Home & Design

I’m always surprised by how many layers there are to creating a beautiful space that feels warm and inviting,” marvels the owner of a diminutive condo on DC’s 14th Street Corridor. She’s discussing the project that she and her husband recently completed under the auspices of JD Ireland—the fourth in a 14-year collaboration that has also included the couple’s sprawling McLean residence and an apartment in Dublin. 

The DC makeover, a one-bedroom condo, is the latest stop on a journey that began in 2008 when the owners purchased a two-bedroom unit in the same building with the idea of downsizing (they ended up keeping their McLean home as well). When another unit down the hall came on the market in 2019, the couple—he’s in technology and she’s retired from the telecom industry—jumped at it. “It was an incredible opportunity to create a private suite for out-of-town guests,” the wife recounts. “And we love having an independent environment where we can work or relax.”

Odd angles and a concrete ceiling punctuated by exposed ductwork imparted a quirky, industrial-chic vibe—but that’s where the allure of the builder-grade flat ended. “I knew I wanted to demo the interior when we bought the place,” the wife says. “I needed Joe’s talent to design the layout and architectural elements.”

The 835-square-foot apartment opens into a short hall with a spare room to the right. Straight ahead lies the living/dining area, with the kitchen on one side and doors to the bedroom and bathroom on the other. “Everything in the unit was touched,” Ireland relates. “We gutted the space and reimagined it in soft-modern style with industrial flair.” 

He enlisted Winchester for the job, which included moving a wall in the spare room to widen the galley kitchen; installing eight-foot-tall pocket doors in lieu of the standard ones; and adding a wide panel of decorative frosted glass that admits light to the bedroom from the main area. A niche with a built-in bench turned the nondescript entry hall into a charming foyer that hints at sophisticated finishes to come. 

Ireland embraced the off-kilter window wall. Stone-look, ceramic-tile floors are laid at a diagonal and bespoke furniture follows the same irregular lines. The obtrusive ductwork has been upgraded to a custom, flattened-oval shape. “We covered the ceilings and trim in high-gloss paint to bounce as much light as possible through the unit,” says the designer. The color palette complements powder-coated gray aluminum window frames as well as views of the concrete-and-brick cityscape. 

The prefab kitchen got a glam makeover with Premier Custom-Built cabinets in a gleaming, metallic finish; a swirling Fantasy Brown quartzite countertop; and a wall clad in an antiqued-mirror panel over which a bold, colorful painting is showcased. The original kitchen was open to the living/dining area, but glass upper cabinetry now separates the spaces while still letting in light. 

Throughout the home, an opulent, layered sensibility prevails. Innovations grass-cloth wall coverings in purple and gold hues embellish both the living area and bedroom, while the spare room is clad in a tactile Arte wall covering made of banana bark woven with delicate metal wire. Extravagant patterns crop up on pictorial Pierre Frey wallpaper that makes a sumptuous statement in the bathroom and on a playful Hermès pattern that dresses up the niche by the front door. 

In the bedroom, a richly hued tapestry adorns the wall behind a spare Poliform bed; the designer hung a gilt sunburst atop the fabric, creating a dazzling visual moment. He also designed the bedding, which combines luxurious textiles from Misia Paris, Zak+Fox and Jiun Ho to lavish effect. 

Sleek, custom furniture keeps the vibe light and modern. “Almost everything is artisanal or vintage, with some pieces by local artists and craftspeople,” Ireland notes. In the dining area, a banquette of his design, clad in Holly Hunt velvet, is positioned in front of the window wall; its slender legs channel natural light beneath the seat. An asymmetrical table of sand-blasted, bleached walnut with a concrete base, also designed by Ireland, was fabricated by Michael James Furniture. In the adjacent sitting area, a bespoke sofa angles around a coffee table that doubles as art; its hexagonal glass surface displays a verre églomisé treatment by New York artist Miriam Ellner that glimmers with precious metals, iridescent flakes of mica and crushed abalone. 

Exuberant modern artworks share wall space with a carved-wood panel created on commission by artisanal woodworker Caleb Woodard and chic sconces that provide just the right ambiance. 

The owners are thrilled with their second pied à terre. “It’s fantastic,” enthuses the wife. “I knew Joe could elevate the space into something exceptional. I still get goosebumps when I walk through the door.”

