leather Benches: sarreid.com. Drapery Fabric: lesindiennes.com. Drapery Fabrication: laurenliess.com. ; pauldavid.design. Base Rug: fibreworks.com. Throw Rug: landryandarcari.com. Chair: laurenliess.com through taylorking.com. Chair Fabric: taylorking.com. Chair Pillow Fabric: walter-g.com. Floor & Table Lamps: laurenliess.com. Nightstand: noirfurniturela.com. Paint: Greek Villa by sherwin-williams.com.

 

Modern Evolution - Interior Photography by Anice Hoachlander  |  Outdoor Photography by Allen Russ

Set on a bluff overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, the home of Jason Claire and his husband tells a tale of evolution. Originally built as a weekend retreat from the couple’s DC-based life, it now serves as their primary residence—yet a sense of escape prevails. “We’ve created a relaxing space that almost makes us feel like we’re on vacation,” reveals the designer. “So much of it is the view. We’re fortunate to have a beautiful natural environment.” That panorama provides a pristine backdrop for Claire’s clean-lined, layered aesthetic.

After searching for a property with, as Claire puts it, “some sort of water situation,” the couple purchased the one-and-a-half-acre parcel in Chestertown, Maryland, in 2006. Five years later, they replaced a tired home on the site with a 2,300-square-foot modern cottage. “We wanted the interior space to be open and light, to have both glass for the views and walls for art,” he states. The kitchen, living and dining areas, and library flow in an L shape on the main floor; the owners’ suite lies to the left of the entry. Upstairs sit two guest bedrooms and a bath.

The pair also added a detached, two-story garage/guest house, originally leaving the upper floor unfinished. Not long after, Claire’s husband, a physician who specializes in global health, accepted a position in Switzerland. So they sold their house in DC and moved abroad, with the commitment to make Chestertown their full-time base upon their return.

While overseas for four years, Claire remotely orchestrated several improvements that, he discloses, “amped up some things we didn’t spend money on in the first round because it was a second home.” First, he asked architect Cathy Purple Cherry to devise a plan to finish the above-garage space. Her layout includes an open office, kitchenette, guest bedroom and bath. Downstairs, the architect also shaped a welcoming entryway. “We opened up that vertical space so light can shaft down through the stair to the first-floor foyer,” she explains. “That lower level engages the upper floor.”

Next, South Fork Studio enhanced the somewhat stark landscape, employing an array of native plants to add privacy and definition, as well as color and texture. The existing pool lying between the house and garage presented the biggest challenge. “The unique part of this project is that the pool is basically in the front yard,” notes principal Miles Barnard. “Anybody who comes to the house has to come through that area.” He devised a new bluestone path that fosters circulation around the renovated pool. A cedar pergola, installed after the couple’s return, offers shade and architectural interest. “It’s a really neat little oasis,” Barnard says of the finished spot.

Upgrades within the house included re-facing the kitchen cabinets, switching out some earlier lighting choices and installing a home-automation system. “We did those tweaks to make it feel more like a primary home,” explains Claire. “We wanted the spaces to be a little more sophisticated and less ‘beach house.’”

Claire also used the time in Europe “to feed my design curiosity and plant the seeds for whatever would come next.” Vastu, the DC furniture showroom he previously co-founded, closed in 2014 after both owners relocated. “In my head, I was collecting designs of hotels, restaurants, food, art—all the things that I was experiencing,” Claire recounts. “I was primed when I came back to start something new.”

That “something” turned out to be Interior Matter, the design business he launched in 2019 with former Vastu colleague Sarita Simpson. “We’re a modern firm,” Claire states. “We like clean lines and lightness, though the unexpected mixing of materials and periods is also a through line in our work.”

His aesthetic has evolved over the years from minimalism to a more layered approach, which he applies at home. White walls, warm woods and unfussy furnishings provide a timeless base, Claire maintains, for both “physical layers and layers of history, of experience.” He treasures “the stories behind the objects” gathered on the couple’s world travels. Original art plays a starring role in his meaningful tableaus. Along the guest-house stairway, for example, a charred-wood accent wall dramatically showcases pieces collected around the globe, plus one grade-school painting by Claire that won first place in a student art competition.

The designer works from home, thankful for the separation that “a one-minute walk down the path” to the guest house provides. He and his husband happily embrace the region’s low-key, outdoor lifestyle—lounging by the pool, dining on the deck and hosting crab feasts on the dock.

“When this was a second home and we’d come out for the weekend, our shoulders would relax once we got onto the Bay Bridge,” recalls Claire. “We’d be in the zone of being on the Eastern Shore. We’ve been very fortunate to make our lives work around that full-time.”

Interior Design: Jason Claire, principal, Interior Matter, Washington, DC. Renovation Architecture: Cathy Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED, AP, CAS, Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Taylor Loughry Construction, Chestertown, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: D. Miles Barnard, ASLA, RLA, South Fork Studio Landscape Architecture, Chestertown, Maryland.

