Home and Design

Historic Idyll

A couple had finally found their ideal country home: an 18th-century historic farmhouse in Orlean, Virginia. Though they wanted a rustic, serene setting in which to entertain family and friends, the 18-acre property was anything but.
“It was in deplorable shape,” says landscape architect Richard Arentz, who was hired to regenerate the neglected property. In addition to drainage issues, fence runs cut up the landscape and many old trees were either dead or dying.
Fortunately, Arentz could see potential. He removed the fences and dead trees and re-graded the slope, creating a large central green with a drainage system beneath. The landscape became a stunning retreat that boasts terraces for entertaining, manicured green lawns, a tennis court, pool and spa, and lush shade gardens. Winner of a Potomac Chapter American Society of Landscape Architecture award, it has been the site of large parties and a number of weddings. Many of these have centered on the large yew-bordered lawn, which also serves as a calming transitional space between the home, terrace, gardens and guesthouse.
A turned-edge brick terrace accented with sandstone leads from the house to the lawn. A table and chairs sit on either side of a large, open central area with views of the lawn and pastures. Tucked into the greenery, a rectangular pool is surrounded by a deck of the same fieldstone that clads the house and existing walls. A secluded area nearby holds a stone spa, table and chairs.
Arentz’s goal was to retain a natural look appropriate to the landscape’s country setting. He succeeded: A tapestry of oakleaf hydrangea, hosta and Solomon’s Seal now thrives where parked cars once dripped oil over the tree roots. Although the transformation was dramatic, Arentz observes, “The greatest compliment you could give me is to say, ‘I’m not really sure what you did.’”
Karen Watkins is a Bethesda, Maryland, freelance writer. Photographer Roger Foley is based in Arlington, Virginia.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: RICHARD ARENTZ, ASLA, Arentz Landscape Architects, LLC, Washington, DC, and Warrenton, Virginia. ARCHITECTURE: JERRY HARPOLE, Harpole Architects P.C., Washington, DC. STONE MASONRY: CANGELOSI MASONRY, Locust Grove, Virginia.
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English Garden

When architect Faith Nevins Hawks and her husband, John Hawks, couldn’t find a country house to restore, they decided to build one from scratch. The couple purchased a 79-acre property in Monkton, Maryland, that encompassed a field bordered by woods, then Nevins Hawks set about designing a bucolic country estate complete with a Federal-style home, guesthouse, barn and English-style gardens. It would be the first private residence designed by the architect, whose award-winning projects include the Sailwinds Visitor Center in Cambridge, Maryland.
As she designed the house, Hawks studied local farmhouses and the Federal architecture of the 1800s. It was a priority for the residence to blend seamlessly into its country setting. She then turned to the work of iconic British gardener Gertrude Jekyll, as well as the gardens of England’s Sissinghurst Castle, for landscape inspiration.
“I love the way they structured plants, with elements you can see in the winter as well,” Nevins Hawks says of the English garden style. Today, views from the home’s two-level porch reveal a tapestry of perennials and shrubs designed for all-season show. Beyond a tidy row of boxwood, the garden bursts with shrubs, roses, peonies, nepeta and allium. Clusters of deep purple and maroon from plum, sand cherry and Japanese maple trees accent the soft palette.
A brick retaining wall by the pool adds architectural interest and alleviates drainage issues in the sloping lot. The bluestone pool deck, accented by plum trees, provides space for entertaining.
Gravel paths, loved by the Hawkses’ grandchildren, lead visitors from the house through the gardens to the barn and pool. “I love separate buildings that are connected…whether by a garden or by spaces that become special between buildings,” Nevins Hawks says.
Connecting the guesthouse to the main house is a lawn that serves as a badminton court and has hosted five weddings. Nevins Hawks, who has developed a passion for riding, has also created an area for training horses.
To one side of the pool, a wooden pergola with a stone floor gives relief from the sun while providing a welcoming, airy place for family meals. Sweet autumn clematis winds over the roof, providing fragrance in spring and summer.
Karen Watkins is a Bethesda, Maryland, freelance writer. Photographer Roger Foley is based in Arlington, Virginia.
ARCHITECTURE & LANDSCAPE DESIGN: FAITH NEVINS HAWKS, AIA, LEED AP, Marks Thomas Architects, Baltimore Maryland. STONE MASONRY: BLUESTONE CARPENTRY, York, Pennsylvania.
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Design Scene