Architectural & Interior Design: Joseph Ireland, cofounder, JD Ireland Interior Architecture & Design, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Winchester, Millersville, Maryland. Photo Styling: Mieke Ten Have.



Ceiling & HVAC Paint: Gray Huskie by benjaminmoore.com. Trim Paint: Graystone by benjaminmoore.com. Wall Paint: Athena by benjaminmoore.com. Door Paint: Dragon’s Breath by benjaminmoore.com. Tile Flooring: architessa.com. Track Lighting: waclighting.com.

Banquette: Custom by jdireland.com. Banquette Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com through hinescompany.com. Table Fabrication: Custom design by jdireland.com; michaeljamesfurniture.com. Throw Pillow Fabrics: christopherfarrcloth.com through hollandandsherry.com; Christian Lacroix for designersguild.com through osborneandlittle.com. Leather Bench: kgblnyc.com.

Sofa: Custom by jdireland.com. Sofa Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Coffee Table Glass Top: Custom painted by miriammellner.com; Metal Base: Custom design by jdireland.com, fabricated by michaeljamesfurniture.com. Throw: misia-paris.com. Art over Sofa: calebwoodardfurniture.com. Sculpture: corbinbronze.com through hollyhunt.com. Wall Covering: innovationsusa.com. Sconce: covetlighting.com through Decaso. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Pleated Marble Bowl on Coffee Table: cb2.com.

Cabinetry: premiercb.com. Backsplash: architessa.com. Countertop: caesarstoneus.com. Art over Mirrored Wall: austin-eddy.com. Mirrored Wall Fabrication: spancraft.com.

Murphy Bed & Coffee Table: resourcefurniture.com. Toss Pillow Fabric: romo.com. Wallpaper: arte-international.com, install by Michael DiGuiseppe. Bookscape on Coffee Table: treyjonesstudio.com.

Wallpaper: dedar.com, install by Michael DiGuiseppe. Wallpaper Trim: samuelandsons.com. Bench Fabric: elitis.fr. Hooks: stillfried.com. Umbrella Stand: vintage.

Nightstands: 1stdibs.com. Round Vase on Nightstand: treyjonesstudio.com. Rug: kaleen.com through georgetowncarpet.com. Tapestry: Custom by jdireland.com. Tapestry Fabric: carletonvltd.com through hollyhunt.com. Tapestry Trim: metaphores.com through kravet.com. Tapestry over Headboard: osborneandlittle.com. Sunburst: William Bowie. Sconces: arteriorshome.com. Bedding: Custom by jdireland.com. Bolster Fabric: misia-paris.com through michaelclearyllc.com. Coverlet & Sham Fabric: zakandfox.com through hollyhunt.com; samuelandsons.com through hinescompany.com. Throw Fabric: jiunho.com through hollandandsherry.com. Sculpture: edwardmeyrowitz.com through danajohn.com. Ceramic Mirrors: mattrepsher.com through cultureobject.com. Wall Art: alicecisternino.com through transformerdc.org.

Wallpaper: pierrefrey.com through hinescompany.com; samuelandsons.com through hinescompany.com. Sconces: arteriorshome.com. Shower Wall Tile: architessa.com. Shower Floor Tile: annsacks.com. Closet Fabrication: econizeclosets.com.


Gothic doors imported from an Argentine castle greeted a house-hunting couple when they first beheld a 15,000-square-foot stone mansion on five scenic acres in Great Falls, Virginia. Designed in 2005 by DC architect Igor Oshurkov and built by BOWA, the five-bedroom, 10-bath home was chockful of unusual architectural features, from Tiffany stained-glass elements to wall panels salvaged from a Glasgow church. 

“We loved its uniqueness, and while many finishes weren’t our style, we thought we could make changes and preserve the home’s quirkiness in a way that felt more like us,” recounts the wife, a photographer. She and her software-engineer husband took the plunge, then turned to designer Ann Gottlieb for help realizing their vision. “We’re big fans of dark and moody spaces with some weight to them—not light and airy,” the photographer explains.

Gottlieb embraced the challenge, which included revamping the great room and primary suite as well as making smaller fixes throughout the house. Says the designer, “We reflected the owners’ quirky vision—but with a livable-modern twist.”

