In Shaw, Shawn Evans blends old and new Washington style

January 16, 2013

Confession: The first time I entered Shawn Evans’s immaculate S Street NW home, I froze, wide-eyed in the posh foyer. Cursing myself for bringing in coffee, I felt like a bull in a china shop, or maybe a Neiman Marcus, and offered to remove my boots.

“Don’t be silly,” he laughed, ushering me through a tall foyer into the spotless and candlelit kitchen. “People always say it doesn’t seem like someone lives here, but give it a little time. It’s designed for fun.” At that moment, Lucy, a black poodle, lumbered in and jumped up on the kitchen sofa (yes, sofa), and I began to relax. She matched the decor perfectly.

When Evans bought the 3,300-square-foot home in May for $1.25 million, it had been gutted and renovated by a developer. The construction had local blogs buzzing about the property’s former life as a church. Located on the corner of 12th Street near Garrison Elementary School, Ebenezer Eritrean Church and the Coffee Bar , which opened last month, the house straddles old and new Washington. It sits at the intersection between newly ritzy Logan Circle, up-and-coming Shaw and longtime hotspot U Street, and is two blocks from the design district on 14th Street NW.

Born on a Marine base in North Carolina and raised in New Hampshire, Evans, 43, is equal parts New England polish and country charm. He now splits his time between the District and New York, where his partner works for Estee Lauder. Fittingly, Evans’s taste is tough to pin down.

After years in real estate, Evans started his own interior merchandising firm, P Four, in 2009. Based in Lanham, the firm handles marketing, branding and model home merchandising for builders and developers, and recently expanded into residential design. His own house has a traditional look with red brick, brown trim and black Adirondack chairs in the small, manicured lawn. Evans said he is “not a high-rise condo guy,” and after living in Old Town Alexandria for 15 years, he grew accustomed to a certain level of charm. The three-story house has a basement rental unit and separate carriage house that is owned by another couple. Evans considered buying it but ultimately decided he didn’t need the space.

Inside, it is a stylish blend of modern and traditional design with bold animal prints, bright colors and a collection of pop art that includes signed Andy Warhol photographs of Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Kissinger and Halston.

There is something about the home’s refreshingly nontraditional interior that suits its address.

“I just couldn’t see the typical beige-on-beige Washington look fitting here,” he said.

Despite its glamour, the home is outfitted not to intimidate guests, but to welcome them. Evans frequently hosts large cocktail parties, game nights and fundraisers. He designed a casual, open kitchen and cozy dining area so guests can wander from room to room without feeling compartmentalized or excluded. Around his 72-inch round dining table, for example, he traded four of the chairs for a large corner banquette to bump the seating potential from eight to 12.

Evans is a thoughtful decorator. On the wall between his dining and living areas hangs a painting called “Church Picnic” by Dane Tilghman. Evans chose the piece as a nod to his neighborhood’s African American history. A lover of patterns, he designed the home around the navy-and-black plaid living room curtains. To keep the look consistent, each room has a touch of navy, from a velvet Hickory Chair sofa to a Serena and Lily rug, and each door is painted a glossy Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams. The master bedroom, with walls and trim painted Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore, has floor-to-ceiling windows and a black four-poster bed. It feels like a suite in a boutique hotel.

“A part of me wants to feel like I’m on vacation,” he said. “I think everybody, when they get home, wants to feel like they’re still a little bit on vacation.”

His favorite room is the upstairs den. A man cave designed with sophistication, not kitsch, the room is a leather-and-wool sanctuary where Evans can draw the black-out shades and unwind. It’s also where he keeps the home’s knockout piece: a Hickory chair upholstered in two fabrics, Oscar de la Renta flowers and Ralph Lauren pinstripes. In a home full of “wow” pieces, this steals the show.

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