Interior designer helps power couple achieve elegant yet simple feel in their D.C. home

May 6, 2013

The cover story of Saturday’s Real Estate section highlighted the Northwest Washington home of celebrity couple Geoff Tracy and Norah O’Donnell, respectively the restaurateur and co-host of “CBS This Morning.”

The seven-bedroom, four-level house has many unique features: a playroom for the three kids that includes built-in cabinets and a guest room for slumber parties; a wall of windows across the back of the house that  provides stunning views of the woods outside; a powder room off the foyer with a ruffle patterned mirror frame; a large walk-in closet where O’Donnell stores her high heels; and a garage decorated in a Georgetown Hoyas theme. 

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We talked with interior designer Kelly Holland,  president of KPH Studios in Arlington, on how she guided the couple in making their renovation and furnishing choices.

Norah mentioned to me that she loves reading shelter magazines when she has time. Tell me about working with Norah and Geoff. Did you find things for them or did they bring suggestions to you?

Norah and Geoff are very collaborative, fun to work with and open to ideas. Norah collects ideas all the time and keeps a file to show me. She’ll ask me to run with an idea after she shows me a picture of a room that she likes or show me a particular item she loves.

It’s so helpful to work with a client who is definitive about what they like and what they don’t like. Plus, Norah loves change, so we enjoy switching around lamps from one room to another or changing some accessories. She always likes new and exciting things and we both keep our eyes open all the time for beautiful things.

We both love to mix up items from high-end stores, fun stores like CB2, things from catalogs and stuff we find in thrift stores. We both love the Opportunity Shop in Georgetown, for instance

What was the most interesting find that you put in their home?

I can tell you that both Norah and I have the same favorite item: the chandelier in the foyer. We found it at the Carlos de la Puente antique store in New York. It has cobalt blue glass diffusers and is just beautiful.

Which room was the most fun to decorate?

Probably the living room was the most fun because, although it’s an elegant room at first glance, it’s also really practical and comfortable. The sofa is covered in ultra suede that cleans easily, which is great because they’re an active family and they love entertaining often.

A lot of the books on the shelf have been written by some of Norah’s friends and the accessories in the room are a mix of Norah’s personal silver and thrift store finds.

Did the kids participate in the interior design?

Yes! One of their daughters developed a really strong liking for a particular fabric sample that wasn’t quite what Norah and I would have chosen. We ended up using that fabric for the back of a pillow. A little bit of it goes a long way.

Is there a theme or a certain aesthetic that you were looking to achieve in this particular home?

Absolutely. Norah and Geoff wanted a home that’s very elegant but also simple and not cluttered, a place that’s approachable and comfortable for this every active family and their friends. The nice thing is that everything in the home is both beautiful and practical and every room in the house gets used all the time.

 

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Kathy Orton · May 3, 2013