Members of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Washington Metro Chapter gathered at the Washington Design Center on September 24 for their annual awards celebration. ASID members from other chapters and Home & Design staff judged the competition; photos and complete listing of the award-winning projects appear here.
Commercial: Detail/Small Unique Space—Maria Causey, Allied ASID, Olamar Interiors. Reston Commercial.
Residential: Detail/Small Unique Space—Lorna Gross-Bryant, ASID, Lorna Gross Interior Design. Row House Refuge.
Residential: Kitchen/Bath—Cynthia L. McClure, ASID, MCR, CKD, GCP, and Jenna Randolph, Grossmueller’s Design Consultants, Inc. DH Master Bath.
Residential: Multiple Spaces—Therese Baron Gurney, ASID, Baron Gurney Interiors. bm Modular One.
Commercial: Hospitality Design—Kendall P. Wilson, ASID, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED Fellow, Perkins+Will. Kimball Office, Washington, DC Showroom.
Residential: Single Space—Andrea Houck, Associate ASID, A. Houck Designs, Inc. Esber Family Home.
Commercial: Government/Institutional—Gretchen Ginnerty, Allied ASID, and Tom Wheeler, cox graae + spack architects. The Field School.
Commercial: Corporate Office—Gavin W. Bowie, ASID, AIA; Gavin H. Daniels, AIA, IIDA; and Natalie J. Hnatiw, Wingate Hughes Architects. nclud.
Commercial: Healthcare—Barbara Huelat, FASID, and Amanda Logatto, ASID, Huelat Davis. Dermatology Suite.
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Cachet: ’Tis the season

A room festooned with lush greenery perfectly signals the holiday season. For example, the Donatella Amberly Manor Greenery Collection for Frontgate (part of a holiday line by restaurateur and TV personality Donatella Arpaia) adorns a home in style. More holiday-decoration ideas are on view above.

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Beauty Spot

Interior designer Jennifer Wagner Schmidt truly embraces the process of transformation—so remodeling a hopelessly dated condominium in Chevy Chase was a welcome challenge. “The condo was in its original 1970s form, with stained carpets, dirty walls and old Formica countertops,” Schmidt recalls. “My client wanted a complete redo.” Before Schmidt and the owner, a fashion professional, could tackle the fun parts like picking fresh finishes and furnishings, certain structural fixes were needed. First, one of the bedrooms in the three-bedroom/two-bath unit became a small office off the master bedroom with a coveted walk-in closet. Cutting back dead drywall space also created a more expansive foyer.
When they were ready to focus on furnishings, the owner asked Schmidt to infuse the apartment with glamour. “She loves white and gold, art and fashion, and she likes to travel,” says the designer, adding, “We had all that in common.”
Ebonized hardwood floors and white marble tile replaced dreary wall-to-wall carpet. The marble was laid on the diagonal for a fun twist. Throughout, an ugly popcorn ceiling was removed and the whole condo refreshed with paint.
“By opening up the space and using reflective elements and luxury finishes, we created a glam bachelorette pad,” says Schmidt. The designer stuck with gray shades of wall paint, except in the living room where she covered the walls with textured paper in a natural-pearl hue with a slight shimmer. By contrast, the room’s plain aluminum window casings were painted matte black to frame views of urban Friendship Heights and update the overall look of the space.
A focal point in the living room is a silk scarf the owner purchased in Brazil; Schmidt had it framed in a Lucite shadow box and hung between two bookshelves. Pulling from the scarf’s colors, Schmidt honed in on a soft palette reflected in blush-colored velvet pillows, a faux-fur rug and a tufted, leopard-print chenille bench and accent pillows.
“For lighting, my client wanted feminine gold statement pieces,” says Schmidt. “She also likes crystal.” Finding the right lighting for the living room, where ceilings are only eight feet high, was a challenge. Luckily, Schmidt discovered a pair of beautiful gold-and-crystal light fixtures to hang near the ceiling at either end of the space.
“In the dining room, which I’d painted a high-gloss charcoal gray, I wanted something that I could hang lower, so I got a high-contrast, white-lacquered chandelier,” the designer explains. The cobalt blue hue in the artwork finds its way into the velvet host chairs that flank the marble-topped table, while the other dining chairs sport chenille upholstery in pale gray.
“The existing kitchen, which we gutted, was rather small,” says Schmidt. She selected an antiqued-mirror backsplash to make it feel larger and dressed the room up with chocolate-brown cabinets and white quartzite countertops. A matching bar with the same cabinetry was installed in the adjacent dining room.
Finally, Schmidt imparted a touch of glam in the master bedroom. An accent wall is painted pale mint and overlaid with a gold trellis pattern. “We didn’t want the bedroom to be all white,” she explains. “The client had originally wanted a brighter turquoise, but I felt the subdued mint was more appropriate, yet still gave her color.”
And so it went between client and designer, while the dated, frumpy condo evolved into a sophisticated yet youthful home.
“It was a true collaboration,” Schmidt reports. “We started by having common interests, and ultimately ended up becoming friends through the creative design process.”
Writer and stylist Charlotte Safavi is based in Alexandria. Stacy Zarin Goldberg is a photographer in Olney, Maryland.
INTERIOR DESIGN: JENNIFER WAGNER SCHMIDT, JWS Interiors, Ashburn, Virginia. STYLING: CHARLOTTE SAFAVI.

