The event was open from April 8 to May 9, virtually and to a limited number of in-person visitors.
Principal of her eponymous interiors firm, Gross transformed the dining room of the Mediterranean-style villa into a fanciful, animal-inspired aerie. The annual show house, which benefits the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, has been a must-see event for thousands of design enthusiasts for more than four decades in New York, with recent show houses also taking place in Palm Beach and Dallas.
What motivated you to take part in Kips Bay?
After participating in seven local show houses, designing for the Kips show was on my radar as a goal. I had visited the New York show many times and love the Boys & Girls Club that it benefits.
Where did the animal inspiration come from?
I really needed a lift from the pandemic and the harsh winter. The carpet from New Moon Rugs was created for the show house and its pattern hosted the loveliest birds and butterflies. When I came across the metallic Clarke & Clarke wallpaper, featuring creatures such as horned zebras and multi-tailed giraffes, I knew I was on to something.
How did the remaining design elements come together?
At some point, I began thinking of the space as Tinker Bell’s room and added elements that she would love—an early-1900s Limoges tea set, vivid green Depression-era glasses and dragonfly napkin rings. And there’s more fantasy in the pearlized top of the table from Century and the chairs richly upholstered in Stroheim fabric.
The turn-around time is so intense that it can make your head spin. I had sketched glamorous barn doors, which we finally installed on the last day. They wound up being the highlight of the room, and underscored my statement that barn doors don’t always have to be rustic. They can be elegant and even sexy.
Every industry has been touched by the covid-19 pandemic. But given months-long orders to shelter in place, interior designers have a unique perspective on the challenges facing residents as they are forced to work, play, study, dine and exercise at home. Though at press time some communities are beginning to reopen, the crisis is far from over. Here, local designers share experiences and insights on how they and their clients are coping. All agree that understanding, patience and civility are paramount when doing business today.
HAVE NEW TRENDS ARISEN DURING THIS TIME?
“Clients are looking to find more relaxing gathering spaces beyond traditional family rooms. We have been upgrading screened porches and outdoor spaces to accommodate more time spent at home. Also, as many believe it is safer to be outside than in closed environments, our clients want to make the most of their outdoor spaces for entertaining guests.” —Melanie Whittington, Whittington Design Studio
“My clients are conscious about ease of cleaning. We are careful to use high-performance fabrics like Crypton on heavily used furniture like sofas and sectionals. Many quartz countertops are antimicrobial and offer the added benefit of coming in light colors that are stain-resistant.” —Christie Leu, Christie Leu Interiors
“Families have found themselves spending an unprecedented amount of time homeschooling and working at home. Bright primary colors such as red and orange encourage focus and would be my recommendation for an area of learning, while greens and blues create a calming workspace for adults. In my opinion, we will see a shift from all-neutral or all-colorful palettes to homes that embrace both color and neutrals—providing a perfect balance so residents can work, learn and relax under one roof.” —Bonnie Ammon, Allied ASID, Bonnie Ammon Interiors
WHAT HAS MOST SURPRISED YOU ABOUT WORKING WITH CLIENTS IN THIS CRISIS?
“I’m surprised by the optimism and the strength of the bounce-back we’re seeing. I have one project where we are literally changing an entire home for repeat clients. We started outside and are now moving into the lower level. Next month, we will be working on the entire home, wearing masks.” —Charlene Kennerknecht, Monarch
“Clients are generally more engaged and focused on the design process. Decisions are being made more quickly and they look forward to our interactions. I’ve also done more video calls with clients than in the past.” —Mike Molesky, Michael Molesky Interior Design
"Forgiveness! As a designer, one of the biggest fears is not being able to deliver on schedule, but every once in a while something will happen. As a whole, clients have been incredibly patient and understanding.” —Laura Fox, Laura Fox Interior Design, LLC
“Our clients have not been more price-conscious through this period. Some have reached out to redo spaces because they’re noticing the need.” —Arlene Critzos, Interior Concepts, Inc.
HOW HAS THE CRISIS CHANGED CLIENTS PRIORITIES?
“Most of our clients are distracted by the need to take in adult children or elderly parents, and they are cautious about the state of the economy moving forward. The exception is DIY homeowners painting, organizing closets, building shelves and buying art on sale.” —Barbara Hawthorn, Barbara Hawthorn Interiors, Ltd.