 

Modern Evolution - RESOURCES


EXTERIOR
Chaises & Table: knoll.com. Sconces: flos.com. Water Feature Vessel: lunaform.com.
FOYER
Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Rug: perennialsandsutherland.com. Light Fixture: alliedmaker.com. Umbrella Stand: vintage through 1stdibs.com.
LIVING AREA
Paint: Simple White by benjaminmoore.com. Bar Cabinet: custom through klein.agency. Buddha Sculpture: owners’ collection. Floor Lamp: custom through danieldonnelly.com. Sofa: dellarobbia.com. Sofa Fabric: romo.com. Coffee Table: Gio Ponti through molteni.it. Matador Photo: joanlongas.com. Sculpture above Fireplace: vincentbeaurin.com. Rug: harcourtcollection.com.
DINING AREA
Chandelier: mattermatters.com. Table: knoll.com.
KITCHEN
Backsplash Tile: waterworks.com. Cabinetry: Signature Custom Cabinetry through kitchencreations.net. Hardware: rockymountainhardware.com. Stove & Cooktop & Range Hood: Wolf through adu.com. Light Pendants: tomdixon.net. Recessed Lighting: contrastlighting.com. Sink Faucet: Blanco through afnewyork.com.
GUEST HOUSE
Bench Below Stair: gebruederthonetvienna.com. Flooring: porcelainsource.nyc.
OFFICE
Wooden Desk: vintage through Reform Vintage Modern; 215-485-6698. Desk Chair: knoll.com. Desk Chair Fabric: designersguild.com. Desk Lamp: andtradition.com. Leather Lounge Chair & Ottoman: hermanmiller.com. Shelving: Dieter Rams through vitsoe.com. Rug under Chair & Ottoman: vintage. Rug under Sofas: custom through kylebunting.com. Sofas: Playground through theodores.com. Sofa Fabric: eilersen.eu. Floor Lamps: koncept.com. Coffee Table: rivoltahome.it. Credenza: bddw.com. Paint: Silver Satin by benjaminmoore.com. Sconces: circalighting.com.
OWNERS’ BEDROOM
Bed: custom through danieldonnelly.com. Bedding: matouk.com. Pillow Fabric: Zak + Fox through hollyhunt.com. Pendant: roostco.com. Night Chest: molteni.it. Rug: vintage. Bench: olystudio.com. Paint: Simple White by benjaminmoore.com.
MASTER BATHROOM
Countertop: inhomestone.com. Mirrors: Robern through afnewyork.com. Sconces: schmitz-willa.com. Sink & Shower Faucets: Grohe through afnewyork.com. Floor & Wall Tile: annsacks.com.
GUEST BEDROOM
Bed: Nathan Anthony through theodores.com. Bedding: sferra.com. Pillow Fabric: knoll.com. Pendants: vintage through 1stdibs.com. Night Tables: westelm.com. Art: vintage.

 

Joyful Mix - Tucked just blocks off teeming thoroughfares, DC’s Spring Valley enclave boasts a rolling landscape and lush greenery that belie its urban address.

One storybook setting there entranced a pair of retired attorneys looking to return to the district after raising their children in Bethesda. “We saw the yard and said, ‘This is it,’” recounts the husband. “For being in the middle of the city, it’s very special.”

A 1930s Tudor-style abode occupied the parcel. Though charming, it lacked the entertaining space and modern amenities—a kitchen with elbow room being one—that the couple desired. Initially gearing up for a renovation, they enlisted architect Chris Snowber and builder Richard Zantzinger. The team explored the makeover option at length but ultimately recommended starting afresh.

Snowber planned the new home around a scenic, albeit somewhat restricting, stream running through the rear yard. As he reveals, the feature “was a constraint but totally drove and enriched the design.” To maximize the footprint, the back of the house progressively steps out to follow the path of the water. “Our plan grew out this way because we wanted to get as close to the stream as possible,” the architect adds. “The stream diverts towards the rear of the property; the plan does that as well. Much of the design was about orienting the house to its remarkable site and connecting it visually and physically.”

With stretches of glass opening to backyard views, the living room sits at the main level’s narrowest end, followed by the family room and eat-in kitchen. The owners’ suite enjoys a second-floor vantage point above the kitchen in the widest section. Lower-level spaces spill directly outdoors.

Following its predecessor’s lead, the 6,500-square-foot dwelling expresses a Tudoresque quality. The exterior’s mix of stucco, stone, timbers and brick speaks to the Old World aesthetic. “It felt like a natural fit to continue in the Tudor style since it had a connection on the site,” states Snowber. “We weren’t looking to make a Tudor house, which can sometimes feel sort of dark and heavy. The challenge was finding the balance between capturing the spirit and making the house feel open and bright.”

Interior designer Skip Sroka came on board early, bringing his interpretative lens to everything from architectural details to decorative touches. “We took a few design liberties,” he admits freely. “We wanted to create a ‘new old’ house, with the wonderful quality and bones of an older home but one that has been updated to be part of this century.”

Wrapped in hand-painted wallcovering, the elegant foyer serves as a harbinger of what’s to come. “The Chinoiserie wallpaper, with its glowing gold background, sets the tone,” Sroka explains. “This home is a joyful balance of past and present with an easy dollop of glam.”

Fresh approaches throughout energize the residence’s traditional bones. The designer dialed up the drama in the library, coating its millwork in a deep-green lacquer. Across the hall, celadon-hued faux finishes enliven the dining room’s paneled ceiling and walls.

