Need Some Ideas?

We love to get creative! Feel free to contact us if you need help dressing up your spaces....

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Historic Marwood Estate - Sleeping Beauty on the Potomac

Many, many years ago I had the pleasure of stumbling upon the Marwood estate.  As a design assistant, I had many projects out in Potomac Maryland on River Road.  One day after passing Potomac Village, I came upon a magnificent archway/gatehouse to the left.  Intrigued, I turned into the drive and after about a half mile came across a stately French inspired estate that was crumbling, deserted and left for dead. 
I had stumbled upon Marwood - a historic home of importance that had been left to ruin.  It was spectacular even in its dilapidated state.  Beautiful floor to ceiling windows, and graciously sized rooms and when I walked around to the rear of the main house the view over the Potomac and on to Virginia was breathtaking. 
I was in love but alas her $4 million dollar price tag was not in my budget although I racked my brain for weeks to try to find a way!  Here is a snippet about the history of Marwood taken from Period Homes writer Nancy E. Berry:
"Modeled after the central core of Chateau de Malmaison, Napoleon's Empress Josephine's 18th-century abode just outside Paris, Marwood sits high on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River in Maryland. The Beaux-Arts estate was designed in 1931 for young newlyweds, who traveled extensively throughout Europe seeking artifacts and antiques to furnish their home while it was under construction. Unfortunately, the marriage dissolved shortly after the couple arrived home (the young husband is said to have perished from a broken heart just months after the breakup). The widow remarried and soon moved out and the house became a rental property.

Washington, DC, elite, such as the late ambassador Joseph Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, rented the estate. It was then owned for a long period by Grady Gore and was often visited by his family, the late senator Albert Arnold Gore Sr., and his son, former Vice President Al Gore. Nevertheless the formal gardens were never realized and the house fell into disrepair. In the 1980s, all but 13½ acres of the 200-acre parcel was sold off and subdivided. The house changed hands and was lightly renovated at this time, but not finished. For years, the estate had sat all but vacant, an empty shell looming over the Potomac, neglected and unloved."

So there the lovely Marwood sat for many years much to my chagrin until a wealthy couple (Chris Rogers - a telecom executive and his wife) bought the property and began extensive renovations.  Here is what the property looks like now after a massive renovation by Barnes Vanze Architects and interior designer Mary Drysdale. 
Thankfully it was thoughtfully restored in keeping with classic Beaux Arts style and was never demolished like so many old beauties have been.  Renovating is more expensive and running into unexpected issues and expenses is always the norm.  Thank goodness the new owners had the vision and means to do it right. 


The photos below show the massive excavation project which enabled the new owners to have a large garage/car storage area out of view and underground.  This was such a beautifully planned element by the architects as too often garages - even on large estates -  take away from the architecture of the main house. 

 Now let's go inside...




I will let the interiors speak for themselves but I will say they are classic without being stodgy and staid.  The fresh color palate and chromatic art give the new Marwood a fresh, young demeanor.  There are gorgeous applied moldings, simple French furniture and subtle details like stenciling on the floor.  It was not over-furnished or over done like so many grand homes thanks to Drysale's keen eye.
To the side of the house is the pool area with the original pool house structure.  It seems to be the same structure I saw the day I explored the grounds. 
Notice how lush the surrounding trees are.   

Here is a view of the rear of the house showing dual
porticos the architects added on each side of the patio.  


I wanted to share with you the incredible view from the house to the Potomac River but unfortunately there were no photos showing that heart stopping view that took my breath away. 
The house has changed hands since her renovation and the new owner is Ted Leonsis and family who paid $20 million for her.  He also happens to own the Washington Capitals, and Wizards pro teams.  Hopefully he continues to treat Marwood with the love and care she deserves and I have my eye on a few other old beauties if anyone wants to invest?!
Read the full article from Period Homes about
the renovation of Marwood
and visit the architects website
Until Next Time,
Photos from Period Homes, Barnes Vanze Architects and Veranda Magazine

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Our Top 4 Tips for Using Chintz

Finally the buds are out on the cherry trees, daffodils are blooming and warmer temps are trending.  Spring  = Flowers and the best way to bring the flowers in year round is with a chintz fabric.  For a while now I have been feeling chintz would make a big comeback this year and it looks like it is back in a major way!  

Originating from India and used frequently in English interiors, Chitz is all about an excess of flowery blooms on a plain background.  Here is the definition of chintz:  

noun: chintz; plural noun: chintzes
  1. 1.
    printed multicolored cotton fabric with a glazed finish, used esp. for curtains and upholstery.

photo of Southern Living via the peak of chic

My mother is an excellent seamstress and I was always choosing "weird" fabric combinations for her to sew.  In high school I chose a flowery pink and green chintz fabric for her to make into a power suit. The suit featured a plain pencil skirt (which I quickly had her shorten to a mini skirt) with a jacket cut in that boxy shoulder-padded style popular in the 80's.  

