Now that spring is finally here, it’s also time for Washington’s annual design extravaganza, the D.C. Design House.
This year’s venue, which opens Sunday for a month-long run, is a brand-new, 8,869-square-foot house in McLean. Constructed of local fieldstone in brown and gray, the three-level house is described as a modern version of an old Virginia farmhouse.
Inside, 24 design firms have decorated 28 spaces. Many have chosen to embrace the natural-stone-and-rustic-timber vibe that plays out inside and outside the house. So you’ll find faux-wood wallpapers and fabrics embellished with leaves and vines and lots of slate grays and browns throughout. In designer Michael Hampton’s library, which has a backdrop of bleached oak paneling, the sofa is upholstered in Jed Johnson’s Faux Bois fabric. The dramatic custom hood in Lobkovich Kitchen Design’s kitchen mimics the detail of a classic metal-seamed farmhouse roof. And Jeff Akseizer and Jamie Brown of Akseizer Design Group installed 350 reclaimed birch poles in their dining room ceiling, creating what they call a “nest” for intimate dinners.
There’s plenty to look at and dish about (after all, that’s half the fun of visiting a show house). Do you love, love, love the feathery pendant lamp in Nancy Twomey’s nursery? And what’s your take on the giant peacock painting in Pamela Harvey’s upper-stair hall?
No detail has been left undone. Don’t miss the wooden clothespins in the laundry room: Lynni Megginson took an everyday item and glamorized it with a coat of metallic silver spray paint.
We combed through the floors and came up with eight rooms that each offer a smart decorating idea. Feel free to fly them to your own nest.
The living room needed a strong focal point, according to Annette Hannon. “I felt this room needed a statement piece because it’s right off the foyer and needs something to draw you in,” she says. She chose a floral silk wallpaper that was hand-painted and hand-embroidered and features flowering branches. The pattern, Prunus by Fromental, was customized to cover the walls and a bit of the ceiling above the fireplace, which has an antique wood mantel.
With the furniture and accessories she created a quiet place for conversation, and no doubt the conversation might often center around that distinctive wallpaper. “When you look at the actual flowers, they do resemble cherry blossoms,” Hannon says. “That spoke to me because it was in keeping with this time of year, and I love things that reference Washington.”
“It’s always nice to figure out a way to bring the outdoors in,” Hannon says.
Walls: Benjamin Moore Plaster of Paris
When Nancy Twomey saw the baby animal photos in Sharon Montrose’s online art gallery (www.theanimalprintshop.com), she knew she had to design her show-house nursery around one of them. She bought a 24-by-30-inch limited-edition print of a baby deer and had it generously matted and mounted in a large rubbed-gold wood frame.
“I wanted to do a sophisticated nursery with a subtle nod to animals, wildlife and nature,” Twomey says. She picked up on the fawn’s coloring in creative ways, including a spotted taupe rug and a creamy white faux-fur chair. Other special natural elements include the Vita EOS feather pendant light, whose goose feathers create a soft light for a baby’s room, and a wood vase from Crate & Barrel.
.Twomey also added shutters to the windows to create a European farmhouse feel. “I like nurseries and kids’ rooms that feel fanciful,” Twomey says.
Walls: Benjamin Moore White Dove
Ceiling: Benjamin Moore Mauve Hint
Shutters:Benjamin Moore Oystershell
The designers of Ivy Lane Living wanted to create a relaxing, neutral guest room. But instead of going with a boring or expected color, they chose to do almost everything in the room in blush pink. “We wanted to create that enveloped feeling in a room by using layers of this color in different textures,” Alex Deringer says. “Each piece we added carefully so we weren’t overdoing it.”
They commissioned a custom wallcovering on muslin by Ann McGuire Studio. A similar watery pattern in blush pink and lavender gray appears on a custom handpainted linen fabric that was used for the window treatments and the upholstered bed. They had two blush pink lacquer chests built to act as bedside tables. A bit of lavender and coral was also woven into the other accessories and fabrics.
The trick with a monochromatic color scheme, they say, is to layer like colors but not match them perfectly. Otherwise you’ll get a one-dimensional look. “You want the color to subtly change throughout the space,” Deringer says.
Trim: Benjamin Moore Strawberry-n-Cream
Ceiling: Benjamin Moore Hint of Violet
“Technology adds another dimension to a space,” says Iantha Carley.
She wanted to equip the home’s spacious family room (30 by 20 feet) with some of the latest innovations in home technology. But first she created a family-friendly setting, using a 48-by-60-inch walnut coffee table with storage underneath for games or books and lots of comfortable seating in indoor/outdoor fabrics to accommodate a soccer team or movie-viewing party.
Then she partnered with Christian Vives, the chief operating officer of ABE Networks in Silver Spring, who created an integrated-control system based on the features Carley was imagining for family living.