Sroka’s attention to detail is evident at every turn. The library’s teal hue reappears on the sofa trim and chair upholstery in the adjacent living room, establishing visual flow. The kitchen cabinets sport back-painted glass doors, while the pantry near the breakfast area showcases antiqued-mirror doors. The velvet-upholstered headboard on the owners’ four-poster bed extends to the sloped ceiling.

The furnishings constitute a mix of new and old finds, repurposed pieces from the owners’ collection and bespoke creations of Sroka’s design. A livable yet elevated look prevails. “It’s a beautiful, happy house that has some sophistication, but it’s not off-putting,” asserts Sroka. “Balancing what you need to have for comfort with what you want to have for delight is very important in a home.”

Before covid struck, the empty-nesters threw their daughter’s wedding in the garden and held a fundraiser for the DC-based Latin American Youth Center. “We built the house because we like to entertain and hopefully we can again someday soon,” says the wife. “This is a great house for hosting events. There’s lots of space for people to roam around.”

Indeed, guests can stroll outdoors, where four gathering areas await. Campion Hruby Landscape Architects refreshed and augmented the surrounding scenery. For improved access, the team added stepping-stone paths and a bridge to a respectfully restored terrace across the stream. “There were relics of a past garden,” recalls Kevin Campion. “It was clearly meant to be a garden of exploration. [The owners] wanted to follow through with that idea and to be able to move through their garden in a graceful way.”

The couple credits the project’s success—inside and out—to a close collaboration. “The team worked together so beautifully,” marvels the wife.

Her husband concurs: “The ensemble was just great.”

Architecture: Christopher R. Snowber, AIA, principal; Michael P. Rouse, AIA, NCARB, project architect, Hamilton Snowber Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Skip Sroka, ASID, NCIDQ, ICAA, principal, Sroka Design, Washington, DC. Builder: Richard Zantzinger, Zantzinger, Inc., Washington, DC. Landscape Design: Kevin Campion, ASLA, principal; Lindsey Tabor, project manager, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.


RESOURCES

GENERAL
Flooring: Rift-cut oak through twperry.com. Cabinetry & Millwork Fabrication Throughout: zantzingerbuilt.com. Drapery Fabrication: fabriccreationsstudio.com. Upholstery Fabrication: designerworkroom.com.

FOYER & HALLWAY
Wallpaper: paulmontgomery.com. Console by Door: williamyeoward.com through jonathancharlesfurniture.com. Rug: designsurfaces.com. Gilt Demi-Lune & Mirror: antique. Settee: Custom by srokadesign.com. Fabric: architex-ljh.com.

FAMILY ROOM
Sofa, Coffee Table, Art over Fireplace & Rug: Clients’ collection. Sofa Fabric: kravet.com. Trim: houles.com. Blue Chair & Ottoman by Fireplace: kravet.com Kravet Furniture. Chair & Ottoman Fabric: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. Trim: fschumacher.com. Skirted Armchair: leeindustries.com through americaneyewdc.net. Fabric for chair & Throw Pillows: Duralee through robertallen.com. Wall Treatment: robsonworldwidegraining.com.

LIVING ROOM
Sofa: highlandhousefurniture.com. Fabric: norbarfabrics.com. Trim: fschumacher.com. Coffee Table: Custom by srokadesign.com. Faux Leather: pindler.com. Rug: cavancarpets.com. Fabrication: jrsflooringpa.com. Club Chairs: centuryfurniture.com. Club Chair Fabric: kravet.com. Cording: jlambeth.com.  Console by Fireplace: modernhistoryhome.com. Shade Fabric: Fabric: jab.de. Tape Trim: scalamandre.com. Floor Lamp: reginaandrew.com.

LIBRARY
Sofa & Fabric: highlandhousefurniture.com. Chairs: Clients’ collection. Chair Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com through hinescompany.com. Trim: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. Coffee Table & Rug: Custom by srokadesign.com. Rug Fabrication: juliedasherrugs.com. Shade Fabric: jab.de. Trim: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Bookshelves: Custom by srokadesign.com. Bookshelf Paint: Mallard Green by benjaminmoore.com

DINING ROOM
Table: Clients’ collection. Side Chairs: charlesstewartcompany.com. Side Chair Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com through hinescompany.com. Host Chairs: hickorychair.com. Host Chair Fabric: architex-ljh.com, scalamandre.com. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Sunburst Mirror: wildwoodmirrorco.com. Rug: crystalcarpets.net. Rug Fabrication: jrsflooringpa.com. Drapery Fabric: scalamandre.com. Console: modernhistoryhome.com. Abstract Art above Console: Morris Schulman. Iron Door to Ceramics Collection: williamyeoward.com through jonathancharlesfurniture.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry: Custom by srokadesign.com. Countertops & Backsplash: Quartzite through rbratti.com. Pendants: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Counter Stools: woodbridgefurniture.com. Breakfast Table: bernhardtfurniture.com. Chairs: janusetcie.com. Hall Settee: highlandhousefurniture.com.

OWNERS’ BEDROOM
Bed: hickorychair.com. Upholstery on Headboard: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. Bedding: sferra.com. Window Treatment Fabric: rubelli.com, clarke-clarke.com, robertallen.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com: Rug Fabrication: jrsflooringpa.com. Chairs by Fireplace: highlandhousefurniture.com. Fabric: scalamandre.com.  Ottoman by Fireplace: Clients’ collection. Ottoman Fabric: jab-de, Tape Trim: cowtan.com.

