Home & Design

In the living room, an O. Henry House sofa tucks into a niche between built-ins. A vintage wallpaper panel is on display; Chesapeake Framing Company framed all the art in the apartment.

In the living room, a reproduction of a Slim Aarons photograph creates a focal point; it lives happily with a vintage Chinoiserie table from John Rosselli & Associates, a coffee table faux-finished by Billet Collins and a pair of Ferrell Mittman Starr Stools.

A swinging door crafted by Timeless Creations Furniture and painted in Farrow & Ball’s Picture Gallery Red opens into the kitchen, where Robson Worldwide Graining, Ltd., enlivened the floor tiles with color and Michael S. Smith wallpaper adds verve.

The library doubles as a guest room, with a custom sectional that opens into a bed. A black-and-white canvas is an unexpected touch.

Views of downtown DC are visible from the owner’s bedroom, where much of the furniture was repurposed from his previous abode—including ottomans in a Lewis & Wood wool stripe.

A mural, digitally rendered by Iksel Decorative Arts, makes a statement in the dining room, where custom-embroidered chairs surround a bespoke table.

Young at Heart

Sumptuous finishes, lush textiles and bold hues infuse a Foggy Bottom perch with a sense of the unexpected

After 40 years, the owner of a row house in Northwest DC’s Foggy Bottom was ready to trade snow shoveling and roof repairs for the ease of apartment life. A retired civil servant with a penchant for opera, the active 85-year-old was very attached to his longtime neighborhood just a stone’s throw from The Kennedy Center. So when a condo unit came on the market in a mid-rise building around the corner, he jumped on it.

The two-bedroom, two-bath residence on the seventh floor had plenty to recommend it, with light-filled rooms, 1,800 square feet of living space and panoramic views—one of which captures the National Cathedral. However, the building dates back to 1975—and the unit in question looked like it hadn’t been touched since about that time. Before even putting his row house on the market, the owner reached out to designer Pamela Black, whom he had known for years, and her frequent collaborator, Don Love, to bring the abode up to speed.

Black and Love first addressed the apartment’s worn infrastructure. Out went warped, cherry-hued laminate flooring and popcorn ceilings in favor of wide-plank, medium-stained oak floors and smooth drywall overhead; the designers lowered the new ceiling enough to accommodate a system of recessed and accent lighting. “That was a big request,” recalls Black. “Our client wanted lots of light. And different levels of light, too.”

Replacing the unit’s hollow, builder-grade doors with solid, custom versions and changing out grilles and hardware also made an impact. “All the little upgrades really elevated the space,” Love observes. wwAmong the improvements: a custom, red-painted swinging door connecting the entry foyer and kitchen that features a quaint oval window harkening back, says Black, to “the Park Avenue apartments” of yore.

With a shortage of closet space, the designers tapped Pennsylvania-based Timeless Creations Furniture to fashion built-ins for nearly every room (the company also fabricated the new doors). The cabinetry not only added much-needed storage, it also imparted a high level of craftsmanship and character, embodied in elegant lines and whimsical detailing. For example, a wall of built-ins in the living room incorporates shelving, a graceful fold-out desk and a niche that frames a favorite sofa; a row of decorative balls near the ceiling adds a visual flourish. “They’re actually wooden dresser knobs painted to match the woodwork,” reveals Love. “They make it unique.”

When the time came to furnish and decorate the refurbished dwelling, the designers took cues from their client’s row house around the corner, which elegantly showcased his style—and a lifetime’s worth of collecting. “It helped us see how he lives, that he’s a bit formal. We made sure we kept to that level,” Love says.

“I’d say my taste is eclectic,” muses the owner. “I like to mix in some Asian influences—but I don’t go completely in any direction.”

Love adds: “We embraced a worldly theme, sort of ‘Chinoiserie meets African elephant.’ Our client has done extensive traveling and we wanted to reflect that.” Case in point: A wall-sized mural in the dining room depicts an Indian palace while elephants dance across grass-cloth wallpaper in the guest bedroom/library.

Throughout the apartment, Black and Love painstakingly layered fabrics and finishes, conjuring a rich, sumptuous vibe. Soft colors embellish the walls while stronger hues make a statement on the ceilings—including a dark eggplant shade on the library ceiling that the owner had his doubts about. “They had to talk me into the ceilings,” he laughs. “I thought ceilings were always white.”

About 15 percent of the existing furniture made the move to the condo, much of it reimagined with fresh upholstery. Plush new sofas and chairs joined the mix, ranging from a diminutive Billy Baldwin slipper chair to a luxurious custom sofa bedecked in delicately patterned linen and fringe. Other striking pieces include a commanding Chinoiserie console table in the living room and a coffee table faux-finished to resemble gesso that showcases a decorative grass-cloth panel topped with glass. Lamps are paired with custom shades and a blend of new and existing artwork adorns the walls.

Even the kitchen, which retained its original cabinetry and countertops, has been dressed up with vibrant, striped wallpaper and a new tile backsplash; the run-of-the-mill tile floor got a new lease on life via bold squares of faux-painted color.

Now complete, the apartment is a haven that its owner thoroughly enjoys. “It took me about two days to feel at home and forget about my other house,” he avers. “It feels elegant, but you can also plop down on a chair and be comfortable. It’s a wonderful mix of things I never would have been able to find on my own.”

Interior Design: Pamela Black and Don Love, Pamela Black Interiors, Washington, DC. Architectural Design: Robert C. Black, AIA, Robert Black 5 Design LLC, Silver Spring, Maryland.

