If you’ve got a wardrobe full of bright, classic clothes, should your style carry over into your home? Judging by interior designer Erika Bonnell’s redo of a young family’s Warrenton colonial, the answer is a poppy-hued, preppy-meets-glamorous “Yes!”
“The wife is drawn to strong colors and a traditional aesthetic,” says Bonnell. “She likes things clean, fresh and very upbeat.”
That’s why the owners called on Bonnell during the summer of 2016 to redecorate the first floor of the house they had shared with their two young children since 2010. “I’m known for a bolder look, but I think the wife knew I could balance the strong punches of color she loves with subtler elements,” notes the designer.
The tallest order? Turning the dated 1990s holdover into an airy, personality-filled haven. “The kitchen was dark, and so many other elements were beige,” remembers the wife, a homemaker and volunteer. “The house wasn’t our style.” Bonnell’s solution was to liven everything up by applying candy-shop hues on furniture and walls, offset by strong doses of white in the kitchen and great room.
Out went the dark cherry kitchen cabinets, replaced by sleek white ones topped with frosty granite counters. The couple entertains frequently, so Bonnell and kitchen designer Heather Blelloch of Cornerstone Kitchen & Bath enlarged the island, replacing a built-in desk with a beverage station, mini-fridge and serving counter. “We used to have traffic jams when we had people over, but the bar area makes everything smoother,” says the wife, who stocks the fridge with LaCroix and juice for the kids and pours Champagne and white wine at the bar during grown-up soirées.
The adjacent breakfast room stays mostly neutral via Rove Concepts’ Lars table with a white lacquer top and ash legs below a dramatic white faux bois chandelier. Flashes of color—robin’s egg blue Eames-style chairs and window shades in Scandi-cool Fantuti Coral by Annapolis-based Victoria Larson—up the fizzy, fun vibe.
Next door, a great room with soaring ceilings and big windows sports the same crisp white on walls and moldings, while Bonnell’s playful mix of pattern and color headlines the furniture. “We were so badly in need of more seating, and it was dull before,” recalls the wife. “Now, it’s inviting for watching sports or sitting by the fireplace.” The kids rotate swivel chairs in a coral flame print to watch TV, while the husband, a technology executive, loves propping his feet up on a pouf upholstered in Brunschwig & Fils’ Les Touches Aqua leopard print. Bonnell placed a dreamy blue sofa under the windows, decking it out with custom pillows in groovy prints by Richmond fabric artist Lindsay Cowles.
Accents including a pair of fiddle-leaf fig trees and an abstract painting by Roanoke artist Amanda Leffel (a childhood friend of the wife) keep things jazzy and fresh. “Erika told me I could either have white walls and colorful seating or vice versa,” says the wife. “I like how it worked out.”
Just off the great room, a light-filled den holds both the owner’s glass-topped desk and homework stations for her kids. Thibaut’s Tanzania wallpaper in turquoise echoes the pattern on the pouf in the great room and links to other aqua tones throughout the house. “We pulled strong corals and aquas from room to room,” says Bonnell. “All of these colors are so fluid.” The aqua hue also carries through to a snug powder room off the foyer, which is covered with Thibaut’s reverse-toile South Sea wallpaper.
But the punchiest, most vibrant space in the house? The riotously bold dining room, where the designer channeled her inner Dorothy Draper via a combo of Schumacher’s jungle-green Zanzibar Trellis wallpaper and drapes made of Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon fabric. When she was designing the space, recalls Bonnell, “I was thinking of Draper’s Greenbrier, Lilly Pulitzer and the idea of something vibrant.” The couple’s polished-wood table is paired with new Bernhardt side chairs in Kravet’s Tully fabric and host and hostess chairs in a subtle Thibaut tweed banded with Schumacher trim—in aqua, of course.
An existing dark wood console came brilliantly back to life thanks to several coats of glossy coral paint; it now holds heirloom china and glassware beneath a gallery of floral prints that belonged to the wife’s great aunt. High-gloss green paint on the moldings and trim, plus Hollywood Regency accents such as pagoda lamps and a Moroccan-style mirror, play off the festive surroundings. “We entertain so often in here; we put out pretty cakes and enjoy our family time,” says the wife, reflecting on the transformation. “And I wasn’t even thinking of wallpaper before this!”