Describe your clients’ vision and how you achieved it.
They requested a “Spanish-Revival-meets-Gothic” aesthetic—and those terms were my springboard. I used to work at Gensler on commercial projects, and part of my job was researching architectural eras for historical restorations. For this project, I researched Gothic and ancient and modern Spanish architecture to understand exactly what they wanted. 

How did the owners determine which architectural elements to keep?
A lot of elements were interesting but not relatable to them; the stained glass, for instance, depicted violent scenes they didn’t want their young son to see. But they kept antique Chinese pocket doors separating the great room from an adjacent lounge, and hand-carved wall panels in the gallery, among other features. 

What alterations took place in the great room?
We replaced a massive limestone fireplace with one of more livable proportions. The new fireplace has a sculptural stucco surround with soft edges—a nod to Spanish Revival. The insert is made of dark, marble-look Dekton, a favorite finish of mine. Ceiling beams were reinstalled to accommodate a new lighting plan and we stained the ceiling dark. 

At 16-by-30 feet, the great room is huge. How did you make it feel intimate?
All the tones in the room are on the warmer side to keep them inviting and comfortable. And I made sure to maintain a human scale in my design. For instance, I was dead set on sizing the mantel so you’re not craning your neck to watch TV above it. A mix of soft textures and metals balances the room.

How did you introduce Gothic influences?
Largely through lighting, which is modern with a dark, ornate edge. An example is the gold-leaf Corbett Theory chandelier in the great room. We also chose a massive Hubbardton Forge chandelier with a Gothic feel for the foyer. Lighting was a major factor in the design concept; we went big to fit the size of the rooms.

Explain how lighting improves a space.
Lighting provides mood, drama and contrast. Without it, even beautiful finishes can look bad. And you need to be able to set the scene for the time of day and what you’re doing. Residential lighting should be cozy and warm, never above 3000 on the Kelvin scale. All lights should be on dimmers. 

Discuss how the powder room evolved.
I originally came up with a pretty scheme based on soothing wallpaper. When I presented it to my clients, they said, “we need something darker.” It felt a bit like a challenge—so I came back with a stack of the scariest wallpaper samples I could find. They picked a Clarke & Clarke paper I found locally at Kravet with a motif of a gorilla in the form of a skeleton. 

Outline changes to the main bath.
We combined adjacent full and half baths to enlarge the primary bath, now clad in deep blue-gray Zellige tiles. Quartz countertops on a custom vanity are folded down in front to convey the appearance of a thick concrete slab. Inside the shower, a bench of the same material makes it a kid-friendly space. Gold cabinet pulls were installed sideways, which added a kind of wacky interest. These clients were open and willing to think outside the box. 

Characterize the vibe in the primary bedroom.
The owners wanted a calm, soothing place where they could relax and chill out. We selected Wish, an atmospheric, textured mural wall covering by Phillip Jeffries. They requested a super-tall headboard and I found what they wanted at RH. We loved the Arteriors sconces with tassels on them.

Do you prefer residential over commercial design?
Yes, I find the clients are often more creative. My inner crazy is better satisfied with residential design!

What inspires you at the start of a project?
I put together fabrics that help me think about color, texture and pattern, even if I don’t end up using them. How I build finishes is what informs my choice of other elements.

Favorite item you own?
I like Scandinavian furniture with fur on it. In my bedroom, I have the &Tradition Little Petra chair covered in sheepskin. It makes me feel happy.

Current trend you embrace?
I will always try to put mid-century classics into my projects—Knoll, Carl Hansen. These are investment pieces that will be cool 200 years from now. 

Go-to local shopping spot for home goods?
Vivid Chill in Great Falls and Mosaic District. Furniture From Scandinavia, Merrifield Garden Center. I like to collect for shoots and give my finds to the clients afterwards.

Renovation Architecture & Interior Design: Ann Gottlieb, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, Ann Gottlieb Design, PLLC, Fairfax, Virginia. Contractor: Luxor Improvements, Fort Washington, Maryland. Styling: Kristi Hunter.