Joyful Mix - Overhead Light: crystoramalights.com.

Natty Nest - Looking out at a mesmerizing stretch of Maryland’s South River, it’s easy to imagine halcyon days spent in quiet contemplation.

David and Margaret Condit had more social pursuits in mind, however, when they purchased the property in 2015 with the intent to build there. Their recently completed getaway near the Chesapeake Bay grew out of a desire for a gathering place. It often teems with activity, as the couple’s adult children and young grandkids congregate. “I’m a nester,” reveals Margaret. “I like to have our family there with us.”

When David hung up his hat as a DC corporate attorney years ago, the couple downsized to a condo in Florida, where they still happily reside. Yet they yearned for a spacious second home in a waterfront setting that would cosset their whole clan on holidays and summer breaks. With friends and relatives in the greater Washington area, they agreed on Annapolis and snapped up the scenic, two-and-a-half-acre swath. The red-brick house it came with was ultimately deconstructed and its materials donated to the Baltimore non-profit Second Chance.

The Condits had gathered inspiration for the new roost on trips to New England over the years. “We like the homes on Nantucket,” says Margaret. “So we knew that we wanted a Nantucket-style house from the beginning.” They asked architect Cathy Purple Cherry to channel their aesthetic vision and to devise a plan that would comfortably accommodate owners and visitors alike.

“We developed what I would call a classic Shingle-style, gambrel home,” states Purple Cherry. “It utilizes the hand-split wood-shake roof, cedar-style shingles on the walls and stone at the base. It’s classically Nantucket.”

Bespoke details—from curved balconies and bays to transoms with diamond-patterned grilles rather than standard rectangular grids—elevate that island’s coastal-cottage vernacular. “Those elements contribute to the beauty and sophistication,” notes Purple Cherry. “They help to refine the home.” Later in the project, she similarly polished the interiors by installing extensive millwork throughout, with ceiling treatments being the most dramatic examples.

“The molding,” David asserts, “is one of the house’s most distinctive features.”In terms of space programming, the Condits took the long view. They prioritized a ground-level owners’ suite and six bedrooms upstairs for frequent guests.

As Purple Cherry explains, they sought “an aging-in-place home in which they could live on the first floor but, at the same time, one that would support their three grown children and the spouses and grandchildren to come.”

At the heart of the plan lies an L-shaped entertainment space, flanked by the owners’ suite to the left and a bar area to the right. “The kitchen is tucked around the corner in the L yet still open to the great room,” the architect points out. A wall of windows and doors across the back showcases the South River panorama. Soirees often spill out onto a screened porch spanning the width of the living and dining areas. “Obviously I’m a big proponent of views and natural sunlight,” asserts Purple Cherry. “And of indoor-outdoor living.”

Starting at the threshold, the owners wanted to pay homage to their waterfront locale. “They were in full support of moving the stairwell off to the side, which allowed for that great nautical feeling in the front entry hall, with the barrel-vaulted ceiling,” recounts the architect. “You can see all the way through the home to the water. That view-through was so important.” The hall opens to a cozy den on one side and the kitchen on the other.

Margaret took cues from the setting as she determined a color palette. Watery blues run through most spaces—the upstairs bunkroom and grandkids’ bedrooms being vibrant exceptions. “I didn’t want a lot of color everywhere,” she explains. “I wanted the interior to fade to the outside.”

When it came time to select finishes and furniture, she took advantage of Purple Cherry Architects’ interior-design service. During a close collaboration, Cathy Purple Cherry and Margaret even trekked through North Carolina showrooms to find the perfect casually elegant pieces. “The layering of millwork, furnishings, fabric, artwork and accessories is the difference between the shell of a house and a home,” posits Purple Cherry.

“Just about anywhere, really, you can sit and watch the view.” —MARGARET CONDIT

A water-facing outdoor oasis, conjured by Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, adds to the home’s allure—and the family’s fun. A travertine terrace boasts a pool and fire pit, as well as areas for lounging, grilling and dining. The landscape plan balances the architecture’s New England genesis and its Chesapeake environs by combining classic plants, such as boxwood and hydrangea, with ornamental grasses and native Maryland perennials. “The goal was to make it feel like a Nantucket garden but without the heavy maintenance,” reveals principal Kevin Campion. “There’s a blending of formality with coastal living.”

Though relatives flow in and out, the Condits steal unhurried moments to take in the tranquil scenery. When asked to name the best vantage point, each reels off several contenders, encompassing indoors and out. “Just about anywhere, really, you can sit and watch the view,” concludes Margaret. “It’s particularly beautiful when a sailboat goes by or the sun is setting.”

Realizing their 7,300-square-foot gathering-place dream did not come without challenges. The picturesque property borders the site of a 17th-century trading post. Given that history, Anne Arundel County ordered an archeological dig before greenlighting construction. In the end, though, the couple’s patience paid off. “It was a labor of love,” says David. “It takes a lot to build a house like this.

Natty Nest - We’re happy to be enjoying it now.”

Architecture & Interior Design: Cathy Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP, principal, Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Builder: GYC Group, Westminster, Maryland. Landscape Design: Kevin Campion, ASLA, principal; Lindsey Tabor, project manager, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.

