Home & Design

Even in the dead of winter, a newly renovated home on the banks of the South River shines. Strong, horizontal lines define the dwelling and its landscape. A mix of white nickel gap siding, gray corrugated zinc and stained mahogany signals that despite its humble origins, this is no ordinary bay shack. Seemingly on cue one February morning, swans surrounded the home’s pier as if they too were clamoring to get a good look at the one-of-a-kind refuge. 

The project marked a new beginning for the house—and its owners. Lee and Mark Miller were both widowed following decades of marriage. After meeting online, the two began a courtship and in 2020, they wed. 

Intent on creating a home that celebrated their union, the Millers decided to overhaul the Annapolis bi-level that Mark, a retired business executive, had acquired in 2012 as weekend getaway. “I think it dates back to the ’50s,” says Lee, a former real estate agent. “It was a little fishing shack that was added onto over time.” 

The home suffered from low ceilings, run-of-the-mill finishes and choppy interiors that failed to capitalize on expansive views out to the Chesapeake Bay. Recognizing a diamond in the rough, the couple wanted to transform the main level into a haven for single-story living while reserving the lower floor for a steady stream of visitors—including their four adult children and eight grandkids. 

Mark proposed taking the residence in a modern direction. Lee, whose prior homes leaned traditional, took a leap of faith. “I’m all in,” she responded, “but we have to find the right team first.” Following conversations with a handful of architects, they landed on Peter Miles of The Drawing Board, who in turn introduced them to Katalin Farnady of Farnady Interiors. The owners then tapped Lynbrook of Annapolis for construction and McHale Landscape Design for an upgrade of the one-third-acre site. 

Miles completely reimagined the exterior and the 2,850-square foot main level. “The home had been expanded with multiple roof slopes colliding at awkward angles,” he explains. “The renovation simplified the roofline with a low slope, except for a shed roof that lifts up the family room wall and opens it to the water.”

A foyer wrapped in slatted-mahogany panels leads into an open space combining the kitchen, dining and family room. Accordion doors afford seamless passage to a screened porch, backyard and dock. Hidden doors in the foyer paneling lead to a functional core where Miles consolidated a powder room and mudroom off the garage. A home office for two is reached from here or the kitchen. 

Eliminating two small main-floor bedrooms made way for a generous primary suite. Accessed near the foyer stairway, it features a large bedroom and separate baths and dressing rooms for each newlywed—along with infinite bay vistas.

The interior plan took shape at weekly design meetings, which began during covid and continued through the 18-month construction phase. “Katalin and I worked together closely to make sure interior materials warmed up and helped define each of the spaces,” says Miles. 

Taking cues from the exterior, Farnady developed a nuanced tableau, focusing on a monochromatic palette enlivened by rich textures, patterns and hints of the unexpected. “When an architect gives you floor-to-ceiling windows and they’re focused on the view, you have to keep the interiors somewhat minimal,” she notes. 

In the family room, she offset pale oak floors and creamy upholstered seating and rugs with a dramatic fireplace wall of Black Diamond granite. Meanwhile, the open kitchen boasts a waterfall island, counters and even a range hood sheathed in Calacatta Cremo marble. “For me, the secret to keeping a monochromatic interior interesting is paying close attention to details—both architecturally and decoratively,” explains the designer. “I played with sizes, shapes and textures, adding different materials and finishes to keep each room unique.”

The open layout and clever kitchen design foster easy entertaining. Collaborating with Jonas Carnemark of Konst SieMatic, the team avoided upper cabinetry near the island in favor of unobstructed views. Around the corner from the oven wall, additional cabinetry, workspace and appliances await.  

The Millers joined Farnady on field trips to High Point Market and local showrooms in search of the right mix of furniture, finishes and lighting. “It was clear that they wanted comfortable furniture with fluid lines,” the designer says. In the family room, custom seating, bespoke tables from her eponymous collection and a wet bar cater to gatherings large and small. 