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All In The Details

It’s a perennial question among couples who have bought their first house in DC’s close-in neighborhoods, where small, pre-War homes are the norm: When babies arrive and you need more space, do you move—or renovate?
The answer was easy for Dean and Amanda Zang, who had settled in one of North Arlington’s small older homes when they got married. “For us,” Dean says of their property with a large park and the shops and restaurants of Clarendon within a three-block radius, “it was an irreplaceable location.”
Once they had a toddler and a second baby on the way, the Zangs chose to stay put and remodel their shingled 1929 home. They called on David Ricks, whose work they’d seen elsewhere in the neighborhood, to create a design that would evoke the architectural era of the original house while doubling its size and modernizing its interiors.
“We wanted to integrate those shingles with a more modern look,” Dean says, adding that he and Amanda also loved the interior moldings, trim and arched room entries. “We wanted to take that style to a more casual, comfortable form.”
Those ideas resonated with Ricks, who used the home’s shingled exterior as an impetus for his design. “Shingle style is considered the true domestic style of American architecture,” he remarks. The architect would call on the turn-of-the-century vernacular in creating simple, gabled forms in the renovated home.
The first step was deciding what shape the new house would take—especially at the top, which would house a third floor with a study and sitting room, two new bedrooms, a full bath and multiple storage areas. Placing all that space under a single gable would have looked too massive, so Ricks broke down the scale with a series of intersecting rooflines. That way, he explains, “You get a very striking silhouette and bold, geometric forms.”
Getting to the point of construction, however, was not going to be easy. The new building was confined to the original footprint and to meet local requirements, builder Trip Carder had to retain the front wall and the original side-den structure as the bigger house took shape around them. “It’s so much easier to knock down and start anew,” Carder observes. “Here, you’re dealing with old construction, crooked construction, and you have to go back and make everything straight.”
That den is now the dining area; its original, sagging floor was replaced with one that’s level with the new, open-plan living/dining room. Out back, there was enough space for an addition that extended the house from 40 to 80 feet deep. The additional space on the main floor allowed Ricks to move a coat closet and powder room from the original foyer back into a new hallway near the kitchen, thus creating a more spacious entry marked by tall wainscoting and a wide staircase. He echoed the original home’s arched passageways in a wide hall that leads to the expansive kitchen and family room, which are located two steps down from the front of the house to allow for taller, coffered ceilings. The result is an open floor plan from front to back that nonetheless feels intimate.
“The ground floor is a meandering series of spaces defined by different levels and furniture groups,” Ricks says. The coffered ceiling, he adds, serves more than just an aesthetic purpose. “A flat ceiling would be severe for such a large space. There’s nothing more monotonous and mundane than a contiguous, flat drywall ceiling.”
The family room area flows seamlessly into a screened porch, which is usable up to eight months of the year thanks to heaters built into the ceiling. Sliding glass doors with dark moldings and transom details handsomely mark the passage outside. “The porch is my favorite space,” Dean Zang says. “The îpe flooring feels like interior flooring, and the space is lounge-y, but utilized in a more formal way.” Above the porch, a roof terrace is accessible from the master suite. The parquet grid of îpe on the porch ceiling can be removed when the roof needs maintenance.
Though the new structure extends far beyond the original house, Ricks and Carder ensured that the family would have ample yard space for their two boys. Zoning allows outbuildings at the lot line, so Carder took down the original detached garage and built a new one 16 feet back. “It was really important to them to have that play space,” he says.
And as the boys get bigger, so will the house. The still-unfinished basement will one day hold a rec room and au pair apartment with its own entrance. The Zangs aren’t sure when that will happen, but they’re not going anywhere. As Amanda says. “This is our forever house.”
Jennifer Sergent is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Virginia.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: DAVID W. RICKS, AIA, principal, DW Ricks Architects + Associates, Arlington, Virginia. BUILDER: TRIP CARDER, Ralph Carder Company Inc., Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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Fresh Start

