(Photo by Sean Shanahan) In the formal living area, two sliding glass doors that lead to the outdoor terrace and pool area bookend a gas fireplace that warms the space.

Along a busy road in Bethesda, this contemporary house offers an oasis of calm.

A feeling of serenity begins with the water feature at the front door. Water gently flows from a gray-brick wall, masking the sounds made by the traffic. The wall was once part of the original 1954 ranch house.

Renovated in 2012, the house is clad in cedar, HardiePlank siding and glass to blend with its bucolic surroundings. Towering, mature trees surround the house on three sides. Large panes of glass allow natural light to flood the interior of the home.

“Wherever you sit, you are literally basking in sun,” said owner Anne O’Donoghue, whose husband, architect Sassan Gharai, designed the home.

“It’s her house,” Gharai said. “I designed it for her.”

The main level has an open floor plan. After entering through the glass-enclosed vestibule, the public spaces unfurl to the left. A bedroom with an accessible bathroom and a small den are to the right. In the formal living area, two sliding glass doors that lead to the outdoor terrace and pool area bookend a gas fireplace that warms the space. The family’s favorite spot in the home is the 24-foot Silestone waterfall kitchen island. The roomy counter is where homework gets done and where meals are prepared, but it’s also a place to unwind.

“It’s beautiful looking at the trees,” O’Donoghue said. “It’s very soothing.”


(Photo by Sean Shanahan) Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves line three walls in the library. A wall of glass overlooks the neighborhood.

A cozy family area next to the kitchen has one of the home’s three smart TVs. The entire house, including the TVs, is controlled by a Savant smart-home automation system.

A spacious pantry, tucked behind the kitchen, provides restaurant-level storage. The formal dining area comfortably seats 10 people.

Up the maple stairs, a long hallway leads to the library and the master suite.

Gharai may have designed the house for his wife, but he designed the library for himself. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves line three walls. A wall of glass overlooks the neighborhood.

“Sas really wanted to make a library like that,” she said. “I think that was his dream. He loves reading.”


(Photo by Sean Shanahan) The exterior of the house is clad in cedar, HardiePlank siding and glass to blend with its bucolic surroundings.

Not all of his books could be contained in that room. Another wall of bookshelves is part of the master suite.

A feature of many Gharai-designed homes is his-and-her bedrooms in the master suite. “I call the second one the snoring room,” he said. Not just for snorers, the room works well for newborns or couples with different sleep schedules.

The master suite also has a small balcony off the main bedroom, abundant closet space and his-and-her bathrooms. At the opposite end of the hallway are two bedrooms connected by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom.

The five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 5,400-square-foot house on a little more than an acre is listed at $2.275 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

Listing: 6309 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda, Md. 

Listing agent: Shahab Nasrin, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

Previous House of the Week