RESOURCES

EXTERIOR
Landscape Contractor: exteriorimage.com. Lighting / Irrigation: terranovadesign.net. Pool: jpools.com. Pier & Revetment: andersonmarine.com. Arbor: walpoleoutdoors.com. Nursery: babikow.com.

THROUGHOUT
Windows: jeld-wen.com through  archwin.com.. Window Treatments & Upholstery: sewbeautifulwindows.com.

FOYER
Paint Color: White Dove through benjaminmoore.com. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Flooring & Floor Medallion: elitehardwoodflooring.com.

REAR EXTERIOR
Furniture: kingsleybate.com. Outdoor Lights: primolanterns.com.

GREAT ROOM
Chandelier, Sconces & Side Table Lamps: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Sofas & Coffee Table: highlandhousefurniture.com. Sofa Fabric: centuryfurniture.com. Rectangular Ottomans: crlaine.com. Round Ottoman & Fabric: bradington-young.com. Rectangular Ottoman Fabric: Kravet.com. Side Tables & Blue Chairs: vanguardfurniture.com. Four Center Chairs & Fabric: bakerfurniture.com. Wall Paint Color: White Dove through benjaminmoore.com. Ceiling Paint: Silvery Moon through benjaminmoore.com.

KITCHEN
Cabinetry & Stained Maple Countertop: lyndonheathcabinetry.com. Caribbean Mist Marble Countertop: gramaco.com. Lanterns: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Backsplash Tile: chesapeaketileandmarble.com. Dacor Cooktop: adu.com. Faucets: brizo.com through fergusonshowrooms.com.

WINDOW SEAT
Pillow & Cushion Fabrics: perennialsfabrics.com; thibautdesign.com; victoria-larson.com.

PORCH
All Furniture & Fabric: kingsleybate.com.

OWNERS’ BEDROOM
Bed & Chaise: bernhardt.com. Bedding: legacylinens.com. Night Table: kingsleybate.com. Table Lamp: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Wall Covering: thibautdesign.com. Paint: Topsail through Sherwin-williams.com.  Rug: bostancarpets.com. Chaise Fabric: vanguardfurniture.com. Side Table: dovetailfurnitureonline.com. Drapery Fabric: thibautdesign.com/af.

OWNERS’ BATH
Polished Carrara Marble Flooring: chesapeaketileandmarble.com. Tub: vandabaths.com. Tub & Faucet Source: fergusonshowrooms.com. Cabinetry: lyndonheathcabinetry.com. Carrara Marble Countertop: gramaco.com. Sconces: johnrichard.com. Faucets: grohe.us. Paint Color: Rarified Air through Sherwin-williams.com. Shutters: sewbeautifulwindows.com.

GUEST ROOM
Headboard & Footboard Fabric: Kravet.com. Bedding: legacylinens.com. Night Table: Owners’ collection. Lamp: reginaandrew.com. Drapery Fabrication: greenhousefabrics.com. Chandelier: visualcomfortlightinglights.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com. Paint Color: Silver Mist benjaminmoore.com.

BUNK ROOM
Bedding: potterybarn.com. Pillows: etsy.com; ballarddesigns.com; easternaccents.com. Paint: White Dove through benjaminmoore.com. Rug: helioscarpet.com. Light Fixture: shadesoflight.com.

 

Sunny Disposition - A robust discovery phase yielded copious insights as Fabiola Martens set out to reimagine an 1820 Georgetown row house for its new owners.

“I always like to get a lot of information in the beginning about my clients’ lifestyle, hopes and dreams—what they are looking for at this time in their lives,” the designer explains. As she recalls, a single nugget the wife shared with her established a framework for the entire project: “I want to smile when I walk in.”

The couple previously lived in a rambling Potomac home set on several acres. Having launched their two adult children, the empty-nesters were looking to downsize and move closer in, where they could enjoy Washington’s walkability. The 5,500-square-foot, Federal-style abode situated in the heart of the Georgetown Historic District, which they discovered in 2013, aligned with their vision. Its dreary, dated interiors, however, didn’t quite stack up.

Last renovated decades before, the house needed a refresh throughout—and a few spaces warranted complete overhauls. Martens recommended BarnesVanze Architects for the collaboration. “It was mostly an interiors project, bringing the house up in standard and finish,” reveals founding principal Ankie Barnes. “The owners wanted to be sure that the core of the lifestyle that they enjoyed [in their previous residence] could be delivered by a much smaller house. They wanted it to feel intimate, yet at the same time have room for the children to come back and to entertain at a very high level.”

As Barnes notes, the home’s “general arrangement was very strong,” so the team kept its existing layout intact. In that floor plan, a long entrance hall opens to double parlors (a living space followed by a piano room) on the right. Beyond the curved staircase are located the dining room, butler’s pantry, breakfast room and kitchen. The second floor comprises the owners’ suite, a study and a guest room; the top level boasts two additional bedrooms. A staff suite, media room and exercise zone populate the lower level.

The renovation plan focused on transforming three areas: the pantry/breakfast room/kitchen; the owners’ dressing area/bath; and the study. It also addressed the couple’s request for an elevator to accommodate their aging parents.

