Here’s a great story about an aging Arlington ranch house — brought back to life through the vision of its owners, Max and Maggie Grant, and their designer, Dana Tydings.
The circa 1953 rancher was billed as a teardown, but Maggie knew it had great bones — and original Gracie wallpaper on the living room wall. Maggie recognized it right away because her mother and grandmother both had Gracie in their homes.
Maggie had to scrub away years of built-up film from cigarette smoke to bring back the wallpaper’s luster. Dana helped her furnish the room in neutral tones so all the attention would be on that wall. A highlight is the custom Savonile rug by C. G. Coe & Son Inc. in Bethesda.
Maggie also painstakingly cleaned cigarette film off every piece of crystal from the chandeliers in the hallways and in “Mother’s Bath,” which held perhaps the home’s biggest discovery.
The sconces and vanity are original, as is the unusual blue marble, which covers the floor and the inside walls in the shower. All the fixtures are from Sherle Wagner — all solid gold. Dana said she was surprised they weren’t stolen or sold in the previous owner’s estate sale. The vanity legs, moreover, are rock crystal with gold mounts.
Dana chose the textiles and wallpaper to complement what was already there, and she added a Carvers’ Guild mirror to top it all off. Mother’s Bath was thus named by the previous owner — a family matriarch. If we all could only have one of those…
The foyer is equally dramatic: Dana closed off a doorway into the dining room to create an entry wall that literally packs a punch — with its flocked paisley wallpaper, distinctive 1940’s sconce, and zebra-print rug leading downstairs. She replaced a boring wrought-iron railing with sleek glass panels. They kept the original crystal ceiling light just inside the front door.
Next, Dana organized the family room using the existing built-ins as the focal point:
The brass fixtures on the cabinetry and pocket window panels (pocket window panels!!) were black with dirt and age, and again, Maggie used her elbow grease to bring back their original shine. She and Dana love the original “chicken wire” facing on the upper cabinets. The new window treatments fit into ceiling moldings that were already there.
The Grants do plan to add on in the next year or two — and rebuild the retractable-roof pool enclosure that is currently in disrepair. But one thing now is totally new: the life-sized chess set outside.
The Grants aren’t quite finished with the work on their house — Max will build a new detached garage and office out back, but there will still be room for a playing field for their two kids and a zip wire.
Maggie tells me that this house used to belong to a large, prominent Arlington family — and was the site of many large parties. I can already tell their newly designed version will live up to that same reputation — for adults and children alike.