Home & Design

Snowy white textiles, collectible art and carefully curated antiques don’t usually mix with the patter of little feet, but in this Bethesda home the elegant setting doesn’t hinder playtime one bit. Quite the opposite: In the library, the smooth curves of a sculpture by Stephanie Bachiero have become an unexpected jungle gym for two youngsters-in-residence. “No surface was so precious as to be off-limits,” says interior designer Darryl Carter. “The children have full run of the house, so the predominant goal was to create an environment that was kid-friendly.”

The owners, two busy professionals, called on Carter and architect Donald Lococo when it was time to renovate their builder-grade abode. Years earlier, the design duo had remodeled the wife’s parents’ house to much acclaim and the couple hoped to recreate that magic in their own home. They teamed with Horizon Builders, the firm that had collaborated on the previous remodel as well. “They wanted to reassemble the dream team,” jokes Lococo.

Frequent partners in design, Lococo and Carter are both renowned for their aesthetic restraint and their ability to synthesize classical architectural motifs and modern elements—an approach that proved useful for this project. Built in 1965, the 13,216-square-foot manse has a sprawling layout featuring a central hall entry flanked by the library and the dining room; the kitchen is on the opposite side of the dining area. Seven bedrooms are spread over three levels, with most situated on the second floor.

An exaggerated French façade was exemplified by overly ornamental limestone details and an oeil-de-boeuf window. To refine the exterior, Lococo streamlined the limestone trim and swapped out the ovoid window for something more understated. He then skimmed the brick with a creamy, stucco-like finish that “allows the brick to ghost through so you see its texture but not its color,” he says. Steel-framed windows and doors replaced the old ones to give the home a more European flavor. “Darryl suggested the house skewed Belgian modern, and that spearheaded the direction of the details,” Lococo explains.

“What Donald did was return the house to a purer state,” Carter adds. “Doing away with some of the decorative elements lends it a more modern sensibility.”

A similar mindset prevailed inside, where Lococo and Carter embraced the existing segmental arch openings throughout the home but nixed many of the interior’s fussier flourishes. Out went elaborate fireplace mantels in favor of sleek stone surrounds, and overdone crown molding was replaced by inset ceiling trim that evokes artisanal plasterwork of yore, but rendered in a fresh way. Walls received a mottled finish that lends a sense of age but still feels contemporary. “The thought was to elevate the interior trim details by reducing them,” observes Lococo. “I think the success lay in making the interior architecture traditional but questioning those details that we see time and time again.”

One exception was the primary bedroom, where embellishments were added: Lococo raised the ceiling to create a barrel vault which subtly echoes the segmental arches that appear throughout the home. “That arc helps transition from the public spaces to the most private and brings cohesiveness,” he says.

To further unify the rooms, Carter finished the oak floors in a blond hue that established a quiet ground for layering furnishings and art. “We had a shared design language and sense of palette,” he says of himself and the clients. “I am prone to environments that are relatively neutral, but I always like to use a splash of color in the art.” Here, he chose a bold saffron painting that unfolds like origami over three walls of the dining room. Other notable pieces include artworks by Edward Finnegan and Purvis Young, as well as a wide range of heirloom furnishings. “When you bring antiques into a more modern setting, their patina alone makes the environment more tactile and approachable,” the designer notes.

Alongside such rarefied finds, Carter incorporated durable indoor-outdoor fabrics throughout the home to stand up to the kids’ wear and tear. And to ensure there would be places to stash toys, snacks and other necessities, Lococo hid storage in plain sight: The living room paneling conceals built-ins and the primary suite features a wall of stealth drawers. In the kitchen, cabinets were so cleverly concealed as paneling that the wife called Lococo after moving in, panicked that there wasn’t enough storage. The architect showed up and started pulling open hidden drawers.

More visual sleight of hand occurred outside in the form of a living sculptural element. Landscape architect Jennifer Horn created a courtyard terrace of reclaimed French limestone selected by Carter, then planted four mature hornbeam trees that appear to burst forth from the stone, which actually cantilevers above the soil. Horn also leveled out the sloped lot and relocated the swimming pool to improve its sight lines. At the property’s edge, she devised a wall cloaked by a row of arborvitae to frame the woods beyond the house. “We really wanted to distill the landscape down to its purest elements: water, grass, trees, stone,” says Horn. “I think that’s in accordance with what Donald and Darryl were doing with the house.”

