When a couple called Simon Jacobsen about reviving an aged Maine home and casually mentioned, “it’s 1663,” the architect assumed they were talking about the address—not the year it was built. To his surprise, the structure not only turned out to be the state’s oldest existing home, but it was also unprotected by a single building regulation.
Jacobsen crafted a plan to realize his clients’ dream for a vacation retreat on-site while preserving the 17th-century gem in the process. “The objective was to save and stabilize the structure, refine it back to its prime of life with a twist and build a sleek, modernist compound around it to protect it like the arms of St. Peter,” he relates.
Outdated additions were removed to make way for a series of pavilions around the original dwelling. They house a great room and kitchen, the primary bedroom, the owners’ bath, guest quarters,
a study and more—adding 7,000 square feet of living space.
The architecture reduced the scale of the new innerconnected structures so they wouldn’t dwarf the existing relic. The completed assemblage recalls historic local vernacular. “Many early New England houses are a collection of building forms that were added on as necessity dictated,” Jacobsen explains. “The structures we added are direct descendants of that idea.”
Hewn from rough-cut lumber, concrete, steel and stone, a mountain escape minutes from the ski slopes in Park City, Utah, captivated a Bethesda bachelor. He acquired it, then hired Interior Concepts to outfit his 4,200-square-foot second home in a rich, masculine style.
Designers Arlene Critzos and Samantha Sopp-Wittwer honed in on organic materials but applied them in contemporary ways. “We were trying to find textures, little nods to the wildlife and surroundings to make a point that we are in the mountains without being too obvious,” explains Sopp-Wittwer.
In the foyer, an oversized photograph of a bighorn sheep sets the tone for the project, where over-scaled furnishings and art stand up to the voluminous rooms and heady views. Living areas in the main-level great room and lower-level bar offer plenty of seating for guests. The designers sought textiles “with a lot of depth,” says Critzos, “from mohair and high-quality chenille to leather that is cowboy-esque.”
Bespoke creations and vintage finds impart character. For example, an antique wooden trough cleverly converted into a bench was installed on the lower level. “We combined new items with found objects for a more authentic feel,” remarks Sopp-Wittwer, “with a bit of whimsy sprinkled in.”
Architecture: Upwall Design Architects, Salt Lake City, Utah. Interior Design: Arlene Critzos, principal, Samantha Sopp-Wittwer and Kelly Reese, Interior Concepts, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland. Builder: Douglas Knight Construction, Salt Lake City, Utah.
DC architect Andreas Charalambous, who frequently visits family in Cyprus, hopes to live part-time near the Mediterranean when he retires. A step in that direction was his recent purchase of an Athens pied-à-terre.
A friend who’s a local developer discovered the 1,500-square-foot corner apartment and shared photos with Charalambous. Located in a 1979 mixed-use building, it was an empty shell boasting original terrazzo floors, concrete waffle ceilings and terraces on two sides. Intrigued, the architect eventually decided to make it his own.
Working remotely, Charalambous devised a plan to transform the former office into a two-bedroom, two-bath dwelling. “I celebrated the space,” he says, “by keeping the living/dining/kitchen area wide open. We brought the floors back to life and exposed the ceiling slabs, which we painted white.” Drop ceilings were added where overhead recessed lighting was needed; new doors, windows, plumbing and electrical systems were installed.
Mod furniture pays tribute to the building’s mid-20th-century provenance. “The floors, speckled with earthy shades and green and gold, inspired the color scheme,” Charalambous notes.
The architect loves the apartment’s neighborhood of Kerameikos, which is buzzing with cafés and restaurants and close to ancient monuments. “Athens is full of culture and life,” he remarks. “That made it easy to pull the trigger—and I’ve never looked back.”
Architecture & Interior Design: Andreas Charalambous, AIA, IIDA, Forma Design, Inc., Washington, DC. Developer & Contracting: Maher Akkam.
It was a life-full-circle moment. Designer Diana Lombard got a call from a couple she’s known since her high school days, when she babysat for their kids. Now grandparents, the duo had recently purchased a four-story townhouse in Old Town Alexandria and hired Lombard to tackle the interiors.
The residence was still under construction in Robinson Landing, a new community on the Potomac, so they asked Lombard to help them select finishes and color palettes along with furnishings. The 3,012-square-foot abode features a foyer and study on the ground floor; a kitchen and living, dining and family rooms on the second floor; a third-story owners’ suite and guest room; and a top-level loft and additional bedroom. “The bones of the structure are really beautiful,” says Lombard. “We had a good foundation to work with.”
