News & Politics

Heart of Her Home

A world traveler, she filled her McLean kitchen with souvenirs from her journeys—and mementos of her parents

Walk into Margaret Straub’s McLean home, and she’ll ask you to leave your shoes by the door. “When you live in Taiwan for many years, as I did, you absorb the culture,” she says.

Now retired from government work that took her to dozens of countries, Straub has lived in Panama, Barbados, Colombia, Bangladesh, and Chile. She says her parents, Marshall and Jean Straub, instilled in her a love of travel—they raised her in Taiwan and took her all over the world.

She says Washington has always been “home base.” Straub went to college at Dumbarton Holy Cross, a now-closed campus in DC, and returned to the area between stints abroad.

She’s brought back a piece of every country she visited: a silk rug from Turkey, ceramic jars from Colombia, rocks from the glaciers of Chile.

Five years ago, Straub inherited her parents’ McLean rambler—and their collection of art and antiques. Through a series of renovations, she has made the home her own and created spaces to display the pieces she and her parents acquired.

Two marble elephants that her father bought in Vietnam flank the entryway. Above them hang four watercolors that her mother painted in Taiwan.

Straub’s favorite part of the remodeled kitchen is a floor-to-ceiling hearth, where cubbyholes hold woven baskets from Colombia. She fell in love with the baskets’ intricate detailing and functionality—the Choco Indians, who live along the Amazon River, use them to carry water.

For the kitchen Straub chose earthy tones and warm finishes. “It’s like the culture I grew up in,” says Straub. “There’s a feeling of peacefulness.”

This article is from the June 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from the issue, click here.