When you can’t buy your favorite architect’s home, why not hire her to design one specially for you? Julie and Grant Geyer were on the lookout for a new house when they toured the chic, innovative interiors of architect Carmel Greer’s DC abode, then on the market. “The style was incredible,” enthuses Julie. “We were looking for modern but not uber-minimalist modern, and Carmel’s house had the perfect sensibility.”
Sadly, the home’s location made it impossible; with three tween-age kids, the couple wanted to stay in the Maryland school system. Still, they met with Greer—and serendipitously discovered a teardown for sale in their Bethesda neighborhood at the same time. “The property was stunning,” recounts Julie Geyer, who has since hung out her shingle as an interior designer; Grant is a cybersecurity expert. “We asked Carmel to take a look and that was it.”
Greer conceived an L-shaped layout in which front-facing public rooms occupy one leg of the L while the other leg is dedicated “to family and practicality,” she explains. “It’s a nice way of organizing a home, to group the practical elements together. And it worked well aesthetically with the lot’s square configuration.” As a bonus, the L creates a courtyard in back that neatly accommodates an outdoor kitchen and a porch equipped with heaters and retractable screens. A recently installed swimming pool nestles into the lawn. The three-quarter-acre corner lot enabled the owners to tuck the three-car garage they desired around the side, away from the front façade.
With its subtly abstracted traditional forms, the stucco-clad, 7,839-square-foot dwelling fits happily into its neighborhood of sprawling, traditional homes. “It’s simple, clean and modern, but not loud or attention-grabbing,” says Greer. The interiors echo the same restrained-modern aesthetic—starting with the front entry hall, which showcases a sculptural staircase without railings that curves up to the third floor. “I told Carmel we wanted a grand foyer, and she hit it out of the park. The stair is our mini-Guggenheim,” marvels Julie Geyer, laughing.
“The house is really a series of simple masses, so I mimicked that idea with the stair,” Greer notes. “The simplicity of the stair lets other elements have their day.”
The foyer flows into a formal living room on one side; on the other, a long gallery leads past the dining room to the kitchen, which joins the legs of the L. The family room shares space with the kitchen; beyond it are the garage, mudroom and Julie’s home office. The back courtyard is accessible from both legs via glass doors that foster indoor-outdoor connectivity.
The second floor houses the owners’ suite and laundry as well as the kids’ bedrooms and hang-out space. A third story contains Grant Geyer’s home office, while the basement features a rec room, guest suite, gym and—the pièce de résistance—an elegant, climatized wine cellar embellished with oak that stores 3,000 bottles.
Greer and her clients easily found common ground when it came to the interiors. Against the backdrop of 11-foot ceilings, eight-foot-tall charcoal-gray doors, character-grade wide-plank oak flooring and steel-look window frames, chic lighting abounds and fixtures and finishes blend harmoniously. The Geyers collect art and antiquities, so Greer created spaces for display, including a climate-controlled case in the foyer that showcases an ancient Greek vessel. “I always dreamed of clean, all-white spaces that wouldn’t interfere but would be a canvas for everything,” Geyer comments.
However, she also wanted “moments of drama,” and specified a pure-black dining room with giant cove moldings and a bold, abstract painting. Another example is her home office, entirely enveloped in Benjamin Moore’s vibrant Mulberry—including the millwork. The main powder room, clad in Nero Marquina marble, offers its own touch of glam.
Geyer and Greer collaborated on the kitchen. Inspired by the one in Greer’s former home, it combines dark-gray cabinetry with expanses of swirling Calacatta Vagli marble on both countertops and backsplash. White-painted beams adorn the ceiling; they carry over into the family room where a vaulted ceiling conveys an airy feel. “The rooms needed to interact and the painted beams tie them together,” observes Greer.
Throughout the house, modern artwork, much of it by local artists, and beautiful, carefully chosen lighting add interest. Twin crystal chandeliers dominate the dining room, while an oversized chandelier in mid-century style perfectly fits the family room’s vaulted space. Cascading globes are a centerpiece above the stairs, suspended at eye level on the second floor.