The minimalist CUCINAnD’O kitchen system was named for the Milanese restaurant D’O and designed by its renowned chef, Davide Oldani, for ARAN Cucine. Sustainably fabricated surfaces of black aluminum, stainless steel and elm wood are a backdrop for an energy-efficient induction cooktop, streamlined storage and expansive workspaces. arancucine.it/en

The Fisher & Paykel Column bottom-mount refrigerator/freezer optimizes food storage and preservation. Patented ActiveSmart technology maintains temperatures within two degrees, while Variable Temperature Zone technology creates two temperature zones and three adjustable food modes. Available in 24- and 30-inch widths. fisherpaykel.com 

Sub-Zero’s 24-inch-wide, under-counter refrigerator is small but mighty, storing large items with ease on adjustable shelving. Features include an ergonomic, on-door touch panel; LED lighting; and precise temperature control via smart device. Pictured: A paneled fridge tucks inside a hutch. subzero-wolf.com

L’Atelier Paris—the French maker whose luxe custom kitchens include everything from faucets and sinks to bespoke ranges and made-to-order cabinetry—introduces L’Avignon. The transitionally styled kitchen pictured here boasts dark-stained wood and a 78-inch-wide Le Provençal range. leatelierparis.com

Italian brand Snaidero has debuted Elementi, a minimalist line of cabinetry distinguished by its Groove door—designed with a slanted upper edge instead of handles. Cabinet finishes include textured aluminum, ceramic, glass and wood veneer. Available locally at Snaidero DC Metro. snaiderodcmetro.com

Griffith, a stylish new collection of cabinet hardware from Atlas Homewares, embellishes a contemporary silhouette with rounded edges and subtle, banded detailing. Find knobs and variously sized pulls in six finishes; pictured in Warm Brass. atlashomewares.com 

Artistic Tile elevates the checkerboard-floor trend with elegant stone combinations in pale hues. Pictured here: Squares of swirling gray-green Bardiglio Imperiale marble and Bianco Carrara marble conjure a fresh yet classic feel in a traditional kitchen. artistictile.com
—Julie Sanders

Italian brand Tomasella has debuted Pratico, part of its Liberty Walk-in Closet series. The system of accessorized wall panels features hanging drawer units, shoe and trouser racks and more. A matte- or lacquered-metal structure in Anthracite or Chalk White supports LED-lit wood shelving. tomasella.it/en

California Closets has teamed with Martha Stewart on a versatile modular organizational system. Pictured above, the wall-mounted Everyday System 4ft Home Office boasts an adjustable-height desktop and shelving. Find in a variety of finishes. shopcaliforniaclosets.com

The Tailored Closet outfits existing closets with wall-mounted and floor-standing units (the latter is pictured) featuring adjustable shelving, tilt- and pull-out storage, baskets, rods and more. A choice of finishes, cabinet styles and hardware is available. tailoredcloset.com

The humble garage gets a custom makeover with Garage Living, a company that provides and installs an array of storage systems in powder-coated metal. Products range from flooring and cabinetry to wall panels and car lifts. go.garageliving.com

Premier Garage’s customized floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and vertical wall-organizing systems feature a selection of styles, finishes and hardware. Additional options include overhead storage that can be controlled via smart device and epoxy or flexible-tile flooring. premiergarage.com 

Scavolini’s modular Fluida wardrobes may be configured for large and small spaces. Coordinating accessories include shelves; racks for clothes, trousers and shoes; drawers; pull-out trays; laundry receptacles and more. Find in an assortment of materials and finishes. scavolini.it

The Wharf, Southwest DC’s popular and picturesque destination on the Potomac, recently welcomed a new addition: Pendry Washington DC—The Wharf. The 131-room waterfront hotel is part of a 385,000-square-foot, mixed-use enclave that also encompasses 255 apartment units; the hotel and residences sit atop extensive retail space. 

New York-based architecture firm ODA conceived the project, known as The Wharf Parcel 8. Massed in the shape of a U, the structure comprises the hotel (pictured above) on one side with the apartments contained on the other. “We decided the hotel rooms would benefit from clear, unobstructed views of the water, while the residential units would be better suited to private outdoor spaces,” explains Eran Chen, ODA’s principal-in-charge on the project. “So the residential wing steps back and the hotel is pushed forward, creating a harmonious give and take.” 

Glass and metal clad the hotel while wood-stamped aluminum accents “warm and connect it to its natural context,” Chen notes. Courtyards inspired by those found in old European cities promote a strong indoor-outdoor connection; one at street level spills out to a shaded plaza and a boardwalk while another on the second floor is open to residents and hotel guests. 