“People value their homes more than ever. Home offices that are light-filled, quiet and comfortable, with adequate family space, are suddenly much more important. A designer’s challenge may be converting an old space into one that fulfills a new or higher-priority function.” —Wendy Danziger, Danziger Design LLC
“Our residential business has gotten busier. But not all clients are willing to understand that with covid-19, the industry
has shut down and shipping is not a 10-to-12-week lead anymore.” —David Anthony Chenault, David Anthony Chenault Interior Design
DEFINE STRATEGIES TO CREATE MULTI-USE SPACES FOR WORK AND FAMILY.
“Having multiple family members at home together puts a huge strain on a home’s Internet service, especially when you add video-conferencing, movie-streaming and gaming to the mix. A high-speed Internet connection and a reliable WiFi network are key to success.” —Andrea Houck, ASID, IFDA, A. Houck Designs
“Invest in good lighting and try to maximize natural light. A writing desk and a supportive chair are a must for remote work, but a flex space is more than a home office. Remember to mix in comfortable seating, end tables and a coffee table if space permits. Give the space some personality and minimize clutter. Don’t forget to designate an area to conceal projects and paperwork. Outfit a closet, use filing cabinets, portable carts, baskets or a few totes to keep everyone organized and happy.” —Melissa Broffman, Allied ASID, Melissa Broffman Interior Design
HAS THE CRISIS AFFECTED INTERACTIONS BETWEEN CLIENTS AND SUPPLIERS?
“It has been hard work getting supplies to the residential builders that we deal with so they can continue with construction. Coordination and flexibility are everything, with some plants closing and others opening.” —Gina Fitzsimmons, ASID, Fitzsimmons Design Associates, Inc.
“Oftentimes, in the throes of a project deadline, we lose sight of what matters most. As we feel the effects of this shutdown, there has been more grace and compassion for our neighbors. We see and respect it in the lives of others—from vendors and manufacturers to clients.” —DuVäl Reynolds, DuVäl Design, LLC
HOW HAVE YOU PIVOTED TO WORKING REMOTELY?
Interior design is such a hands-on profession, and working remotely has added a new layer of challenges. We have been having client Zoom meetings and sharing new apps with our clients. We’ve also had to rely on clients to do some of the work we would normally do, such as moving furniture and measuring spaces in specific ways. I am looking forward to getting back to working directly with clients, but being forced to work in new and creative ways has given us some new tools and practices that we’ll continue to use day to day.”—Laura Hildebrandt, IFDA, NKBA, Interiors by LH, LLC
WILL THIS PERIOD CHANGE THE WAY YOU WORK IN THE FUTURE?
“We are doing more client meetings virtually on Zoom calls, but some clients still want to come in and touch and feel the fabrics. We wear masks, socially distance and sanitize as needed. We will have to wait and see how long the situation lasts and how people react.” —Kristin Peake, Kristin Peake Interiors
“Although I don’t think open floor plans will cease, I do think that young families will prioritize workspace and how their homes need to be multi-functional. Our hope is that we don’t experience anything like this again, but it certainly makes you stop and consider how your home can serve each family member.” —Rebecca Penno, Penno Interiors
The first time you see one of Loriann Signori’s landscapes in person, the contrast between vibrant color and soft shapes is riveting. The eye chases colors around the canvas, reimagining what appears to be there. As the artist says, her paintings “are an emotional response to the landscape.” Part of that response manifests itself in color. Then there’s the luminosity—something that Signori strives to capture in all her work.
“There’s always a spot of light,” she says, “a place that’s more highly illuminated and glows from within.” A soft, ephemeral quality permeates Signori’s landscapes, which may depict trees, rivers, orchards, fields of wildflowers, the sun and occasionally the moon. Even when she paints distinctive subjects such as the Potomac River, she renders them in a muted, dreamlike cast.
The Connecticut-born artist has been painting for more than 30 years. As a young child, she loved being outdoors, and at 14 she began painting en plein air to satisfy what would become a lifelong passion for the landscape. After receiving a BFA in 1979 from the Swain School of Design in Massachusetts, she completed her MFA at American University in Washington under a full fellowship.