During construction, Geyer enrolled in an interior design program at the New York Institute of Art & Design; since the home’s completion in 2018, her business has taken off. “I pinch myself constantly,” she says. “I think, ‘How did I get so lucky?’”
Architecture: Carmel Greer, LEED AP, District Design, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Julie Geyer, Julie Geyer Studio, Bethesda, Maryland. Builder: GBI Corporation, Alexandria, Virginia. Landscape Design: Everett Conroy & Landis Garden Design, Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Stools: Owners’ collection. Sectional: leeindustries.com. Sling Chairs: Lee Industries through brooktaylorinteriors.com. Painting over Mantel: kimknoll.com. Console behind Sectional: crateandbarrel.com. Chandelier: etsy.com
Table & Chairs: rh.com. Sideboard: noirfurniturela.com. Art above Sideboard: Agnes Rathonyi. Chandeliers: sunpan.com. Draperies: jamdesign.com. Wall Paint: sherwin-williams.com.
Writing Desk: wisteria.com. Chandelier: arhaus.com. Acrylic Chair & Rug: Owners’ collection.
Mirror: Owners’ collection. Sconces: circalighting.com. Sink & Plumbing Fixtures: kohler.com. Marble Vanity: marblesystems.com.
Cabinetry: Custom through dkandt.com. Marble Backsplash & Countertops: marblesystems.com. Faucets: brizo.com. Range: dacor.com.
Wine Pegs: vintageview.com. Table & Chairs: rh.com. Chandelier: Owners’ collection.
Bed & Bedding: Owners’ Collection. Throw: Owners’ Collection. Decorative Pillows: etsy.com. Chandelier: rh.com. Large Rug: greenfront.com. Small Rug: districtloom.com. Ottomans: cb2.com. Drapery Fabric: jam-design.com.
Mirrors: Owners’ collection. Vanity Fabrication: dkandt.com. Scones: rh.com.
Explain how to devise a garden scheme in a small space.
Even small spaces deserve a big design. In fact, a small space often demands a more thorough analysis and more precise calculations than a larger yard; the design must accommodate multiple uses in one area (play, relax, swim, grill, dine, host and more) rather than being able to spread the functions out. This also holds true when considering utilitarian factors such as fluid circulation, drainage mitigation and proper furnishings that allow homeowners to enjoy their yard. The smaller the space, the more complex the project becomes in terms of layering its components. And always keep in mind that no matter the size of the lot, establishing a seamless connection between outdoor spaces and their indoor counterparts is critical. —D. Blake Dunlevy, PLA, D.A. Dunlevy
How do you integrate a water feature into a landscape?
A relatively small garden can have a big impact—and water can play a surprisingly large role in how you experience your outdoor space. For instance, we use water features to disguise otherwise-noticeable traffic noise and to focus attention on the immediate surroundings. When considering a water feature for your garden, be very specific about the effect you are trying to achieve, audibly and visually as well as seasonally. And remember when designing and locating a pool on your property that in our climate it will be covered and unusable for almost half the year. —Bob Hruby, RLA, ASLA, and Lindsey Tabor, associate, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects
What’s the best way to incorporate a pool house into a landscape plan?
When selecting the elements to include in a new pool house, homeowners should consider the distance of the structure from the main residence, their family’s needs and habits and their approximate budget. There should be a relationship with the architecture of the residence—in most cases, similar styles and materials work best. A professional landscape designer or landscape architect will be able to seamlessly integrate your home and your pool house. —Phil Kelly, McHale Landscape Design
What tips can you offer for installing a pool on a waterfront site?