Before, the kitchen and breakfast room sat closed off from one another. According to architect Ellen Hatton, that outmoded design “didn’t fit the way the owners wanted to live.” The team retained the wall delineating the two spaces but strengthened their connection by widening the opening. Now, conversation carries from the breakfast banquette to the kitchen. The expanded opening also invites more natural light into the kitchen, Barnes adds, “so you don’t feel like you’re buried in the bowels of the house.”

Martens’ design and selections amplified the kitchen’s glow. Lighted cabinets display decorative plates from the owners’ collection. As the designer notes, “When you dim the lights, the cabinets are so attractive and make the kitchen feel more homey.” Luminescent, back-painted glass tops the island.

Harkening back to the wife’s “I want to smile” edict, Martens wove a palette of lively yellows and calming grays throughout the house. To start, she scoured far-flung sources for antique rugs. A buying trip to New York unearthed an Agra rug in her ideal colors. That fortuitous find became the “cornerstone” of the front parlor’s scheme; its hues flow into the adjacent piano room. Window panels crafted of silk in a sun-kissed shade add verve and unite the two spaces without blocking the light. As the designer explains, her client “wanted a happy house, so we kept everything feeling warm and sunny.”

The goal, she adds, was to create “elegant but not formal” interiors for a couple who regularly host charitable events (or will resume doing so post-covid) yet crave a relaxed home life. Presented with a largely blank canvas on the main floor, Martens deftly mixed old and new across a spectrum of styles. An Art Deco cabinet, marrying ebonized wood with vellum panels, graces the entrance hall; a pair of sculptural, cast-bronze chairs sits companionably with two transitional-style sofas in the living space.

“It’s totally fine to mix and match as long as it works well together,” asserts the designer. “You don’t want everything to look alike. It’s more interesting to have a bit of surprise and a little tension between pieces. You want stopping points.”

To furnish the second-floor guest room, Martens pulled from the owners’ existing collection. A coat of soft-yellow paint on the walls and tonal Roman shades at the windows reinvigorate the beloved pieces.With the final touches installed, the designer orchestrated a big reveal for her clients. As Martens reports, the wife’s reaction affirmed the project’s success: “She walked in and said, ‘I’m smiling.’”

Architecture: Ankie Barnes, FAIA, LEED AP, founding principal; Ellen Hatton, AIA, project architect and principal, BarnesVanze Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Fabiola Martens, Fabiola Martens Interior Design, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Glass Construction Company, Washington, DC.

RESOURCES
THROUGHOUT
Home Automation: allaroundtech.com. Lighting Consultant: gsadc.com.

MUSIC ROOM/PARLOR
Persian Rug:  Antique. Two Armchairs: capertoncollection.com. Armchair Fabric: janeshelton.com. Armchair Trim: samuelandsons.com. Ottoman: ferrellmittman.com. Ottoman Fabric: osborneandlittle.com. Fireplace Andirons: johnlyledesign.com. Rose Cumming Silk Drapery Fabric: wellstextiles.com. Drapery Fabrication: Pilchard Designs; 202-669-8760. Paint Color: #103, finepaintsofeurope.com.

LIVING ROOM/PARLOR #1
Sofas: madelinestuart.com. Classic Cloth Sofa Fabric: wellstextiles.com. Pillow Fabrics: fortuny.com;  tallia-delfino.com. Coffee Table: dennisandleen.com. Cast-Bronze Chairs: johnlyledesign.com.  Rose Cumming Silk Drapery Fabric: wellstextiles.com. Drapery Fabrication: Pilchard Designs; 202-669-8760. Rug: nazmiyalantiquerugs.com. Chest & Armchair: Owners’ collection. Paint Color: #103, finepaintsofeurope.com.

ENTRANCE HALL
Antique Art Deco Chest: karlkemp.com.

KITCHEN
Chandeliers: jonathanbrowninginc.com. Bar Stools: donghia.com. Sconces: urbanelectric.com. Paint Color: DKC#62, donaldkaufmancolor.com. Built-in Cabinet Design: barnesvanze.com. Built-in Cabinet Fabrication: winchesterwoodworkingllc.com. Island & Display Cabinetry Design & Fabrication: forteinteriorsdesignbuild.com. Island Cabinet Paint Color: Chelsea Gray, benjaminmoore.com. Island Faucet: hansgrohe.com. Refrigerator: subzero-wolf.com.

BREAKFAST AREA
Armchair: capertoncollection.com. Armchair Fabric: jacquesbouvet.com. Side Chairs:  donghia.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Banquette Fabric: osborneandlittle.com. Chandelier: vaughandesigns.com. Paint Color: Cream # 44, farrow-ball.com.

Sunny Disposition - GUEST ROOM

Roman Shade Fabrication: Pilchard Designs; 202-669-8760. Furnishings: Owners’ collection. Paint Color: Soleil #AF330, benjaminmoore.com. Carpet: starkcarpet.com.

 

Calm Vibe - Tracy Morris knows her way around a color fan deck.

The designer often lends her paint-hue prowess to spec-home builders seeking palettes with broad appeal. In a happy twist of fate, one such collaboration ultimately led her and husband Justin Li to a new abode of their own, as well as a spacious studio for her expanding team.

