Home & Design

When a couple built a dream home on former farmland, little did they know that a few years later they’d be tending crops and livestock of their own. BarnesVanze Architects designed their modern English Country residence—which incorporates an 1880s log cabin that remained on site. Now restored, it serves as a pool house overlooking the grounds.

Landscape architect Jennifer Horn balanced old and new in the team’s five-acre master plan. Phase one, a clean-lined pool and terrace, was completed just before the pandemic.

As they sheltered at home with young kids, the owners welcomed new dogs, then chickens. Eventually, Horn and landscape contractor Justin Spittal of Planted Earth were called back to outfit the backyard with a fenced-in garden complete with raised beds, a greenhouse and a stucco-clad pavilion designed by BarnesVanze. As the menagerie expanded, CarrMichael Construction built not only a chicken coop but also a reclaimed-wood barn to house alpacas, miniature sheep and cows.

Throughout the three-year project, recalls Spittal, “not a square inch was an afterthought; everything was coordinated with the entire team. The result is a magical place that’s a regular stop for garden tours and family holidays.”

The owners spend more time than ever outdoors, tending their garden and animals. “The project has given them an education in horticulture, botany and environmental awareness,” notes Horn. “It fostered a passion that will give the family joy for the rest of their lives.”

Award: Grand, Outdoor Living Area (Planted Earth). Landscape Architecture: Jennifer Horn, RLA, Horn & Co., Arlington, Virginia. Landscape Contractor: Justin Spittal, Planted Earth, Sykesville, Maryland. Architecture: BarnesVanze Architects, Washington, DC. Builder: CarrMichael Construction, Oakton, Virginia.

Following a major renovation, the owners of a 20-plus-acre parcel in Clarksville, Maryland, enlisted J&G Landscape Design to reimagine their lackluster front garden to better reflect the look of their elegant home. The team did such a fine job that, four years later, J&G principal Jeff Potter was called back to overhaul the dated backyard.

Existing conditions were less than optimal. “The 1980s, kidney-shaped pool, brick patio and circular spa were old and tired,” he recalls. “They didn’t fit the architecture of the home. And everything was boxed in by fencing, with no sight lines of the beautiful property.”

Potter and his team retrofitted and enlarged the existing pool into a clean-lined rectangle and equipped it with a shallow sun shelf complete with bubblers. An expansive travertine terrace grounds the pool area and joins a covered patio completed during the renovation. An outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill makes al fresco entertaining a breeze. 

Topiary and colorful beds brimming with boxwood and hydrangea—the wife’s favorite shrubs—soften the hardscape. “We kept the plant palette fairly simple because the space carries itself,” says Potter. 

Terrace seating overlooks a verdant lawn planted with Steeplechase arborvitae; a gentle slope extends to bucolic farmland. With the fence now gone, notes the designer, “you can appreciate and experience longer views of rolling hills opening up to a larger landscape.” 

Award: Heritage, Outdoor Living Area. Landscape Architecture & Contracting: Jeff Potter, PLA, ASLA, CPH; Matt Purdy, PLA, ASLA; Paul Jester, PLA, ASLA, LEED GA, J&G Landscape Design, Inc., Spencerville, Maryland. Pool: Keith Robbins, Pires Construction, Gaithersburg, Maryland. Masonry: J&G Landscape Design, Inc., and Matt Cocozzella, Stoneworks, Inc., Gaithersburg, Maryland.

It all started when an architecture student landed a summer internship in a home-based firm overlooking scenic Lake Barcroft. Among the perks were lunchtime jaunts on the boss’s boat. Enthralled by the Falls Church community where eclectic houses rim the sprawling reservoir, the young architect vowed that he too would live there someday.

More than 30 years later, he and his wife, also an architect, decided the time had come to sell their Arlington Colonial and build a custom home on Lake Barcroft. When their two sons left for college, they asked a real estate agent to keep an eye on potential properties—and finally, a gem popped up.

The sloped, wooded parcel just shy of an acre enjoyed a dramatic vista of the lake and came with its own dock. The duo acquired it with plans to overhaul the outdated, 1960s-era ranch-style house on site. “Three additions made it look almost like an army barracks,” recalls the husband. Small, closed-in rooms and a kitchen that faced the street rather than the lake did little to endear them.