Every good design should take into account existing natural elements and find ways in which to enhance the natural environment and blend the built environment with it. We find that enduring river views are strengthened by the presence of a pool with an infinity edge, which seamlessly blends with the body of water next to it and creates a striking vista. When designing a landscape by the water, it is critical to enlist a designer and contractor who are familiar with local building codes and regulations. If your project is within a critical area, the pool’s location will drive the rest of the design. Knowledge of codes allows for a landscape design that is both compliant and beautiful. —Michael Prokopchak, ASLA, Walnut Hill Landscape Company
Discuss strategies for pool placement on compact urban lots.
When creating a landscape plan for a small, urban lot, consider siting the pool at an angle perpendicular to the house to gain more usable lawn space and lengthen the sight lines to the end of the property. This orientation can make a significant impact in maximizing the space and enhancing the overall aesthetic. Incorporating a raised-wall water feature beside the pool creates additional visual interest and can cut down on the amount of paving needed if the raised wall supports plantings. Also consider installing a wall or pergola in a spa design, as this is an element that will add privacy as well as interest to a yard by screening the view of the neighbors. —J.R. Peter, RLA, ASLA, and David D’Amato, RLA, Colao & Peter
What factors do you consider when laying out the approach to a home?
First, we try to ensure guests will be able to view the home as they arrive; we achieve this either by siting the drive so it crosses in front of the home or with a U-shaped drive and drop-off area. A straight drive that is centered on the home will create a more formal look, particularly with allées of trees that frame up the home in the distance. We use architectural elements such as gates and walls to accentuate the home’s features—maybe through paint color or by mimicking a window shape. Pavers, which vary hugely in price and style, can also reflect degrees of formality. The other major factor to consider is drainage, which is the biggest concern for all hardscapes, including drives. The following are key points to be aware of: Positive drainage away from the home, planting beds and hardscape surfaces is preferable; draining water across a hardscape will deteriorate hardscape materials over time; and overspraying hardscapes with irrigation should be avoided. —Chad Talton, PLA, Surrounds, Inc.
What’s the secret to creating beautiful potted arrangements?
If you’d like to incorporate planters as part of your garden design, there are three main elements to consider. A great design typically includes a “thriller,” which is a tall plant that makes a strong statement of form and color; a “filler” plant that hides the soil; and a “spiller” that weeps over the edge of the pot. The result of using all three elements is a 3-D arrangement that looks opulent, mature and permanent—and will beautifully enhance your outdoor space. —Joseph Richardson, PLA, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture
How do you approach a design that needs extensive hardscaping?
If your landscape plan will require a lot of hardscaping, be sure to select materials that will complement the home and existing landscape to ensure that everything fits together aesthetically. It is important to consider drainage, which is always a huge component yet is easy to overlook because it isn’t visible once a project is completed. Poor drainage and bad water management will likely lead to failures of walls and steps. —Jeff Crandell, Scapes, Inc.
Share the best way to plan a multi-purpose landscape?
A comprehensive and detailed plan is the best way to start a complicated project. Having everyone on the same page and knowing exactly what the end goal is helps, as revisions and changes will have to be made in order to meet town or county requirements—and in a large project, there typically are revisions and changes. Note that stormwater management and impervious surface limits can add costs and create delays for projects located in densely populated areas. —Alan Blalack, RLA, ASLA, Kane Landscapes, Inc.
An Ashton, Maryland, widower hired Carnemark design+build to overhaul his bedroom suite, which entailed merging cramped his-and-her closets into a single stylish and functional dressing room customized for his needs. “We borrowed space that was tucked under the eaves of the house,” recounts principal Jonas Carnemark, who spearheaded the project. The result was “a narrow but long L-shaped closet where we carved out room for loads of custom storage.”
Ingenious features abound, including tilt-out hampers dedicated to dry cleaning, colors and whites respectively; cubbies for hat boxes; shelves that showcase the owners’ collection of boots; and near the ceiling, a row of overflow storage for linens. A mirror hangs above a wide dresser with drawers that extend a convenient two feet deep. Flanking the mirror, slatted-aluminum garage-style doors roll up to access shelving where valuables are kept. Rows of hanging clothes are illuminated by built-in LED lights.