In 2018, Artisan Builders enlisted Morris to select exterior and interior paint colors for three speculative houses under construction in McLean. A year later, Morris and Li decided they’d outgrown their townhouse and began searching for larger digs with greater office-space potential. Morris recalled the earlier consult and reached out to Artisan. The trio of homes had just been listed for sale​​—​and the couple acted quickly. “I selected the colors for the houses before I had any idea we were going to buy here,” recounts the designer. “I put the love and care into them that I would have put into my own home—and here we are.”

Architect James McDonald conceived all three residences, tucked into an enclave near downtown McLean, with an eye toward balancing present-day space programming with enduring street presence. Morris and Li claimed the model boasting a 3,000-square-foot lower level, ideal for the design studio. The main floor’s wide entry hall opens to the dining room on the left and the living room on the right. The kitchen, breakfast area and family room flow across the back, and the owners’ suite sits to the far right. Upstairs are two guest bedrooms and an office for Li, a co-founder of Qore Performance, a hydration-solutions manufacturer.

McDonald imbued the exterior with what he deems “a modern farmhouse/updated Craftsman feel.” He achieved a board-and-batten look with fiber-cement siding; natural-stone accents and a gracious front porch heighten the aura. “The plan size and layout are really geared to today’s living,” he explains. “The exterior styling, though, has a timeless feel while offering the cleaner lines that people are looking for.”

The distinctive styling continues inside. Architectural details such as coffered ceilings and wide-plank, engineered-wood floors align perfectly with Morris’ “traditional-with-a-twist” aesthetic. Covering most walls throughout, Benjamin Moore’s Tapestry Beige provides a versatile backdrop. “It’s a neutral that goes with anything,” says Morris, who serves on the paint brand’s 16-member designer alliance.

That assertion proved true, as many furnishings from the couple’s townhouse transitioned seamlessly. In the living room, for example, the designer started with their existing sofa, chairs and coffee table, then “mixed them up with new side tables and art,” she relates. “This house came together so easily. I was able to take a piece from here and a piece from there because the colors all worked together.”

Morris’ approach and aesthetic come into full view in the dining room. A painted cabinet originally purchased to store office supplies became a serving buffet after the move. The designer recently installed a Phillip Jeffries wall covering, with gold studs forming shimmery stripes on a taupe, tweed ground. “I’m very big on texture,” she states. “This house is calm and down-to-earth, with touches of extravagance. And that really is me in a nutshell.”

During construction, Artisan Builders tapped kitchen and bath designer J. Paul Lobkovich to conjure the home’s kitchen and owners’ bath. A standout feature in what he calls the “refined, modern-farmhouse” kitchen is a dark-stained frame setting off one section of creamy, painted cabinetry. “The intermix of textured, stained wood and smooth, painted wood is the key element of the kitchen’s personality,” he notes. “Warming it up with a wood frame makes the design more interesting and modern.”

Morris frequently hosts her parents, who live nearby, for meals in the everyday dining area. A walnut-topped table from Universal Furniture accommodates the group and mixed chair styles keep the mood casual. The overall goal, explains Morris, was “to create a warm, nurturing, comfortable place to be.”

The family room fits the bill. A sectional sofa from CR Laine encourages lounging; a washed Oushak rug feels soft underfoot. Beside the stone fireplace, a French door leads to a backyard oasis designed by Fine Landscapes. An avid gardener, Morris escapes outdoors often. Inside, she relishes quiet moments in a sunny seating area in her bedroom. To create this favorite hideaway, she positioned two swivel-glider chairs from Lee Industries in front of a large window. “It’s a good spot to just breathe for a minute,” she reveals. The design maven adorned the linen-covered chairs with velvet pillows in a blueberry shade that she is admittedly “obsessed with.”

The couple’s bathroom, boasting a Mirabelle tub, offers additional opportunities to unwind. After purchasing the house, Morris worked with Lobkovich to tweak the original design, replacing two separate vanities with a single unit. She also added signature touches such as a statement pendant from The Urban Electric Co. As she notes, “Life is so much easier when you have function that looks good.”

Functionality abounds on the home’s lower level. The Tracy Morris Design studio comprises office space​ for the designer and four employees​, as well as a library, conference room, kitchenette and warehousing-storage area.

Calm Vibe - With Morris’ vision realized, the home meets the wide-ranging needs of its entrepreneurial owners.

“It really fits our lifestyle well,” the designer declares. “It’s functional but calming and restful too.”

Architecture: James McDonald, James McDonald Associate Architects, Great Falls, Virginia.
Interior Design: Tracy Morris, Tracy Morris Design, McLean, Virginia. Kitchen & Owners’ Bath Design: J. Paul Lobkovich and Lisa Antonelli, senior designer, Lobkovich Kitchen Designs, Tysons, Virginia. Builder: Artisan Builders, McLean, Virginia. Landscape Design: Charles Owen, Fine Landscapes, Ltd., Sterling, Virginia.

Happy Medium - As empty-nesters Cathy and Phil Horvitz weighed possible sites for their dream home, McLean’s newly minted Mackall Farms neighborhood stood out.

“It’s a bespoke community,” says Phil, a technology executive. “Each house has a different philosophy.”
The couple scooped up a tree-laden lot there in 2015—with their own philosophy in mind for the roost that would follow. “A rustic yet refined atmosphere was what we were going for,” reveals Cathy, a homemaker.