The new owners—he works in healthcare design and she in museums—selected MCDStudio to spearhead the redo. Principal architects Matthew McDonald and Jennifer Verbeke were excited to take on the challenge—especially for two fellow architects.

Their clients envisioned a modern, airy retreat with lake views from every possible room. Ensuite bedrooms for both sons, a guest room and a screened porch were also on the list, along with a ground-level bedroom planned so they could eventually age in place.

“When we first walked the site,” McDonald remembers, “we anticipated working with the existing house. But as we started going through the options, the scope grew organically.” Ultimately, the team decided to preserve the foundation and three of the walk-out basement’s walls, but otherwise start from scratch.

The generous site allowed them to expand the footprint in strategic spots. “The plan became more linear because we had the luxury to fan it out and create almost an amphitheater-like lookout toward the lake,” Verbeke notes.

A spirited dialogue began as she and McDonald collaborated with the architect-clients. “We had a lot of studies flying among the four of us,” says Verbeke. Ultimately, they landed on a two-story scheme that revolves around a double-height foyer. A sculptural staircase with a built-in bench lies to the left of the entry while an ensuite bedroom (currently occupied by the husband’s mother) is situated to the right.

The entry hall extends on axis to soaring windows overlooking the lake. In the glassy rear of the home, an open dining area and kitchen unfold, as well as a deck and screened porch. Added on at an angle along the left elevation, a garage and family room were positioned to minimize the home’s mass from the front and capture optimal lake views in the family room. A new butler’s pantry and mudroom provide extra utility and storage.

On the new second level, a bridge connects the sons’ ensuite quarters and the owners’ bedroom; all three enjoy water vistas. A guest room, media and game rooms and a second mudroom occupy the lower level, along with the wife’s studio. At 6,552 square feet including the garage, the project doubled the size of the original abode.

With clean lines and simple forms, the exterior takes cues from the original home’s mid-century roots. Low-maintenance Nichiha panels clad the façade; black-framed Weather Shield windows and doors add contrast.
Inside, Falls Church designer Karen Sasaki configured the kitchen and curated finishes, lighting and furniture. “I went for a clean, uncluttered look, influenced by the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic of the neighborhood,” she explains. In the family room, custom walnut built-ins detail a striking fireplace wall. And in the kitchen, a blue, hand-fired backsplash by Sonoma Tilemakers echoes the shimmery lake below.
Thrilled with their waterfront perch, the owners are enjoying a new connection to nature. “We see bald eagles, osprey, Canada geese and herons,” marvels the husband. “Every night, I go out on our bedroom balcony and just take a breath.”

Renovation Architecture: Matthew McDonald, AIA, and Jennifer Verbeke, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, MCDStudio, Bethesda, Maryland.


Q&A with MCDStudio architects

How do you help clients decide whether to renovate or start anew?
Matt McDonald: The decision often comes down to a cost-benefit for the client. Unless owners are dead-set on a new house, we usually begin by planning to renovate. In some jurisdictions, renovation will allow you a larger project because if you start anew you can’t build as much on the lot.

What factors drive window and door selections on homes with lots of glass?
Jennifer Verbeke: Energy-efficient windows are a baseline for us; we’re not going to look at products that don’t get that right. In addition, we try to select manufacturers whose components look like they all came from the same place. We make sure, for example, that the widths and styles of the window and door frames are all related.

What are best practices when designing a screened porch?
Matt McDonald: Choose a spot that’s easily accessible from the main house. Incorporating ceiling fans and/or heaters will extend the amount of time you can use a porch in the DC area. Also, be sure to install a screen under the structure to prevent mosquitoes from flying up through the deck boards.