“Giving the team free rein” was key to the project’s success, says Lee Miller, “because you don’t know what you don’t know.” 

Lavishing attention on every detail elevated spaces beyond the ordinary. Miles traded conventional baseboard molding for reglets with a precise, grooved reveal and installed acoustical ceiling panels to absorb sound. Farnady played up the home’s minimal backdrop with dramatic textures and glamorous lighting—from the office’s geometric Lee Jofa wall covering to the bedroom’s freeform chandelier. 

Executing the plan was no easy feat for the builder. “Contemporary trim details are clean and crisp, but at the same time can be involved and time-consuming,” says Lynbrook’s Meredith Hillyer. “Unlike a traditional home, there are no extra layers that can disguise an out-of-true condition. It’s one and done.”

McHale landscape architect Matthew Rhoderick echoed the architecture in his innovative exterior plan. “We jumped in with a palette of materials that is often underutilized in waterfront properties,” he says. “Evoking an industrial feel with Corten steel, dark-stained concrete and trimmed architectural plantings, we were able to make the entryway the star of the show.” Corten steel carries through to the backyard, where it edges pathways to the pier.

Embarking on married life together, the Millers couldn’t be happier with their finished home. “As a realtor, I’m jaded—but this is my favorite house ever,” reflects Lee. “We watch the sun rise every morning and the place sparkles like a diamond. And every evening we get the most incredible sky—it’s on fire. Thanks to our expert team, we were able to translate our wishes into a stunning home.”

Renovation Architecture: Peter Miles, The Drawing Board, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Katalin Farnady, Farnady Interiors, Annapolis, Maryland. Kitchen Design: Jonas Carnemark, CR, CKD, Konst SieMatic, Bethesda, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Glenn Larson, project supervisor; Meredith Hillyer, vice president, Lynbrook of Annapolis, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: Matthew Rhoderick, McHale Landscape Design, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.


Exterior: trueexterior.com. Siding: metaltechglobal.com. Garage Doors: chiohd.com. Solar Panels: solarsaves.net.

Flooring: elitehardwoodflooring.com. Home Automation: 360automation.net.

Sofas & Sofa Fabric: centuryfurniture.com. Sectional: Custom design by farnadyinteriors.com; fabricated by centuryfurniture.com. Pillow Fabrics: romo.com; kravet.com; Lee Jofa for kravet.com; brunschwigfils.com; scalamandre.com. Cut Out Arm Chairs & Chair Fabric: centuryfurniture.com. Chair by Fireplace & Chair Fabric: kravet.com. Poufs & Pouf Fabric: kravet.com. Fireplace Stone: inhomestone.com. Round Coffee Table: Peek-a-boo by farnadyinteriors.com. Paint: Aged White by sherwin-williams.com. Small Table: palecek.com. Art Over Stair: Owners’ collection. Linear Fireplace: napoleon.com. Pedestal Table: S to C side table by farnadyinteriors.com. Floor Lamp: visualcomfort.com.

Faucet: konstunion.com. Cabinet Fabrication: konstsiematic.com.

Table: bernhardt.com. Light Fixture: lukelampco.com. Chairs & Chair Fabric: kravet.com. Paint: Aged White by sherwin-williams.com.

Sofa: bernhardt.com.

Faucet: konstunion.com. Cabinet Fabrication: konstsiematic.com.

Bed: Custom. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Night Tables: Custom through kravet.com. Table Lamps: kellywearstler.com. Ceiling Fixture: Jones Lighting; 410-828-1010. Swivel Chairs & Swivel Chair Fabric: bernhardt.com. Table: palecek.com. Wallpaper: phillipjeffries.com.

Wallpaper: Lee Jofa for kravet.com. Ceiling Fixture: Jones Lighting; 410-828-1010. Chair & Ottoman: hermanmiller.com through themodernbulldgo.net. Cabinet Design: farnadyinteriors.com. Cabinetry & Countertops: konstsiematic.com.

