“We turned the foyer and great room into a dance floor and everyone came in ’70s outfits,” she says. “Everyone said it was the best party ever.”
The couple hosted the dessert portion of the Horace Mann Elementary School’s Progressive Dinner fundraiser in 2011, entertaining 150 people with champagne and pastries created by Chef Geoff’s restaurant staffers.
Tracy says that while 75 percent of the changes they made to the home were decorative, they made some structural changes to the great room and kitchen to increase the natural light and enhance the view from the front door to the woods behind the house. Kelly Holland, an interior designer and president of KPH Studios in Arlington, assisted Tracy and O’Donnell with the design elements of the home.
“There was a huge TV cabinet that blocked the entrance into the great room, so we took that out and moved the TV to the wall over the fireplace,” Tracy says. “Norah had the idea to take two of the columns from the front door and move them to the great room, which gives us a wider front entrance.”
While Tracy says he would be fine with an exposed flat-screen TV above the fireplace, he says Norah installed a painting that can be rolled up and down to hide the TV. The great room has a coffered ceiling and a wall of windows and glass doors that open onto the deck.
“We knocked out part of the wall that connects the kitchen and great room, because we like the openness,” Tracy says. “When ambassadors were using this house it had a more formal floor plan with a closed-off kitchen.”
Tracy’s plans for the kitchen, which already has high-end appliances, myriad cabinets and extensive counter space, include knocking down the rest of the wall to create an open kitchen and great room, replacing the dark granite counters with mother-of-pearl granite and expanding the center island for more seating and prep space. The catering kitchen and office located behind the main kitchen will be remodeled as well to add a third oven along with more counter space and cabinets. Windows line the walls of this room now, which functions as Tracy’s office and includes a second dishwasher, a wine cooler and cabinets.
Adjacent to the kitchen is a curved breakfast room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
“Norah’s getting window treatments custom-made for the breakfast area, but I think it would be cheaper to just staple a bunch of $20 bills up there,” Tracy says. “I had no idea how expensive those things would be.”
Tracy and O’Donnell opted to remove plantation shutters from the walls of windows in several rooms because they blocked too much of the woodland view. The couple removed the floor-to-ceiling fieldstone that surrounded the family room fireplace, switching to a smooth, more contemporary finish.