New House, New Style, New Challenge

I never thought I would move. I really didn’t. My husband and I bought our first house in Arlington 17 years ago—we weren’t even married yet, much less have our two boys (one of whom now towers over me).


Over the years, I’ve chronicled our updates, including the master bedroom, and the new front porch. And most recently, I wrote about our grand plans for a kitchen renovation, which would have combined the kitchen with our tiny dining room.

But then my husband suggested that maybe we should look around a bit and see what else might be out there before making what would have been a significant investment. We poked around in Arlington for a few weeks, not very seriously, and were ready to give up and hire the contractor, when we decided to go out in the pouring rain and look at one last open house:


You see, we’ve always been weirdly drawn to contemporary houses with sloping ceilings and huge windows—we’ve peeked around every so often, and these types of houses would really stand out. But it never seemed to be the right time to move, until we found this, which is in walking distance of our current house:


It’s a post-and-beam house built in 1990 by Deck House, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in homes with exposed interior structure and floor-to-ceiling windows. The original owners were now selling it.

Long story short, we were one of five contracts that were submitted, and with the help of our real estate agent, Eduardo Manus, we got it!

We closed yesterday, and the sellers could not have been more kind or gracious. During the settlement, the wife said it was a bittersweet moment for her because they had built the house—it was their vision and their baby. I intend to celebrate that vision as we settle in and make it our own.

So, where to start? How do you take the interiors of a brick colonial and adapt them to such an open, contemporary space?

Our situation doesn’t fit in with most of the homes I write about, where designers are able to buy all new furnishings and decor for a client’s new house and leave everything else behind with the old one. For now, we have to make what we have work.

To start, we’re going to add both leaves to our dining table and put it in the entry hall, which is labeled as the dining room in the blueprints. So it will do double duty as dining and also a really big foyer table:


On the house to-do list: a new chandelier that won’t obstruct the views out the window wall:


The living room is just beyond the balcony overlooking this space:


We plan to adapt the furnishings in our existing family room here, with the TV where the shelves are above:


See that painting over the sectional? I’m thinking of hanging it on the stone fireplace wall in the new dining area, but Jim isn’t so sure. We’ll have to play with it once we’re in the house as of July 1.


The one drawback about the new house is that there is no built-in shelving. I didn’t realize how spoiled we were! So shelves are definitely on our list.

As for the kitchen/family area, we have made one purchase, from AmericanEye‘s recent sample sale at the Washington Design Center. I LOVE this gray leather swivel chair by Lee Industries:


Joining that chair will be our leather sectional by American Leather, and a Stark rug we got at an expo sale several years ago. They currently occupy our basement:


Here’s a wider view of this area, which leads out to the deck. I love that it’s all one, big level, and all those windows…




The kitchen area is dated. So when we called Nadia Suburan at Aidan Design to tell her that we were moving, and wouldn’t be doing the kitchen project at the old house, we changed her assignment to the new one!

We’re keeping the basic footprint, but extending the counters down to the wall and also extending the island to have a dining area at the end. The counter and island surfaces, along with cabinetry, will be very similar to this kitchen Nadia designed in DC:


Because of this kitchen project, everything has to stay the same for now. We’ll collect new things over time, just as we did at our current house.

Our master bedroom, for example,


will move into this master, below. The bed placement will be the same as the staging photo. I envision the chair in the corner by the window, which looks out the front to a nature trail:


Sadly, I don’t think I can keep my curtain wall, because the bed wall slants up, like most walls throughout the house.

But I can’t wait to step outside our room in the morning to this elevation, where you can see clear across to the other side of the house, with light streaming in from the sides and above:


Below the main level is a wing for the kids’ rooms and a guest room—A Guest Room! We’ve never had one of those before, so exciting (probably even more so for our Chicago in-laws, who have gotten used to air mattresses when they visit).

And below that level is an area with a pale gray-blue tile floor that walks out to the rear of the house. We’ll have to place our current living-room furniture there until we’re able to choose better pieces:


We’ll lose the skirted table, but keep the chairs and sofa. The rattan chair won’t look bad with the tile, I think. Not perfect, of course. But we have (at least) 17 more years to evolve!


  1. I just love every square inch! You did an amazing job! Congrats!
    Keep sharing 🙂

  2. Jennifer, so very happy for you, my friend! The new home is 100% you : )
    Looking forward to seeing your vision unfold over the years. Am sure it will all be stunning!
    It’s already a grat start! Enjoy the process : )

    • Jennifer Sergent says:

      Thank you Gloria, can hardly believe our first night there is this Friday!

  3. Michael DiGuiseppe says:

    Wow! What a fantastic home. For a fantastic lady and family. Enjoy!

  4. congrats!! i know exactly where that house is…right on the Donaldson Run park path, correct? such a wonderful neighborhood…

  5. So beautiful…reminds me of where I grew up in Monterey California. I think your furnishings can work well with new fabrics on those dining chairs and that gorgeous painting on the brick wall. Have fun…

  6. Congratulations…looks like an amazing house!

  7. Congratulations!!!!!!!! The new house is going to be amazing.


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