Wallpaper: fschumacher.com. Sink: Custom. Faucet: califaucets.com through konstunion.com. Sink: In Home Stone; 410-626-2025. Cabinet Design: farnadyinteriors.com. Cabinet Fabrication: konstsiematic.com. Mirror: arteriorshome.com. Art: phillipscollection.com.

Ceiling Fixture: uttermost.com. Cabinet Design: farnadyinteriors.com. Cabinet Fabrication: konstsiematic.com. Countertop & Backsplash: In Home Stone; 410-626-2025. Hardware: topknobs.com. Faucets: konstunion.com.



A couple downsizing from a stately home in DC’s Foxhall district did not want to compromise on style when they acquired a Georgetown penthouse. They tapped Anthony Wilder Design/Build and Houston-based Benjamin Johnston Design to transform the abode’s lackluster interiors into what would become a one-of-a-kind residence primed for entertaining. 

Encompassing the third floor of a century-old building, the home hadn’t been touched in years. Among its shortcomings: There was no sense of arrival when guests entered via the private elevator or stairs, both centrally located in the square-shaped home. An outdated kitchen was sequestered like an afterthought near an open living/dining space on the left side of the apartment while two cramped bedrooms, two baths and an office—all dark, drab and uninviting—occupied the right.

Principal Anthony Wilder, architect Sean Mullin and kitchen designer Shannon Kadwell collaborated closely with Johnston and the wife to take the property in a bold new direction. “We knew that converting this condo, which had previously been renovated, into their dream home would be a great challenge that we were ready to take on headfirst,”
Mullin recalls. Lofty goals included revamping the kitchen and two baths; adding gravitas with custom millwork and luxe finishes; and bringing in more light to accentuate the owners’ modern art. 

Clever shifts to the floor plan better apportioned the 1,695-square-foot residence for 21st-century living. A sleek kitchen took shape in the middle of the open living area, flanked by parlors featuring black-marble fireplaces. Replacing the former kitchen, a new dining room boasts a chic wet bar sporting SieMatic cabinetry. By combining the two bedrooms into one, the owners gained a spacious primary suite; the office now doubles as a guest room. A revamped stair arrives at a welcoming foyer where glass railings keep sightlines open. 

The team cast a wide net to land upon appointments, fixtures and finishes that would mesh with the wife’s vision. A trip to the Eggersmann showroom in New York led to the dramatic Arabescato marble-clad kitchen island, custom-made in the firm’s German factory. “Once we got direction that they were ready to change the floor plan, we knew that the island needed to be spectacular,” says Mullin. “That island, I think, is what drove the entire project. It was like dropping a Ferrari into the space.” A matching marble backsplash and a La Cornue range flanked by white-lacquered cabinets introduce further utility—and glamour.  

From the 14-carat-gold Lohja Tornio fixture floating above the island to the bedroom’s vintage chandelier, statement lighting also bejewels the home. In contrast, LEDs smaller than dimes, manufactured by Porsche for Apure, illuminate interiors and artwork but virtually disappear in the ceiling when turned off. 

Finely crafted details—think intricate millwork, bespoke fireplace surrounds and brass floor inlays—elevate every space. “All of the trim was reimagined. We created a layering effect to give you a sense that the ceilings are higher than they are,” notes Mullin. “The millwork has a very traditional feel, which I think balances really well with the contemporary island and fireplaces.” A flat-screen TV drops down from the ceiling near the fireplace in the less formal parlor.

Pale wooden floors and high-gloss lacquered door panels were employed to strategic effect. “We wanted as much light reflection as possible,” says Wilder. “Reflective surfaces make the rooms look much larger. Everything was about creating expansive views so the home wouldn’t feel crowded.”

Houston-based interior designer Benjamin Johnston worked with the owners to complement the architectural details with a sophisticated mix of contemporary and classic pieces, many from their previous home. “The family’s heirlooms and prized possessions were called upon to lend a dramatic, personalized touch to the mostly neutral furnishings,” he explains. “Pieces with mixed metals and finishes were chosen to accentuate the use of antiques throughout the home. The palette was kept classic and neutral to let the art provide color and drama.”

