'It happened right about the time I finished law school," recalls Martha Kavanaugh. "I looked around the house with its all-white walls and white cotton draperies . . . It just seemed so blah."
Ed and Martha Kavanaugh moved to the classic brick Colonial with their son in 1972. They had grown attached to the three-bedroom 1939 Bethesda house, with its hardwood floors and elegant moldings, and had filled the rooms with family inheritances and furniture store purchases. But they knew it was time to redecorate.
The two-career couple had never worked with a decorator before. As professionals, however, they knew they needed another professional to tackle the project. "I know what I like when I see it, but I can't picture the final result," says Martha Kavanaugh. "I needed someone to pull it all together."
Enter Penne Poole, a Washington interior designer whose work the Kavanaughs respected.
"When I arrived on the job, they told me they wanted something comfortable, a home that didn't have a lot of formality to it," recalls Poole. "Because of its small spaces, it had to be multifunctional. Yet I could see they wanted something more unusual."
When Martha Kavanaugh expressed a strong preference for a jewel-toned green color, Poole ran with it. They decided to do all of the first-floor walls as well as the stairwell in green. Poole had a craftsman put up a neutral color grass cloth, hand- paint it the correct shade of green and then hand- glaze it to give it a deep, lush texture and warmth.
The color of the walls set the dramatic tone for the redecoration. In the dining room, Poole covered faux twig chairs and the banquette in emerald green. Tiles that Ed Kavanaugh purchased in Portugal were fitted on top of a custom-made dining table.
Poole's living room scheme involved warming the cool greens with pinks and burgundys in fabrics and accessories. She kept an elegant look while adding comfortable brown linen club chairs and several reading lamps. The Kavanaughs' old sofa was reupholstered in a floral print. Balloon shades in the same fabric were installed, and two ottomans were covered in a pink feather print. An antique burled wood armoire bought at the Eastern Shore now holds a stereo, TV and bar. Poole brought in a Chinese box of linen and burgundy leather as an elegant coffee table.
Though the house was termed "completed" in April of last year, the Kavanaughs are still accessorizing and Poole is still very much involved. Before they take a trip, the Kavanaughs consult with her about what might fit their scheme. Recent purchases have included oxblood vases and a gilt-
covered antique Chinese
wood carving from Hong
Kong. "I seldom lose touch
with my clients," says Poole.
"Its an ongoing process."
The Kavanaughs since
paid her the ultimate
completing work on their
house, Poole was hired to
redecorate their offices.