Sleek, flat-fronted cabinets by SieMatic were designed to take advantage of the oddly shaped space. Crafted of triple-layer furniture board in a rustic-grain oak laminate textured to look and feel like wood, Carnemark says, “They are durable—and very realistic.”
Architectural Design & Contracting: Jonas Carnemark, CKD, CLIPP, Carnemark design+build, Bethesda, Maryland. Cabinetry: Konst SieMatic, Bethesda, Maryland.
Georgetown’s historic Cooke’s Row boasts a hefty pedigree—starting with Henry D. Cooke, the District of Columbia’s first governor, who in 1868 commissioned architect Morris Starkweather to design four stately homes in the Italianate Revival style. Fast forward to the 21st century, when journalists Bob Woodward and Elsa Walsh, who own one of these dwellings, hired Muse Architects to design a rear addition. “Our intention was to extend the home’s best architectural features while mitigating the lack of connection to the rear garden,” says senior principal Stephen Muse.
The addition, which contains an owners’ suite and a sunroom, opens out to the garden via French doors and a wide stair. The new façade “repeats the mansard roof form, dormers and wood brackets,” Muse notes. “Because the addition is two stories and the existing home is three, we slightly downsized these elements to be compatible with this smaller façade.”
The architect and his team collaborated with Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture on updating the garden, where old hardscape and a seldom-used pool made way for an elegant patio and plantings.
Renovation Architecture: Stephen Muse, FAIA, Muse Architects, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: LifeCraft, Inc., Washington, DC. Landscape Architecture: Holt Jordan, ASLA, PLA, Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture, Washington, DC.
Spanning a block of Cathedral Street, the Enoch Pratt Free Library system’s Central Library has been a Baltimore landmark since its 1933 debut. A recent revitalization by the New York office of architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle and Baltimore-based Ayers Saint Gross recaptured the worn building’s Art Deco splendor while “elevating it to state-of-the-art, 21st-century standards,” says project manager Jean Campbell of Beyer Blinder Belle. “Today, rows of bookshelves still exist but users also benefit from an active, collaborative and technologically charged program.”
The project overhauled the 300,000-square-foot structure over three years. The limestone-and-granite façade and steel windows were rejuvenated and interior spaces now gleam—from decorative plaster ceilings and terrazzo floors in the Central Hall (left) to restored or replicated lights. Overpainted motifs in ceiling exposure windows were recreated.
The project gave new purpose to many of the existing spaces. Steel-and-glass enclosures allow separation within rooms while maintaining the building’s fabric. The former Conversation & Writing Room is now the Laptop Lounge. Cramped offices and a narrow corridor have become a collaborative workspace. The renovation introduced the Teen Wing, Arts Center and Job and Career Center. A winner of multiple AIA awards of excellence and preservation, the Central Library is LEED Silver-certified.
Lead Architect: Beyer, Blinder, Belle, New York, New York. Managing Architect: Ayers Saint Gross, Baltimore, Maryland. Contractor: Gilbane Building Company, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Joseph Romeo.
Each year, a curated light-art show takes place against the backdrop of historic Georgetown. This free outdoor event, dubbed Georgetown GLOW, animates neighborhood alleyways in spring and summer with innovative art installations that can be viewed by day or—even better—at night, when they glow until 11 pm.T
his year, Summer GLOW features the commissioned works of three local artists. Hiroshi Jacobs’s Canopies in Cady’s Alley layers dynamic, ribbon-like color patterns to represent change; on view in Oak Alley, for the alley by Emily Fussner employs colored acrylic panels laser-cut with words that form a poem; and Let’s Go Crazy by Adrienne Gaither taps into the pre-pandemic yen to go dancing and the music of Prince via a neon flex-light installation in Sovereign Alley. The Weight of a Rainbow, a popular Spring GLOW installation by Stephanie Mercedes, remains on view in the Georgetown Park Plaza alleyway, where its suspended rainbow lights accompany the sound of a capella LGBTQ+ voices telling their stories through song.