The entire project, from design through construction, was completed in 13 months—no small feat given challenges presented by the building’s infrastructure and the narrow streets of Georgetown (think road closures). Big-ticket items, from the La Cornue oven to giant slabs of stone, had to be craned in from the rooftop deck. 

“We had a lot of faith in our client and her eye and vice versa,” Wilder reflects. “And we were passionate about this opportunity. Everybody involved was a joy to work with.”

Renovation Design & Contracting: Anthony Wilder, principal; Sean Mullin, AIA; Shannon Kadwell, CMKBD, Allied ASID, Anthony Wilder Design/Build, Cabin John, Maryland. Interior Design: Benjamin Johnston, Benjamin Johnston Design, Houston, Texas. Anthony Wilder Design/Build won a 2023 PRO Remodeler of the Year award in the category of Residential Interior over $500,000 for the project, as well as Home & Design’s Award of Excellence.

Château La Chenevière, a five-star hotel on the Normandy coast, ensconces guests in a restored 18th-century manor house. The 30-acre, 29-room property is also home to Le Botaniste, a restaurant with a charming dining terrace (above). Fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are supplied by an on-site permaculture garden. From $500. lacheneviere.com

Doncel Brown launched Generation Typo, a DC-based online apparel brand, to spark a dialog between generations. “Everything I’ve accomplished has been by learning from those older and younger than me,” says the self-taught designer, who channeled fashions from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in his 2023 spring/summer collection, shown in February at New York Fashion Week.

From the company’s T-shirts to runway attire, every piece is embellished with a thin red line that suggests a typo. “Someone can look at what you’re doing and think you’re living life the wrong way,” explains Brown. “But that’s just their opinion. The red line shows that you can own that typo and be proud of who you are.” 

Runway collections—including a wool-blend blazer and wrap skirt, pictured—will soon be available to pre-order at generationtypo.com.

Pepe Moncayo (known for Michelin-starred Cranes in DC) has opened the area’s first Singaporean fine-dining restaurant in Tysons Galleria. Designed by DC-based //3877, Jiwa Singapura features an open kitchen and a suspended floral art installation, reminiscent of the Southeast Asian island. A bar and outdoor seating also beckon. Barcelona-born Moncayo, who spent nine years in Singapore, reinterprets the country’s street fare with entrées such as chili crab. 2100 International Drive; 571-425-4101. jiwasingapura.com

Opened in 2021, The Wildset Hotel channels the laid-back charm of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Housed in four vintage buildings in downtown St. Michaels, the 34-room property was renovated and reimagined with vintage and modern touches by California-based Kathryn Lager Design Studio. Custom and antique furniture, aged-brass accents and handmade tile embellish the rooms and suites—many of which boast freestanding gas fireplaces and private balconies or terraces. The landscaped grounds feature outdoor lounge areas and fire pits; bikes are available for jaunts around town. 

The Ruse, a restaurant on site, has garnered accolades for its seafood-centric fare. It offers a raw bar and a beverage program focused on small-production beers and wines as well as contemporary cocktails.

Rates including Continental breakfast range from $249 to $559. thewildset.com; ruserestaurant.com

For more than 20 years, Scott and Margaret Johnson, retired owners of a DC marketing firm, spent weekends and downtime at their waterfront getaway on Kent Island. But after sheltering there during covid, the couple decided to make it their permanent home.  

The Johnsons recently completed a total overhaul of the 1952 rancher’s cramped, outdated kitchen. They tapped Nadia Subaran and Kelly Emerson of Aidan Design to reimagine the space. Among their goals: to maximize views of the Chesapeake, increase storage and create a bar/serving area for parties. They also wanted to display sculptures and objects collected over the years. 

A clever redo combined the kitchen and adjacent mudroom—which previously housed the fridge—and traded a bulky boiler and hot water heater for a tankless water system. These moves made way for a spacious and functional kitchen where the owners can cook and entertain in casual, easygoing style. 