French connection:  On a recent Côte d’Azur holiday, Annapolis artist VICTORIA LARSON says she found so much inspiration in the architecture, gardens and seascapes that "a collection naturally spilled out.” Her Cap Ferrat wallpapers include, from left, Zephyr, Beatrice and Vista. victoria-larson.com

Bright lights:  Washington interior designer ZOE FELDMAN has fashioned a 26-piece lighting collection for Mitzi, an online retailer. The line encompasses lamps, sconces, pendants, flush mounts and chandeliers—all of which embody Feldman’s aesthetic of modern classicism. mitzi.com

Sculptural perch:  Virginia artist Jomo Tariku’s Meedo Chair distills two strong African symbols—the Afro comb and the ceremonial seat. It’s shown in ash-black with orange trim; Tariku unveiled a bronze version at Design Miami in December. jomofurniture.com; wexlergallery.com

Winsome menagerie:  DC-based Laura Cheung Wolf of Lala Curio introduced Oriental Fantasy at Paris Déco Off 2024. The line of bespoke wall coverings features Giraffa (pictured), a joyous safari motif hand-embroidered with wooden beads and sequins. lalacurio.com; ruefour.com

Magic carpet ride:  Madeleine Mitchell, a veteran of Doris Leslie Blau, has launched an eponymous atelier selling new and antique rugs—and designs of her own. Above: a custom wool carpet in a geometric motif, handwoven in Morocco. Interior Design: Vivian Braunohler. madeleinemitchelldesigns.com

DC-based architect and interior designer Ernesto Santalla has followed a lifelong passion into a new career: fashion design. After completing a four-year degree at Marymount University, he launched his own eponymous label in January. “My fashions are very architectural,” says Santalla. “I look at shape, form and texture as they relate to the body.” This fluid, silk-faille gown of his creation is embellished with 300 handmade and hand-applied flowers; a flourish in ombré silk chiffon completes the look. Now developing a line of gender-affirming basics, he notes, “I’m not giving up architecture or interior design—I’ve just expanded the realm of what I’m working on.” Contact [email protected].

MODEL: Mikayla Monjaras; PHOTO: Richard Francisco Howard/Marymount University


Limani, meaning “seaport” in Greek, has made a splash at The Wharf. The new, three-story restaurant with a large terrace serves up 270-degree river views. Architect of record Sam Forman and Whitlock Design Group collaborated on the interiors, which sport capiz-shell chandeliers and custom-made booths; hand-blown glass plates on display evoke crystal-clear seas. The menu features Greek specialties with an emphasis on seafood such as red snapper. Guests can take home cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil imported from Greece.
670 Wharf Street, SW; 202-804-8000. limani.com/washington

Past, present—and panache—reign at The Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan. The 153-room property marries The Mansion, a historic landmark built in 1906 on the site of Gilded Age socialite Charlotte Goodridge’s abode, and a modern, 24-story, brick-and-glass tower. The architecture firm Perkins Eastman meticulously restored The Mansion and designed the tower in collaboration with PBDW Architects. Martin Brudnizki Design Studio spearheaded boho-chic interiors—from the maximalist Café Carmellini to a suite boasting a whimsical color palette, a plush Duxiana bed and a chandelier of Murano glass. Rates from $895. thefifthavenuehotel.com

While century-old Cape Cods and bungalows proliferate in the greater Washington area, well-preserved Bauhaus structures from the period are few and far between. So when architect Richard Williams first laid eyes on a 1936 Bauhaus home with potential buyers, he was stoked. “Coming across a home in this style that’s still intact, though it had been added onto, was a real find,” he recalls.

The couple with two young kids was also smitten with the property, located on a wooded, two-and-a-half-acre site overlooking a lake in suburban Maryland. After Williams made a quick study to see if renovating the dated gem was feasible for their budget, they cinched the deal. Originally designed by New York architects Robert Hutchins and William Huntington, the residence embraced the Bauhaus style of its day with a flat roof, strong horizontal lines and minimal exterior detail. Updates in the 1980s and ’90s created a second-level primary suite and, on the western side of the home, added on new living space, a pool cabana and a garage.

Stuck with compartmentalized rooms, lackluster finishes and a convoluted layout, the six-bedroom residence was ripe for improvement. “It was an amazing place that had been abused and misunderstood,” relates Williams, who was hired for the redo. “We needed to get it back to its roots and bring a 21st-century sensibility to this very cool house.” The architect and his team envisioned a makeover that would streamline the floor plan, modernize the interiors and forge stronger connections to the picture-perfect site.

