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Raji Radhakrishnan’s Northern Virginia home is a study in perfectly paired contrasts. By Michelle Thomas
Inside interior designer Raji Radhakrishnan's home in Brambleton. Photography by Rikki Snyder.

Perhaps it’s obvious that interior designers would have jaw-dropping personal spaces—they’re pros, after all. But designer Raji Radhakrishnan is no exception. Last year, the designer remodeled her 5,000-square-foot Georgian manor-style home in Loudoun County’s Brambleton to transform the original open layout into enclosed rooms, and incorporate classical architectural elements into the interior’s design, creating four-foot-wide enfilade-style aligned entryways and adding moldings and wall paneling. She adorned several of her room’s walls with large-scale wallpaper murals from her own line, set to contrast a carefully curated selection of French-modern furniture, sculptural finds, and contemporary artwork from the likes of Henri Matisse and Lucienne Olivieri.

A mixture of textures, styles, and periods collide in Radhakrishnan’s rooms—such as the vintage Willy Rizzo burlwood coffee table positioned next to Marc Newson’s modern polished white fiberglass “Felt” chair and, across the room, a custom console table formed from an antique 18th-century French balcony. In the office, dramatic black walls and bookcases play against a chic ’30s Art Deco desk and Roy Lichtensein pop lithograph.  Even the children’s playroom is thoughtfully designed.

Head to the slideshow to get a glimpse inside the designer’s space! 

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Posted at 01:43 PM/ET, 07/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
What we would buy if we had $2.595 million. By Michelle Thomas

We can’t pinpoint just one thing we love most about this Cleveland Park home. Maybe it’s the playful cheetah-print wallpaper in the powder room. Or the kitchen’s juxtaposition of rustic, warm wooden beams with cool, glossy marble. Or perhaps the copper piping, or the gold hardware, or the statement pendant lamps. Regardless—this place is a stunner. The five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home near the National Cathedral, a 1925 build that recently went through a down-to-the-studs restoration, is spot-on with its airy light, thoughtful design choices, and measured balance of contemporary elegance with original detailing. It doesn’t hurt that the decor is catalogue-perfect, too. The four-level home is listed at $2.595 million. One can dream, right? Take a peek below, then go to Long & Foster for more.

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Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 06/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Heirloom furniture mixes with a colorful palette in this 140-year-old home. By Michelle Thomas
All photographs by Angie Seckinger.

This week’s waterfront house—a 140-year-old farmhouse in the Eastern Shore farming community of Trappe—offers a completely different vibe than our previous two modern designs. The owner enlisted Washington-based interior designer Kelley Proxmire to transform the place from a weekend and summer home into her full-time residence—and to help merge the heirloom furniture and accessories from her former Washington home into their new, more casual setting. Proxmire repurposed the inherited pieces into the new space in different ways and added a few of her signature touches, such as painted ceilings (high-gloss green in the bedroom, lighter green in the living area, and pale blue on the porch) and textured and patterned wallpapers. A palette of greens, oranges, and blues combine with playful signs to infuse a touch of cheerful charm to a relaxed, homey design. Take a virtual tour of the home in the slideshow.

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Posted at 12:25 PM/ET, 05/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This Grasonville home was updated to include three water-facing balconies. By Michelle Thomas
All photographs courtesy of GTM Architects.

There’s nothing like a rainy spring morning to make you crave a sun-filled beach getaway. This week, we’re taking you to Grasonville on the Eastern Shore, where this contemporary renovation sits on the shore of the Chesapeake. Originally a 3,800 square foot home dating to 1985, the current owners worked with GTM Architects to expand and update their place to include a more functional kitchen, a larger family room, modern bedrooms, and newly built rec and exercise rooms. The result? A modern, open layout, with a skylit cathedral ceiling and an updated pool terrace that features a mudroom, recreation room, pool bath, and wet bar. The first-floor master and five second-floor bedrooms were brought up to date, and three new balconies were added—all with fantastic views of the water, of course. Keep reading for a glimpse at this home.