Early on, Signori became infatuated with luminosity, studying the works of 19th-century American landscape artists Sanford Robinson Gifford and Frederic Edwin Church. They remain her primary sources of inspiration today, along with artists from the Italian Renaissance and Washington’s Color Field movement.
“Initially, I was taught the technique of alla prima—basically, ‘put it down and leave it,’” she reflects. “But now, I really work the painting, applying multiple layers and scraping and sanding off before another layer goes on.” To capture light and color on canvas, Signori employs various media: oils, pastels and sometimes even gesso and watercolor in a multi-layered application that burnishes the image and creates a depth of color that resonates. When she paints, Signori says, she sees and feels color vibrations and tensions between two or more colors, as well as the light that’s always present.
She prefers to have two or three paintings in progress at once; at the moment, she’s working on 48-by-60-inch canvases for an upcoming gallery show.
The creative process begins outdoors. As she chooses a location, the artist is open to how it might stir her feelings. Once she “absorbs” the site, Signori begins a series of small plein air sketches—some value drawings, some in color with hues that vary depending on how the light changes. She takes notes on the colors before her, and on her emotional response to the scene. On one level, she says, being outdoors and taking it all in is a meditative process, while the actual painting is a release. “Observing is the work; getting it down on canvas is the relaxation,” she explains.
Once the drawing and note-taking are done, Signori returns to her light-filled studio loft located behind the Silver Spring home she shares with her husband, Dan, and several rescue cats. She tapes the sketches to a wall for reference and begins her new canvas. Each work starts with an under-painting and continues through many thin layers of glaze, which are often scraped or rubbed off to maintain translucence—and multi-layered, like an opal.
At some point in the process, Signori surrenders control to these dreamy scenes. “I know only a piece of the goal; I let the painting talk to me and it tells me the rest,” she explains. “Toward the end, the studies (sketches) come off the wall and the painting tells me when it’s done.”
Signori hopes viewers come to their own conclusions when they see her captivating landscapes. “I try not to sway them or tell them what to think,” she says. “I’m giving them an opening; the painting is an opening for them feel an emotion.”
Maryland writer Jeanne Blackburn covers art and interior design—and enjoys painting in her spare time. Loriann Signori’s work is available through Merritt Gallery in Chevy Chase; Renaissance Fine Arts in Baltimore; and Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, where she will participate in an invitational show from February 7 through March 4. For more information, see loriannsignori.com.
Shore Style Unburied Treasure The Lure of Sea Glass is as seductive as its subject. Local author Richard LaMotte’s latest book on sea glass delves into the emotional, often spiritual, aspect of searching and finding. Sharing the first-hand accounts of fellow collectors, LaMotte illuminates the calming effects of beachcombing—the act of sifting through mental and emotional detritus while stumbling upon shards of the past that have been burnished into comforting gems. Occasionally, these finds become talismans, remembrances of inspiration and healing. Glowing images by Annapolis photographer Celia Pearson—all taken in natural sunlight—accompany the text. $29 at seaglasspublishing.com
The Art of Espionage Tony Mendez is an artist. He always has been. The red carpet he trod recently for the Oscar-winning movie Argo, which tells the story of his greatest achievement as a CIA operative, was, physically and emotionally, miles away from his daily life in the Knoxville, Maryland, home and studio he shares with his wife, Jonna—also a former CIA operative.
“It’s just not what we trained for,” Mendez says.
Training started early—art training, that is. His mother put a set of paints in his pre-school-age hands and told him prophetically, “You’ll be an artist.” In his early 20s and married with three small children, he answered a blind newspaper ad hoping to advance his career as an industrial illustrator. “They wanted an artist to work overseas with the U.S. Navy. I was intrigued,” he recalls.
It turned out the CIA was looking for an artist to replicate documents for their clandestine operations. Mendez got the job and moved with his family to Okinawa and Thailand for seven years.
The CIA then transferred him back to the States, where he forged documents, created disguises and performed other graphical work related to espionage. On his return, he searched for a remote parcel of land within 50 miles of DC and his job at the CIA. “I wanted to build my own home and be self-sufficient,” he explains. He found a peaceful spot nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While he built a Yankee barn-style house on the site, he and his family lived in a log cabin on the property “without water, heat or lights.”
