A Classic Remake
When designer Sara Tuttle and architect David Jones were hired to tackle the renovation of this Chevy Chase, Maryland, home, it had fallen far from its initial incarnation.The original house embodied the ideal combination of sophisticated formality and a country house's down-home simplicity. Smitten with its potential, the current owners saw past its imperfections and set about creating a space that's comfortable yet not afraid of dressing up a little. Now, the house achieves just the right equilibrium of comfort and elegance—the ultimate in Southern hospitality. From architectural features to decorative details, here's what makes each room great.
Draped in green silk and edged in yellow tape trim, this 60-inch round table is the focal point of the room, designed with hospitality in mind. "The owners love to entertain, and they wanted to maintain the house's historic formal entry space for their parties," says Sara. "The silk-skirted table establishes a dressed-up feel, but the glass top protects it from everyday wear and tear."
A few grand gestures—the large landscape painting, the vibrant green hue of the table skirt, the oversize lantern, and the lively ikat bench—infuse this otherwise neutral space with some daring touches without diminishing its sophisticated style.
Sara had the floor hand painted in a geometric pattern in keeping with the room's formal tone but made sure it had some patina to prevent it from feeling too precious. Light distressing of the paint lets some of the wood grain show through, while a coat of glossy polyurethane makes the design impervious to scuff marks.
A mix of furniture styles.
"Pairing antiques with modern pieces allows you to see the older items with new eyes and gives a more collected, less 'designed' look," says Sara.
"What I love about this verdant shade is that it feels so fresh and lively but can work as a neutral, too," says Sara. The rich texture and crisp color are the ideal combination of luxurious but inviting and pretty. Creamy silk trim on the curtains' leading edges completes the look.
Sophisticated touches of black.
From the lampshades to the drapery rods, black plays a key diplomatic role in tying together the living room's warm and cool palette and its mix of furniture. "It started with the collection of prints of French châteaus, which are framed with black mats," says Sara. "Pops of black keep your eye moving around the room, provide consistency, and ground the airy space.
"We wanted this room to look like a porch that had been enclosed in glass," says David of the bumped-out dining space that's framed by windows and French doors with sidelights.
A smart seating mix.
Keeping things stylishly practical, Sara complemented the table with slipcovered chairs and French-style bistro chairs that have plastic seats and backs.
First popularized during the late 19th century, the bay window style lends historical authenticity to the new space. Sara gave the seat a cozy cushion and pillows made with indoor/outdoor fabrics.
Fabrics with finish.
Sara elevated simple elements with custom features such as slipcovers energized with contrasting blue welts, shades tricked out with trim, and pillows embellished with tape. "Simple details give a piece a finished look," she says.
"Our goal was to make the house look more like it did in 1905, essentially taking it back to where it had started," says David. Restoration of the exterior included removing aluminum siding to reveal original wood clapboard; installing divided-light upper sash windows; and adding back a wraparound porch.
The 4-foot-wide front door, which is original to the house, has a certain elegance and grandness to it that's hard to find in contemporary entries. Sara gave the century-old door a fresh look with a coat of high-gloss green-black paint.