On view until September 26, Georgetown GLOW is sponsored by the Georgetown Business Improvement District. For maps as well as information on walking tours and artist talks, visit georgetownglowdc.com.
After taking place virtually in 2020, the annual Smithsonian Craft Show happily returns to DC’s landmark National Building Museum October 28 through 31. The juried event now in its 39th year showcases the work of 120 artists representing all facets of contemporary craft and design, including basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, paper, leather, metal, mixed media, wearable art and wood.
The 2021 program includes a preview night benefit on October 27. The craft show is sponsored by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee; proceeds support grants to the Smithsonian for innovative education, outreach and research. smithsoniancraftshow.org
FLORAL MOTIF Inspired by 19th-century English hand-blocking, Lee Jofa’s Avondale Print reimagines a floral motif in a grass cloth printed in the U.K. Find the wall covering in five colorways, along with coordinating fabric, at Kravet in DC. kravet.com
LUXE LINE Part of Holly Hunt’s Natural Textures collection, Trifecta weaves strands of lotus leaf and sisal with metallic accents to create a mosaic look. Pictured in Eucalyptus—one of three colorways—it’s on offer at Holly Hunt in DC. hollyhunt.com
STYLE STATEMENT Phillip Jeffries’ Luxe Naturals collection features Arrowroot Inlay, handwoven of arrowroot grass, then laminated, colored, cut, and laid out in a large-scale diamond pattern that mimics raw silk. Available in seven colorways. phillipjeffries.com
SUBTLE LUSTRE Mark Alexander’s handwoven Grasscloth collection showcases natural fibers such as abaca, raffia and seagrass. A sisal offering (pictured) is made from fibers dyed in nine lustrous colorways. Available at Romo in DC. markalexander.com
CLASSIC CHIC Brunschwig & Fils and Les Ensembliers have partnered on a collection that includes signature fabrics translated into wall covering. La Pagode embroidered grass cloth (pictured) revisits classic Chinoiserie. Find in five colorways at Kravet. kravet.com
HIGH CONTRAST Designed to resemble a sisal rug, York Wallcoverings’ Dazzling Diamond Sisal showcases a geometric motif with a chic, modern edge. It comes in three colorways, including high-contrast Black/Gold (pictured). yorkwallcoverings.com
ARTISTIC PALETTE Whimsical parrots balance on berry-laden branches in watercolors and sketches by Melinda Marquardt, founder of The Vale London, who has reproduced her artwork on Tassel Berry (pictured). This handwoven sisal wall covering is available in two colorways at Designer Library in DC. thevalelondon.co.uk; designerlibrary.com
LG Studio’s Energy Star-certified WashTower stacks a washer and dryer in a single-unit front-loader with an easy-reach center control panel and AI technology that selects optimal settings for each load. Pair it with the Styler Steam Closet, which holds up to five hangers and a pants press; a full-length, black-tinted mirror adorns the door. lg.com
The UltraFresh Vent System with OdorBlock from GE keeps the washer clean between cycles. A three-step process thoroughly drains excess water; dries the gasket and empty tub; and pumps in Microban, an antimicrobial solution. Available with GE’s Front Load Washer models. geappliances.com
Samsung’s slender AirDresser freshens garments right in your closet. Specialized hangers release air and steam to remove wrinkles; sanitize with high temperatures; deodorize; and dry delicate fabrics fast without shrinkage or heat damage. Self-clean technology eliminates odors andbuild-up; Samsung’s SmartThings app controls the appliance remotely. samsung.com
Miele has relaunched its popular W1 Washing Machine and T1 Dryer, combining the models’ existing smart-technology systems with upgrades that include WiFi access and [email protected] app connectivity for smart-phone control; the app offers a library of care tips and instructions. Premium models also feature
M Touch, Miele’s touchscreen interface. miele.com
Electrolux’s Front-Load Perfect Steam Washer boasts such bells and whistles as a special setting that lifts stains with steam; SmartBoost Technology, which premixes water and detergent; and a LuxCare Wash System that improves temperature control and smart-load sensing. A 15-minute fast wash provides a deep clean. electroluxappliances.com
It was one of six in an attached building of the same era that had been recently overhauled; Martens pictured the ground-floor apartment, with a bedroom suite downstairs, as a temporary roost. “It was builder-grade,” she recounts. “I did a few things to it, nothing major. But whenever I had visitors, they just loved it. I was taken with that—I started thinking of it as my lovely little shoe box.”