It’s a serene location far away from the bustle of life in DC—let alone the espionage game. Called Pleasant Valley Studio, it now encompasses the family’s home as well as studio space for Mendez and his oldest son, Toby, who is a sculptor. It was Tony’s first wife, Karen, who inspired the building of the studios. “She literally kicked us out of the house, saying she was tired of the mess—my paint and Toby’s marble dust,” Mendez recalls with a smile. Sadly, Karen died of cancer in 1987 without seeing the completed compound.
Meanwhile, the Iran hostage crisis was testing Mendez’s creativity and nerve. Then the CIA’s Chief of Disguise, he was given the mission of extricating six Americans who had sought refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran during the 1980 takeover of the U.S. Embassy—the story which would later inspire Argo. During this stressful time, home became a refuge where he could think, plan and create his art. “The nice thing about art,” he says, “is that no one is looking over your shoulder. Standing at an easel gave me an opportunity to think about the [jerks] in the world—and get over it.”
One of Mendez’s colleagues at the agency was Jonna, a photographer who would become Chief of Disguise after Tony retired. After Karen passed away, their collaborative business relationship became more personal and they were married in 1991.
The home’s remote location continues to fit the Mendez family, which now includes Tony and Jonna’s son Jessie, age 20. The couple is surprisingly soft-spoken, as Jonna illustrates in an anecdote about Argo. “Someone asked Ben [Affleck] why he played Tony so low-key,” she says. “He replied, ‘Do you know Tony?’” After so many years working behind the scenes, it’s the spotlight and celebrity that are foreign. “This is new territory,” Mendez says. “And a hell of a way to end a career. We do miss the cloak and dagger though,” he adds with a smile.
The Mendezes’ schedule is busy: book signings (Tony has written three), personal appearances for Argo, and the couple’s work at the Spy Museum, of which they are both founders and directors. “We are so amazed by what’s happening,” Jonna comments. “You hope that you can maintain your perspective.”
Reflecting on art versus espionage, Tony observes, “They are both all-consuming. The lessons you learn with art are directly transferable to the spy business. Risk-taking—you just push the envelope and see how far you can go.”
Twice a year, the Mendezes invite friends to an open studio to discuss Tony’s latest paintings, Jonna’s newest collection of photos or Toby’s most recent sculpture installation. Today, their compound includes the house, which has been added onto multiple times; a studio for Tony’s paintings; a gallery; photography space for Jonna; and a sculpture studio for Toby. Upstairs, “the shrine” as Mendez calls it, constitutes a wall of framed commendations, photos, plaques, awards and medals. Reflecting on his studio, home and their pristine surroundings, Tony notes, “The only thing wrong with this place is that I have to leave it.”
Jeanne Blackburn is a freelance writer in Montgomery Village, Maryland. Photographer Bob Narod is based in Herndon, Virginia.
Rockville Revival In the fall of 2010, interior designer Wendy Danziger had recently completed an extensive project in Rockville, renovating a master suite and selecting stylish new furnishings and draperies on the main level. “We had just installed the draperies, then ‘Snowmageddon’ struck,” recalls Danziger, referring to the unprecedented storm that crippled the DC area for weeks. The freeze created ice dams in the roof of the rambling, 1950s custom-built home. Unfortunately, the roofing company’s decision to use propane torches to melt the ice ignited a massive fire that destroyed the residence, where her clients had lived for 30 years.
The initial instinct was to rebuild a replica of their beloved 7,600-square-foot house, but the wife soon realized she was “30 years into my five-year-plan” and they decided it was time to make some sweeping updates. So they engaged Danziger to help them restore and redecorate their shell of a home. “We approached it with an eye toward the way we live today,” explains the owner.
Danziger and her assistant, Mary Biletnikoff, became more than designers. “I can’t say enough about Wendy and Mary. They were my sanity,” the wife remarks, recalling the sheer scope of the project. Using the original home as their guide, the designers, along with Jenkins Restorations, made suggestions that would improve the circulation, better apportion the four upstairs bedrooms and create a clean, crisp background for the owners’ collection of art and antiques. “Putting the house back together was a metaphor for family,” says Danziger. “It was important to restore that continuity.”