Facing walls of Wood-Mode cabinetry dramatically increased storage potential. On one side, narrow cabinets store extra sets of china, cookbooks and barware while a microwave stationed near the fridge adds convenience. In lieu of the wall that once blocked the view, a low peninsula divides the kitchen and dining area; on the dining side, it features a bar/serving zone with an under-counter refrigerator. 

The Johnsons are thrilled with their bright, stylish new kitchen. “More than a kitchen renovation, this project is a beautiful extension of their living spaces,” notes Subaran. “We designed it so each cooking and entertaining experience brings inspiration, comfort and happiness.”

Kitchen Design: Nadia Subaran, principal; Kelly Emerson, senior designer, Aidan Design, Silver Spring, Maryland. Contractor: Edgar Navarro, Glenn Dale, Maryland. Appliances: ABW.

Photographer LJ Urie loves capturing images of the full moon ascending over his hometown of Annapolis. “The size of the moon when it initially rises above the Chesapeake Bay makes it a special moment to witness,” he says. Urie is especially proud of one aerial shot (above) created on a late-April evening. “The moon, its reflection on the bay, Main Street and Church Circle all aligned, drawing the viewer’s eye right to the center of the photo,” he explains. “I hope it depicts the beauty, serenity and quaint historical vibrancy Annapolis has to offer.” Photo: LJ Urie

There’s more to the ceiling sculpture in Mariela Buendia-Corrochano’s family room than meets the eye. One hundred twenty-three panels of lacquered wood, each embedded with LED lights, make up the dramatic, undulating work of art. It’s one of many moves conceived by the designer during a recent renovation that turned her 1970s-era residence into a modern masterpiece. 

The makeover reimagined the McLean home’s interiors and introduced a crisp, minimalist palette to showcase bold artwork collected around the globe. An airy new family room replaced an indoor pool that had seen better days.

“The pool was an integral part of our family,” recalls Buendia-Corrochano of the time when she, husband Gerardo Corrochano and their two young sons moved into the 5,700-square-foot home 20 years ago. “We used it all year round.”

With the boys now out of college and living in New York, the empty nesters decided during the 2018 renovation that the pool should go. But instead of sweeping it away without a trace, Buendia-Corrochano celebrated the beloved amenity with the ceiling sculpture. “The curves are an interpretation of the DNA of water. It’s not only a piece of art that I wanted to design for the house, but it is also about creating a reminiscence of what existed before,” she explains. 

The renovation remedied a number of design flaws. The owners love to entertain, but the floor plan cramped their style. The foyer opens on the left to a double-height living room with a piano room beyond. The dining room and kitchen were crammed in on the right, leading to a narrow, sunken family room—all small, inefficient spaces. Along the back of the home, the pool was the only spot that enjoyed prime views of their wooded property, which backs onto parkland and Pimmit Run, a tributary of the Potomac.

“We love the natural environment, but the existing house didn’t take advantage of it,” explains Buendia-Corrochano, a design principal at Gensler who also takes on residential projects through her own firm, estudio_MBC. “And the back of the home wasn’t connected to the front. We wanted to have free flow so we could use the whole house.”

Her redo added doorways and centered off-kilter openings, which set a clear axis from the dining room to the piano room. Glass panels replaced wooden spindles on the stairway and landing above. “As an architect and a designer, I’m very focused on trying to create internal vistas,” Buendia-Corrochano notes.

She expanded the dining room and kitchen from the front to the back of the house, taking over the sunken family room. Its floor was raised to make way for the new kitchen, now equipped with custom, white-lacquered cabinetry and a large island. 

In lieu of the pool, the designer created an open breakfast area and a new family room, where wide expanses of glass maximize views of the landscape. State-of-the-art lighting and audio systems now let the owners control sound and mood throughout the home.