The couple requested a departure from the beiges and browns of their former, traditional home. “They wanted to go fresh and modern—clean lines, bright and airy spaces and nothing too heavy or formal,” explains Lombard.
Now that it’s complete, the residents are thrilled with their city retreat. “They enjoy living right on the water,” the designer relates. “The interiors are very functional and tailored to them. The look is sophisticated but also warm, inviting and approachable.”
Why involve an interior designer before construction?
A designer can help clients navigate the process, which is often overwhelming, and create a more cohesive space in terms of materials, finishes and overall vision. It also lets us address the many details that come up, from where to place electrical outlets and light switches to making sure there’s clearance for draperies.
What were your first steps in the project?
The clients’ previous furniture was too big for the townhouse, so we started from scratch. One of the challenges was figuring out the appropriate scale and how to maximize seating, given that the new home is smaller yet they want to be able to host their kids and grandchildren. We studied how big the sofas in the living and family rooms could be and still have clearances for walkways.
What role does lighting play in the home?
I love statement lighting; it’s sort of like jewelry in a space. In this project, choosing the dining room chandelier was a big decision. When you walk up the stairs, it’s the first view you have and we needed something that would be a focal point. The crystal RH chandelier is a touch of glam without being flashy.
Describe your favorite custom details.
The fireplace wall became an accent in the living room. The three-dimensional tile we selected creates depth and serves as abstract art. And the upgraded backsplash tile we chose really changed the look in the kitchen. It’s an elongated hexagon in glazed ceramic from Architessa.
In the family room, what practical elements add functionality?
When the owners are entertaining, the gray leather swivel chairs let guests talk to people in the kitchen and dining area. The coffee table has some hidden storage, which is nice because there’s not a lot of storage in the home. The TV is hung on the wall but can swing out. And in the back corner, we created a workstation; it’s a desk that folds up into a cabinet that is really pretty.
How do you mix textures with success?
Balance is always key. You don’t want so much texture or pattern that elements fight one another. For instance, a velvet sofa might not need a fur pillow on it—their textures are too similar. But if you pair a smooth linen sofa with a chunky throw, they will complement each other well.
What inspired the color palette?
The clients told me they wanted bold, rich, saturated colors, which I love. I developed two color schemes and we ended up deciding on one inspired by jewel tones like blue, dark teal and, in the primary bedroom, purple. I love that the blues echo the home’s proximity to the river. We tempered these shades with more subtle tones. For example, we chose a white rug in the living room, and the kitchen as a whole is very neutral.
How do you guide clients who are downsizing?
You have to look at everything and almost “Marie Kondo” it. Ask yourself, “Do I love it, do I use it and is it going to be valuable in my new space—or is it something I can live without?” It’s about deciding which items you actually need and letting go of those you don’t.
What drew you to design?
Design is a second career for me; I was a professional singer before I knew I wanted a change. I discovered design is a perfect fit. It provides a creative outlet and I really enjoy the people aspect as well.
What color inspires you?
I’m really into green. I’d love to try a chartreuse velvet sofa—maybe even in my own house.
Trend you love?
I love that wallpaper is in right now. I’m a huge fan of bold wallpaper.
Name a treasured furniture piece.
I am lucky enough to have inherited vintage mid-century furniture from my grandparents. One of my favorites is a gorgeous walnut dining table.
How has the pandemic shifted the notion of home?
The pandemic helped people realize the impact an aesthetically pleasing, functionally sound home can have on their mental and physical health.
Little did Georgia Hoyler know that a quest to find carpets for her DC row house would eventually lead to the launch of her own rug emporium. It all started when she discovered a brown-and-blue Persian Shiraz at an estate sale and was smitten by its worn texture and soft color palette. She began seeking out similar creations.
“I wanted rugs in earth tones with simpler patterns and evidence of their age,” recalls Hoyler, a healthcare products strategist. “But what I found were either old rugs that looked new, or new rugs that were designed to look old. I knew there was a niche I could fill.”
After researching merchants through a web of referrals and working with a certified appraiser to hone her knowledge, Hoyler had amassed more handmade vintage rugs than her row house could possibly accommodate. “My husband joked that it wouldn’t be considered hoarding if I called it a business,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘why not?’”
In 2019, she founded Passerine, an online boutique focusing on heirloom-quality Persian, Turkish and Middle Eastern tribal rugs. They range in price from $1,000 to $7,000, depending on size and age; most are almost 100 years old. A sampling is displayed at Sanabria & Co. The Shop on Capitol Hill.