The system can raise and lower the Hunter-Douglas Woven Woods window shades, control the TV set, adjust music, regulate lights, monitor the security system, change the temperature and turn on the gas fireplace. All the features can be operated by an iPad mounted on a wall docking station, a handheld remote or a smartphone app. Want to watch a movie on a sunny day? You can activate a configuration that automatically lowers the blinds and turns down the lights, Carley says.
Vives says such systems would start at about $10,000. “The costs of these types of systems have come down with the advent of smart devices,” he says. If you want to start with one feature, for $500 you could get an app to control your HVAC from your phone. You could add more functions later.
Walls: Benjamin Moore Dragonwell
Creating an inviting ambiance in a subterranean space requires a lot of creativity. Joanne Fitzgerald’s strategic lighting choices made the difference between a ho-hum suburban party venue and something with a dramatic urban lounge vibe.
“I wanted to make this fresh and playful. I envisioned this as a sort of New York nightclub, one of those moody, sexy kind of places,” Fitzgerald says. “Since it had no natural light, it had to sparkle in other ways.”
The room came with a dramatic 10-foot stone bar with a wood overhang, plus massive rustic shelves in the back. The builder had already installed channels of LED lights underneath the bar, which was a good start. She added three Tracy Glover hand-blown pendants overhead.
The other part of the space is a cozy seating area with a round hammered-nickel cocktail table that shimmers. Above it is another piece by Glover: the Silver Lining chandelier, a cluster of hand-blown glass orbs infused with bubbles and ridges.
“Use light fixtures to identify and accentuate the different areas in your room and to invite you in,” Fitzgerald says, adding, “Whether a table lamp or hanging fixture, all of those approaches create vignettes that create warmth, coziness, sparkle and interest.”
Walls: Benjamin Moore Evening Dove and Bridgewater Tan
Ceiling: Benjamin Moore Baltic Gray
“All winter I’ve been thinking about eating outdoors,” Skip Sroka says.
Sroka’s pavilion for warm-weather entertaining is the backyard jewel of this year’s showhouse. Coming in the front door, you can catch a peek of the towering 14-by-14-foot dining structure. “It just draws you outside,” Sroka says.
The open-air pavilion is constructed of Walpole Outdoors cellular PVC, which looks and feels like natural wood but doesn’t have to be repainted or replaced for years. The Klismos chairs in weathered zinc are by Restoration Hardware. Sroka had curtains made of an off-white indoor/outdoor fabric, Roughtime by Robert Allen. The curtains can be left open or drawn all around. The blue-and-white color scheme, Sroka says, was inspired by hydrangeas.
“Anyone can create a focal point in their own back yard,” Sroka says. “If you are on a budget, buy a premade metal tent structure. You can pick up some indoor/outdoor ready-made curtains at places such as Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware.”
The massive stone fireplace in the basement den created a challenge for Samantha Friedman.
“Working around this fireplace was tough,” Friedman says. “The mantel was a problem because it was asymmetrical, too high and it slanted toward the back wall.”
So Friedman’s solution was to draw the eye away from the fireplace using interesting fabrics, textures and colors. Along an adjacent wall, she installed two free-floating teak media consoles, each 62 inches long. These Baguette consoles by Global Views gave new dimension and interest to that part of the room. The taupe Casamance wallpaper (Cristal Dessin Eponge Ondine) has a pebbly pattern, she says, that complements the stonework. She covered a Berman Rosetti lounge chair in fluffy white lambswool. “It looks so luxurious and fun,” she says.
Friedman says that many clients think that if there’s a fireplace, it has to be the focal point. But she says that isn’t true, especially in a large room. “It’s all about layering,” Friedman says. “By bringing in different textures, stones and woods, you make the entire room special.”
Ceiling: Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige
You can take pleasure in doing chores if you take a little time to style your space and have some fun with it. This was the philosophy of Lynni Megginson, who created a laundry room full of sparkle and sophistication out of a builder-basic space.
Megginson’s room, on the second floor of the house, already had a white built-in cabinet and grayish-green slate floor. She installed shimmery wallpaper by Winfield Thybony made of crushed oyster shells and mica. And she created a glam drying rack by hanging chains and bracelets from a drapery rod with finials encrusted with Swarovski crystals.
She had a lot of fun accessorizing the room. Even if your laundry space is a dark closet, you can still tart it up with one of her ideas: Atop the washer and dryer, she displayed laundry products in lidded glass jars from Home Goods and Global Views and stacked her dryer sheets in an acrylic box. A wine decanter looks very cool filled with Downy Fresh Protect odor shield beads.
Because a lot of new homes put laundry rooms on the second floor, it makes sense to treat the design as you would any other room, Megginson says. “The days of being banished to the basement are over.”
Ceiling: Benjamin Moore October Mist
Wall detail: Benjamin Moore Metallic Glaze Sea Glass
The D.C. Design House is at 956 Mackall Farms Lane in McLean. It will be open Sunday through May 10. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday 5-8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday noon-5 p.m. Tickets are $30 and benefit Children’s National Health System. Find more information at www.dcdesignhouse.com.
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