The hotel cantilevers above the courtyards to facilitate water views from every guest room. This design creates more usable rooftop space for Moonraker, the hotel’s Japanese-inspired restaurant. The Pendry is also home to a Latin eatery called Flora Flora, the intimate Bar Pendry and a full-service spa. pendry.com/washington-dc

Architecture & Architect of Record: Eran Chen, AIA, founder and executive director, ODA, New York, New York. Interior Design: DesignAgency, Washington, DC. Contractor: Donohoe, Washington, DC.  

While reimagining the primary suite in a McLean home, Bowers Design Build paid special attention to the owners’ cramped and dysfunctional shared closet, as his-and-her wardrobes were at the top of the wish list. “The home had enough space for everything,” avers principal Wilma Bowers, “but it wasn’t configured in a way that met the clients’ lifestyle.” A little-used sitting room was a disorganized dumping ground; adding a wall and shifting the door location allowed the design team to repurpose it as a walk-in closet for the wife. The existing one—stylishly revamped—became the husband’s wardrobe. Bowers tapped California Closets to design and orchestrate both closets’ storage systems. Custom built-ins feature easy-access shelving, drawers, rods and glass-front maple cabinets. A blue-and-white-palette enhances the wife’s domain, while his cabinets are stained dark gray. Both sport center islands with quartz countertops along with traditional crown moldings and trim. Eye-catching chandeliers lend pizzazz.

Renovation Design & Contracting: Bowers Design Build, McLean, Virginia. Closet Design & Cabinetry: California Closets, Washington, DC, and Chantilly, Virginia. 

Metallics, embossed effects, mica and other materials embellish Momentum textural wall coverings by Harlequin. Eight new designs include geometrics in bold colorways. Pictured above: a sampling from the collection. harlequin.sandersondesigngroup.com

Pieces of handwoven abaca inlaid with delicate bias-cut metal are assembled to create Staccato-Abaca, a tonal geometric pattern by Scalamandré. Available in Heron (pictured above) and Caramel. scalamandre.com

Holly Hunt’s Ponti wall covering pays homage to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry), an Indian city famous for its vibrant rugs and fabrics. A tight pattern of multi-colored horizontal stripes resembling woven textiles achieves the look. hollyhunt.com

Designed by David Rockwell for Maya Romanoff, Porto Elo wall covering conjures interwoven chain link on a surface made of sustainably harvested, hand-inlaid cork atop metallic foil. Find in nine color combinations; Bacchus Blue is pictured above. mayaromanoff.com

Cork meets wood veneer in Cosmic Cork, a handcrafted wall covering by Phillip Jeffries that evokes a starry, three-dimensional collage atop a metallic, colored ground. Offered in six colorways. phillipjeffries.com

On the market for a waterfront vacation home, designer Diane Hemmersbaugh and her husband discovered a 1974 cottage overlooking Mill Creek on Solomons Island. They purchased the Maryland property, embarking on an update that would lean into that scenic water vista. An existing covered deck off the back got an overhaul that replaced a disability ramp with a stair leading directly from the porch to the yard and dock beyond. The designer retained the wood decking and cable railings that don’t obscure the view, then painted the woodwork crisp white. A teak dining table and metal chairs convey a casually elegant vibe; cozy rattan seating is enlivened by Sunbrella fabric.

“The covered deck is one of the unexpected pleasures of this house,” says Hemmersbaugh. “We truly spend most of the day there, starting with coffee and including happy hour and dinner. It’s beautiful to watch the changing light on the water throughout the day and into the evening.”

Renovation Contractor: Salazar Construction, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Diane Hemmersbaugh, Theo & Co. Design, Potomac, Maryland.

While designing a modern abode on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Purple Cherry Architects focused on a specific mandate: to dream up a luxe primary bath that would reflect the home’s contemporary aesthetic. The owners wanted privacy, a strong connection to nature—and to be able to enjoy the expansive bay vista while luxuriating in a freestanding soaking tub.

“The primary bath resides in the farthest right corner of the home,” explains principal Cathy Purple Cherry. “By placing the tub strategically between perpendicular walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, we were able to capture views of both the water and the woodlands.”

Contemporary design elements impart a sleek, uncluttered vibe. Walls and ceiling with minimal flat trim are a backdrop for floating vanities and a frameless glass shower with a flush threshold. Windows by Weather Shield overlook a small patio on one side, accessible from the adjacent primary bedroom; mechanical shades can be lowered over both window walls for privacy.