The existing foyer contained a walled-in stairway and two doors, one leading back to the dining room and the other to the main living room on the right. The ’90s-era kitchen and family room awaited on the left, while on the far right, additions contained another family room/library and office.

“It was a bit weird,” observes Williams. “The kitchen was located on the east side and, in our opinion, imbalanced the entire life of the house because on the west side there was a swimming pool, garage and terraces. There were also two living spaces back-to-back,” he adds, “so you couldn’t justify how one was different from the other. It seemed redundant and wasteful.”

Order was restored by shifting the kitchen to the opposite side of the house. Replacing the extra family room and office in the west wing, Williams designed a large new kitchen and family room overlooking the terrace and a side yard where the kids play. His plan also orchestrated a new mudroom, forging a clear path from the kitchen to the garage and pool. “This rebalancing created a whole new center of life,” the architect reports. “In the absence of the former kitchen, we created a new study-hall zone with a media room, library and meeting area.”

Though the home’s 7,600-square-foot footprint remained unchanged, a comprehensive renovation completed with builder Bruce Ottati replaced everything from HVAC systems, roofing and insulation to flooring, bathrooms and fenestration. A minimal material palette, including rift-and-quartered white oak floors, white walls and enlarged windows, simplified the aesthetic and let the views take center stage. Says Williams, “We introduced a new attitude, but one that I think is really in keeping with the original 1936 project.”

Today, guests arrive in a reimagined foyer that opens to the dining room with views of the lake beyond. In lieu of confining walls and doors, a slatted scrim of Douglas fir delineates living and dining areas. Though the original stairway remains intact, Williams traded the drywall side rail for a panel of weathered steel that elevates the entry, along with a ceiling painted in deep, metallic gold. “I thought that the weathered steel, also repeated on the kitchen island, would shake up the restrained nature of the interiors,” explains the architect.

Scaled as a generous hub for family and social life, the kitchen maximizes prime views of the landscape. Custom cabinets in walnut and deep blue echo hues of woods and sky. Threads of blue are woven throughout the interiors, outfitted by interior designer Dieter Thelen with clean-lined furniture and bold, modern art.

The overhaul also revamped the lower level as well as five second-floor bedrooms and all of the baths. The rehabbed primary bathroom, clad in marble tile, now offers some of the best views in the house through one of several porthole windows likely added in the 1980s redo.

In its latest iteration, the residence has come full circle. “By opening the house up, you get a sense of limitless movement, and that’s a pretty great feeling,” Williams reflects. “I suspect the original house was that way too. In general, we tried to make it live up to its potential.”

Renovation Architecture: Richard Williams, FAIA, principal; Nolan Ediger, AIA; Rukhasar Bagwan, Richard Williams Architects, PLLC, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Dieter Thelen, Planungsbüro, Neu-Isenburg, Germany. Renovation Contractor: Bruce Ottati, Ottati & Associates, Inc., Washington, DC.



Windows & Doors: loewen.com through thesanderscompany.com.

Guard & Hand Rail: metalspecialties.biz. Wall Paint: Cloud White by benjaminmoore.com.

Sofa: flexform.it./en. Ottoman: mdfitalia.com./en. Wire Sculpture with Lights: catellanismithe.com/en. Red Poufs: baleri-italia.it/en. Side Table: Eileen Gres through classicon.com/en. Chair: bludot.com.

Table: riva1920.it/en. Chairs: Bruno by Mies van der Rohe through knoll.com. Lighting: Rody Graumans. Paint: Cloud White by benjaminmoore.com.

Flooring: emser.com. Backsplash: glasstile.com. Cabinetry Fabrication: ferriscabinetry.com. Blue Cabinetry Paint: Noir Matte Gaslit Alley by rehau.com. Countertops: msisurfaces.com. Pendants: flos.com. Hood Design: RWA. Hood Fabrication: ottatibuilders.com; metalspecialties.biz. Cooktop: subzero-wolf.com. Sink Faucet: gessi.com through blanco.com/us-en. Hardware: mockett.com. Paint: Iron Mountain by benjaminmoore.com.

Flooring & Wall Tile: annsacks.com. Shower Fixtures & Tub Filler: newportbrass.com. Tub: vandabaths.com. Fabrication: chevychaseglass.com.