When technology executives Patrice Wolfe and her husband Jon Bazemore decided to renovate the main floor of their Westmoreland Hills home, they had already lived in it for 11 years. That was plenty of time to get a feel for what worked for their family of four and what didn’t. The couple’s design vision was so precise that it included storage for cutting boards, pastry brushes and a large collection of table linens.
The house, a red-brick Colonial built in 1953, is set back on a lushly landscaped corner lot a whisper away from the District line. Despite additions made by prior owners, including a family room and a sunroom, the primary living space proved inefficient. The family room was too large to be intimate and the kitchen too small to make entertaining easy for Wolfe and Bazemore, both avid cooks.
“The flow of the first floor didn’t work,” says Wolfe. “We interviewed a lot of architects who gave us the lazy answer—to push out into the side yard with an addition. We didn’t need to do that.”
Architect Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Studio agreed. Opting for reconfiguration over expansion, the couple hired him and design studio manager Michael Merschat to mastermind the renovation. They removed a wall between the family room and sunroom to create a large, bright space. And they apportioned part of the family room to create a new galley kitchen with a nine-foot island that houses a large stainless-steel sink, dishwasher, microwave drawer and cabinetry. An elevated, surfboard-shaped, custom walnut countertop provides a place for the couple and their two children to share informal meals or surf the Internet.
“The client’s goal was to keep the aesthetics of the new kitchen in sync with the house—a bit traditional with a transitional style,” says Wentworth. “Updated and elegant; warm but not slick.”
Opposite the island are a six-burner Thermador gas rangetop, a prep sink and a 48-inch Sub-Zero refrigerator. Honed black granite countertops offer plenty of workspace. Flat-panel maple cabinetry, painted white, reinforces the transitional profile the clients requested, as does the backsplash of horizontal marble tiles in differing hues of gray. The side yard, now visible through two windows instead of a single one, provides a pleasant view during food prep.
Adjacent to the new kitchen area, the old kitchen has been divided. One half holds more base cabinetry, extra counter space, double wall ovens and a walk-in pantry. The other half is a home entertainer’s dream come true: a butler’s pantry with loads more storage, a wet bar, a wine chiller and a second dishwasher.
Openness is the design mantra here. Wentworth replaced a wall in the foyer that hid the basement staircase with a chic railing. He turned a full bath into a powder room, now accessible from the foyer instead of the office. And he shifted the dining room’s two doorways, leading into the family room and butler’s pantry, to improve circulation and make the space feel larger.
In the enlarged family room, added wall space accommodates a built-in cabinet for a TV and storage. The raised hearth was removed from the refaced fireplace to create an unimpeded pathway to the kitchen.
Refined finishes and appointments are the hallmark of this five-month renovation. The powder room is a study in gray and white, with Carrara marble-tile walls and a contrasting honed mosaic marble floor. Slate blue Maya Romanoff wallpaper with tiny white beads outfits the ceiling.
The owners turned to Carol Rubacky Sheridan of Contemplated Spaces for help with furniture, fabrics, window treatments and rugs. In the dining room, an undulating Pantages chandelier serves as a focal point. Beige grasscloth, a geometric Tibetan carpet and an embroidered scroll pattern on the host chairs add luster.
Surprises—often renovation nightmares—sometimes yield treasures. What were thought to be fake exposed beams in the family room turned out to be real joists supporting a second-floor addition. Wentworth capped their metal hangers with wood molding, painted everything white and made drama out of a drawback.
Wolfe is thrilled with the renovation. “I can’t think of anything where I’d say, ‘Oh, if only we had done x,’” she says. “I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”
Writer David Hagedorn is based in Washington, DC. Geoffrey Hodgdon is a photographer in Deale, Maryland.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION: Bruce Wentworth, AIA, principal; Michael Merschat, AIA, design studio manager, Wentworth Studio, Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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Artistic Eye