Architecture & Bath Design: Cathy Purple Cherry, AIA, Leed AP, CAS, Annapolis, Maryland. Builder: Ilex Construction, Easton, Maryland.

About 20 years after designing a family room/kitchen addition to a 1930 Colonial-style home on the Magothy River in Annapolis, Hammond Wilson was asked to return. This time around, new owners had a more comprehensive mandate: to replace a one-story, 1970s-era addition housing the owners’ suite with a two-and-a-half-story side addition encompassing a living room, dining room and butler’s pantry on the ground level; a bedroom and owners’ suite above; and an additional bedroom on the third floor. “The previous addition didn’t fit the original home and didn’t take advantage of the property’s potential,” says project architect Sandie Martino. “The clients wanted it to better suit their family’s needs.” Ultimately, the project expanded to include renovations to the main home as well.

Embracing its traditional aesthetic, principal Leo Wilson and Martino devised a 3,120-square-foot addition; the living room spills out to a side porch that enjoys panoramic water views. The existing kitchen was updated in bright, airy style. Under the auspices of McHale Landscape Design, a swimming pool, oddly sited in front of the house, was filled in and a new one installed near the kitchen; a gabled pool house, designed to complement the architecture of the main residence, stands at one end. The pool house is attached to a new three-car garage, housed in a barn-like volume.

Renovation Architecture: Leo Wilson, AIA, principal; Sandie P. Martino, project architect, Hammond Wilson, Annapolis, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Gate One Builders, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: McHale Landscape Design, Upper Marlborough, Maryland.

Handcrafted of sand, cement and fiberglass, RH’s light-weight, concrete-look Salento Rectangular Fire Table perches atop recessed stainless-steel risers. It burns natural gas or propane with adjustable flame control. The base is available in Gray and Onyx (pictured above). rh.com

The sculptural Plodes Petal Firepit from Design Within Reach conjures a blossom made of Corten steel. Designed to burn seasoned wood or charcoal, the vessel also comes in two rectangular sizes with a steel grate top. dwr.com

Castelle’s waterproof aluminum 42-inch Round Firepit doubles as a dining table. Powered by liquid propane, it’s available in 20 finishes. Find at area Offenbachers Home Escapes locations. castellefurniture.com; offenbachers.com

Endless Summer’s Donovan Outdoor LP Gas Fire Pit warms guests from head to toe. Its gas-fueled fire element sits atop an infrared patio heater. A table insert allows for al fresco dining. endlesssummerheat.com

A series of 16 new Forever stamps honors the National Marine Sanctuary System. They depict coral reefs, fish, otters, seabirds—and, memorably, the skeleton of a derelict ship. It rises out of Mallows Bay, across from Quantico on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The haunting image was captured by local photographer/fisherman Peter Turcik (above, on Little Blackwater River). He learned about more than 100 such decaying vessels, scuttled during World War I, while on assignment for the Chesapeake Conservancy.

Eventually, the ships—dubbed the Ghost Fleet—evolved into artificial reefs that protect fish, birds, turtles and other species. And in 2019, the former ships’ graveyard was designated a national marine sanctuary.

When shooting his photo of Mallows Bay, “I laid down flat in my kayak to get close to the water,” Turcik recalls. “The angle made the ship look quite tall and proud.”

It all began with a spec house in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In 2007, a couple with two kids purchased the Craftsman-style abode while it was still under construction, tapping designer Skip Sroka to help them upgrade and customize the interiors.

Fast forward to 2017. The owners—he’s in healthcare finance and she’s a retired CPA—were ready for a change. “We wanted to modernize, to relieve some of that Craftsman heaviness,” the wife relates. They turned to Sroka again and he, along with colleague Liz Bausch, formulated a plan for contemporizing the home—both inside and out. The exterior now boasts a clean-lined farmhouse aesthetic while a light color palette, simplified millwork and sleek, sophisticated details and finishes prevail in the interiors.

“It’s an ‘urban sophisticate’ aesthetic,” says Sroka. “Glam chic, but understated.” On the following pages, the designer reveals the process behind the décor.



What elements did you retain from the home’s previous iteration and why?
We bought much of the art during the first renovation and it has transcended both redos. It’s modern and goes with everything. In fact, we redesigned the fireplace in the living room to accommodate a canvas by Johnnie Winona Ross that the clients love.