A young couple who’d recently purchased a Dupont Circle row house turned to DC designer Nick Beck to outfit its interiors. Built in 1888, the 2,300-square-foot residence was renovated in 2015 by New York architect Olson Kundig. “He redid the crown molding and created beautiful fireplace surrounds,” Beck reports. “Those details sold my clients on the house.”
Beck’s interior plan—which included two bathroom rehabs—respected the four-bedroom home’s provenance while weaving in a sense of fun. “Sometimes young people’s homes read very youthful to me. I like to take a more sophisticated route and that’s what we did here,” he says. “The clients love design and were really supportive of the vision.” The following Q&A details the process.

Describe the overall aesthetic you were after.
We leaned into the stateliness of the house, but also kept it fresh and cool by mixing traditional pieces with contemporary furniture and art. I replaced dingy-looking checkerboard tile in the entry and added a Barbara Barry chest to create an elevated, Park Avenue sort of vibe. And in the living room, we offset a gilded Dennis & Leen chair with a modern coffee table and painting.
I like to throw in something unexpected whenever I can. For example,
the living room sheers are a funky material, but they’re trimmed in velvet for a bit of elegance.

What inspired you to turn the empty landing into a cozy hangout?
It’s the first thing you see as you walk up the stairs and I wanted to make it really pretty. I laid it out with two Lee Industries chairs, thinking it could function as a space to read or have a cup of coffee. My client asked if we could do yellow drapes, and this Fadini Borghi fabric was the perfect shade. We had fun with the ottoman, covering it in a Vervain print with Houlès fringe to keep it playful.

Why are window treatments important to you?
To me, window treatments are the most transformative thing in a room. I love layering drapes and shades. Some clients worry about drapes blocking the view but I think they actually enhance it. Nicely done custom drapes in a beautiful fabric elevate any space.

How do you create drama with lighting?
Light fixtures have become such a focal point. They create an opportunity to add something cool and oftentimes sculptural to a space. Given the opportunity, I love to introduce sconces like we did on the landing. Whether you choose something like the Circa Lighting chandelier that picks up brass accents in the kitchen or the Currey & Co. lamp with a textural woven shade in the owners’ bedroom, light fixtures are like pieces of jewelry.

What drove the primary bedroom décor?
We kept it simple but luxurious. I mixed a variety of interesting textures, from the bed upholstered in silky Nobilis fabric to Made Goods nightstands clad in leather. I designed the shams and the ikat is an antique pillow. Phillip Jeffries faux-suede wall covering gives the room a luscious softness.

Tell the story behind the glass-enclosed fourth-floor bath.
It was a claustrophobic little space with no windows. We added French doors to open it up and mimic doors off the landing below.
I wanted to do something dramatic for the back wall so I covered it in hand-painted Pratt + Larson tile. I love how the wall tile blends with the patterned marble floor. People have said the vibe feels kind of Moroccan.
I enclosed the bathroom in glass so it would look like a lightbox—something very unexpected. The glass also saved us six inches (the depth of a wall), making the space that much larger.

Share your philosophy on original art.
I find art to be incredibly important. It can elevate and enhance décor, but unfortunately it can also bring down the look and feel if it’s not well-curated. In most of my work, I am involved in art selection. On this project, it was a very collaborative process with quite a bit of back-and-forth before we landed on the majority of pieces you see.

How did the primary bath evolve?
After the upper bath was done, the owners decided to redo their bathroom and wanted something fabulous. I had an idea of vines coming down from the ceiling and worked with New Ravenna to design a mosaic for the main wall. It makes a huge statement when you walk in.
A rectangular vanity would have felt too heavy, so I designed a curved one with Lacava and they built it for us; it’s topped with white Dolomite marble that has a beautifully detailed edge.

Why is it important to support artisanal makers?
Mosaics have been around for thousands of years and I’ve always loved them. New Ravenna, one of the world’s premiere workshops, is located right on Virginia's Eastern Shore. If designers aren’t showing this kind of craft to our clients and incorporating it into our work, it will go away. And that would be a shame because these beautiful creations stand the test of time.

