Behind the Scenes with Forma Design

I think we all know that the homes we see in shelter magazines are chosen for publication because the architect or designer has accomplished some kind of dramatic transformation. Typically what we see are the gorgeous “after” pictures. But even more exciting, I think, is to pair each image with its homely antecedent—a method that lets you appreciate the designer’s talent all the more.

Andreas Charalambous, the owner of DC-based Forma Design, sent me all the “before” images that pair with a 14th Street condo that was recently published in Home & Design magazine.

“ ‘I liked their clean lines and openness, but they were in converted warehouses that suffered from lack of light,’ ” owner Damon Taaeffe told Home & Design editor Julie Sanders. “ ‘The distinguishing feature here is the windows and the way light comes in.’ The condo’s quirky layout, however, made it a challenge in terms of functionality.”

The story is a good read in terms of how Andreas was able to find elegant solutions to these problems. But here’s a visual take on what he did:

This elevated office/den area had a wall blocking the views. That went away.

Taffee before_1



All finished photography by Geoffrey Hodgdon

A closeup of this wall and its ugly shelves, followed by the way in which Andreas filled in the nook:

Taffee before_2




Painting the duct work went a long way to soften the industrial edge:

Taffee before_3






Andreas also opened up the walls in the master-bedroom loft above:

Taffee before_5




Looking back the other way, it becomes clear how that former wall on the elevated den cut up the space:

Taffee before_6




The master bedroom — see those awkward folding-door panels? Andreas replaced them with floaty sheers that pull closed around the balcony.

Taffee before_8




Here’s what you see when you lean over that balcony:



Andreas also used curtains to soften the adjacent guest room, where Damon keeps his stationary bike:

Taffee before_9



The Home & Design story recounted how Damon met and married his sweetheart, Amy Lehr, during the renovation project.

Damon “is an Assistant U.S. Attorney, but more importantly, an avid biker,” Andreas says in an e-mail. “He takes part in grueling bike rides all over the world—some of them for 24 hours at a time. That is why the second bedroom has the stationary bike where he exercises, and the master bedroom has the little bike sculpture on the night stand.”

Damon, doing what he does best.

Damon, doing what he does best.

“By the time the design was finalized, he invited Amy to attend the last meeting, to make sure all was OK with her as well. They got engaged, she moved in, and then they got married right before their place was featured in Home & Design. Damon, Amy, and his cat, Cleo, are now enjoying the two story loft in Logan Circle.”


A happy ending, indeed!