How did minimizing millwork and moldings impact the interior spaces?
It really lightened them. The woodwork was extensive and heavy—in the living room, for example, there were nine ceiling coffers. Now, it’s a simple cove ceiling with concealed lighting that’s a nice surprise. We also altered the size of the moldings between rooms and eliminated some built-ins in favor of custom pieces.

How did the color scheme evolve?
We weren’t looking to make the house a definitive color. We just wanted a neutral background, which tends to be more modern anyway. We gravitated to soft, warm grays that would showcase the art. I had installed dark-stained, rift-cut oak floors the first time around, so we lightened them to a pale hue.

Overscaled lighting plays a big role here. How did you make your selections?
Because we had reduced all the moldings and taken things away, we now needed architectural focal points. I chose the lighting so you’d notice it, to give extra dimension to each room. For instance, the Visual Comfort fixtures in the hallway are meant to lead you to the living room.

Describe the kitchen alterations.
Working with Lobkovich, Inc., we remodeled the whole kitchen. We framed sections of the white cabinetry with cerused, ebonized mahogany to create focal points. In an all-white kitchen, this is a tool you can use to add interest. Oversized Tech Lighting island pendants also catch the eye.

Share your methods for enlivening a neutral space.
I lean into textures and finishes, such as the hair-on-hide rug and wood-look wallpaper by Elitis in the dining room, or the Phillip Jeffries wall covering in a herringbone pattern that I put up on the living room ceiling.

Explain your furniture-selection process.
I never think my job is to just install furniture. It’s about adding that extra level of creativity that elevates a space. For instance, I repeated the herringbone ceiling surface on the doors of two custom cabinets in the living room and trimmed them with satin-brass edging. You have to notice the details.

How do accessories elevate a space?
Accessories offer points of interest that keep a room from feeling staid. We bring in a lot of items and see what clients respond to.

What changed in the upstairs spaces?
Each bedroom got a makeover and its own bath. The owners’ bedroom, which used to have a lot of wasted space, has been reconfigured to allow for two closets. In the owners’ bath, we built a niche to fit a Waterworks soaking tub, with beautiful carved marble tile behind it. They enhance each other.

Current favored finish?
Brushed bronze. I apply it to table legs, edges, cabinetry—anywhere I want to add a soft sheen.

Rule of thumb for using textures and finishes?
I try not to do the expected thing, but I’m also careful not to overdo it. If I have a strong pattern that looks amazing on a sofa, I won’t put it on more than one piece. I also don’t want a room that looks uniform, like a furniture store.

What style is coming back?
I think the ’70s are making a comeback. I love ’70s style—it mixes well with mid-century, which is so popular, and there’s a little glam to it. I’m seeing recycled pieces made from plexiglass and metal on 1stDibs.

Design pet peeve?
People who follow trends too much. I see it with HGTV hosts all the time. They think something is the new rule and they apply it indiscriminately whether it fits a house or not. Farmhouse modern interiors are a good example.

How does this house reflect your design philosophy?
Interior design is much like making a painting when you might ask, “What is it I want to see? What do I want to feel?” My interiors tend to be warm, calm and inviting. I create the house you want to come home to, to recharge your batteries in. Imagine taking a bath in the tub upstairs! Perfect.


Renovation & Interior Design: Skip Sroka, ASID, NCIDQ, IDAA, principal; Elizabeth Bausch, project designer, Sroka Design, Inc., Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Alliance Builders, LLC, Annapolis, Maryland. Kitchen Design: Lobkovich, Inc., Tysons, Virginia. Home Automation: A.B.E. Networks, Rockville, Maryland.

While building a modern dwelling in McLean, Peterson and Collins builders answered a call for a second-floor home office—”a sanctuary,” says founding partner Ted Peterson. The team fabricated bookshelves that mimic the grid of the room’s expansive window wall. “We’re seeing home offices big enough for an L-shaped desk with a couple of monitors, or a statement desk in the middle of the room,” he observes. “It’s a social environment; everything is clean and uncluttered.” Architecture: Thomson & Cooke Architects. Interior Design: M.S. Vicas Interiors.