Hoyler contends that Passerine’s curated rugs are not only a sustainable and less formal alternative to new carpets, but also convey lasting appeal. “We embrace and source old rugs that look their age—and ensure the durability needed for the next hundred years,” she says. passerinehome.com
CINEMA AT HOME
Setting up and viewing movies is a breeze with Samsung’s Premiere LSP7T Smart Laser Projector. The new model delivers laser-powered 4K resolution and revolutionary contrast from bright to dark scenes. Designed for small spaces, the compact device can be placed directly in front of a wall or a screen and includes built-in woofers and surround sound. From $3,500; samsung.com
The lightweight MV2 GOLF BAG elevates a player’s experience with a few handy features. Options include a solar panel for charging devices on the course and a Bluetooth speaker that adds music to the mix. A filming pocket lets athletes record their swings. The five-pound microsuede bag also comes with a built-in stand, magnetic closures and a pouch that keeps drinks and snacks cool. From $249; minimalgolf.com
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Last year, GoPro released its latest flagship camera, the HERO10 Black, which delivers unprecedented image quality and performance thanks to a new GP2 processor. The camera captures lifelike 5.3K video at 60 frames per second and 4K video at 120 frames per second. It also features video stabilization to eliminate shaky footage. From $400 with a GoPro subscription; gopro.com
Bowlus, a luxury RV brand, has unveiled the Terra Firma—a streamlined travel trailer marrying technology with creature comforts on the go. The sleek camper boasts an exterior of hand-welded aerospace aluminum and a lithium-powered battery system providing two weeks of “off-grid” living. At 3,200 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to be towed by a wide range of vehicles, including EVs. HEPA air filters, UVC lighting for disinfecting and a freshwater filtration system promote health and safety. The posh interior features skylights, custom décor, a heated floor and even built-in feeding bowls (inset) and beds for four-legged explorers. From $265,000. bowlus.com
Evening gowns by Milan-based Peter Langner defy the ordinary. Pictured above: an A-line creation in champagne-toned crinoline with an open back and high-low skirt, all embroidered with floral-printed organza and tulle tissues. The made-to-order gown is available through Francesca’s Atelier in Lutherville, Maryland. $7,400. peterlangner.com; francescasatelier.com
If a trip to Italy isn’t in the cards, L’Ardente may satisfy your cravings. Chef David Deshaies and restaurateur Eric Eden opened the new hot spot in DC’s Capitol Crossing last fall. Washington-based HapstakDemetriou+ designed its sleek interiors, featuring Murano glass chandeliers and, in the bar, a sculptural light installation by Graham Caldwell. The menu tempts guests with wood-fired pizza, an espresso martini and bucatini. 200 Massachusetts Avenue, NW; 202-448-0450. lardente.com
When a newly renovated Cleveland Park home was first built in 1910, the neighborhood was a semi-rural outpost connected to downtown Washington by streetcar. Fast forward 63 years and the lauded architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen (who passed away in 2021) updated the home in his signature Modernist style.
Both eras came into play when new owners tapped architect Dale Overmyer to orchestrate a 21st-century makeover. “It’s a handsome farmhouse that had been completely reworked,” he relates. “The first iteration Jacobsen did in the ’70s went a long way towards opening it up. We wanted to take it even further and bridge the gap between mid-century and the historic house—and imbue it with personality.”
The clients, already Cleveland Park residents, had long admired the home. “We loved the space, the light and the yard,” says the wife. After acquiring it in 2019, she and her husband envisioned “modern yet comfortable interiors with gracious proportions.”
Though he retained the existing footprint, Overmyer seemingly injected volumes of space into the center-hall dwelling. He elevated the cramped entry and gutted the closed-off kitchen and family room to unveil an open, informal hub devoted to cooking, dining and gathering. And he efficiently tucked a new coat closet, powder room and walk-in pantry into the main-level plan.
On the second floor, the enlarged owners’ suite claimed adjacent bedrooms—one is now a wardrobe and another a luxurious bath. Two kids’ bedrooms are also on the second floor while the third level houses a pair of guest rooms and a loft finished as a teen hangout.
During construction, the owners hired Georgetown decorator Paige Shirk, who forged an instant connection with the home and its quarter-acre landscape. “I loved the floor-to-ceiling windows and the vibe of the outside coming in,” she observes. “My family had a farmhouse near Fallingwater and I recall how the furniture worked with the architecture. That was a big inspiration for me.”
As she collaborated with Overmyer and the wife, Shirk honed her vision for the interiors. “I wanted to combine old and new, modern and a bit more classic,” she remarks. “I didn’t dive into one aesthetic.”