Downsizing from a house to an apartment typically requires the shedding of possessions, from furnishings to books and artwork. But for Jackie Chalkley and her husband, C. Wayne Callaway, moving from their modern, architect-designed home in Woodley Park to a two-bedroom condominium in Wesley Heights meant renovating to accommodate all their favorite belongings without overwhelming the smaller space.
Chalkley, once a potter, is best known for her three eponymous fashion boutiques in Washington, DC, that pioneered the wearable art concept. She closed those businesses in 1999 and has recently turned her artistic eye to interior design. “I’ve always worked with design in terms of products and presentation, so it wasn’t new for me to think about it in terms of space and planning,” she says, noting a current project she has undertaken to update the public spaces of the 1970s building where she and Callaway live.
Chalkley oversaw the renovation of their two-level condo, transforming outdated interiors that had “wallpaper on every single surface,” she recalls, into clean-lined, open spaces. She and her husband purchased the apartment in 2013, drawn by elements similar to those in their previous home, including floor-to-ceiling windows, a generous outdoor terrace and balconies off the upper level.
Playing up those assets, Chalkley streamlined the main level to create a seamless living/dining suite that opens through expansive glass doors and windows to an outdoor room. “There wasn’t a rhythm or flow to the space, so that was the first thing I struggled with,” she says. “The terrace makes the interior space feel bigger and serves as another living area in warm weather.”
Chalkley also added built-in storage and shelving in nearly every room; the units eliminate clutter and leave plenty of space to display paintings, prints and sculpture. “I wanted the design to be very minimalist with specific places for our artwork,” she says.
On the living room wall next to the seating area, vertically slatted piers conceal a china closet and a heating/cooling unit. They also frame a niche that showcases a large painting by the late New York artist David Shapiro. The arrangement is repeated on the opposite wall of the dining area to set off a cluster of earth-daubed paintings by New York artist Alan Sonfist.
Sofas, chairs and lamps are by French designer Christian Liaigre, whose projects include the Mercer Hotel in New York. “His pieces are beautifully proportioned and unpretentious,” notes Chalkley. “They are contemporary in an understated, classic way.”
Although the ceiling height in the apartment is only eight feet, the owner installed tall ficus trees and a pair of wooden ladders from Mali in the living area. “They lend verticality to the space, almost in a way that defies the height limitation,” she explains.
To save costs, Chalkley overhauled the kitchen with IKEA cabinets but splurged on high-end appliances and marble countertops. A tiny breakfast nook with a table and a banquette is tucked in between the cabinets, and even this small space incorporates artwork: a print by Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies.
Next to the kitchen, the staircase leading to the upper level was remodeled with a simple enclosure and dark-stained wood treads that echo the flooring on the main level for visual continuity. A multi-piece sculpture by Washington, DC, artist Yuriko Yamaguchi serves to anchor the transitional space.
In the hallway leading to the two bedrooms on the upper floor, Chalkley moved a door to make room for another art wall, now filled by two Shapiro paintings. She created an office space within the guest room by mounting IKEA shelving to display books and objects from her boutiques, and installing the custom walnut desk created by Washington, DC, designer Thomas Pheasant for her previous residence. Facing the desk, photographs by Linda Connor hang in a grid pattern. In the adjacent master bedroom, IKEA cabinet doors were cut down to create a headboard, and twin portraits by Paris-based painter James Brown were mounted above the bed.
Renovating and repurposing the belongings from her previous home has been a valuable experience for Chalkley. As she reflects, “This downsizing project has given me insights that should be useful to my clients who are facing similar transitions going forward.”
Writer Deborah K. Dietsch is based in Washington, DC. Maxwell MacKenzie is a photographer in Washington, DC.
INTERIOR DESIGN: JACKIE CHALKLEY, Jackie Chalkley, Washington, DC.