Though the footprint and the main floor layout were essentially unchanged, the kitchen and breakfast area were combined to create one space. Recalling the wall that once separated the working hub from the dining area, the owner says, “I felt that now that it was down, it was not going back up.” The other major change on the main floor was the addition of a back stairway with a skylight.
Upstairs, bathrooms were added to each of the guest rooms, and the master bedroom, bath and sitting area were reconfigured. Sliding glass doors in the master bedroom that led to the balcony were replaced with larger windows that afford treetop views; and its bowling-alley-shaped bathroom was reconfigured to allow for a generous walk-in closet.
Since the house had been furnished and decorated over a period of 30 years, the goal after the reconstruction was to re-create the home’s signature look as closely as possible. “We wanted it to feel like the furnishings had been developed, not bought recently,” says the wife. “That’s the genius of Wendy and the phenomenal tradespeople she works with.”
The fire was capricious in what it chose to destroy: The dining room table was damaged, but not the silver and crystal candlesticks on it. Most of the owners’ collection of pre-Columbian sculpture survived—some furniture did not. The library was not damaged; even the rugs survived the fire, so it is as close to original as any room in the house. All of the furniture in the sitting room off the master bedroom is new except for the couple’s treasured 18th-century linen press.
Since the fire started upstairs in their son’s bedroom, the lower-level family room sustained only minor damage. The art in that space was carried out by firefighters, for whom the homeowner has effusive praise. “They knew exactly what to do, what to save, what we’d want to keep,” she says.
One of the most amazing stories of restoration involves an antique baby grand Steinway piano that the husband had purchased decades ago. The fire damaged its case beyond repair, but somehow the inside workings of the instrument remained intact. The owners were heartbroken at the thought of losing this treasured piece. To their delight, a Steinway representative was able to find a case of the same style and vintage, and to install the piano’s workings in it for the family to enjoy in their new living room.
Eighteen months after the fire, the family moved back into their home. “In the end, it did feel like my home,” the wife says. “Not my old home—but I felt at home.”
Writer Jeanne Blackburn is based in Boyds, Maryland. Bob Narod is a Herndon, Virginia, photographer.
INTERIOR DESIGN: WENDY DANZIGER, Danziger Design, Bethesda, Maryland. KITCHEN DESIGN: DESIGN SOLUTIONS, INC., Herndon, Virginia. ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION: JENKINS RESTORATIONS, Sterling, Virginia.
Design House Chic Nestled in the bucolic Northwest DC neighborhood of Spring Valley, this year’s DC Design House was a classic brick center-hall Colonial built in 1956. Twenty-three area design teams transformed this stately residence into a showcase of 21st century design, both inside and out, using innovation, creativity—and the paints and wall coverings of sponsor Farrow & Ball (with a strong emphasis on shades of gray). In case you missed it, the remarkable results of their efforts are shown on the following pages; proceeds from the month-long event benefited Children’s National Medical Center.
To see before and after photos CLICK HERE.
Kelley Proxmire (Kelley Interior Design) dubbed her room L’Orangerie, and her choice reflects one of her strong suits as a designer: the ability to use color fearlessly. “I’ve always loved color, even as a child,” she says. “It’s second nature to me.” In this room, Proxmire contrasted the orange hues of a Manuel Canovas toile table skirt, linen draperies and upholstery with walls painted in Farrow & Ball Cornforth White (actually pale gray).
John Matthew Moore (John Matthew Moore Fine Art & Home) designed the foyer and reception hall in a traditional style, but sleek gray walls and a striking Mid Century-inspired chandelier by Rick Singleton lent the space a contemporary flair. “When the entrance respects the architecture, the transition from the outside in is smoother,” Moore says. “Here there’s a balance of traditional and modern so the interiors feel at ease with the house itself.”
Blake Dunlevy and Gina Benincasa (D&A Dunlevy Landscapers, Inc.) placed mature arborvitae at either end of the home’s front façade, effectually bookending the design of the front garden. Newer, seasonal plantings flanked the graceful split stairway leading to the main entrance, and azaleas and large containers of flowers added color. Manicured boxwood hedges bordering the front entry provided structure. All year round, textures and shades of green will impart interest to the horticultural design.