Taking cues from nature, Buendia-Corrochano chose reclaimed white oak flooring stained gray. Black travertine embellishes fireplace surrounds and the kitchen backsplash. “I’m a total modernist. I love natural, earthy finishes and patterns,” she declares. “It’s a minimal use of materials but their impact is what matters. All the finishes, materials and textures work together harmoniously.”

No detail was too small for Buendia-Corrochano to articulate. “I’m very focused on the whole experience,” she says. “Everything is curated and thought through.” Panels of brushed stainless steel mark passageways. Cabinets sport precise, mitered edges. And in lieu of grout, open joints rim each travertine slab to make it look like the stone is floating.

The subdued palette, says the designer, “created a canvas for our collection of furniture and art.” She and Gerardo, a former World Bank director and now an executive at the Inter-American Development Bank, have been traveling and collecting treasures together since meeting in their native Peru four decades ago. Timeless, iconic furnishings acquired over the years fit perfectly into their updated spaces, where paintings, sculptures and artifacts from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas are displayed gallery-style. “Art is such a special part of who we are,” reflects Buendia-Corrochano. “Our Latin and Peruvian heritage is also really important to us.”

Many pieces hail from Mexico, where Buendia-Corrochano opened an office for Gensler in 2014. When they returned to Washington after spending four years in Mexico City, the couple considered downsizing to an apartment. 

“It was just the two of us,” she recalls, “but we really love the house and its surroundings. We decided that an apartment wouldn’t foster the strong relationship and ties that we have with our kids and extended family. In order to lure our kids back when they have families in the future, we wanted the house to be the hub that it has always been.”

No apartment could have replaced the connection to nature that the couple enjoys on their woodsy property. “There’s nothing better than waking up early, getting a cup of coffee and looking out over the forest,” reflects the designer. “When it’s winter, I turn on the fireplace. Even when I’m working, it’s so soothing to be here.”

Though they initially bemoaned the pool’s demise, the owners’ sons gave the renovation a thumbs-up. “If you bring me grandkids,” their father told them, “I’ll build a pool outside.”

Renovation Architecture & Interior Design: Mariela Buendia-Corrochano, IIDA, LEED ID+C, estudio_MBC, McLean, Virginia. Architectural Consultants: Don Ghent, AIA; Gonzalo Gomez, IIDA, Yoonho Lee. Millwork Fabrication: Capitol Woodwork, Marlton, New Jersey.

A couple who’d decided to downsize from a large Baltimore home discovered a two-story penthouse in the city’s Guilford neighborhood. Though their taste runs modern and the two-bedroom dwelling in the venerable Warrington building reflected another era—from lavish moldings to ornate fixtures—they loved the layout, proportions and views from the expansive terrace.

After they bought the property, the wife tapped designer Joanne Fitzgerald to revamp the interiors and create a modern, eclectic vibe while respecting the home’s architecture. “Seeing what the place looked like and knowing what she wanted, it was exciting to visualize how we were going to make it hers,” Fitzgerald recalls.

The designer overhauled every inch of the 3,400-square-foot apartment. She transformed the kitchen and three baths, created a bar near the family room and replaced or refinished most of the flooring. Wherever possible, she selected furniture and art from her clients’ collection. “We also brought in modern furnishings and colors that made the traditional elements look that much more spectacular,” she notes.

What influenced your design scheme?
You walk into the apartment and see a gorgeous curvilinear stairway. I suggested we keep that motif going because it’s a very linear space. We selected circular light fixtures and an oval dining table to bring that thread through. 

Explain how art elevates a home.
Original art makes such an impact and is a window into who the homeowners are. I urge clients to take their time and collect artwork that moves them. And whenever they travel, I tell them to get a piece of art—it will be a lifelong reminder of the trip. 

For this project, my client and I went to Montreal together and selected some new art to add to her collection. And we just got back from an art-buying trip to Mexico City and Oaxaca, where we found some outstanding pottery pieces from a family that goes back a few generations.

How do you foster harmony between traditional and modern elements?
When you have an ornate architectural canvas, it’s important to pay homage to it in some respects and contrast it in others. Adding elements with straight lines and materials without much pattern helps achieve the contrast you need.  