 

RESOURCES

DINING ROOM
Table: Custom through timelesscreationsfurniture.com. Chairs: highlandhousefurniture.com through centuryfurniture.com. Chair Fabrics: virginiawhitecollection.com through evansandsheldon.com. Light Fixture: urbanelectric.com. Light Fixture Fabric: cowtan.com. Drapery Fabric: suzannetuckerhome.com. Drapery Fabrication: Potomac Draperies; 240-676-3642. Sconces: urbanelectric.com. Sconce Fabric: berminghamfabrics.com. Wallpaper: iksel.com for fschumacher.com. Wall Color: iksel.com through farrow-ball.com. Sideboard: Custom by timelesscreationsfurniture.com. Lamps on Sideboard: vaughandesigns.com. Lamp Fabric: namaysamay.com. Lamp Trim: samuelandsons.com. Lamp Fabrication: lampshadesbydesign.net.

LIVING ROOM
Sofa in Niche: Custom through ohenryhouseltd.com. Sofa Fabric: guell-lamadrid.grupolamadrid.com through castelmaison.com. Sofa Trim: samuelandsons.com. Paint: Hague Blue by farrow-ball.com. Wallpaper inside Shelving: monicajames.com. Art in Niche: marstonluce.com. Desk Chair: chelseatextiles.com. Desk Chair & Pillow Fabric: shop.ninacampbell.com through osborneandlittle.com. Red Lumbar Pillow Fabric: sandrajordan.com. Paint on Built-Ins: Pigeon by farrow-ball.com. Slipper Chair: billybaldwinstudio.com. Slipper Chair Fabrics: elizabetheakins.com; sandrajordan.com. Slipper Chair Trim: hollandandsherry.com. Twin Ottomans: ferrellmittman.com. Twin Ottomans Fabric: suzannetuckerhome.com. Sisal Rug: starkcarpet.com. Rug atop Sisal: Custom through galleriacarpets.com. Red Sofa: Custom through ohenryhouseltd.com. Red Sofa Fabric: scalamandre.com. Pillow Fabrics: Lee Jofa for kravet.com; pennymorrison.com; pindler.com. Swivel Chair: Custom through ohenryhouseltd.com. Swivel Chair Fabric: raoultextiles.com. Pillow Fabric on Swivel Chair: chelseatextiles.com. Bamboo-Framed Chair: Lee Jofa for kravet.com. Bamboo-Framed Chair Fabrics: peterdunhamtextiles.com; sandrajordan.com. Coffee Table: Custom through timelesscreationsfurniture.com. Wallpaper beneath glass in Coffee Table: cowtanandtout.com. Faux Finish on Coffee Table: billetcollins.com. Foot Stool: scullyandscully.com. Stool Fabric: osborneandlittle.com. Round Occasional Table: Custom through timelesscreationsfurniture.com. Occasional Table Lamp: circalighting.com. Lampshade Fabric: decorsbarbares.com through lampshadesbydesign.net. Overhead Light Fixture: urbanelectric.com. Overhead Light Paint: Hague Blue by farrow-ball.com. Chinoiserie Table: johnrosselli.com. Twin Ottomans: jconnscott.com. Wood-Framed Chairs: bungalow5.com. Chair Seat Upholstery: peterdunhamtextiles.com. Art: chesapeakeframing.com. Wall & Ceiling Paint: Light Blue & Skylight by farrow-ball.com. Painted Wall Pedestals: Clients’ collection. China on Pedestals: dennisandleen.com.

KITCHEN
Faux Floor Paint: robsonworldwidegraining.com. Wallpaper: Jasper through michaelsmithinc.com. Pendants: circalighting.com. Island Stools: serenaandlily.com. Stool Cushion Fabric: rogersandgoffigon.com. Swinging Door Paint: Picture Gallery Red by farrow-ball.com. Backsplash: renaissancetileandbath.com.

LIBRARY
Sectional: Custom through ferrellmittman.com. Sectional Fabric & Trim: sanderson.sandersondesigngroup.com; Jasper by michaelsmithinc.com; hollandandsherry.com. Sofa Pillows: Jasper by michaelsmithinc.com. Sofa Pillows Trim: samuelandsons.com. Ottoman: Custom through hickorychair.com. Ottoman & Leather Fabric: Jasper by michaelsmithinc.com; hollyhunt.com. Art over Sofa: naturalcuriosities.com. Wallpaper: johnrobshaw.com. Sisal & Rug: starkcarpet.com. Tiered Side Table: vaughandesigns.com. Side Table Lamp: Clients’ collection. Side Table Lamp Shade Fabric & Trim: vaughandesigns.com; samuelandsons.com.

BEDROOM
Bed: Custom by pamelablackinteriors.com. Bed Fabric: peterfasano.com. Nightstands: Custom by timelesscreationsfurniture.com. Pillows: marstonluce.com; peterfasano.com; fermoie.com. Bedding: serenaandlily.com. Round Mirror above Bed: noirfurniturela.com through styleconnectionltd.com. Sofa & Armchair Fabric: sanderson.sandersondesigngroup.com. Coffee Table: Clients’ collection. Stools: wisteria.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Draperies & Shades: fermoie.com; kerryjoyce.com; samuelandsons.com. Drapery & Shade Fabrication: Potomac Draperies; 240-676-3642. Bench: existing. Fabric: lewisandwood.co.uk

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