Arlington Rancher Gets Facelift from Dana Tydings

Here’s a great story about an aging Arlington ranch house — brought back to life through the vision of its owners, Max and Maggie Grant, and their designer, Dana Tydings.

The circa 1953 rancher was billed as a teardown, but Maggie knew it had great bones — and original Gracie wallpaper on the living room wall. Maggie recognized it right away because her mother and grandmother both had Gracie in their homes.

All Photography by Sheila Reyes-Bunnag, Cathrine Sanders , Shirly Pezo, Brett Shipe, Ther Punggam, Dante Byrd and Kylie Faye, students in Morgan Howarth’s class on architectural photography at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts

Maggie had to scrub away years of built-up film from cigarette smoke to bring back the wallpaper’s luster. Dana helped her furnish the room in neutral tones so all the attention would be on that wall. A highlight is the custom Savonile rug by C. G. Coe & Son Inc. in Bethesda.

Maggie also painstakingly cleaned cigarette film off every piece of crystal from the chandeliers in the hallways and in “Mother’s Bath,” which held perhaps the home’s biggest discovery.

Cole & Son wallpaper, Home Couture textiles on the shower and window

The sconces and vanity are original, as is the unusual blue marble, which covers the floor and the inside walls in the shower.  All the fixtures are from Sherle Wagner — all solid gold. Dana said she was surprised they weren’t stolen or sold in the previous owner’s estate sale. The vanity legs, moreover, are rock crystal with gold mounts.

Dana chose the textiles and wallpaper to complement what was already there, and she added a Carvers’ Guild mirror to top it all off. Mother’s Bath was thus named by the previous owner — a family matriarch. If we all could only have one of those…

Wallpaper by Cole & Son; vintage wall light by Awesome Metal Restorations in Kensington, Md.; Glass-panel railing by Integrated Design Solutions

The foyer is equally dramatic: Dana closed off a doorway into the dining room to create an entry wall that literally packs a punch — with its flocked paisley wallpaper, distinctive 1940’s sconce, and zebra-print rug leading downstairs. She replaced a boring wrought-iron railing with sleek glass panels. They kept the original crystal ceiling light just inside the front door.

Next, Dana organized the family room using the existing built-ins as the focal point:

The brass fixtures on the cabinetry and pocket window panels (pocket window panels!!) were black with dirt and age, and again, Maggie used her elbow grease to bring back their original shine. She and Dana love the original “chicken wire” facing on the upper cabinets. The new window treatments fit into ceiling moldings that were already there.

The Grants do plan to add on in the next year or two — and rebuild the retractable-roof pool enclosure that is currently in disrepair. But one thing now is totally new: the life-sized chess set outside.

How cooool is that?!

The Grants aren’t quite finished with the work on their house — Max will build a new detached garage and office out back, but there will still be room for a playing field for their two kids and a zip wire.

Maggie tells me that this house used to belong to a large, prominent Arlington family — and was the site of many large parties. I can already tell their newly designed version will live up to that same reputation — for adults and children alike.


  1. al blake says:

    What a wonderful incredible job by Dana Tydings but I didn’t know she was also a plastic surgeon?

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Al for clarifying your comment — I’m including your follow-up email:
      “My comment was predicated on the term…”Given a Facelift”. Isn’t that normally done by a plastic surgeon? However, I think Dana Tydings does incredible work and that comes from seeing several other homes and offices that she has done. But I still think she makes a great Plastic Surgeon.”

  2. They did a stunning job incorporating and restoring the original features within the new modern aesthetic. Janell

  3. Do you have the contact information for Integrated Design Solutions? I love that glass panel railing!

  4. Inspring! I too have a 50’s ranch that I am slowing updating and decorating. Idea’s I plan on “borrowing”, bumping out the molding to create a place to hide curtain hardware and furniture layout for the living room. These photo’s also confirm that our idea to knock down the wall to the basement and opening up the stairs is a good idea. Any picutures of the basement?? I saw painted paneling… Thanks for sharing!

  5. An amazing restoration. That chess set is out of this world!

  6. An amazing restoration. That chess set is out of this world!

  7. What an interesting restoration….first because the homeowners recognized what they had, and secondly because they were dealing with paper which could have easily been damaged or distroyed in the restoration process. The bathroom fixtures are so over the top that they take on an air of whimsy, which I love. The marble is incredible too. Thanks for sharing.

  8. A really fabulous restoration and wonderful job by all involved! Just one more reason why smoking is so awful. I love the bathroom and all the original parts that were saved…such elegant character! I have several tear sheets of these giant chess boards…my husband would love one!

  9. Love the wallpaper, love this house!!! The light fixtures are fabulous too. I would not have enjoyed scrubbing away years of cigarette smoke from the home but the homeowners have done a magnificent job transforming the space.