There was so much architectural detail in this home that we decided to keep it very quiet. Rather than changing colors in every room, walls are painted the same pale gray—Benjamin Moore’s Bruton White. We kept the moldings the same color but painted them in a high gloss so they really sparkle. 

Why do you paint ceilings a different color?
I firmly believe that the ceiling plane is vastly underutilized and I’m allergic to ceiling white. To create mood, I paint ceilings in very pale, subliminal colors that people don’t immediately recognize. In this apartment, the paint scheme is consistent; all the ceilings are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Gray Sky. 

How did you upgrade the kitchen without breaking the bank?
The existing materials were nice and installed beautifully. The classic cabinet profile looked good with the crown moldings and fit into the building vernacular really well. We decided to keep the cabinets but re-lacquered them in a pale gray; the paint was sprayed on so the cabinets look factory-finished. Finally, we added exquisite new quartzite countertops and polished-nickel hardware. 

What do you achieve by mixing a variety of metal accents?
Metal is the perfect launching pad for making interiors look more modern; the brushed and polished brass that we see a lot now has a modernity to it. One of my favorite things is to mix warm woods and cold metals. 

Describe the family room transformation.
I wanted to have fun in this room, where 10-foot-tall doors open to a spectacular terrace. The Romo wallpaper has a graphic quality that updated the space beautifully; I chose a complementary dark-gray for the accent wall and picture molding. The coffee table made of burled olive wood with acrylic legs is a play on traditional and modern. Overall, the space is casual but still very elegant.

What advice do you offer clients doing condo renovations?
It’s important to talk to building management early on. Find out what you can and cannot do. See if you can get plans, which is not always possible when you’re dealing with an older building. Once you understand how much flexibility you have with plumbing and electrical, you can work from there. 

Shed light on how and when you use wallpaper.
There are some situations where wallpaper can anchor a space and give it the artistic dimension it needs. And there are others where we might need just a little bit of pattern. That was the case in the primary bedroom. Even though the Phillip Jeffries wallpaper is quiet in terms of color, it has a huge impact in scale. I didn’t want to distract with pattern and color—I wanted to attract and create interest without being overwhelming.


What are your favorite sources for art?
I love Susan Calloway’s gallery in Georgetown; the work she curates is excellent. I also send clients to the Torpedo Factory where they can get to know what they like and meet the artists. 

Name your favorite bold shade at the moment.
I’m a huge fan of Benjamin Moore’s Raspberry Blush. It’s a warm pink that’s just fantastic. I will probably try it in a bedroom. 

Share a favorite furniture possession.
A dry sink I bought when I was antiquing with my mom. It has a scalloped edge and original zinc lining. I used it as a changing table and later ended up converting it into a bar. My son once carved his name into it, which adds to its history!

What's a good way to update a vintage piece?
I love painting old wood-framed Bergère chairs in a fun color and jazzing them up with new fabric.

Interior Design: Joanne Fitzgerald, CKBD, Gatéga Interior Design, LLC, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Delbert Adams Construction Group, Baltimore Maryland.

Mounting fashion shows for Tom Ford and Estée Lauder, Laura Cheung Wolf quickly developed a flair for the theatrical. So when she launched a home-décor company, friends knew to expect the unexpected. 

Lala Curio creates glamorous, bespoke wall coverings and cloisonné tile—made in China using centuries-old techniques. Wolf’s family has been in the business for three generations. “We have access to amazing artisans in Beijing and Suzhou who have retained their craft, so we’re able to give it new life,” she says. 

Wolf studied interior design at Parsons before her stint in fashion. She later earned a master’s degree in fine and decorative arts at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. “Then I decided to go back to my roots and spent three years in rural China working with artisans to create our collections,” she recalls. 

