The DC Design House is ready for prime time! I was at the media preview the other day, and I was impressed by how each designer transformed a blank slate of new construction into a space full of personality. And unlike many show houses, this one doesn’t give you whiplash as you move from one room to the other—the palettes flow nicely from one room to the other.
Here is a taste of what you will see there. I asked the designers what objects in their rooms that they loved the most, and the answers were often surprising. I hope you will go see it in person, especially the preview on Saturday from 1 to 5—the $50 admission goes 100 percent to Children’s National Medical Center. You can buy tickets right here (and scroll way down when you get to this page, because at first glance it looks like just a site map).
(All the NICE photos are by Angie Seckinger/ some detail shots are mine)
When you first enter, you see Camille Saum’s living room to the left. “I start with color, and then I move to the bones of the room,” she says. “I wanted a soft, functional room that is really soothing and appealing to the average person.” This average person approves.
Camille’s favorite pieces are the pink sculptures on either side of the fireplace, by Brian Kirk, who teaches secondary art with Loudoun County Public Schools and is the fine arts department chair at Stone Bridge High School. He also teaches sculpture for VCU’s graduate art program in Northern Va. and metal sculpture at the Art League in Alexandria (whew!).
Across the hall is the museum-like dining room by Nestor Santa-Cruz. His favorite detail is “that it doesn’t look like I’m in DC. People think of Washington in a very traditional way, and that’s not what I’m about. [The dining room] has the look as if the owners collected it over time.”
Through a hallway off the dining room is Iantha Carley’s glorious morning room, which is misnamed, because I would want to use it all day long.
Her favorite piece is the mid-century chair, which she grew up with. “We would always slide through the back,” she says. Here’s a closeup:
On the other side of the room is something I’m seeing more and more—huge pieces of art that come down from the wall and over the molding. I love the effect.
It’s easy to slip from Iantha’s morning room into evening, with Andrea Houck’s hallway and bar just outside. I think I could easily spend all my time in this wing off the kitchen.
Andrea’s favorite element is something you don’t focus on right away, but you definitely notice it when it’s not there: the LED lighting behind the glass shelves, which lights up the space and “it makes the crystal sparkle,” she says.
Around the corner is David Mitchell’s handsome library, which he’s brightened up with all manner of green, my favorite color:
David’s favorite piece is the lamp that’s made from a vintage fish-catching basket. And it’s already been sold! Here’s a closeup:
In the nearby family room Victoria Neale created a calming, seren space to hang out while dinner’s in the oven.
Victoria’s favorite piece is actually the firewood box. “One of the things that makes me happiest as I look across the room is the wood basket,” she says. “If you took that away, if you had a bench there, it wouldn’t be the same thing.”
Here’s what she’s talking about:
Downstairs, Lorna Gross’ lounge is fantastic, with the bold, high-gloss Drawing Room Blue by Farrow & Ball (all paint and some wallpaper throughout the house was donated by the company, as it does every year for the DC Design House).
Lorna tried out some new design elements, which she loved—a nailhead-and-tape trim on the accent wall, and patterned grass cloth wallpaper inside the shelving.
Adjacent to this space is the lower-level dining room by Scott Cooke, who combined informal elements such as the hand-painted rug with formal antiques:
“The way some of the sisal shows through [under the paint], it’s almost like denim,” Scott says. Add to that the texture of the stone table base, and “it brings it down a touch, and makes it more casual.”
Upstairs, on the master-suite floor, you are immediately enveloped by Clair Schwab’s gracious design:
Step into the master bedroom, and oh my goodness—Richmond designer Susan Jamieson should come up the road more often!
The most expensive thing in this very expensive room is something you don’t see: the $30,000 mattress by Savoir Beds. Wow. I wonder what it’s like to sleep on a $30,000 mattress.
I’ve got to skip over some rooms here, as I’m running out of time, but you can find MANY more images and coverage over at The Washington Post, right here. And, Susan Jamieson was on today’s online chat with Post writer Jura Koncius, here.
I’ll end with two more spaces by designers whom I really admire. The first is Michael Hampton, who did the sitting room next to the master:
Michael’s favorite element—and mine too!—are these pole lamps by Circa Lighting. I think they totally make the room:
On the third floor, Jeff Akseizer and Jamie Brown of Akseizer Design Group did the media room, which includes a 180-gallon fish tank and multiple flat screens for TV, games—even social media.
Jeff’s favorite element here—and again, mine too—is the vintage Paul McCobb chair, paired with a modern acrylic desk:
For more, go to see the house at 2507 Foxhall Road, preferably on Saturday for the special preview to raise money for Children’s, from 1-5 p.m. Tickets, here, are $50—and don’t forget to scroll way down the page for them!
“From the outside, the design house can seem almost superficial, but it’s not a superficial event at all,” says Randie Reilly, who’s on the design house’s executive committee, and whose daughter, Celia, received spinal surgery there when she was a teen. “Children’s has been fantastic. If it had been a different hospital, it would have been a different experience.”
Kathy Barker’s daughter had less traumatic surgery years ago, but still remembers the amazing staff and how they put her 6-year-old at ease. She was there for hernia surgery, but Jordan was concerned about other things: she asked surgeon Kurt Newman (now the President and CEO at Children’s) if she could get her ears pierced while she was under. “Of course!” he said. And with that, a happy Jordan got to choose the flavor of gas that would put her under (Kathy can’t remember what she chose, but I would have gone for bubble gum).
And this is the great thing about the doctors there: A supremely talented surgeon such as Newman can converse easily with a 6-year-old, yet switch to a laser-focus (as he did) and lead a team in saving the 13-year-old sniper victim Iran Brown back in 2002—one of the only people to survive John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo’s monthlong rampage.
One thing I found out that I hadn’t realized: It doesn’t matter who you are or whether you can afford it—Children’s will take all comers. That’s why they need your help. And what a beautiful way to donate, by going to the DC Design House. Enjoy.