Interior Design: Nicholas Beck, Nicholas Beck Interiors, Washington, DC. Primary Bath Contractor: John Waugh, McLean, Virginia. Upper Bath Contractor: Impact Remodeling and Construction, Washington, DC.


Name a design pet peeve.
I see a lot of super-minimal, modern bathrooms, even in really stately homes that have been beautifully renovated. To me, it seems like a missed opportunity to do something a lot more interesting, specific and fun.

What products are you excited to try?
I’m dying to use one of Lala Curio’s incredible hand-painted, -beaded and -embroidered wall coverings, available at Rue IV. I’m also in love with the cool and unique wallpaper by UK-based Timorous Beasties, now at Hines & Co.

What’s your most cherished piece of furniture?
An 18th-century Italian cabinet that’s stunning and beautifully inlaid. I keep all my treasures in it and will probably be buried with it.

What color do you predict will be big in 2024?
Cornflower blue is definitely having a moment. It works in many spaces and gives you color but is still kind of subdued. I’m doing a guest room in it right now.

Conjuring Dior’s Fall-Winter haute couture collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri took inspiration from sacred iconography and reimagined archetypical forms such as tunics, peplums and capes. Part of the line, a double-long dress (pictured) is composed of gimped lace and tulle edged with gold floral motifs. Price on request. dior.com

Set in a 200-year-old Baltimore County farmhouse, The Oregon Grille welcomes guests after a makeover by Patrick Sutton. “We kept the old stone walls and quirky layout but layered in a fun, new color palette to make it a bit more approachable,” says the designer. Schumacher wall coverings adorn the second-floor dining room’s walls and ceiling, where Azul Boquira quartzite surrounds the fireplace. Leather stools line the fluted-walnut bar. Cuisine focuses on contemporary American fare, from Long Island Duck Three Ways to potato skins with caviar. 1201 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley; 410-771-0505. theoregongrille.com

Hotel AKA Alexandria, the first U.S. hotel designed by Piero Lissoni, has opened in Old Town. A dark steel floating staircase—a signature of the Italian architect—makes a statement in the lobby of the minimalist,180-room property. Public spaces are graced by thought-provoking artwork, including Mamacloud (above), a dramatic light installation by Frank Gehry that hangs over the bar in the lounge. A guest room (left) is appointed with a custom bed, a Living Divani chaise and a Porro side chair—all designed by Lissoni. Outdoors, travelers can gather around multiple fire pits or relax in the Zen Garden. Rates from $295. 625 First Street; stayaka.com

Lured by gracious proportions, luxury amenities and an enviable position on Annapolis’ Spa Creek, a business executive acquired his three-bedroom pied-à-terre while the condo complex was still under construction. The corner unit boasts wraparound views of shimmering water, elegant yachts in their moorings and the Maryland capital’s charming skyline.

Baltimore designer Patrick Sutton was enlisted to enhance and complete the interiors, gracing the home with custom cabinetry and millwork, stylish furniture and refined finishes throughout. No doubt, the iconic maritime setting inspired his approach. “The whole idea of being surrounded by water and boats made us feel like we wanted a nod to a nautical, yachty kind of vibe,” remarks Sutton. “My client likes things that have clean lines but are comfortable. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without having to worry about it. The best way to describe it is ‘warm modern.’”

The resident’s admiration for impeccable men’s apparel also swayed the aesthetic. Tailored details—from upholstered walls to leather trim—elevate every room.

Visitors arrive via a private elevator, which whisks them into the foyer of the second-level apartment. From here, an open, airy living/dining area and kitchen unfold. Neutral furnishings and a textural rug reminiscent of velvety sand let marina views steal the show, though splashes of blue—the owner’s favorite color—enliven the palette. Plush sofas in Romo fabric and woven RH chairs embrace a sculptural cocktail table of Sutton’s design; its bronze base supports a square top of chiseled limestone. Quartz table lamps add a luminous touch.

“Light, bright and happy was the goal in this particular space,” notes the designer. Wide doors on two sides of the living area open to breezy balconies—one of which features a built-in fireplace for cooler weather.

Decked out in navy blue, a six-burner La Cornue range and matching hood anchor the kitchen. Sutton designed the hood, as well as all of the cabinetry and millwork in the kitchen, dressing room and primary bath. “I made refinements and customized the apartment while the building was going up,” he explains.