Annette Hannon (Annette Hannon Interior Design, Ltd.) defined the parlor with a coffered ceiling and wall moldings, then grouped together comfortable chairs and a settee, which she terms “acquired pieces.” She explains, “These were a driving force of the design. We have four different chair styles and a sofa, one-of-a-kind Swedish chairs (shown) and custom accent pieces.” Hannon expertly balanced the furniture and color palette: Farrow & Ball Stony Ground, Slipper Satin and Light Gray.
The family room by Daniel K. Proctor (Kirk Designs, Inc.) was intended as a multipurpose room, the center of family activity. Architectural panels faux-painted by The Valley Craftsmen concealed a doorway and grounded the seating area. Traditionally styled upholstered pieces were generously sized. A coffee table with pull-out stools served various functions, from dining to card playing. “Comfort does come with style,” says Proctor. “A family can relax in a space that’s aesthetically pleasing.”
Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey (SCW Interiors) designed the dining room as a glamorous but versatile space. Custom banquettes and tea tables occupied the corners of the room, and a console divided the conversation and dining areas and served as a buffet. Upholstery in hues of coral and blue provided an energizing backdrop, and as Cavin-Winfrey says, the distinctive Lewis & Wood marbleized wallpaper on the ceiling “took the space to a whole new level.”
Victoria Sanchez (Victoria Sanchez Interiors) designed the Teenager’s Getaway with her own children’s aesthetic in mind. She tapped Missoni Home to help her create the bold, colorful look she was after, ultimately combining the company’s brightly patterned fabrics on furniture and window treatments with a pouf, striped carpet and a large, globe-shaped fixture—all of which were also by Missoni. Hip, kid-friendly furnishings included a desk for tackling homework and plenty of room to lounge.
A simple back hallway became a destination in itself in the hands of Christopher Boutlier (Boutlier Design, LLC). To emphasize the length of the hall, the designer used the space as an art gallery, showcasing the work of a variety of DC-area artists, including a triptych by Lisa Tureson. “This allowed me to use a space that could have easily been dismissed as a non-space,” he says, “and to make it functional and beautiful.”
In updating the guest bath, Brian VanFleet (BVF Design Consulting) traded old plumbing and lighting for a modern look. Farrow & Ball Down Pipe and Railings—both shades of gray—added drama to a room that deftly combined old and new elements. “Make sure what you keep is in good condition,” VanFleet advises. He recommends artwork that will withstand high humidity. “I put photos printed on aluminum in this bath because they can take the moisture.”
Designed by Nadia Subaran (Aidan Design), the kitchen married classic and modern style. She chose slate gray-painted cabinetry from Wood-Mode and a walnut island, paired with quartzite counters and a white shell mother-of-pearl backsplash that the designer says “feels like great jewelry.” In the breakfast area, a built-in bar area included laminate cabinetry and a hand-carved marble backsplash. “I want kitchens to be living spaces that flow with the surroundings,” Subaran says.
An Oushak rug with punches of indigo and pale citrine provided inspiration for Marika Meyer’s (Marika Meyer Interiors, LLC) morning room. “I fell in love with the palette,” Meyer recalls. She created two conversation areas: one with a round table before a bookcase flanked by wing chairs and another with a tufted settee upholstered in natural linen with vintage bamboo chairs. Floor-to-ceiling drapes in Quadrille linen offered a serene backdrop.
The patio terrace was a two-fold challenge for Stephen Wlodarczyk (Botanical Decorators—Landscape Architecture, Design-Build): to integrate the outdoors with the interiors and to refurbish the plantings around the house. “The bones were there, but there were overgrown trees and mismatched azaleas,” Wlodarczyk says. He and his team constructed a stone fireplace and a flagstone seating area, and fabricated cushions to draw on colors from inside. A metal sculpture on the hill above the seating area added interest.
Carolyn Wilson and Elizabeth Boland (Design in a Day) opted for dramatic black, white and yellow in the second-floor foyer. It was the smallest room in the house, so they removed an adjacent linen closet to enlarge the space, then boldly hung black alligator-stamped wallpaper by Thibaut. “Most people are afraid to go bold, especially in a small space,” says Wilson. “But by using [reflective] wallpaper instead of black paint we kept the space bright.”