In 2014, Lala Curio was born. The atelier puts a playful spin on traditional cloisonné and on hand-painted and -embroidered silks, many of which are inspired by an archive of 18th-century chinoiseries. “We create haute couture for walls,” says Wolf, who recently relocated from Hong Kong to DC, where her husband grew up. “Everything is made to order so clients can add a personal touch that tells their story.”

Find at Rue IV. lalacurio.com; ruefour.com

Fresh Air 

The Lucid Air Sapphire brings a new level of luxury and performance to the electric-vehicle market. Featuring three motors, carbon-ceramic brakes and track-tuned suspension, it speeds from zero to 60 mph in under two seconds. California-based Lucid Motors is taking reservations for the 2023 limited-edition model, with delivery expected later this year.
From $249,000. lucidmotors.com 

AI for Avians

Bird Buddy, an AI-powered feeder, identifies and captures close-up photographs of feathered friends as they pop by for a snack. Connected to a smart phone via wifi, the camera-equipped device also records sound and notifies humans whenever a bird alights. Species data collected by the company helps experts study bird populations and migration. From $199. mybirdbuddy.com  

Deep-Sea Drone

QYSea’s V6s Professional Underwater ROV Camera captures and live-streams 4K HD footage of ocean adventures. The stainless-steel underwater drone can plumb depths of 328 feet and powers up to six hours on a single charge. Two LEDs illuminate marine scenery. Designed for professional and recreational use, the device also drags, drops and tows objects with a robotic arm. $3,199.

Named for Washington-born Duke Ellington, Ellington Park Bistro made its debut last fall in the District’s St. Gregory Hotel. New York designer Melissa Bowers spearheaded the sleek interiors featuring a central bar, booths swathed in emerald-hued velvet and a fireplace lounge. Chef Frank Morales, a veteran of the Oval Room in DC and Le Cirque in New York, devised the menu. Guests are tempted by classics such as PEI mussels and frites along with cocktails. 2033 M Street, NW; 202-888-2899; ellingtonparkbistro.com  Photos: JUAN FERNANDO AYORA

Dior’s Summer 2023 ready-to-wear collection takes inspiration from Catherine de’ Medici—a powerful figure who pioneered corsets and lace. The line includes a silk-and-cotton bra and shorts in a Petites Fleurs motif; and a technical taffeta peacoat. dior.com

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Timeless Charm

Liz Levin's Bethesda kitchen redo channels an English sensibility

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A desire for color was one of many factors that drove the owner of a 1940s DC Colonial to overhaul her kitchen, housed in an existing addition. With dated cabinets and appliances and a convoluted layout, the space was ripe for renewal. 

She called on Nadia Subaran and Kelly Emerson of Aidan Design to create an all new, functional kitchen steeped in eclectic style. “Our client loves crisp whites with pops of color as well as warm accents and art, ” says Emerson. 

By re-trimming the addition’s semi-circular windows and vaulted ceiling, the designers created a streamlined backdrop. They replaced a small island with a larger one boasting a prep sink. And they positioned a new refrigerator near the cooktop, while the less frequently used freezer and double ovens were moved to an opposite wall near a pantry. The existing copper hood remains; new brass hardware plays off its metallic sheen.

The island was painted in a custom spring green, the client’s favorite color. “We kept the other elements very simple,” says Emerson, pointing out white Shaker-style cabinetry that rims the kitchen and breakfast area, “but the backsplash packs a punch.” The handmade tile in a leafy green-and-blue motif—along with bright-red dining chairs—enlivens the reimagined gathering space. 

Project Team

Kitchen Design: Nadia Subaran, principal; Kelly Emerson, senior designer, Aidan Design. Contractor: Impact Construction. Photography: Robert Radifera. 

Kitchen Details

Cabinetry: wood-mode.com through aidandesign.com. Backsplash Tile: clayimports.com. Countertop: caesarstoneus.com through norwoodmarble.com. Cooktop, Microwave & Refrigerator: thermador.com through abwappliances.com. Faucets: calfaucets.com through abwappliances.com. Hardware: waterstreetbrass.com through pushpullhardware.com. Stools: westelm.com. 

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