Wooden Chair (red frame): themtcompany.com. Wooden Chair Fabric: sunbrella.com. Slipper Chairs: vanguardfurniture.com. Slipper Chairs Fabric: vanguardfurniture.com. Ottoman: vanguardfurniture.com. Ottoman Fabric: kravet.com/les-touches-aqua. Blue Sofa: vanguardfurniture.com. Sofa Fabric: kravet.com. Custom Pillows: lindsaycowles.com. Blue End Table: wisteria.com. Glass Side Table: homegoods.com. Curtains Fabrication: pauldaviddesign.com. Floor Lamp: visualcomfort.com. Table Lamp: curreycodealers.com.
Chairs: emoderndecor.com. Chandelier: arteriorshome.com. Window Shade Fabric: victoria-larson.com. Window Shade Fabrication: pauldaviddesign.com. Table: roveconcepts.com.
Wallpaper: fschumacher.com. Dining Chairs: bernhardt.com. Dining Chair Fabric: kravet.com. Host Chairs: leeindustries.com. Host Chair Fabric: thibautdesign.com. Chandelier: curreycodealers.com. Mirror: chelseahouseinc.com. Drapery Fabric: fschumacher.com. Drapery Fabrication: pauldaviddesign.com. White Lamps: bungalow5.com. Rug: fibreworks.com.
Ambassadors, presidents and Hollywood stars from Elizabeth Taylor to Vincent Price have all hobnobbed in this grand 1927 stone manor in DC’s Massachusetts Heights. But thanks to a 2012 renovation by its latest owners, the vibe these days is more comfortable storybook castle than Hollywood lair.
The empty-nester husband-and-wife owners enlisted interior designer Susan Beimler and architect Ankie Barnes to help make the nearly 8,000-square-foot home feel both relaxed and refined. The challenge? Preserving its Jazz Age, neo-Tudor details—coffered ceilings, Gothic arched doorways and wood library paneling—while “lightening up and enhancing everything,” explains Beimler.
“I don’t want to live in a museum,” says the wife. “I need a place to host family and friends.” Beimler, Barnes and his team made this possible by smartening up the graceful structure. This gentle facelift involved remodeling the kitchen, rejiggering the capacious dining room and adding a dramatic tower to house a new second staircase. “We had a second staircase before,” laughs the wife, “but it was designed for billy goats.”
In his take on the new, three-story staircase, Barnes created a silo of stone and light. “We wanted it to be as bright as possible,” says the architect. “The top of it is like a traditional Italian belvedere, with windows wrapped around three sides. It’s not too heavy and it doesn’t compete with the rest of the house.”
The couple entertains often and hosts their grown children and grandchildren for frequent meals. So Barnes opened the kitchen up to the dining room via an arched door that mirrors a door on the opposite side of the dining space. Another arched opening was added to link the kitchen to the stone-walled, enclosed porch-turned-breakfast room. “The eating and food preparation areas weren’t well-incorporated,” says Barnes. “Now, the whole space has such generosity.”
In the dining room, an antique walnut table purchased in Georgetown seats eight to 14, plus there’s room for a children’s table too. “It makes for fun celebrations,” says the wife.
The kitchen—once primarily a staff workspace—morphed into a home cook’s dream via expanded windows, a nine-foot, marble-topped island and a six-burner Wolf gas stove. Cabinets were painted Benjamin Moore’s fog-like Galveston Gray and paired with veined Calacatta countertops for a serene vibe. “Both the husband and wife love to cook, and now they’ve got a space with light, pull-out cabinet shelves, and great flow,” says Beimler, who devised a clever storage hack: a jumbo blackboard near the stove that conceals a spice cabinet.
The granite walls both inside and outside the cozy breakfast room were whitewashed for a weathered-yet-warm feel. Finished with a heated slate floor and Beimler’s French-meets-informal furniture choices, space is where “we eat most of our meals,” says the wife. “It’s so charming.”
Beimler and Barnes also recast other graceful rooms on the first floor such as the bright center hall, the wood-paneled library and the jumbo-sized living room with coffered ceilings. Much of the décor was inspired by the home’s abundant natural light and lush gardens, which shimmer through the outsized windows and French doors. “At the back of the property in particular,” remarks the wife, “it feels like a tree house.”
In the living room, the ample sunlight is boosted by an eight-paneled gold mirror above the poured-concrete fireplace mantel. Barnes cleverly had the mirror constructed to conceal a big-screen TV.
