Home & Style

4 Dreamy Weekend Homes Near DC

Definite design goals.

Waterfront homes, like this one on Gibson Island, where designers let nature take its course. Photograph by Allen Russ.

Bay Area Meets the Bay

Photograph by Stacey Zarin Goldberg.

When a California couple took over this Kent Island property—which had belonged to the wife’s family—they built a new 7,200-square-foot house with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to continue the tradition of family gatherings.

Erin Paige Pitts, of Erin Paige Pitts Interiors in Annapolis, teamed up with the architecture firm Hammond Wilson and Focus Construction to design a space that’s “so entertaining-oriented,” Pitts says. “One of the unique things is the amount of access and flow from those main living areas, just rolling out onto the lawn.”

The house, designed with family gatherings in mind, features water-facing indoor swings custom-designed by Pitts. Photograph by Stacey Zarin Goldberg.

The home’s aesthetic reflects elements characteristic of both East and West Coasts. “Since they were moving from Northern California, they wanted a little bit of a California vibe,” Pitts says. She worked to blend that state’s style with Chesapeake touches: The home’s neutral, airy spaces are supplemented with striped textiles, jute rugs, and rope ottomans.

Photograph by Stacey Zarin Goldberg.

About half of the clients’ sizable wine collection, transported across the country, sits in their new wine room. “They really wanted to embrace the wine experience here,” says Pitts, who designed a modern yet cozy cellar with climatized bottle storage, as well as a tasting room with water­front views. A media room was another must, she says. “They use it all the time.”

Going With the Grain

The materials in this home and art studio–such as cedar outside, pine paneling inside–are all found in nature. Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

This family compound—on more than 275 acres in Oxford, Maryland, along the Tred Avon River—consists of two houses plus a pool, a pool house, and an art studio, all designed by architect Reggie Gibson, of Reggie Gibson Architects, and constructed by Lundberg Builders in Stevensville.

Interior designer Laura Hodges, of Catonsville’s Laura Hodges Studio, played to the rustic setting by installing pine paneling in the cedar homes, which are less than 2,000 square feet each. So that the natural knots and grain patterning wouldn’t make the pine appear too busy, Hodges suggested two coats of a light whitewash. “We wanted both homes to feel light and airy so your eyes go straight to the view outside,” she says. “They’re on such a pretty piece of land we didn’t want to take away from that.”

Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

The designer wove other natural influences into the two spaces. “The client specifically wanted to celebrate the seasons,” Hodges says. In what she refers to as the main home, she embraced colors and textures more reflective of summertime, including rattan-wrapped furniture. In the other, she opted for “warmer, cozy textures and deeper colors” that represent fall and winter.

Hodges also transformed a former storage building into a “crab shack,” where the homeowners host large gatherings. Custom cabinetry, benches, and dining tables were crafted out of reclaimed wood from the property’s previous structures. The art studio, which has a kitchenette, was built to be used not only by the owners but also by other creatives in their social circle.

Hodges filled the spaces with vintage pieces when possible, to avoid a “brand-new feel.” Sustainability was also a priority: “We don’t have any materials in there that you wouldn’t find in nature. It’s all woven materials and lots of different variations of wood and handcrafted pieces.”

Natural Setting

In a recent renovation, Rill Architects took out walls and low ceilings that blocked this home’s water views. Photograph by Allen Russ.

Similar in style to Philip Johnson’s famed Glass House, this Gibson Island, Maryland, home was in need of a range of updates when Jim Rill, the principal of Rill Architects, took over.

Because he says there was “no real sense of entry” upon setting foot in the house, Rill pushed out the foyer with a portico. He then added a screened porch to the back of the house. “The flow from that front-entry portico through the back to the pond beyond really accentuated the connection between the house and its response and homage to nature,” Rill says.

Photograph by Allen Russ.

Inside, he gave the kitchen a more “modern, sleek architecture style,” opting for clean lines and bright brass hardware. “We figured that when you’re in the kitchen, you want to be part of the outside and part of the rest of the house,” Rill says, noting that the warm wood finishes in the space are meant to reflect the natural world outside.

The architect also got rid of the home’s drop ceilings, which “inhibited the views and encroached on the floor-to-ceiling glass.” Rill kept the non-glass walls in the home largely devoid of art. “There is no better art,” he says, “than looking out at nature.”

Serene and Peaceful

Designer Kate Ballou chose “low and quiet” furniture, much of it Scandinavian, to keep the focus on the river. Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

Without moving plumbing or structural elements, interior designer Kate Ballou and architect Colleen Healey worked in tandem to tackle what they call a “replace-in-place project.” They revamped much of the interior of this Wye River, Maryland, home, with a focus on the kitchen, living room, and primary bath-and-closet suite.

The home’s existing French-country detailing didn’t appeal to Ballou and Healey’s clients, both attorneys, who prefer midcentury-modern design. The couple, who live most of the time in the Logan Circle neighborhood, craved a “serene, peaceful getaway from city life,” says Ballou, the founder of Hendrick Interiors in DC.

Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

The architectural alterations included applying a more natural finish to the cherry-wood floors, removing faux beams on the living-room ceiling to draw attention to the windows, and updating the firebox and fireplace surround. Healey, founder of DC’s Colleen Healey Architecture, also replaced the wrought-iron railing on the staircase with one made of glass to maximize the water view. She did opt to keep the arched wooden built-ins in the library: “It was really nice to have a room that you can kind of retreat to at night and watch a movie.”

The female client, who is from California, is “used to a very open and airy feel,” Healey says. Ballou tailored the home’s design to play to the waterfront setting, which is what drew her clients to the property in the first place. Says Healey: “We kept the scale of the furniture low and quiet so that you’re really letting the view of the river be the focal point.”

This article appears in the June 2024 issue of Washingtonian.