The kitchen’s ship-shape cabinetry, luxe marble countertops and backsplash and beadboard ceiling create a richly layered effect. Near the island, two handcrafted Wendell Castle stools appear to float atop their bases of steam-bent wood.

Another conversation piece awaits in the adjacent dining area: a bespoke bar of Sutton’s design, dressed in blue embossed leather and fitted with brass hardware. “My client loves the ritual of making drinks for guests,” observes the designer. “When you open its doors, the beautiful, wood-appointed bar inside is very James Bond.”

The glassy chandelier suspended above the dining table, he adds, “makes you think of sparkles on the water.” A corridor off the dining area leads to a guest room, den and two baths, while a hall on the opposite side of the kitchen accesses the primary suite.

The bedroom décor was inspired by Brunello Cucinelli menswear. As Sutton recalls, “When we’re trying to drive a material and color palette for a project, we ask a lot of questions. In this case, the client mentioned he was a fan of the Italian fashion designer. So we leaned in on recent Cucinelli collections, and fully upholstered the walls in a wool herringbone that feels like men’s suiting.” Drapes made in the same fabric achieve a tone-on-tone look.

“The nice thing about an upholstered room is it absorbs sound so there’s dead silence. It’s like a cocoon,” notes Sutton. A velvet headboard, leather bench and braided-leather trim on the walls complete the understated tableau.

A made-to-order sensibility also prevails in the primary bath and dressing room. In the latter, rosewood cabinets—including a generous island complete with copious drawers and a marble countertop—neatly stow belongings.

In addition to the ensuite guest room, an intimate den accommodates visitors on a pull-out sofa. Wallpaper in a subtle stripe, a Tibetano rug with a linear pattern and a circular chandelier forge a geometric interplay. The nearby hall bath doubles as a powder room; its bespoke walnut vanity is topped with a thick slab of creamy quartzite.

Ocean scenes and a dreamy blue palette are common threads unifying the owner’s artwork. Not surprising when you consider that both his primary home in Florida and his getaway in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware—now in the process of a makeover by Sutton—also enjoy waterfront locations.

Delighted with the finished project, the resident frequently hosts weekend guests in his new Annapolis retreat. “Everything is tidy and in its place,” reflects Patrick Sutton, “but it still feels welcoming and comfortable.”

Interior Design: Patrick Sutton, Patrick Sutton, Baltimore, Maryland. Building Architecture: Jay Schwarz, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP; Sarah Favrao, project architect; David Ferara, project architect; Peter Tokar, project architect, ABS Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Builder & Developer: Bret Anderson, Pyramid Builders, Annapolis, Maryland.



Leo is making waves in Annapolis’ Uptown Arts District. Brian and Hilarey Leonard opened the New American restaurant and bar earlier this year; the duo also owns two DC bars: Lost & Found and Free State.

Executive chef Matthew Lego sources local ingredients from nearby farms and purveyors to create modern, seasonal and sustainable fare. Entrées such as Crispy Chicken Breast with carrot purée and pea tendrils share the limelight with charcuterie plates, shareable apps and special salads.

“Leo is a comfortable, lively and casual space where everyone is welcome to gather,” says Hilarey, who serves as the restaurant’s sommelier. “It’s also our mission to support other local, small businesses.” 212 West Street; leoannapolis.com


Dawn light silhouettes crab houses on Virginia’s Tangier Island in an image captured by photographer Jay Fleming. Heading out by boat on a February morning to shoot oystermen at work, he came upon this scene—one of the most beautiful sunrises he’d ever witnessed. “I spent about 15 minutes shooting it,” he recalls. “The colors were constantly changing as the sun got closer to rising.” After years spent documenting the Chesapeake region’s seafood industry, the former National Geographic photographer has published two books on the topic, including the recent Island Life.

PHOTO: Jay Fleming

With fire pits, steaming spas, hidden heaters and outdoor kitchens on the rise, today’s outdoor rooms can keep on going long after summer’s last hurrah. We asked experts to shed light on how to plan the perfect year-round escape.