Furnishings, many used in the couple’s previous homes, lean toward what might be called “château chic.” French antiques (twin 1700s cabinets and an iron Parisian gate refashioned by David Iatesta into a coffee table) and art sidle up to comfortable sofas and plush carpets in the living room. “There are lots of layers,” says Beimler, “and there’s a story behind everything. They have so many interests!”
The wife’s love of gardening shows up indoors as well as out. Think cement balls cheekily placed under a Chippendale table in the front hall or an antique eagle weathervane keeping watch in the living room. It seems right at home yet regal—just like the fairytale house itself.
Writer Jennifer Barger resides in Washington. Photographer Edward Addeo is based in New York.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: ANKIE BARNES, FAIA, LEED AP, principal; MELANIE GIORDANO, AIA, and STEFAN HURRAY, Associate AIA, project architects, Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc., Washington, DC. INTERIOR DESIGN: SUSAN BEIMLER, Susan Beimler Interior Design, Washington, DC. RENOVATION CONTRACTORS: Potomac Valley Builders, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland and Horizon HouseWorks, Bethesda, Maryland. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Green Gardens, Inc.; Clarksburg, Maryland.
Renovation Architecture: Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc.; barnesvanze.com. Interior Design: Susan Beimler Interior Design; susanbeimler.com. Builders: Potomac Valley Builders, LLC; potomacvalleybuilders.com; Horizon HouseWorks; horizonbuildersinc.net. Landscape Design: Green Gardens, Inc.; greengardensinc.com.
THROUGHOUT Stonework: poolesstoneandgarden.com. Drapery Fabricator: Teresa’s Work Room, LLC; 703-663-0909.
ENTRY Outdoor Lanterns: theelephantsfootantiques.com. Round Table: Owners’ collection. Light Fixture over Table: charlesedwards.com. Chest of Drawers by Window: thegablesantiques.com. Drapes: Through interiorconceptsinc.com. Loveseat: bakerfurniture.com. Loveseat Fabric: Mohair from clarencehouse.com. Side Table by Loveseat: marstonluce.com.
LIVING ROOM Sofas & Fabric: nancycorzine.com. Chest to the left of Fireplace: thegablesantiques.com. Mirrors over Fireplace, Gilt-Framed Oil Paintings: Evelyn Avery. Fireplace Screen: Michael Getz Antiques (no longer in business). Sconces by Fireplace, Floor Lamps, Armchair to Right of Fireplace, Candlesticks on Coffee Table, Side Table by Sofa, Twin Ottomans: marstonluce.com. Ottoman Fabric: waterhousewallhangings.com. Coffee Table: davidiatesta.com. Coffee Table Top: Antique Railing from marstonluce.com. Nesting Tables: vmantiques.com. Wool & Oriental Rugs, Bird Weather Vane: Owners’ collection. Round Metal-Frame Table: Through interiorconceptsinc.com. Chairs around Table & Fabric: minton-spidell.com. Bird Weather Vane: Owners’ collection. Ottoman: Owners’ collection. Dish Cupboard in Corner: cotejardinantiques.com. Roll-Armed Sofa by Window: Althorp Furniture Collection.
DINING ROOM Table: Antique, owners’ collection. Chairs: Williams Antiques; 404-231-9818. Chair Fabric: Old World Weavers through starkcarpet.com. Host Chairs: ef-lm.com. Host Chair Fabric: michaelsmithinc.com. Chandelier: charlesedwards.com. Mirror over Demi-Lune Table: marstonluce.com. Curtains: pierrefrey.com. Shades: conradshades.com.
KITCHEN Cabinetry: heartwoodkitchens.net. Counter Stools: Through interiorconceptsinc.com. Chandelier over Island: niermannweeks.com. Range, Refrigerator, Microwave/Convection Oven: subzero-wolf.com. Dishwashers: miele-usa.com, fisherpaykel.com. Candlesticks: marstonluce.com.
Flash of Brilliance When it comes out to play with vibrant art and flashes of color, a neutral palette can seem anything but bland. At least that was the case in a recent renovation by Marika Meyer Interiors. Bright abstract paintings, touches of indigo and tribal patterns create a look that’s at once serene and spirited in this neoclassical, mid-century home in Washington’s Spring Valley neighborhood.
“The house hadn’t been updated in 20 years, and many of its finishes were very heavy, very dark,” says Meyer. The clients, a well-traveled couple with four young children, “wanted to open it up and make it a welcoming, lighter family space.”