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Posted at 12:24 PM/ET, 05/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The waterfront home is constructed from lightweight concrete. By Michelle Thomas

It might be a bit chilly and more than a bit rainy outside, but that won’t keep us from daydreaming about seaside getaways. Helping things along on this dreary afternoon? This energy-efficient waterfront home on the Chesapeake Bay, which puts a sleek, modern spin on the traditional beach house. Architecture firm Meditch Murphey used autoclaved concrete to construct the home, a lightweight material that allows for mold and heat resistance, absorbs sound, and protects against water damage. The place was built with an eco-friendly design, incorporating geothermal heating and cross-ventilation cooling, solar-power roofing, and a planted green roof that’s meant to help with on-site storm drainage. All that—and it’s a pretty cool-looking, too. Click though the slideshow to take a virtual tour of this modern design.

Posted at 12:35 PM/ET, 04/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The where and when of spring’s best tours. By Michelle Thomas
This midcentury home will be one of ten on the Hollin Hills House & Garden Tour. Photographs by David Rivera.

Ah, spring. Though it’s not exactly delightful out today, sunnier times are ahead—and also tours. Lots of tours. The yearly deluge of neighborhood home and garden tours is about to hit full stride. Here’s a rundown of some of the area’s best bets. 

Old Town Historic Garden Week 

Part of the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, which opens more than 250 gardens and homes statewide, the Old Town-based walking tour visits five homes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The ticket price also includes admission to three other historic properties in the area: the Carlyle House Historic Park, the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. April 26, 10 to 4. $35 in advance, $40 day of. Alexandria Visitors Center, 221 King St., Alexandria.

Prince George’s House & Garden Pilgrimage

This year’s tour through Prince George’s County—as part of the annual Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage, which includes close to 50 private homes, gardens, farms, and historic sites in five counties—follows the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and Byway, with a focus on the War of 1812. The stops conclude with a visit to Darnell’s Chance, an 18th-century complex listed on the National Register of Historic Places. April 26, 10 to 5. $30 in advance, $35 day of. Patuxent Riverkeeper Center, 17412 Nottingham Rd., Upper Marlboro. 

Georgetown House Tour 

See inside nine Georgetown homes during this annual tour, now in its 83rd year. Tickets include an afternoon tea at Blake Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which the tour proceeds benefit. April 26, 11 to 5. $50 in advance, $55 day of. St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3240 O St., NW. 

Fairfax County: Historic Vienna 

Hosted by the Garden Club of Fairfax, this partial walking tour includes four homes and gardens in Vienna’s oldest neighborhood, Ayr Hill, and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. April 29, 10 to 4. $25 in advance, $30 day of. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna. 

Hollin Hills House & Garden Tour

Check out the midcentury-modern homes of this award-winning Fairfax County neighborhood in a self-guided walking tour, which visits ten Charles Goodman-designed properties and three gardens. The tour kicks off with a morning lecture on modern architecture and Goodman’s other work. May 3, noon to 6. $25 in advance, $30 day of. Hollin Meadows Elementary School, 2310 Nordok Pl., Alexandria. 

Takoma Park House and Garden Tour

Dubbed the Spirit of Holly Avenue, this three-block tour takes visitors through the evolution of the neighborhood from the 1880s through post-World War II. May 4, 1 to 5. $18 in advance, $20 day of. 7064 Eastern Ave., NW. 

Georgetown Garden Tour

For the 86th year, this tour visits nine of Georgetown’s best gardens, from high-tech modern affairs to woodsy fairy-tale versions. The tour includes an afternoon tea at Christ Church’s Keith Hall. May 10, 10 to 5. Christ Church, 31st and O sts., NW.

Del Ray House and Garden Tour 

A biennial project presented by the Del Ray Citizens Association, this year’s tour includes homes ranging from a 1940s rowhouse to a green design that incorporates one of the neighborhood’s only in-ground pools. May 10, 11 to 5. $20 in advance, $25 after May 1. Del Ray Farmers Market, Mount Vernon and Oxford aves., Alexandria. 

Capitol Hill Restoration Society House & Garden Tour 

This is Capitol Hill’s largest and oldest fundraiser, now in its 57th year, and this year the tour highlights four Civil War-era frame houses—a departure from the neighborhood's more prevelant Victorian homes—and a garden that features a fully stocked koi pond.  May 10, 4 to 7, and May 11, noon to 5. $25. Hill Center, 901 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.