What features and amenities are essential to a comfortable, year-round outdoor retreat?
An ideal zone for entertaining should include a comfy, central seating area that is convenient and easily accessible to the primary residence. Gathering spots with privacy and good views are always nice. Shade is key—either from a well-placed tree, umbrella or roof. Other features that make a space more enjoyable include small fountains, decorative landscaping or a cozy fire. Lastly, low-voltage accent lighting extends the usability of a space into nighttime.

—Howard Cohen, Surrounds, Inc.

Explain your approach to outdoor lighting.
Outdoor lighting depends on the client’s preference. Though some like to light up the façade to spotlight the house, we usually design our lighting according to task. For example, overhead lighting is great when you’re cooking in an outdoor kitchen, but if you’re snuggled by a fire, you may want less light.

We usually go for an ambient glow around an entire landscape. Shining a spotlight on a tree of interest helps with visibility—especially in areas where path lighting may not be highly functional. Moonlighting, or lighting from above, works well for driveways and darker spaces where you don’t want a line of bulbs creating a runway effect.

For us, the glow of a light is more important than the fixture itself. Careful placement is key and should be reconsidered as plant material matures to ensure the lighting plan still functions as designed.

—April Sullivan, Rossen Landscape

When should homeowners begin planning an al fresco gathering space and what steps are involved?
It depends on the complexity of the project, but a year or more in advance is not too early to start. The first step is the design process. Well-thought-out plans take time and vary according to the challenges of the site, the clients’ schedule and their decision-making and communication styles.

The second step is aligning the design with the budget, which can mean deleting portions of the plan, changing materials or installing in phases.

Installation is the next and lengthiest step. Obtaining permits; procuring hardscape and construction supplies; and coping with the weather and season all factor into how much time it will take to complete a successful outdoor space. Consistent communication among the homeowner, designer and production team is crucial so expectations are fulfilled—and hopefully exceeded.

—Phil Kelly, McHale Landscape Design

What materials are most practical and attractive for outdoor kitchen countertops?
There are many factors to consider when making a countertop selection. Granite is a popular option that stands up to the elements, doesn’t absorb stains easily and will not fade in the sun. However, select your color carefully, as darker stones absorb the sun’s heat and can burn your skin in the summer. Another natural stone option with many positives is soapstone—a heat-, stain- and bacteria-resistant option. It’s also nonporous, so regular sealing isn’t required. One drawback to soapstone is that it’s limited to shades of gray and black.

Newer on the market is Dekton—a manmade, highly bonded stone that’s UV-resistant, nonporous and highly resistant to abrasion. It’s quickly becoming the top choice of many designers.

—Josh Kane, Kane Landscapes, Inc.

What drives your selection of hardscape materials and which ones should homeowners avoid?
When selecting hardscape materials, you need to consider durability, lifespan, carbon footprint, beauty and cost. We gravitate towards natural materials with proven, long-term track records in the climate where they’re specified. When logical, we reuse materials found on site or consider salvaged materials. In general, we are hesitant to specify composite decking that is difficult to recycle and hasn’t performed well over longer time frames.

Some materials are right for one spot in a landscape but not another. For example, while Western red cedar may be a great option for a vertical fence, we’ve found it to be too soft for a deck—especially in a high-traffic area. Granite is a favorite paving choice but needs the right surface treatment to ensure slip-resistance. By using the same material in different finishes (honed granite for a countertop, a thermal finish for paving and a rock-face finish for steps), we can showcase the stone’s variability.

Remember that not all materials need to be maintained—some should be allowed to patina over time and change with the seasons. We love the look of natural wood as it silvers.

—Ryan Moody, ASLA, Moody Graham

Explain the guidelines you apply when siting and designing an outdoor fireplace.
Outdoor fireplaces are often used as a focal element or a termination point on a long access. They are generally big-ticket items, so we site them in areas that will make an impact. Before selecting a fireplace, owners need to take into consideration how it’s going to be powered: wood-burning versus gas, or a combination of the two. They should also consider the fireplace’s relationship to the seating spaces around it, as well as its proximity to other structures. The material selected—whether brick, stucco, stone or steel—really drives the aesthetic we choose; we make an effort to complement or contrast fireplaces with other materials on a project.

—Joseph Richardson, PLA, ASLA, Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture


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