Meyer and her team began the transformation in 2014 with the removal of superfluous interior columns, narrow crown moldings, and dark wood floors. In went fumed, gray-washed, white-oak flooring, lending the first-floor dining room, kitchen, living room and his-and-her offices a serene vibe. “It wasn’t easy to get the floors right, but they set the tone for the home,” says the wife.
Meyer played with other Zen-like updates to make the rooms, which only have eight-foot ceilings, feel far more capacious. Crown molding now extends onto the ceiling, making the spaces look taller. Base moldings went from low-profile to four-and-a-half inches high. And dated marble fireplace surrounds were replaced with stone ones to sleek effect. “Now when we walk into the house, we love the light and airy feel,” says the wife.
Working closely with her design-savvy client, Meyer achieved a layered, neutral backdrop for abstract paintings and photographs. “Everything was about texture upon texture,” says the designer. This meant grace notes like a Rose Tarlow linen wallpaper in the foyer, paired with a cowhide-framed round mirror and a slender Parsons-style table, which Meyer had faux-painted to mimic cobalt-hued malachite.
In the kitchen, her team simply repainted the existing blonde wood cabinetry creamy white and used herringbone Calacatta Gold subway tiles to form a new backsplash. “It was straightforward and not a complete redo, but it made the kitchen so fresh and approachable,” says Meyer.
But it’s the adjoining dining room, visible from the foyer as well, that brings the most drama. As a foil for all the grays and beiges, Meyer installed a navy-and-white paisley textured wallpaper from Arte. Framed by white crown molding and accented by original built-in bookcases, the wall covering plays off the backyard swimming pool, which can be glimpsed through the room’s large windows.
“We wanted the dining room to be impactful because it’s the first thing you see when you enter the house,” says the wife. Upping the room’s show-stopping glam is a faux bois silver chandelier studded with candle-like bulbs. It’s paired with a custom David Iatesta table flaunting distinctive curved legs.
For contrast with the sea of wallpaper, Meyer had two original built-in corner bookcases painted bright white and installed a pair of mirrors above gleaming, chrome-based Worlds Away consoles. “It all reflects out to the backyard and adds light to the room,” says the designer.
Varied textures and tribal accents embellish the adjacent living room, a plush zone that’s comfortable for both entertaining and family time. A skinny-legged Room & Board sofa in pale gray sidles up to a chunky Vanguard coffee table with an antiqued silver finish and velvet armchairs by Charles Stewart. A 14-foot-long, built-in window seat adds extra perching room during the couples’ frequent parties—or just for a kid to snuggle up with a book. Bright artwork and sparkling accents, such as crystal-based table lamps, keep the place from feeling monochromatic.
Punches of blue and blue-gray highlight other first-floor rooms. In the wife’s study, batik-like indigo fabric from Lee Jofa covers two armchairs by the fireplace, echoing the wanderlust feel of a mother-of-pearl inlaid desk from Theodores. Equipped with a built-in bar, the room also welcomes guests after hours.
A powder room off the foyer boasts another dazzling wall treatment: a blue-gray fabric from Travers that evokes an African mud cloth. It’s paired with deep-gray moldings and vintage finds to create a cozy, yet contemporary, mood.
Which is exactly what the owners had in mind. “Our house has a sort of tribal feel and influence,” observes the wife. “I love the mix of materials and textures and the natural feel. It really reflects our
Writer Jennifer Barger is based in Washington, DC. Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.
FOYER Wallpaper: rosetarlow.com. Chandelier: madegoods.com. Console: Custom. Console Faux Finish: billetcollins.com. Rug on stairs: coecarpetandrug.com. Mirror: Client’s collection. Painting: lamarbriggs.com.
DINING ROOM Table: davidiatesta.com. Chairs: leeindustries.com. Chair Fabric: cowtan.com. Chandelier: paulferrante.com. Roman Shade Fabric: fschumacher.com. Buffet: worlds-away.com. Wallpaper: arte.com. Rug: coecarpetandrug.com.
LIVING ROOM Drapery & Shade Fabric: fschumacher.com. Sofa: roomandboard.com. Club Chairs: charlesstewartcompany.com. Chair Fabric: thedesignconnection.us. Cocktail Table: vanguardfurniture.com. Lamps: timestwodesign.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Chest: studioa-home.com. Painting above Fireplace: scottupton.net. Painting, opposite: craigalanart.com