Posted at 03:13 PM/ET, 04/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This year’s Forest Hills home was transformed by 29 designers. By Michelle Thomas
Outside, Rill Architects’ David A. Benton updated the facade of the 1929 stone home by painting the front door an unexpected high-gloss turquoise and adding an interior set of glass French doors to let in sunlight. All photographs by Angie Seckinger, courtesy of DC Design House.

Until just over a month ago, the home selected as this year’s DC Design House was not exactly in great shape. Yes, the 8,000-square-foot stone home—which was originally owned by Madison Hotel founder Marshall B. Coyne and remained in the family for six decades before its donation to the design benefit—is a grand estate, featuring much of its original 1929 architectural detailing, such as elegant crown molding, gracefully curving banisters, hardwood floors, and natural fieldstone in the kitchen. But good bones aside, this year’s selected home was in need of some major overhauls—including total renovations of six of its seven bathrooms. A few weeks later, it’s a completely different—and completely gorgeous—home, thanks to the 29 designers who reworked assigned spaces property-wide, from backyard landscaping to teensy closets. Some of the recurring aesthetic themes? Many of the designers took inspiration from the 1920s and ’30s, a nod to the home’s era, incorporating glam metallics, Lucite accents, and chinoiserie motifs. High-gloss paints, bold emerald, lime and aqua hues, and layered rugs pop up in several designer rooms, and we saw tons of mixing, whether texture, pattern, or design style.

Read on to see a handful of our favorite rooms from this year’s home, click through the slideshow to see 12 additional spaces, and then check out the complete project for yourself this weekend when it opens to the public for a month of tours. What’s more: On Friday, the showhouse is scheduled to list on the real-estate market for $3.85 million. Check listing brokerage McEnearney Associates on Friday for details.

DC Design House. Sunday through May 11. $25. Ticket proceeds benefit the Children’s National Health System.

Dining Room

Marika Meyer’s formal-meets-functional dining room is a lesson in pattern mixing, incorporating chinoiserie themes, Imperial Trellis upholstery, custom faux-malachite Parsons tables, and ikat china set atop cabbage-leaf chargers. Notes of gold, including a vintage 22-karat-gold-leaf chandelier and a gold serving cart, offset the distressed-walnut table and reworked vintage chairs. 

Butler’s Pantry/Wine Room

In what was originally the butler’s pantry, Aidan Design’s Nadia N. Subaran reimagined the petite corridor as a wine room and entertaining space, installing dual Thermador wine columns and custom cabinetry built for stemware storage. The design elevates a traditional aesthetic, contrasting the lush navy-painted cabinets with modern brushed-brass hardware and stunning Calcutta-marble herringbone floors. Subaran transformed the kitchen as well, playing off a fieldstone wall with black soapstone, porcelain marble backspash and burnished cherry cabinets.

Family Room

Perhaps one of the more obviously modern designs in the home, Akseizer Design Group’s pool-adjacent family room layers texture and netural tones for a space that fuses midcentury influences with organic glamour. A linear modern fireplace, hand-woven textured Thibaut wallpaper, layered hide and sisal rugs, and a vintage Alvar Aalto tank chair stand out as the room’s highlights.

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Posted at 02:45 PM/ET, 04/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Airy and modern, with a party-perfect roof deck. By Michelle Thomas

In a previous life, this Constitution Avenue property was a store—but a redo by DC developer Ditto Residential transformed this 1913 space into a super-sleek townhouse. The cool part: Many of the features that probably made this a great-looking store create a modern, almost gallery-like effect as a home. There are dramatic walls of windows, whitewashed brick walls, and white oak flooring. A floating threaded staircase, two interior balconies, a third-floor skylight. And don’t miss the roof deck—it’s wired to a central speaker system, so this place is practically begging for a party. It’s listed at $1.349 million. Check out a quick tour below, then head to Sotheby’s for more.

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Posted at 02:41 PM/ET, 03/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
See inside this Marika Meyer-designed condo. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs by Andrew Propp.

When Beth Stewart set out to redecorate her Logan Circle loft, she knew she needed help. She had a clear idea of the style she wanted to go for—assertive yet feminine—but the space presented some unusual challenges. The walls were white cement blocks, for one. The living room was a double-height space, but the bedrooms were much more petite. And huge, red-framed windows were the dominating feature. “They’re a great example of why I needed a designer. I see red windows, and my pedestrian instinct is to match them. I would have ended up with a nautical-themed apartment,” says Stewart. Enter designer Marika Meyer. “One of Marika’s great insights was to say, ‘No, we’ll just treat them as a neutral,’” Stewart explains.