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A Clear Vision

As anyone who’s been there knows, home renovations can be overwhelming. Myriad choices, from footprint to finishes, put many homeowners in a state of stress, assailing ordinarily decisive people with doubt and confusion.
This was not the case for government attorney John Coleman and his wife Katherine, who purchased a dated 1950s house in Chevy Chase with the idea of completely overhauling it. In part, they happen to be people who know what they want. But their goals were unwavering for another reason: They needed a house that would work for their disabled child, then three years old.
The Colemans’ son was born with spina bifida, which left him paralyzed from the hips down. Now four, Johnny handles his small wheelchair with dexterity and enthusiasm, keeping up with his sisters, eight and six, while navigating his home like a pro. This scenario would not have been possible in the family’s previous abode, a Colonial in Northwest DC that could not be made entirely wheelchair-friendly.
When they saw the nondescript brick residence in Chevy Chase’s Somerset neighborhood, “we thought it was perfect,” says Katherine. “It had a very horizontal floor plan, main-floor bedrooms and a fairly flat lot. And there was not a steep incline into the house.” Another plus: It had a carport. “I had asked a mother I knew with a son in a wheelchair how important a garage or carport was,” Katherine explains, “and she said, ‘Think of wet bicycle tires on your floor when it rains.’”
However, they knew the house would need a lot of work to bring it up to speed. The Colemans were only its second owners and it hadn’t been altered since it was built. They enlisted architect Chris Snowber for the job, giving him one main directive. “The Colemans wanted their son to be able to participate in every activity of family life,” he says. “Sleepovers upstairs with his sisters, cooking and, eventually, teen parties in the basement rec room.”
A secondary wish list also took shape: an open plan; an updated, functional kitchen and baths; and a mudroom. In addition, the couple wanted to embrace the mid-century style of the house with modern interiors—a change that would require almost all new furnishings.
Snowber retained much of the original floor plan, adding universal design elements. “It’s hard to change fundamentals like stairways and fireplaces,” he observes, “so if you can work around those things you feel like you’re improving the house rather than fighting it.”
Door sills have been eliminated. From the central foyer, an elevator goes to the basement rec room and second-floor bedrooms—one a guestroom/office, the other the girls’ bedroom—which can also be reached via the staircase. The foyer leads to the living/dining room; Snowber removed the wall separating it from the kitchen so the spaces could flow together. Johnny’s room is on the main level just beyond the stairs, and two bedrooms off the living area have been reconfigured to create a master suite.
Adjacent to the dining room, the existing sunroom was rebuilt with an airy, vaulted ceiling. A couple of steps down, an adjoining mudroom—the only addition to the home’s footprint—houses cubbies for the kids’ stuff. The mudroom is level with the carport, so a lift was installed for easy access to the rest of the house. “Johnny can come in, dump his backpack like the girls are doing, then press a button to lower the lift and get into the house,” Snowber explains. A button in the sunroom calls the lift, which is behind a sliding door. As a safety measure, it opens only once the lift is in place.
Other universal design elements in the house include showers with roll-in entries and linear drains—even the girls’ shower. “Johnny doesn’t use that one now,” John explains. “But we want him to be able to if he ever wants to move upstairs.” In the kitchen, a microwave drawer opens from the top, and a table-height counter contains a sink so “when I say, ‘Wash your hands for dinner,’ everyone can do it,” says Katherine.
To convey a modern aesthetic, Snowber replaced the dated staircase with a new one of wood and stainless steel. Walnut paneling surrounds the limestone fireplace, extending into the hall and upstairs, where a wide dormer brings in light. A dropped ceiling delineates the dining area and mahogany-framed windows and doors in the living/dining area overlook the deck.
Snowber brought in designer Christie Leu to assist with the interiors. “I needed someone to help me narrow things down,” Katherine says. “But Christie’s scope expanded. She was so helpful and efficient.”
Leu refined the kitchen plan and selected fixtures, finishes and mid century-style furniture throughout. “The Colemans’ style changed to accommodate the style of the house,” she comments. “And they were open to everything.”
The finished house does everything the Coleman family needed it to do. “We use every part of it,” says Katherine. “We live in every room. It really works.”
Stacy Zarin Goldberg is a photographer in Olney, Maryland.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: CHRISTOPHER R. SNOWBER, AIA, principal, MICHAEL P. ROUSE, AIA, project architect, Hamilton Snowber Architects, Washington, DC. INTERIOR DESIGN: CHRISTIE LEU, Christie Leu Interiors, Chevy Chase, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: MICHAEL CARR, CarrMichael Construction, Washington, DC. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: THORNE RANKIN, Thorne Rankin & Associates, Washington, DC.