After a couple of years, the Belgian-born designer purchased the unit next door in order to expand. The goal was to combine the two main-floor living spaces—thereby incorporating four large windows within one room. “Houses in Georgetown are very vertical and can be dark, usually with two front windows and a small backyard,” Martens observes. “I realized that by buying the second unit I could have more windows and light all day long.”
Working with contractor Mike Altuner of Cecchi Homes, Martens devised a program that gutted the main floor spaces, shifted walls, anchored a new kitchen at the far end of the room and captured the portion of the hall that previously led to the adjacent apartment. Located on opposite sides of the enlarged unit, the two staircases down to the bedrooms remain intact; the bedroom in the recently acquired section now serves as a study and TV room. While the lower-level rooms don’t communicate, both open out conveniently onto an expansive patio that provides an easy connection between the two.
Martens homed in on modern architectural elements as a backdrop for classical décor. “I have a lot of old paintings and antiques that I’ve collected over the years,” she notes. “I don’t have the means or willingness to change them, so I went the other way with the finishes—no moldings, no window frames. And because it’s a modern-feeling space, I was able to hang more art; in a room where there’s a lot going on architecturally, I would do less.” She adds that she wanted a sense of spaciousness and felt that architectural flourishes would make it feel closed-in.
Among the modern touches that grace the interior: linear, frameless bookshelves; unadorned tray ceilings; a lighting plan that features strategically placed, recessed LEDs; and above the dining table, a minimalist chandelier designed by Martens and painted to blend with the gray walls and ceiling. Just after moving in, the designer had traded outdated metal stair railings for a glass banister and acrylic handrails down to the bedroom.
The living and dining areas sound a classic note with dark-wood furnishings, light, neutral upholstery and gilt-framed artwork—all offset by pale-gray relaxed Roman shades; sleek, rift-oak floors in a gray-washed herringbone pattern that makes the space feel expansive; and occasional modern pieces such as a glass coffee table and a sculptural iron table of Martens’ design.
The kitchen required some consideration. “I’m actually not a loft-and-open-plan person,” Martens reveals. “I like the kitchen to be separate. But I had my vision of light and that needed an open plan.” To realize this ideal, she designed a wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, punctuated by windows. A La Cornue range—“the jewel of the kitchen,” says Martens—anchors the cabinet wall; the pale-gray custom cabinetry complements charcoal-colored Caesarstone countertops and an integrated sink on the island for a look of seamless, understated elegance. A breakfast bar tucked into one corner conceals appliances while a café table and chairs, against an accent wall clad in textured Phillip Jeffries wall covering, create the feel of a charming dining nook.
Downstairs, the renovation enhanced both the bedroom and study with stylish built-ins. The bathrooms were overhauled and the closet opposite one small bath was repurposed to hold a soaking tub. Martens’ bedroom is bright and airy, with walls and ceiling covered in white grass cloth and a wall of shallow shelves playfully displaying the designer’s beloved purse collection. By contrast, the study’s shelves of books, large-scale oil paintings and luxe, deep-gray fabrics conjure a moodier vibe—as does the velvet-covered sleep sofa, which, incidentally, was so big it had to be brought in through the window.