Nature plays a starring role, beginning in the entry. New windows and a reimagined, open stair bathe the space in light and establish sight lines from the front door to the rear garden. With its randomly placed pickets, Overmyer likens the stair rail he designed to a bar code. “There’s an organic nature to what you’d expect to be more regimented,” he explains. “It’s an unabashedly contemporary move in the center of the house.”
The center-hall plan aligns the living and dining rooms and library to the right of the foyer with the kitchen and family room on the left. The team preserved Jacobsen’s tall windows in the living room, but recast his mid-century brick fireplace wall in plaster—a fresh take on a classic material. Clean-lined seating surrounds a 1970s travertine coffee table Shirk found on 1stdibs; a burnt-orange velvet sofa adds a burst of color.
In the facing dining room, fields of green botanical wallpaper commune with foliage visible through a trio of tall windows. “I like bringing the outside in, as we did with that shade of green,” Shirk reveals. “My client really wanted color.” Indeed, the wife drove the palette in exuberant directions, from a pool-bathroom wall covering emblazoned with cobalt palm fronds to the primary bedroom painted a deep aubergine.
Shirk tempered these bold moves with neutral furnishings and subtle textures. “I love mixing wood and leather and velvet and nubby materials,” she asserts. Case in point is the spacious family room, where the decorator mingled a velvet lounge chair, a concrete cocktail table and pillows in an array of textiles atop the cozy window seat. An adjacent table provides a perch for reading or morning coffee.
Overmyer is most proud of this “informal heart of the home,” encompassing the family room, bright and airy kitchen and breakfast area. “It’s nice to subtract, open up a space and enjoy the drama of a really generous room,” he says.
The architect played up the indoor-outdoor connection in the kitchen with large-format porcelain floor tile that reads as limestone; he repeated the material on the backsplash. “Around the island,” he points out, “we incorporated mosaic tile in the floor to suggest a sense of antiquity.” Poured-concrete countertops and custom cabinets in knotty pine reinforce the organic palette.
Avid cooks, the family members enjoy preparing and sharing meals in the convivial space. “We love to have friends over and it’s nice to be able to cook and socialize at the same time,” says the wife.
In the first-floor library, the owners and their design team preserved Hugh Newell Jacobsen’s egg-crate bookshelves, crafted during the late architect’s 1973 renovation. “They’re beautiful, with elegant lines, and very functional,” says the wife.
The stark white shelving was painted sage green—a shade “sympathetic to colors the original farmhouse would’ve had,” relates Overmyer. Ornate elements added over the years were removed and big picture windows installed. The architect notes, “We created more light, more space, more simplicity.”
It’s a mantra that relates to every room in this newly burnished home—one that celebrates its past with bravado.
Renovation Architecture: Dale Overmyer, AIA, Overmyer Architects, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Paige Shirk, Paige Shirk Design, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Cecchi Homes, Arlington, Virginia.
Wallpaper: timorousbeasties.com. Paint Trim: Yearbridge Green by farrow-ball.com. Chandeliers: globallighting.com. Table: 1stdibs.com. Chairs: neuvolighting.com. Cabinet: fourhands.com. Stool: article.com.
Light Fixture: apparatusstudio.com. Drapery Fabrication: theshadestore.com. Sofa: trnk-nyc.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Table: 1stdibs.com. Side Tables: vintage. Wall Paint: White Dove by benjaminmoore.com. Fireplace Treatment: hydeconcrete.com. Side Chairs: noirfurniturela.com. Console: vintage. Sculpture over Fireplace: Rana Begman.
Stools: meadowblu.com. Paint: White Dove by benjaminmoore.com.
Cabinetry: custom. Cabinetry Fabrication: asticks.com. Countertops: hydeconcrete.com. Mosaic Tile: countryfloors.com. Faucets: calfaucets.com. Hood: ventahood.com. Hood Fabrication: custom by overmyerarchitects.com. Refrigerator & Microwave: subzero-wolf.com. Range: frenchranges.com.
Sofa & Sofa Fabric: muuto.com. Carved Table: timothypaulcarpets.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Cocktail Table: fourhands.com. Chair & Ottoman: bludot.com. Pillow Fabric: zakandfox.com. Window Seat Table: anthropologie.com. Window Seat & Window Seat Pillow Fabrics: Lee Jofa through kravet.com. Pillows: brookperdigontextiles.com. Window Seat Sconces: alliedmaker.com.
Paint: Pelt by farrow-ball.com. Shade Fabric: hinescompany.com. Shade Fabrication: rockvilleinteriors.com. Rug: annieselke.com. Ottoman: fourhands.com. Corner Chairs: Owners’ collection. Table Lamp: circalighting.com.