In the study, Lorna Gross (Savant Interior Design) created a sophisticated yet cozy retreat. She installed silk window treatments featuring teal Suzani medallions as a focal point, then hung artwork with teal accents to tie it all together. “The drapery and artwork are ‘bookends’ in the room,” she says. An iron sunburst mirror above a tufted velvet sofa reflected light and a sisal carpet was paired with a silk damask rug to convey a lush, welcoming vibe.
Shanon Munn and Amanda Welch (Ambi Design Studio, Inc.) wanted the deck off the master bedroom to feel like an extension of the interior. “We used furnishings that are comfortable and generously scaled,” Munn says, “then added softness through bright pillows, rugs and planters.” Munn designed a “feature wall” of pedestals and benches as a focal point. Art panels adorned the side of the house and draped fabrics created a sense of intimacy.
Sharon Kleinman (Transitions) used the nearby garden as inspiration for the master bedroom. Brown and green fabrics and framed leaf etchings echoed nature, while a mix of modern and antique furnishings appeared to have been acquired over time. Kleinman painted the walls in Farrow & Ball London Clay to convey a cocoon-like ambiance. “People can’t decide if the walls are brown, charcoal gray or purple,” she says. “I call them bittersweet chocolate with an undertone of aubergine.”
The awkward layout of the master sitting room turned out to be a positive, according to Tricia Huntley (Huntley & Co. Interior Design), the room’s designer. “Contending with three entrances drove the decision to put a sofa in the corner,” Huntley says. The curved sofa allowed for traffic flow while also directing visitors toward the carved marble fireplace. Huntley chose Mid-Century furnishings and muted fabrics to “relax the formality of the room and create a casual vibe.”
“Dreams evoke feelings of serenity,” says Wendy Danziger (Danziger Design, LLC), who in her serene guest room chose gray and white bedding embroidered with an Italian quote about dreams. She concealed asymmetrical windows behind a hand-painted, six-panel screen, and removed the door and interior of the closet to create a display niche. Restful shades of gray throughout—the walls were painted in Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone—were punctuated with red and crystal accents.
For the small, third-level bath, Christopher Patrick (Christopher Patrick Interiors, LLC) wanted “to embrace the existing vintage details” while upgrading the space. With the original pinwheel tile floor as inspiration, he covered the walls in The Ranelagh Papers by Farrow & Ball to bring out burgundy accents in the tile. He added classic, white subway tile and a custom vanity with a Carrara marble top. Teak accents abounded, from the shower tray to the medicine cabinet, unifying the space.
Elizabeth Krial (Elizabeth Krial Design, LLC) designed the nursery for a baby girl, “but made it a space that she can grow into,” the designer says. She selected Farrow & Ball Peony and Petal Stripe wall coverings in Churlish Green, then incorporated vibrant pink in the window treatments and fabric around the crib to give the room an unexpected pop. White painted furnishings, light pink poufs and bleached wood floors kept the room bright and cheerful.
In the nursery bath, Allie Mann (Case Design/Remodeling) chose to replace the old pink tile and silver wallpaper with a white color scheme and green accents. The walls were decorated with crisp, vertical white and green stripes in Farrow & Ball Pointing and Green Ground. The shower was clad in white subway tile and the vanities were painted white and topped with marble counters. An old bidet by the window was replaced with a window seat.
Nancy Twomey (Finnian’s Moon Interiors, LLC), who specializes in children’s rooms, devised a calm, cool palette of blues and neutrals in the little boy’s room. She selected a forest theme with a whimsical tree bookcase and window treatments sporting a deer motif. “My favorite touch is the striped legs,” Twomey says of the fully upholstered platform bed that revealed striped legs beneath the linen duvet. The wool rug was “reminiscent of a cable-knit sweater.”
A love of color and pattern contributed to Susan Nelson’s (Susan Nelson Interiors, LLC) vision for the daughter’s bedroom. She chose a faux bamboo daybed as the focal point, topping it with a floral coverlet and patterned pillows. A club chair in a confetti print played off a background of Farrow & Ball Vermicelli wallpaper. A lavender and cream rug covered the floor.
Writer Jeanne Blackburn is based in Montgomery Village, Maryland.