With that kind of synchronicity among the design team, it’s no wonder the collaboration rendered such harmonious results. Lococo and Carter have often said they’re so in tune that they finish one another’s sentences. “When we work together it’s a very fluid process, like there’s one brain doing it,” avers Lococo.

Carter concurs. “It’s great to work with an architect who shares a similar sensibility because it makes the collaboration a lot easier. It’s to the betterment of the project at large.”

Renovation Architecture: Donald Lococo, AIA, NCARB, Donald Lococo Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Darryl Carter, Darryl Carter, Inc., Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Horizon Builders, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: Jennifer Horn, RLA, Horn & Co. Landscape Architecture, Arlington, Virginia. Home Automation: A.B.E. Networks, Rockville, Maryland.


Sofa & Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Wood-Framed Chairs: newel.com. Wood-Framed Chair Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Coffee Table: Custom through darrylcarter.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Sculpture: Stephanie Bachiero through peterblakegallery.com. Music Stand & Clawfoot Stool: 1stdibs.com.

Console: Custom by darrylcarter.com. Sculpture: Senufo through trocadero.com. Artwork: Edward Finnegan. Floor Runner: dorisleslieblau.com. Stair Runner: starkcarpet.com. Stair Railing: donaldlococoarchitects.com. Ceiling Fixtures: vaughandesigns.com.

Ceiling Fixture: illuminc.com. Table & Chairs: Custom through darrylcarter.com. Chair Fabric: brentanofabrics.com through hollyhunt.com. Drapery: metaphors.com. Artwork: Custom through darrylcarter.com.

Cabinetry: donaldlococoarchitects.com. Backsplash, Countertop & Island: caesarstoneus.com. Faucet: jaclo.com. Island Lighting: illuminc.com.

Bedstead & Bedding: Custom through darrylcarter.com. Table Lamps: shop.thedpages.com. Reading Lights on Wall: illuminc.com. Overhead Lighting: remains.com. Pedestal Table & Chest: 1stdibs.com. Art in Window: Purvis Young. Rug: starkcarpet.com.

Clawfoot Tub: kohler.com. Ceiling Fixture, Mirror & Foot Stool: 1stdibs.com. Tub Filler: newportbrass.com.

Wall Lanterns: vintage. Yellow Sculpture: donaldlococoarchitects.com. Chaise Lounges: knoll.com.





It’s often the natural order of events for empty nesters to jettison a larger family home for a smaller, more manageable roost when the kids go to college. Not so for one Charlottesville couple. “Most people at this stage shrink their footprint,” the wife acknowledges. “We went in the opposite direction—we want to draw them back with their families someday.”

For the pair—he’s a biotech investor and she’s a retired investment banker—staying put in their Blue Springs Farm neighborhood was key, as they loved their home’s breathtaking setting. The lot, a 26-acre parcel cocooned by the forest on one side and wide-open vistas of the Ragged Mountains on the other, offers beauty in every direction. “At night, the lights on the mountain houses twinkle and you can see weather patterns as they’re approaching,” enthuses the wife. “Plus, our kids grew up here and played in those woods, so we have a lot of memories.”

As their three boys grew into teenagers, however, the couple started to feel the limitations of their 1990s-era residence. “We noticed that we were lacking separate spaces for everybody,” the wife says. “When the kids had friends over, we would lose our main living area.”

She and her husband embarked on a renovation helmed by Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects with an assist by contractor John Diven of Shelter Associates Ltd. But the project’s scope quickly shifted. “After we started the preliminary demo, we found there were major structural issues that couldn’t be resolved,” recalls project architect Mark Bittle. There was only one logical solution: Raze the house and start from the ground up. The new structure could be better oriented to its site, and could draw on a style that would resonate more deeply with the owners, whose tastes skew less traditional.

Loosely inspired by the region’s historical Georgian vernacular, the design is an exercise in symmetry and proportion, channeled through a contemporary lens. Says architect Roger Birle, “It’s a nice marriage between classic composition and modern materials and aesthetics.”

The completed, 14,000-square-foot abode effortlessly harmonizes with its site. By transposing the orientation of the previous home’s front façade, the architects created a more intimate arrival on the forest-facing side of the property while the rear takes in the majestic mountain range. Organized around a central mass and flanked by wings, the plan’s H-shaped layout accommodates the main living spaces and primary suite on the first level while four bedrooms, each with an adjacent bath, take up the second floor. The lower level boasts a home theater, gym, golf simulator and, for future grandchildren, a playroom accessed via its own secret door under the basement stairs.

