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Quiet or busy, straight forward or over the top, these four homes reflect the distinct personalities of their owners
Produced by Karen Tanaka
Photographs by Evan Skylar

In John Cochran and Sidra Forman's living room, there is no sofa. No chairs, either. No bright colors, busy patterns or beloved knickknacks competing for space on dusty shelves. And, although they're the parents of a year-old daughter, virtually no baby clutter. Instead, there are four Japanese tatami mats and one grand piano.

Cochran and Forman, chefs and co-owners of Rupperts in downtown Washington, see no reason to crowd their home with stuff. "When you own a restaurant, you're in a kitchen all day," says Cochran, Rupperts' head chef. "There's a lot of color and noise. And a lot of things you can't control. You've got to get away from it." The restaurant, it seems, more than satisfies any desire they have to shop. "You feel as if you've acquired something when you buy a new stove," he adds.

Now that their daughter has arrived—her name is Martin Lane, after Forman's late parents—how do they avoid chaos? They take her with them to the restaurant, and keep her toys in a playroom in the wine cellar there.

Forman and Cochran both grew up in uncluttered houses in the Washington suburbs. "John's mother has an absolutely beautiful house," says Forman, the pastry chef at Rupperts. "It's not identical in style to ours, but she pays a lot of attention to the environment." Forman's parents lived in Taiwan for five years before she was born and embraced a minimalist aesthetic. Fireplace

In looking for their home, Cochran and Forman knew they needed to stay near the restaurant, but they also wanted a house with a garden. Now they grow lettuce and cutting flowers for the restaurant in the back of their row house in Shaw, and herbs in a small plot in the front.

Inside, they added a bathroom, new hardware, recessed lighting, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the study-dining room and marble counter tops in the kitchen. They consulted interior designer David Knight, a friend who had also designed their restaurant, and they fastidiously chose just the right shade of white paint throughout the house. "If you paint with color, it will attack your senses to a certain degree," Cochran observes. "You're going to lose the subtlety of how the mood changes when the light changes."

Occupying the space where they originally planned to put their bedroom, the new bathroom has sliding doors, a marble floor, an enormous bathtub, a walk-in shower and a built-in seat so that either parent can hold the baby while waiting for the shower. "It's a necessity," says Cochran. "We have the same exact schedule. We work together and come home together."

And because they purchased the few furnishings they own from flea markets and secondhand shops, they have been able to save money and spend more time doing things they enjoy, Cochran says—"like trips to Paris." —Gina Caruso Piano

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