The 2012 DC Design House

They couldn’t have picked a better day for a press preview to have us drive through the leafy Spring Valley neighborhood and arrive here, at the 2012 DC Design House, which opens to the public on Saturday, April 14 and runs through Sunday, May 13:

What an elegant way to spend an afternoon, nibbling on hors d’oeuvres from Bibiana, and wandering three floors of rooms that just a couple months ago were, well, rather sad. Not anymore! Here’s a taste of the 23 designs you will see here, from Before to After (all photography by Robert Radifera).

I’ll start with my FAVORITE, a teen lounge tricked out in nothing but Missoni, by my good friend Victoria Sanchez. She started here,

and created THIS:

While “Get Smart” plays on a loop on the TV (not shown), Victoria’s space translates the whimsical colors and patterns of Missoni Home through window treatments, carpet, lighting, pillows, and that HUGE pouf using vintage mid-century furniture as a vehicle — what a perfect pairing! (Target, eat your heart out — this is the REAL stuff. Sure, most of us probably couldn’t afford this room, which is why you have to get over here in the next month to experience all this eye candy in person).

Moving right along, let’s see how design-house regular Kelley Proxmire applied her signature style to this enormous ballroom:

I wouldn’t know where to begin here. But Kelley did:

She created L’Orangerie, “a classic take on a modern sunroom. With Palladian windows on three sides, the room reminded me of Versailles and evoked a grandness that I wanted to emphasize,” she writes. And befitting an orangerie, to define this large end room, she included mirrored walls and greenery throughout.

Marika Meyer‘s breakfast room, which looks out to the lovely patio, would put anyone in a good mindset for the impending day. Here’s what she started with:

And the result:

“Because I have a 2-year-old son, this is the opposite of my real life!” she says. “This is my reaction to having a 2-year-old son.” Indeed!

And while we’re talking about opposites, let’s consider what Nadia Subaran of Aidan Design did with this ghastly kitchen:

(Who EVER thought this design was cool?). At any rate, here’s the lovely, luminous transformation:


And now, for some more mood and soul, we move on to the family room by Dan Proctor of Kirk Designs in Baltimore. He got this space to start with, the old dining room:

And he turned it into THIS:

Wow. I don’t think I would ever leave this space! The cocktail table and desk are custom by Maryland artisan Mitchell Yanosky, and the amazing chandelier and wall sconces were also custom by another Maryland source, McLain Wiesand.

Now, let’s move upstairs, to the impressive master bedroom by Sharon Kleinman of Transitions.

(eww, who would EVER have wanted THIS bedroom??)

But I could definitely get on board with this:


Just outside this room is the balcony, plain-Jane:

And here’s what Shanon Munn and Amanda Welch of Ambi Design Studio did with it:

“It was kind of nice to take a space that had never been loved and do something with it,” Shanon says. I agree! Here’s what the balcony looks like to someone standing out on the hill behind the house:


Here’s what might be the most dramatic transformation in this house. Carolyn Wilson and Elizabeth Boland of Design in a Day took this RANDOM, nothing space:

and made it into the most amazing transition between two of the upstairs rooms:


Lorna Gross of Savant Interior Design also made an impressive turnaround with this ugly, paneled nightmare of a study:

(I mean, if it weren’t bad enough already, they had to put a big ole fluorescent light on the ceiling!)

Here’s how Lorna tamed it:

Ahh, so much better.

The third floor, reserved for the young son and teenage daughter, took vanilla spaces and gave the new, impressive life. These are lucky children!

Susan Nelson, using her own daughter as muse, took this space

and filled it with color and pattern. She even used her own daughter’s prom dress (not shown) as a prop.

“My goal was to get a different pattern on every surface,” she says. I think she accomplished it! I loved Susan’s approach here. Like most kids’ rooms, it’s a blend of pieces from the little-girl stage (a dresser painted with birdies) combined with more sophisticated elements (the profusion of gorgeous fabric on the bed and the addition of wallpaper from Farrow & Ball).

Across the hall, Nancy Twomey of Finnian’s Moon created a young boy’s room from a very similar “before” to what Susan had:

Here’s the result:

Several visitors were saying that the silver buck’s head above the bed resembles Harry Potter’s “petronus” — how right! I also love how Nancy created room to grow: the blue backing behind the bed can serve as a headboard for a Queen-size bed for when the young one gets older.

As with any old house, you’re often faced with ugly, OLD tile.

Pepto pink, anyone?

Dear God. This might have looked good on “I Dream of Jeannie,” but not really anywhere else. Here’s how Allie Man of Case Design interpreted it for a nursery bathroom:

Ohhh, so much better.

Upstairs, Christopher Patrick and Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice of Christopher Patrick Interiors embraced the old brown-and-white tile on the floor of their bath:

And created this dazzling new space, punctuated by vivid Farrow & Ball wallpaper:

They even chose a modern brown mosaic tile to run up the shower wall, literally taking the old floor into a new dimension:

“We’d like to show [visitors] what you could do with a floor like this,” Christopher says.” And instead of ripping out the old shower floor, he instead put a teak tray down. The tray wasn’t inexpensive, he notes, but much cheaper than ripping out and starting over. What a great tip for those of us with old showers!

Well, I couldn’t cover all the spaces here, but then why would you go and see the house in person if I did? Even the rooms shown here have detail and texture that just can’t be captured on camera. So please go see it — the drive through Spring Valley alone will make it worth your while!



  1. Jennifer says:

    Jeannine, thanks for writing — I had noticed that your blog had taken a wedding turn! Hopefully you’ll return to homes after the nuptials — good luck with the big event and congratulations!

  2. I’m just peeking my head back into design blog world after being immersed in wedding blog land for the last year (50 days to go!) and am SO glad I caught this post. I always seem to have a business trip up to NOVA or DC during the Design House and I try to sneak away one afternoon to see the house. Every year, it seems to get better and better!

    Thanks for the sneak peek, Jennifer!

  3. Thanks for the coverage! This is a terrific event that benefits a wonderful charity.

  4. Jennifer:

    Thanks for the nice recap. There were some truly amazing transformations in the DCDH this year.