Meyer also sourced items that would introduce additional pops of color and warm up the all-white space. She found a vintage armchair, which she had custom painted and reupholstered in a bold fuchsia velvet that reflects the hue of the window frames while neither matching nor clashing. She added a clear Lucite cocktail table to help retain a sense of space. It was important to Stewart that she keep some of her existing furniture, so the beige sectional and her ivory dining chairs stayed. Then the pair started sprinkling in some major statement pieces: Down came the boring track lighting, replaced by an oversize chandelier. A glam white lacquer table creates a dramatic moment just inside the door.

Upstairs, the bedroom offered similar challenges. “When I walked into this space, it just felt cold. And it was July,” says Meyer. “The concrete walls, all the windows—all those great interesting assets, but for the bedroom it was too severe. So it was about softening.” Panels of patterned curtains introduced texture and color to the room, and a linen-upholstered bed frame made the space feel inviting and soothing.

Click through the slideshow for a more detailed glimpse at this home.


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Posted at 02:41 PM/ET, 03/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
We got the scoop on the designers’ plans for five of the rooms. Check out all 29 spaces in this weekend’s preview tour. By Michelle Thomas
The 2014 Design House. Photo courtesy DC Design House.

It’s arguably the most epic before-and-after project in town. And this Saturday, the curious will get a shot at scoping the raw “before” space of the 2014 DC Design House, which will open briefly to the public for the annual Bare Bones Tour. The next time it opens, get ready for a serious reveal.

The fundraising design project—which began in 2008 to benefit the Children’s National Health System—will spotlight local designers transforming 29 spaces in this year’s nearly 8,000-square-foot home, a stone estate in Forest Hills that was built in 1929 and originally owned by the founder of the Madison Hotel, Marshall B. Coyne, who was an avid collector of artwork, French furniture, and historical documents. The home was donated by Coyne’s granddaughter Suzi Wilczynski, who currently owns the property. “This year’s house had a great history, with 60 years in the same family,” says Susan Hays Long, the chair and board member of the DC Design House. “How amazing it is to have the DC Design House at Marshall Coyne’s home, the home he lived in before he moved to his 30th Street house, which was filled with his collections. We love a home with local history, mystery, or something unique. That works for our search process.”

The six-bedroom home also retains many of its original features, such as crown molding, wood floors, and custom cabinetry. The age of this year’s host site makes it a more challenging project than last year’s showhouse, which was a new construction—this year, the project required renovation and earlier involvement from the designers, says DC Design House cofounder Skip Singleton.

Keep reading to get a first look at the raw space, along with some of the designer’s inspirations, renderings and proposed designs—then head to the showhouse on Saturday for a complete view of the home before its transformation is revealed April 13.

2014 DC Design House. 4600 Linnean Ave., NW. Bare Bones Tour Saturday 11 to 3. $5 or free with the purchase of a $25 ticket to be used during the complete home’s monthlong run.

Living Room
Designer: Kelley Proxmire, Kelley Interior Design
The inspiration: Proxmire wanted to pay homage to the history and architecture of the house, incorporating the glamour and sophistication of the 1920s while creating a space that is also livable and inviting. Mixes of antiques and contrasting metallics keep the space unique and interesting; modern and colorful pieces give the space interest and an updated overall feel. She intends to retain the original crown molding and flooring. Planned design elements include a large sisal area rug layered with an Oriental rug, high-gloss lacquer gray paint with white trims, a soft blue ceiling, and silver metallic detail etched around the border of the room. The grating on the built-ins will be lined with a crisp white silk to complement the white woodwork. Overall, the room will be kept neutral and comfortable with whites, grays, silvers, and some hints of a warm gold. For furniture, Proxmire will blend a traditional look with a few unexpected, updated pieces, such as the white sofa with straight lines and two acrylic Chinese Chippendale chairs. The tables will incorporate wood, metal, and glass, while all the upholstered pieces will be a mixture of whites, grays, and splashes of gold.

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Posted at 01:38 PM/ET, 02/27/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()