Because the family loves to entertain and spend time outside, bringing nature in via seamless indoor-outdoor connections was paramount. The front entry yields a clear sightline to the rear yard and the views beyond. Nearly every room at the back of the house offers easy access to the pool, patios and a courtyard where a glass orb by artist Allison Armour serves as a focal point. These exterior spaces were shaped by landscape architecture firm Waterstreet Studio, which implemented a contemporary scheme using native plants.

Inside the home, European oak floors and a neutral material palette promote an aura of calm. The fact that the interiors possess the soothing vibe of a modern boutique hotel is by design: “My husband and I worked in Manhattan in the 1990s when W Hotels were new to the scene,” reveals the wife, who took on the role of designer. “That clean, uncluttered look is something we’ve always gravitated to since our early days.”

To execute their vision, she stuck to classic silhouettes and subdued shades of gray and cream. Just as a great capsule wardrobe affords the flexibility to interchange items, this approach gave her the freedom to move furnishings around on the fly. It also provided a quiet backdrop for more fanciful flourishes, such as the Poggenpohl kitchen’s diamond-like backsplash and an array of shimmery wall coverings and statement lights that add sparkle and pop throughout the house.

The glam aesthetic extends to the party barn, an outbuilding designed for hosting a crowd when the couple’s sons—all students at UVA—come home. “The clients didn’t want rustic, but at some point we started calling it the party barn and the name stuck,” Bittle explains. Riffing on the idea, the architects incorporated soaring steel trusses that mimic timber framework. To keep noise to a minimum, the barn is accessed via a courtyard that also leads to the main house, garage and pool.

“Part of the challenge was to create a new destination that would still feel connected to the house in a way that’s convenient and beautiful,” observes Birle.

These days, the party barn is packed almost every weekend, making the owners’ mission to entice the kids back home a success. “Every time I talk to them, they’re hosting parties or their sons are home having get-togethers,” Bittle affirms. “From all indications, the plan worked like a charm.”

Architecture: Roger L. Birle, AIA, principal architect; Mark T. Bittle, AIA, project architect, Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects, Charlottesville, Virginia. Kitchen Design: Poggenpohl, Washington, DC. Builder: John Diven, Shelter Associates Ltd., Charlottesville, Virginia. Landscape Architecture: Waterstreet Studio, Charlottesville, Virginia. Landscape Installation: Grelen Nursery, Somerset, Virginia.



Fireplace Tile: sarissandtile.com through emilamerica.com. Chandelier: rh.com. Sofas & Sofa Fabric: margecarson.com. Rugs: stantoncarpet.com. Coffee Table: vanguardfurniture.com. Armchairs: lexington.com. Curved-Back Chairs: adrianahoyos.com. Wall Covering: hollandandsherry.com.

Chandelier: ilanel.com. Wall Paint: Galena by benjaminmoore.com.

Cabinetry: poggenpohl.com. Backsplash Tile: akdo.com. Lights near Windows: sonnemanlight.com. Pendants: bradleylighting.com. Countertops: us.vicostone.com through cogswellstone.com. Wall Oven & Cooktop: subzero-wolf.com through Kraft Appliance; 434-923-8988. Faucet: newportbrass.com through fergusonshowrooms.com.

Fireplace: europeanhome.com. Sofa, Chairs & Coffee Table: bernhardt.com. Rug: treasuregarden.com. Dining Table: seasonalliving.com. Dining Chairs: klaussner.com. Outdoor Sconces: hubbardtonforge.com. Console: urbiaimports.com. Ceiling Fan: bigassfans.com. Fireplace Tile: sarisandtile.com.

Chaises: castellefurniture.com. Armchairs: klaussner.com. Firepit: rh.com. Porcelain Pavers: kronos-usa.com through sarisandtile.com.

Pool Table: olhausenbillards.com. Sofa: thayercoggin.com. Sofa Fabric: hollyhunt.com. Chandelier: tomdixon.net/en_us. Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Bar Stools: mrbrownhome.com. Custom Cabinetry: worthingtonmillwork.com. Countertop: cogswellstone.com. Wallpaper: bradleyusa.com.



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.

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