Last week I shared a retrospective on the makings of our French Modern Bar at the 2013 DC Design House. Now I’m taking you behind the scenes of our makeover of the bar’s adjacent side hall. These walks down memory lane are inspired, of course, by the recent opening of this year’s DC Design House on McLean’s Mackall Farms Lane. Over 20 local designers have re-imagined the spaces in a new home, by Artisan Builders, with a “modern farmhouse” feel. Be sure to check it out before it closes on May 10.
In 2013 a new home, on DC’s esteemed Foxhall Road, was also chosen for the design house (often it’s an older home that’s selected). New homes are great to work in because they don’t pose many of the challenges, from outdated electrical to choppy layouts, that older homes sometimes do. The challenge with a new home, rather, is making the spaces come alive — giving them context and a story.
The side hall continued the story we started in the bar…of a chic Parisian escape. We wanted to elevate the space to a destination, not merely a passageway. After mixing a cocktail in the French Modern Bar, homeowners and guests could then stop and linger in the equally glamorous side hall. Here’s how we translated that vision:
But first we had to roll up our sleeves and get down to work. The “before” side hall didn’t have tons of personality.
As you can see above, the side hall is visible from the foyer, so it would play an important role in greeting guests and creating first impressions. Making over this space didn’t require as much heavy lifting as the French Modern Bar space, since no demolition was necessary, but we aimed for a no-less-dramatic transformation. Continuing the bar’s Parisian-nightspot theme, we set the mood with a warm brown wall color, using Farrow & Ball’s London Clay.
We envisioned a gallery-like atmosphere for the narrow space , so artwork was a key component of our design plan. The space’s best architectural feature, the graceful archway leading from the foyer into the hall, would beautifully frame a commanding piece of art (and this was the only spot visible from the entryway that could accommodate large artwork). A bold abstract by California artist Elise Morris took the honor. Here it is, leaning against my fireplace at home before being installed in the design house:
And here it is in the side hall space, hanging above an acrylic waterfall console, which continues the painting’s contemporary theme without distracting from the art. We tried several different lamp options, this being one, but ultimately decided not to place a lamp there — again, not wanting to obscure the art. A recessed ceiling light illuminates the painting.
The choice of rug presented another opportunity to bring art into the space. We selected a dynamic, vibrantly hued rug that reinterprets a painting by another California artist, Rex Ray. Here’s a peek at the handmade piece on the Galleria Carpets & Rugs showroom floor (at the old Washington Design Center location):
A welcoming bench provides the perfect spot to stop for a martini before dinner and to enjoy the space’s painterly elements. Inspired by Paris’s haute couture fashions, we dressed the bench in luxurious, richly textured silks. A whimsical mirror adds a reflective touch.
To help turn our vision into reality, we brought together a talented team of craftsman, who donated their time to the project: Mark Utara, Final Touch Productions; Brian Chin, L&S Electric; Mike Gorman, Marley’s Superior Interiors; and Alex Spiliotopoulos, Soulie’s Interiors.
And now, here’s the side hall’s complete transformation:
As an aside, the subsequent owner of the Foxhall Road house fell in love with the vignette shown above and purchased from us the Elise Morris painting, acrylic console and shimmery vases. In fact, he bought most elements in our design house space. It’s nice to know they found a home there.
For tickets to the 2015 event, visit the DC Design House website.