Inside Fox Anchor Bret Baier's Ralph Lauren-Inspired Home
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Bret Baier, who replaced Brit Hume as Fox News Channel's "Special Report" anchor six months ago, ends every broadcast saying, "Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight." Then he heads to his own, a new stone-and-stucco place off Foxhall Road in Northwest Washington that he shares with wife Amy and 2-year-old son Paul.
Decorated primarily with furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home, the space punches all the buttons of a modern family dream house: master bedroom with his-and-hers baths and walk-in closets, a workout room, a glamorous kitchen with a butler's pantry and a wine room. Paul has a nursery, a playroom and a big-boy bedroom for later, plus a kid-size, red-walled toy room his mom carved out of some unused space under the stairs to store his fleet of plastic vehicles.
The first thing you notice is that the couple dumped the idea of a stuffy, formal living room. "I call it the pub," says Bret, 39. "Amy calls it the library." The focal point of the book-lined space, decorated Ralph Lauren-style with navy blue walls, tartan pillows and four burgundy velvet club chairs, is a granite-topped mahogany bar.
"I think our builder thought, 'This young couple is nuts,' " says Amy Hills Baier, 31. "But we didn't want a bar in the basement. We wanted it out where we would use it with our friends."
For her made-to-order house, Amy went with a style familiar and appealing to them. "Every time I walked into a Ralph Lauren store, I just loved the look. I wanted to replicate it for our home," she says. For several years, she had been keeping design scrapbooks compiled from stacks of House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest and other magazines. Then, she asked Yota Papachristos, a design consultant in the Ralph Lauren store in Chevy Chase, to get the look for her.
The house has many Lauren trademarks: walls painted ebony or dark blue or papered in bold stripes. The couple chose lots of textured fabrics, including tweed, plaid and paisley; pillows in velvet and wool; and leather upholstery. The house shimmers with crystal chandeliers (five on the main floor), but they look relaxed against the sisal rugs and faux-crocodile walls. "They add a nice feminine touch with all the masculine colors," says Amy, who grew up in Chicago and once worked for Calvin Klein in New York.
Bret was a Fox News correspondent in Atlanta on Sept. 11, 2001. When the terrorists attacked, he jumped in a car and began driving north, getting as far as Virginia. His live reporting from the Pentagon got him the job of national security correspondent. Bret, who grew up in Rumson, N.J., and Atlanta, never went back to Georgia: Fox packed his stuff and moved it into an Adams Morgan apartment.
He and Amy met on a blind date in 2002 at a Rolling Stones concert at FedEx Field. When the couple wed in 2004, Amy's challenge was to rid Bret of his bachelor decor: black leather sofa, recliner and Ansel Adams photos. "I literally got cleaned out," he says. They moved to a two-bedroom Georgetown condo, and in 2007, Paul was born.
The newborn required complex surgery for five congenital heart defects at Children's National Medical Center. Paul is doing fine now, although he has a few more operations ahead of him. Last year, the Baiers, along with Amy's parents, donated $1 million to the hospital for research on treatment of children with congenital heart disease. In May, the Paul Francis Baier Comprehensive Media Room was dedicated to serve as a state-of-the-art diagnostic space for doctors. The Baiers continue to be active in hospital fundraising.
With a new baby, the family needed more room. Last year, the Baiers connected with Washington builder Jim Gibson, who was about to start construction on a 7,500-square-foot spec house (a home built before having a buyer). They liked the close-in location and the plans, which included a wide center hall on the main floor and a 24-foot stair tower that fills the house with light. The couple customized the interior layouts before breaking ground in May. The house was built in 10 months. Amy, often with the baby, would visit the site daily. Bret would come by on Saturdays to check on the progress of his pub and made sure there was room for seven TVs throughout the house.
The kitchen was inspired by a photo of a Clive Christian trophy kitchen from Amy's design scrapbook. The room looks elegant but is more kid-proof than it appears: The island stools are upholstered in wipe-clean gold patent leather, and the hardwood floors make Cheerios and juice spills easy to mop up.
For the master bedroom, Amy chose Ralph Lauren's black, white and cream Mayfair sheets and fabrics she saw at the Chevy Chase store. "I thought the black and white looked clean and crisp," she says. Bret loves the TV, which drops down from the ceiling past the foot of the bed "James Bond style," as he likes to say. The couple has lots of clothing storage, including a shoe closet for Amy's Christian Louboutins and Jimmy Choos.
They're still getting settled. "It's been a stunning two years. We've dealt with the health of our child, a new job, building a house," says Amy. The family has breakfast together every morning at the kitchen island, as Bret gets home late because of his hour-long 6 p.m. broadcast. On weekends, the family sometimes walks to Georgetown to visit playgrounds, get frozen yogurt at Thomas Sweet or stop in at the Georgetown Flea Market.
When friends come over, the favorite hangout is the pub/library/living room, where Bret looks at home behind a bar. Bartending was one of two side jobs he had in 1992 while working in his first on-air reporting gig on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The other was delivering pizzas. "I'd walk up to the door, and the guy who opened it would say, 'Hey, wait a minute, aren't you on Channel 6?' I would say, 'Yes, I am. Did you order the pepperoni?' "