Although a 3,600-square-foot house would not be considered small, it is a bit challenging for a family of eight (and Kelly the golden retriever) and all their skis and basketballs.
“Almost everything had to have a dual purpose,” says Michele. Under the breakfast banquette are storage drawers for pie tins and tart pans; a black demi-lune table camouflages a radiator and doubles as a sideboard.
There were already five bedrooms in the house: three on the third floor and two on the second floor. To get two more, they dug out the basement to fit a pair of bedrooms separated by pocket doors.
The family kitchen, with its Carrara marble center island and white faux leather banquette, has a French bistro feel. “Michele invested tremendous personal energy and expertise into the kitchen,” Overmyer says. “She loves to cook, and she shopped for things that were compact and functional.” They incorporated open shelving and a hanging magazine rack. Sleek, espresso-colored wood cabinets stretch to the ceiling and are accessed by a rolling library ladder. There is a tall, built-in wine cooler. “It’s supposed to be filled with fabulous wines, but now it’s mostly water and soda,” Michele says. In the corner, there’s a small potting area with a soapstone sink.
The outdoor room was the only new living space. “If you have a bigger family, you usually do an addition, but we could not increase our square footage,” Michele says. “We could, however, add an outdoor room to use eight months of the year.” She went for hard-wearing furniture: a zinc-topped folding table and galvanized steel chairs. She found the best deals for custom weatherproof cushions at Cushion Source. The outdoor TV from Frontgate is housed in a cabinet with a copper roof to withstand the elements.
Michele has learned to live “smaller and leaner” with no hall closets, attic or garage. In the winter, patio cushions have to be stored under beds.
But what Georgetown houses lack in space, they make up with charm.
Many evenings you’ll find the council member sitting in the front bay window working under the glow of a lamp at a limestone-topped table that is in effect the family dining room table. (It can accommodate just eight.) “Jack loves to sit at the front table and connect with the community. It’s a real urban way to live,” says Overmyer, who happens to be a neighbor.
“I guess this was the only place really left for me to claim,” Jack says, plunking down his mobile devices on the limestone. “But being right here at the window is nice. I’ve come to think of it as my front porch.”
Living stylishly in small spaces
Whether you have a large family or a small house, or both, there are tricks to making your home seem spacious, stylish and organized. Michele Evans offers her range of ideas that create the illusion of space, keep rooms organized and save time.
1. Use time-saving cleaning devices. Jack Evans bought Michele a Neato Robotics robotic vacuum to help keep up with the dog hair shed by Kelly, their golden retriever. The XV-21 model is designed specially for pet owners and allergy sufferers.
2. Conserve kitchen counter space. Seek out small appliances that preserve valuable counter real estate. At Brew Express, Michele found a coffeemaker that is built into the wall.
3. Create storage in unexpected places. Make use of out-of-the-way spaces to house frequently used items. Because there is no coat closet, Evans asked the contractor to build in a knee-high wall slot in the vestibule to stash umbrellas.
4. Make a clear choice. Lucite is a chic material for end tables, coffee tables or chairs, especially in small rooms. Transparency gives the illusion of more space. The Evans house has several small, clear end tables. Michele is a big fan of Kartell’s Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck, and she has one at her mirrored vanity table.
5. Go keyless. In a large family, house keys get misplaced and kids can get locked out. Her solution: Install a keypad lock system with a deadbolt and give each family member the code. There is no key to carry. She found one that cost about $110 by Schlage.