BALANCING ACT—Falmec’s Spazio hanging island hood integrates shelves to hold cooking equipment and an optional tray for plants. The Italian-made design is equipped with power outlets and USB ports; accessories include a tablet holder for easy recipe viewing. Available in two sizes at area ABW Appliances locations. falmec.ie; abwappliances.com
LA DOLCE VITA—Innately Italy, a new DC-based company, collaborates with high-end Italian manufacturers to provide custom kitchens, cabinets and furniture to U.S. homeowners and their designers at affordable price points. Owner Aurora Ferrari, who hails from Parma, outfitted her family’s Cleveland Park kitchen with a sculptural, dual-height island made of Fenix, a scratch- and fingerprint-resistant surface. Tall, white-lacquered cabinets conceal a full pantry, storage drawers, refrigerator and freezer. A De Majo chandelier and chair by Colico complete the polished look. innatelyitaly.com
OUT FRONT—Shaws’ new Gallery collection unveils timeless apron-front sinks emblazoned with eye-catching motifs, from natural flora to bold graphics. Designs are fired onto the brand’s Shaker and Lancaster fireclay vessels in a special kiln, then glazed to perfection. Pictured: a Lancaster sink in Gold Metallic. houseofrohl.com
SLEEK SILHOUETTE—Thermador’s Masterpiece Series Kitchen Suite features modern, clean-lined appliances that can be easily integrated into new or remodeled kitchens. The line includes the Triple Speed Oven, custom-paneled Wine Cooler and Refrigerator, Stainless-Steel Dishwasher, Freedom Induction Cooktop and Downdraft Ventilation hood. Available at The Home Depot Design Center. thermador.com; homedepot.com
VOICE CONTROL—Part of Monogram’s Minimalist Collection, the Smart Electric Convection Single Wall Oven boasts a streamlined, handle-free profile. It can be programmed to open, preheat and more in response to voice commands; the oven is also compatible with Alexa and Google Home. Find at AJ Madison. monogram.com; ajmadison.com
ON THE SURFACE—New Ravenna has introduced five natural-stone mosaics to its Studio Line collection. The tiles are handcrafted in the company’s Virginia workshop. Sporting calm, muted palettes. newravenna.com
TIMELESS LOOK—Many homeowners shy away from marble countertops because the stone easily stains and requires regular resealing. Caesarstone provides an alternative with its eight quartz surfaces—that mimic the look of marble but are low-maintenance and scratch-, stain- and mold-resistant. caesarstoneus.com
RIGHT ANGLE—California Faucets’ new Quad Spout upends the typical arc-shaped kitchen sink fixture with an industrial-style, squared-off form. Made of solid brass, it comes in more than 28 artisan finishes and is available with a standard pull-down spout or a squeeze-handle sprayer. californiafaucets.com
DISH DUTY—The GE Profile UltraFresh System Dishwasher is equipped with Microban antimicrobial technology that prevents the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew on its high-touch surfaces. The dishwasher also combats odors by freshening up its interior with air and water between cycles. At ADU Your Appliance Source. geappliances.com; adu.com
Vicente Wolf fled his native Havana for New York at the age of 15. Following stints in fashion, acting and modeling, he was drawn to interior design. After honing his game at several firms, he launched Vicente Wolf Associates in 1988. Despite a lack of formal training and a diagnosis of dyslexia, the celebrated designer has written four books and created stunning homes for A-list clients including Julianna Margulies and Bryan Cranston.
Last November, Wolf came to DC for the launch of a showroom he designed for the mattress brand Saatva. He envisioned the two-story space as “a surreal landscape in a dreamlike garden” where beds float amid pearl-gray topiary and Grecian-inspired urns. After a press unveiling, H&D caught up with Wolf at a reception in Barcelona Wine Bar.
How do you instill character and soul into a home?
I infuse depth and interest with textures as well as objects that have history. But it is up to the people who live there to bring warmth.
How does travel inform your work?
Travel expands my range of vision, making me more sympathetic to outside influences. I engage with people and cultures that have different frames of reference to life and the earth. The ceremonial and art objects they naturally produce have a different point of view that I either use or reference in interiors I design.
Tell us about your next book, coming out in 2023?
I’m at the point in my career where I’m sure of what works for each space I design, and I feel compelled to pass on how
I got here. The book will elaborate on things I’ve learned throughout my 45-plus years in the industry.
You’ve been invited to the White House three times. What do these moments mean to you?
Visits to America’s House have made me proud of my accomplishments, especially since I started out as a Cuban refugee. Only in America does something like that happen.