Bare Bones at the DC Design House

Walking through a designer showhouse before it’s been decorated really brings home the giant task designers have on their hands — and they only have a month or so to beautify it. The organizers of the DC Design House, which will benefit the National Children’s Medical Center when it opens to tours April 9 through May 10, held a Bare Bones Tour on Saturday so the public could see the “before” rooms. That tour, no doubt, will make us all appreciate the “afters” that much more.

But pictures will tell a better story than my blathering, so let’s start.

We start with the huge entry hall, which Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey will design.

Shazalynn will apply this color and design scheme to the foyer. Niermann Weeks is loaning three huge chandeliers for the space, and David Iatesta is loaning a bench (in addition to lots of other pieces throughout the house).

The foyer has lots of ornate trim, and Shazalynn is papering the space between the trim with Farrow & Ball paper. "It's really going to make this feel a little edgier for a young family," she says. Farrow & Ball is donating all paint and wallpapers for the DC Design House, as it has for the last two years.

To the left of the foyer is the giant conservatory, which Barry Dixon will design. This picture does not even cover half of the room's area.

Here's Barry, standing on the giant hearth, with his presentation board above. He will be using all his own fabrics from his new line for Vervain.

A closeup of Barry's presentation board. The yellow and gray color scheme is similar to what he did in the great room of the CharityWorks GreenHouse, but where yellow was dominant in the GreenHouse, gray will be the dominant shade here. He took his color inspiration from the stone of the hearth and fireplace surround.

Andrew Law is designing the grand porch off the conservatory, using the color scheme above.

To the rear of the foyer is the baby-blue library, which Victoria Sanchez will turn into a vision in grays and soft yellows, making it compatible with the conservatory next door.

Here are the library details, including a beautiful rent table by David Iatesta.

... And the sketch of what the completed room will look like, by architectural artist Maria Morga.

To the right of the foyer is the, uh, rather unusual parlor, with an Egyptian themed ceiling. Nestor Santa Cruz will design this space, and he plans to keep the faux stone painting on the walls, I’ve heard.

A sketch of Nestor's vision for this small area, which serves as a transition between the foyer and living room.

Here's the "before" picture of the living room. Peachy, eh?

Here is Frank Babb Randolph's vision for the living room -- full of greens and natural materials.

Light at the end of the tunnel. The doors on the other side of the living room lead out to...

The sunroom! It's actually delightful just as it is, but Sarah Wessel will spruce it up even more.

Here's Sarah, talking about how she thought about changing the light fixture, but decided to keep the white chandelier in her new design.

Sarah's design board sings with soft greens, blues and creams.

Back inside, here is the dining room that Basha White will tackle.

What a shame she'll have to cover up all this decorative painting.

Here is Basha's presentation board for a fresh, updated look.

Clive Christian supplied this board of before pictures for the kitchen...

... So you could see how dramatic the change would be.

Upstairs, the master bedroom cries out for help.

Sally Steponkus is ready to provide it.

Sally's revision will be awash in neutrals, where texture and pattern, rather than color, will add variety.

Celia Welch will transform the master bath and closet. The wallpaper will have to go.

Here's Celia, with her design board of calming neutrals -- a nice accompaniment to Sally's designs.

This sweet little nursery will soon be a super-cool boy's bedroom.

Here's the hip new design for a lucky young man, by Lisa Adams.

Now for the girl's room. Not much to look at, at this point.

But Page Palmer will turn it into a space inspired by a friend's daughter.

Here's the dreamy design scheme,

and the custom headboard on the bed mimics the shape of the pediment over the home's front door.

Meanwhile, Michael Hampton will be handling the guest room.

The new design will trade bright fuchsia for soft tans and blues.

I love the texture and subtle patterns on the guest-room fabrics.

Next door to the guest room, Barbara Franceski will battle yellow harlequin to create a guest sitting room.

Here's the scheme for Barbara's new sitting room.

And here's Barbara, pointing out that the room will have accents of intaglios, pictures of Greek busts, and other details that make this room classic-chic.

And finally, the art studio. The baby blue art studio, which Tracy Morris will be doing something about.

Here's Tracy, discussing her ideas for the new room.

A closeup of the sketch for the new art studio.

As I was talking to Tracy, two extremely handsome men walked in. They are brothers, Brian and Preston Key, whose company, Delivering Design, specializes in delivering precious goods, such as designer furniture and art for the DC Design House.

Wouldn't you want Preston, left, and Brian to take care of your fine furniture and other valuable goods?

I was unable to get much detail on the outdoor landscaping by Cynthia Ferranto, the study by Rose DiNapoli, or the upstairs family living room by Kelley Proxmire. But they will all be in their “after” glory starting on April 9. For more information on the design house, check my previous blogs here and here.


  1. Just beautiful.Looking forward to attending the showhouse.Thank you Jennifer.

  2. alahana says:

    i am so looking forward to seeing every ones work.WASHINGTON DC IS VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE SO MUCH TALENT

  3. Wait, how did I miss Barry Dixon? And the attractive moving men? Where was I?? 🙂 Loved your post – I’m reliving the tour! And it was so great to meet you – I’ve been following your blog and love it…happy you stopped by to see mine and hope we run into each other again soon.

  4. Michael says:

    Jennifer – Great post, thank you! I was not able to attend on Saturday. The architecture is stunning and they have a super group of designers. It’ll be wonderful show benefitting a very worthy charity!

  5. I’m so glad that you posted on the Bare Bones since I wasn’t able to make it! Did I tell you I’m working with Lisa Adams? Hope all is well – hope to see you soon!

    • Jennifer says:

      Rebecca, I did know you were working with Lisa — can’t wait to see the boy’s room all finished!

  6. Great post Jennifer! I loved how you included all the mood boards. Michael’s sketches blow me away, he is so talented!

    I’m so very glad that I finally got a chance to meet you!

  7. So wish I had been in town to go to this! Great coverage – looks like this is going to be one of the best showhouses we’ve had in DC.

  8. WOW!! I wouldn’t even know where to begin to say which room I am the most excited to see. I am looking forward to seeing the transformations in ALL the rooms. Kudos to the designers for a job that is sure to please and impress all. xo

  9. Thanks for the preview, I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  10. Thanks for a little preview! It’s all looking wonderful.

  11. It’s exciting to see all the plans for the showhouse. I’m sure it will be a feast for our eyes. Thanks for the pre-design tour.

  12. Thanks for the great details. We had family in town and I couldn’t make it. I knew local bloggers wouldn’t let me down! It is sure to be spectacular.


  1. […] opens to the public on April 10 (see my previous posts here and here). And while I await more professional pictures for a more detailed post next week, here is a little […]

  2. […] It’s always fun comparing the architectural drawings of a room to the completed product — I especially love it when Candice Olson does that on HGTV’s Divine Design. But come to find out, there are other examples of great artists right in our backyard, and I saw their work in action last week at the DC Design House’s Bare Bones Tour. (See my post on the tour here.) […]