In fact, the home’s tight doorways presented other similar challenges—the most memorable being when the ceiling by the front door had to be knocked out to get the refrigerator in. “I said, ‘get a hammer and just do it; I’ll repair it later,’” Martens recalls, laughing.
Today, the lovely little shoe box is significantly larger—and beautifully reflects the designer’s vision. Says Martens, “I’ve never come up from the bedroom when I didn’t feel that I was coming up into the light.”
Renovation & Interior Design: Fabiola Martens, Fabiola Martens Interior Design, Washington, DC. Contracting: Mike Altuner, Cecchi Homes, Arlington, Virginia.
Carpentry: Kevin Smith; 717-808-3738. Window Treatment: souliesinteriors.com. Upholstery Fabrication: Flowers Upholstery; 703-560-0308.
Sofa: ferrellmittman.com. Sofa Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Armchairs: R Jones & Associates; 214-951-0091. Armchair, Ottoman & Shade Fabrics: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Coffee Table: andrewpearsonglass.com. Stool: Antique through newel.com. Ottoman: Custom. Floor Lamp: William Lipton Ltd; 212-751-8131. Artwork & Urn: Owners’ collection. Chair Upholstery: belgianlinen.com. Art: Owners’ collection.
Table: Owners’ collection. Chairs & Fabric: marstonluce.com. Light Fixture Design: fabiolamartens.com. Light Fixture Fabrication: Mike Weeks.
Range: lacornueusa.com. Marble Sculpture, Tiered Table & Art over Café Table : Owners’ collection. Café Table: georgedavisantiques.com. Chairs: Jean Pierre Antiques; 202-337-1731.
Sofa: dessinfournir.com. Sofa Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Metal Coffee Table Design: fabiolamartens.com. Coffee Table fabrication: Mike Weeks. Art: Owners’ collection.
Desk: madegoods.com. Sconces: vaughandesigns.com. Armchair: brightchair.com. Armchair Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Armchair by Window: leeindustries.com. Armchair Fabric: georgespencer.com. Blanket: gucci.com. Corner Table Fabric: jimthompsonfabrics.com. Coffee Table: hickorywhite.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Small Round Pedestal Table: Owners’ collection. Table Lamp: mcguirefurniture.com.
Sculpture: Jean Pierre Antiques; 202-337-1731. Chair: janusetcie.com.
Raised in the DC area by parents who owned a graphic design company, Rice embraced her affinity for interior design after the loss of a close friend 10 years ago. “She was a person who was always chasing her dreams,” Rice recalls. “I always loved design, but until then, hadn’t thought I could do it as a profession.”
Leaving a job at Lululemon, Rice enrolled in the master’s program at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. She subsequently worked for the Alexandria firm Ivy Lane Living, then took time off to have her son before going out on her own in 2016. “With my parents as mentors, I’ve always wanted the freedom of working for myself,” she observes.
Growing up in the DC area has made forging connections and getting referrals “an organic process,” notes Rice, who hopes to take on an assistant this year. In fact, the home pictured on these pages belongs to the daughter of Rice’s fourth-grade Spanish teacher. “I really value relationships,” the designer says. “The joy for me is in creating spaces for people—they care so much about them and I love that.”
“I took electives in design and worked on volunteer projects,” she relates. “Interior design has always felt like a natural way to express myself.”
Returning to the DC area after college, Taylor took a job with Red House Staging & Interiors, where she had previously interned. “I worked there five years and learned every part of the business,” she notes. “Eventually, I wanted to do more permanent installations.”
In 2016, she launched Brass Bones, which currently handles about six projects a year, selecting furniture, art, lighting and finishes, and consulting on bathroom and kitchen makeovers. In the future, she envisions hiring a small staff but maintaining a boutique-style business.
Taylor describes her aesthetic as contemporary eclectic. “I like a juxtaposition of materials and colors that I hope translates to all styles,” she says. “I look for new and unique pieces and try to push my clients’ boundaries. I want to create something for them that they couldn’t have done without me.”