Design & Home

Space of the Week: A Stuffy Chevy Chase DC House Gets a Happy Update

Proof that a formal living room can actually be fun.
Photographs by Reema Desai Boldes.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of a new weekly series, in which we spotlight dreamy Washington interiors and gather a bit of behind-the-scenes intel from their designers. This week: a too-formal house in Chevy Chase DC gets a bright, kid-friendly refresh.

The designer: Kerra Michele Huerta, of Kerra Michele Interiors.

Who lives in the home: A family of four, including two elementary-school-aged kids.

Scope of the project: Huerta was hired to reimagine most of the main level, including the foyer, the formal living room, and a more casual den.

The problems: “They had this formal living room that felt really stuffy,” says Huerta. It was full of furniture they’d moved from a previous house that overwhelmed the space. It was awkward and not at all kid-friendly: “They were always dodging big furniture.” The foyer, meanwhile, was practically empty, and for the den, the client had bought a beige sectional that she immediately regretted. Huerta assured her she could make it work. On the whole, the client asked Huerta to solve the spatial issues and make everything more colorful.

What Huerta did: “I pick a color palette based on the vibe I get from the client. She seemed to gravitate toward these bright, floral colors,” says Huerta. The living room was too small to accommodate a full-sized couch, and Huerta wanted to avoid using a love seat in a space meant for entertaining. “When people don’t know each other well, only one person will sit on it,” she explains. The solution: four swivel chairs in turquoise velvet. She also had custom cushions made for the radiator cover to turn it into additional seating. She livened up the foyer with a pink settee, and a vintage dresser that the family uses as shoe storage. As for the bland beige sectional in the den, Huerta made it work by bringing in custom throw pillows, fun artwork, and a bold lamp.

Her biggest challenge: The size of the rooms. “In DC, all these historic homes have oddly shaped rooms,” says Huerta. “The foyer is almost the same size as the living room!”

Her favorite part: “I really adore the sitting room with the four chairs. I think that people just assume you have to have a sofa in every single room. You really, truly don’t.”

The client’s personality-free beige sectional got an easy makeover with colorful accessories.
Four swivel chairs, instead of one small sofa, create a natural spot for conversation in the living room.
Huerta commissioned custom cushions for the radiator cover, creating clever additional seating.
A vintage dresser hides shoes in the entryway.
A cheerful settee greets you when you walk in the door, and serves as a comfy place to remove shoes.

If you’re an interior designer or architect with a space in the Washington area that you’d like us to spotlight, please submit it to mkashino@washingtonian.com.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She has recently written about the Marriott family’s civil war and the 50-year rebirth of 14th Street, and reported the definitive oral history of the Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt case. She lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.