Architect Mark Sullenberger and builder Mitch Racoosin translated that credo into a French Country-style abode, concocted of natural fieldstone, stucco-coated brick and stained cedar. They carried the aesthetic inside with reclaimed-oak ceiling beams and a fieldstone fireplace surround, among other agrarian accents. These soulful details swayed designer Rebecca Penno, who joined the team during construction, as she wove a cohesive color story throughout the three-level home and appointed the main-floor spaces.

“I kept going back to the interior architecture—the rough-hewn timbers, the different tones in the stone,” Penno recalls. “The neutrals we used have warmth to them. We love incorporating browns and taupes with ivories, making rooms a little cozier, but in this case we left the wall colors fairly light to keep them bright.”

Creating a relaxed vibe reigned supreme. “I really wanted it to feel comfortable when you come in the front door,” says Cathy. “I wanted traditional-but-fresh interiors, nothing too formal. Rebecca knew how to bring those elements in to make it a little bit fresher.”

The designer established the palette and approach in the entryway, where a hand-knotted rug embodies her penchant for earthy shades. An eye-catching lantern, with its aged-iron finish and fanciful curves, encapsulates the rustic-to-refined ratio. The center table is one of several pieces from the owners’ existing collection that Penno worked into her furniture schemes (it displays a pair of Foo dogs from Cathy’s prized collection).

The foyer leads back to a decidedly unstuffy dining room, replete with pattern and texture. Above the wainscoting, which stretches two-thirds of the way up the walls, Penno installed a graphic, tone-on-tone Phillip Jeffries grass cloth. A stylized damask print from Stroheim enlivens wingback chairs that preside over the dark wood table. As the designer notes, the space “is not overly formal but it’s still refined.”

The kitchen lies to the right of the dining room, down the hall. Emily Neifeld of Lobkovich Kitchen Designs conjured the homespun space, mixing time-honored ingredients—from a subway-tile backsplash to honed-marble countertops—with touches of rusticity such as the bleached-walnut panels on the Sub-Zero refrigerator. The goal, Neifeld reveals, was “to create a kitchen that is bright and traditional with rustic charm.”

Penno collaborated with Artisan Builders on a built-in banquette to fit the curved breakfast area. Acknowledging her clients’ “no-fuss way of life,” she covered the fronts of the side chairs in easy-to-clean vinyl; a trellis-patterned textile from Kravet dresses the less-spill-prone backs.

Laid-back, generously scaled furnishings inhabit the adjacent gathering space. “This room has the volume ceiling with timbers and stone on the fireplace, so it wouldn’t take delicate furniture,” the designer states. A sectional sofa from CR Laine, clad in Crypton fabric, offers ample seating when the Horvitzes’ two grown children visit.

Phil’s study and the master-bedroom suite sit on the opposite end of the first floor, to the left of the entryway. In designing the study, Penno took her cues from its clubby, white-oak wall paneling. “I wanted this room to feel masculine, playing off the oak,” she explains. A plaid, leather-bound rug, custom-crafted from broadloom carpet, launched her vision.

The master suite epitomizes the home’s traditional-yet-fresh milieu. A Cowtan & Tout grass-cloth wall covering, bolstered with metallic shimmer, graces the suite’s vestibule. Cathy refinishes furniture as a hobby and the hall’s antique cabinet is a product of her handiwork. The bedroom’s lattice-patterned Wilton rug hits a classic note, while its painted furniture and upholstered bed keep the design from veering toward stodgy.

“There are little nods to tradition here and there, but it’s not too fussy—or too casual,” asserts Penno. “That’s the story behind all the interiors. They are a happy medium.”

Completing the custom home, from architectural drawings to relaxed décor, took more than three years. According to the Horvitzes, the outcome justifies the commitment. “It was a lot of work,” admits Phil, “but we enjoyed the adventure and couldn’t be happier with the end result.”


Architecture: Mark R. Sullenberger, AIA, Custom Design Concepts Architecture, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Interior Design: Rebecca Penno, Penno Interiors, McLean, Virginia. Kitchen Design: Emily Neifeld, Lobkovich Kitchen Designs., Vienna, Virginia. Builder: Mitch Racoosin, Artisan Builders, McLean, Virginia.


Rebecca Penno’s Trade Secrets

How do you impart personality to a space?
There are many ways to tell your story. Replacing light fixtures can change a mood entirely, or using wallpaper in unexpected places. Incorporating millwork, such as a coffered ceiling, will add a dimension.

What makes a neutral palette sing?
When working with a tone-on-tone interior, I tend to keep the eye moving by layering patterns and textures so nothing appears flat or dull.

Go-to paint color for walls?
I use Sherwin Williams’ Natural Choice quite often. It has a nice, creamy undertone without going yellow and works great with both warm and cool tones. We used it in the Horvitzes’ public spaces.

Happy Medium - Thoughts on mixing metals?

Combining metals like aged brass and bronze often gives a collected-over-time appearance. If that is outside your comfort zone, use different finishes of the same metal, such as polished and brushed nickel.

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.

The company also publishes an annual H&D Sourcebook of ideas and resources for homeowners and professionals alike. H&D Chesapeake Views is published bi-annually and showcases fine home design and luxury living in and around the Chesapeake Bay.

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.

Stay Connected with HOME & DESIGN Newsletter

Copyright © 2021 Home & Design. All rights reserved. | Back to top
magnifier