A wine cellar crafted by Artisan Builders for a 2020 show house in McLean was elevated by a modern aesthetic and innovative storage design. “The bottles were stacked on metal spikes that gave the impression of wall art,” recalls Stephen Yeonas, a partner at Artisan. “It was a forward concept by designer Olvia Demetriou to illustrate both function and visual display.” Other common requests he hears from oenophile clients, he adds, are “proper conditioning and a bit of sizzle.” Architecture: Harrison Design. Interior Design: HapstakDemetriou+.

Most high-end custom homes today incorporate connected and covered outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed all year round, according to Chris Neumann of Bayview Builders. The company recently completed a modern, eco-friendly home on the Magothy River in Arnold, Maryland, enveloped in floor-to-ceiling glass. Pictured here, a five-panel, 10-foot-tall sliding-door system opens out from the kitchen to a screened porch. “Heaters,” says Neumann, “help extend livability into multiple seasons.” Architecture: Bohl Architects. Interior Design: Don Wooters.

A golf simulator was just one sports amenity Pyramid Builders recently integrated on the lower level of a custom abode in Annapolis—along with a shuffleboard court and indoor resistance pool. “The client wanted the golf zone to be social, with a bar nearby for watching games,” relates Pyramid president Bret Anderson. “The home-fitness trend reflects a desire to incorporate true entertainment into the design and details of a home.” Architecture: Patrick D. Jarosinski & Associates. Interior Design: Christy Brown Interior Design.

Horizon Builders delivered on character when constructing a potting shed as part of a comprehensive McLean project. Cedar shingles, a slate roof and charming window details reflect the main house—with a dose of playful color. “Outbuildings are no longer an afterthought but an extension of the main home and a way for clients to express themselves,” says Horizon vice president Brad Pryor. These satellite structures, he notes, are often devoted to offices, gyms, guest quarters and more. Architecture: Harrison Design. Landscape Architecture: Arentz Landscape Architects LLC.

A Chevy Chase couple with a charming, 1925 Sears kit house tapped BarnesVanze Architects and Alliance Builders for a whole-house remodel. Towards the end of the process, they enlisted designer Sarita Simpson of Interior Matter to work her magic on the interiors—which included what had been a screened porch. “It was finished out and turned into a year-round room,” Simpson relates. “The owners wanted a cozy space for reading and playing games with their kids.”

Simpson was tasked with outfitting the completed space. Working with Centerline Design Build, she added a built-in banquette and designed a combination of shelving and photo ledges around a brick chimney wall (the fireplace faces the adjacent living room). Atop a custom Missoni rug, Lee Industries armchairs, an Arhaus game table and RH chairs beckon. Hunter Douglas Roman shades provide privacy.

Renovation Architecture: BarnesVanze Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Sarita Simpson, Interior Matter, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Alliance Builders, Annapolis, Maryland.

Marriott’s international headquarters and adjacent flagship hotel are the latest additions to the changing Bethesda cityscape, anchoring—and energizing—the Woodmont Triangle neighborhood. Designed in sleek style by Gensler, the buildings are linked via a pedestrian plaza. “The vision was a modern, urban campus that communicates hospitality and openness to the community,” relates Jordan Goldstein, Gensler’s co-firm managing principal.

The headquarters measures 21 stories and 785,000 square feet. An organic material palette of white oak and stone creates warmth, while expanses of glass promote transparency. In the lobby (pictured), a 20-foot-tall, 64-foot-wide work of digital art wraps around the elevator bay, displaying ultra-high-resolution video imagery of far-flung destinations that is visible from the street. Over the front desk, a monumental light installation designed by Gensler plays off the idea of travel with a form inspired by topographic lines. A floating terrazzo staircase with integrated seating anchors a three-story atrium. Spaces for innovation include a test kitchen and beverage bar.

Next door, the hotel stands 12 stories, with 244 rooms, 8,000 square feet of meeting space and 13 model hotel rooms for testing new concepts and amenities. Within the two buildings, gathering spots include a rooftop hotel bar and a 7,600-square-foot outdoor garden on the headquarters’ 20th floor. Both buildings are LEED Gold certified.

Architecture: Jordan Goldstein, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED AP, principal in charge, Gensler, Washington, DC. Project Manager: JLL,
Washington DC. Architectural Contractor: Hensel Phelps, Tysons, Virginia. Interior Construction: Rand Construction, Alexandria, Virginia.

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