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Modern History

When then-newlyweds Spence and Renata Patterson purchased a century-old house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, in 2009, they planned to update the kitchen and move right in. But the project soon spiraled into something much bigger. By the time the couple took up residence two years later, they had renovated and outfitted the entire place. Through it all, their mantra remained constant: “Respect the bones of the house.”
“The home has this big wraparound porch and great street presence,” explains Renata. “We couldn’t see ourselves walking into super-contemporary spaces.”
Instead, they envisioned an old house “jazzed up a bit,” as Spence says. Modern, but respectful.
The dwelling’s past certainly warrants the tribute. In the late 1800s, DC developer Harry Martin bought land bordering Cummings Farm, the last working farm in Chevy Chase, and began selling lots. The Pattersons’ abode, built in 1916, is one of the originals in the community now known as the Village of Martin’s Additions.
A 1997 remodel by previous owners preserved the farmhouse-style exterior and, through a three-story addition, increased the size to 4,200 square feet. But inside, it left a legacy of chopped-up spaces and dated features. The Pattersons brought together architect Mark Giarraputo and builder Patrick Keating to reconfigure and rejuvenate the interiors while preserving the home’s architectural lineage.
Except for a small mudroom added onto the back, the project stayed within the home’s existing parameters. The design team knocked out walls to improve the flow and open up the kitchen; added and replaced windows; and relocated the great room’s fireplace to an interior wall to capture the backyard view. The kitchen and all five bathrooms underwent total transformations. And crisp architectural elements, such as new ceiling treatments in the dining and great rooms, now reinforce a modern sensibility.
The homeowners, who both work for the federal government, reached their project-management limit about six months into the design-build process. “There’s an overwhelming number of decisions you have to make,” reveals Renata. “We hit the point where we couldn’t do it anymore. It was a full-time job.”
So they approached designer Mike Johnson, formerly of DC-based Lori Graham Design + Home. One meeting convinced them to bring Johnson on board. “Mike walked around and said, ‘We could do this and we could do that.’ It terrified me, but I kind of liked it, too,” admits Renata.
Johnson helped them choose materials, finishes and fixtures that, he explains, “appreciate the older house.” The kitchen redesign, for example, features time-honored marble countertops on the two islands and hand-scraped, wide-plank oak flooring. Stacked stone replaced overpowering river rock when the fireplace shifted to its new position in the great room.
Before the dust cleared, Johnson began an interior-design plan “to play up the home’s character but reflect an updated feel,” he says. Sophisticated hues went a long way toward creating the desired look. “We suggested a neutral palette,” he continues. “The gray tones work well with the materials used in the house. The only color is from art and fabrics.”
Indeed, vibrant artwork—including a Teo González abstract commissioned for the dining room—is sprinkled throughout the house. Andy Warhol lithographs from his “Endangered Species” series hang in the repurposed living room, now a cozy, grasscloth-clad library off the foyer. “They’re perfect on the dark grasscloth,” explains Johnson. “Additional color in the room would fight with them.”
Creating an environment for guests was paramount, as friends and family visit often. “We didn’t want a cold, sterile house,” says Renata. “We like to have people over and didn’t want them to feel like they couldn’t sit down.”
Johnson’s design scheme is approachable, yet dramatic. The foyer combines a playful, geometric rug with glamorous, glass-bauble lighting. A spirited interpretation of a classic wing chair invigorates the adjoining dining room, while a shimmery, Capiz-shell pendant offsets relaxed furniture in the main gathering area. But the most dramatic space by far is the upstairs master bedroom, where the designer challenged his clients’ comfort zone with bold moves, such as marrying two fabrics on an upholstered settee. The new suite wasn’t ready when the couple moved in, so they slept in converted-attic guest quarters on the third floor for the first six months.
For the Pattersons, the long wait paid off. “We were on vacation when Mike installed the master bedroom,” recalls Spence. “The coolest part of the entire process for me was walking into that room. It looked so spectacular. I thought, ‘Okay, six months of living on the top floor? Totally worth it.’”
Writer Catherine Funkhouser is based in Arlington, Virginia. Kevin Allen is a photographer in Washington, DC.
ARCHITECTURE: MARK GIARRAPUTO, Studio Z Design Concepts, Bethesda, Maryland. INTERIOR DESIGN: MIKE JOHNSON, Lori Graham Design + Home, Washington, DC. BUILDER: PATRICK KEATING, PKK Builders, Garrett Park, Maryland.

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