What made it work was the juxtaposition of the modern suit shape with the romantic organic fabric.  I love how opposite styles often complement each other and look much more interesting than matching styles.  

really?  we wore this? LOL

Chintz may bring back bad memories of Laura Ashley dresses for you older girls  - or stuffy and formal interiors that seem out of touch with the way we live today.  So here are my tips on utilizing a beautiful chintz in a modern way.

photo via Elegant Bride

Tip #1
Mix Chintz With Lacquered Walls & Furniture

Romantic and feminine in nature, chintz feels very English - cozy and classic but can also be blended with edgy, solid wall colors in lacquer finishes like black, teal and red to keep it from feeling too granny - ish.  Or even mix pastel lacquer walls with a dark and moody chintz.  If it was good enough for legendary decorators Billy Baldwin and Dorothy Draper, it's good enough for me! 

photo via Lonny

Tilton Fenwick photo via NYC&G

white lacquer table and floor with a chintz sofa and modern lamp

Tip #2
Mix With Abandon

Charming and quaint The Ivy restaurant in LA has been doing this forever with much success.  Mention the Ivy and thoughts of flowery chintz instantly come to mind.  (as well as great fried chicken and strawberry shortcake!)  The key is not to be too serious and have fun mixing tons of textures (wicker, gingham, ikats, stripes, kilims and even pom pom trim!)  Here are a few examples of great mixing...

the Ivy store Indigo Seas

the Ivy pretty and welcoming!

photo from Furbish Studio/I Suwannee who are famous for their eye popping mixes!

Chintz pillows mix with modern in this bedroom by Jamie Meares of Furbish studio

another Jamie Meares/Furbish combo

Tip #3
Choose a Monochromatic Chintz

Another way to modernize chintz would be to choose a monochromatic chintz which simply means one color is used as in the Schumacher chintz pictured below.  This keeps it looking simple even with the flower motif and mixes fabulously with modern furniture and art.  

Schumacher Hollyhock fabric draped bed - photo via Lonny

another office photo via Lonny

Below is another monochromatic chintz in pink...which I think would look amazing on a modern classic like the Arne Jacobsen egg chair...

Bennison chintz photo via Stylebeat

Alessandra Branca's take on chintz with horizontal stripes and ebony floors  

another view of the Branca space with chintz used sparingly on the chairs and pillows

an upholstered set of chairs in a monochromatic chintz by Celerie Kemble from the Hamptons Showhouse...

another monochromatic Branca chintz on a modern chair

Tip #4
Use Chintz Wallpaper

Limiting chintz to the walls keeps it from overwhelming a space and lets the larger scaled patterns display in all their glory.  This is particularly great in unexpected places like the rooms below.  Really adventurous!

kitchen design by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick

cupcakes and cashmere bathroom with ellie cashman chintz wallpaper

big gorgeous blooming wallpaper from mr. perswall

Of course you could always chintz up your vehicle as well like the folks at Laura Ashley...

via Laura Ashley

So there you have it....Chintz isn't for everyone and 
proper English chintz has its place in traditional interiors but if you prefer mixing chintz with something a bit more modern try our tips and don't be afraid to experiment!  

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Top Ten Picks From Serena and Lily

Can anyone imagine what designing was like before the Serena and Lily catalog? 
It must have been one dark and dreary place LOL. 
But all joking aside the S & L catalog has become a go to for designers looking for a fresh, casual look that ships quick. 
Here are our top ten picks....and yes it was hard to narrow it down to just ten! 

Azul Rug
Just when you thought you had seen every blue and white rug under the sun,
out comes this one with a fresh motif.
Round Jute Rug
Don't let the bland name fool you....
This rug has plenty of personality and a budget friendly pricetag to match!
Gobi Embroidered Sheet Set
Bold colors make this sheet set a fav.  Pick an accent color to match your walls and go with it. 
These sheets look like much more expensive sets and go the distance wear wise. 
Blake Raffia Side Table
Wow is all I can say.  I have seen similar tables go for much more moolah and if you catch it on sale it is an even better deal. 
Perfect table to add color and texture to a room. 
Woven Raffia Frames
Available in juicy poppy, turquoise or natural -
these frames give your tabletop or bookshelf a lift. 
Silk Shantung Window Panels
Gorgeous, silk panels with blackout lining at a great price.  Enough said!
Pandan Bins
So many fabulous colors to choose from.  We are partial to the metallic as well. 
Perfect for stowing magazines, toys, hair accessories and even dog toys. 
Rattan Hanging Chair
Who doesn't love a hanging rattan chair? 
Now I just need a screened in porch to go with it :)
Kyoto Pillow Covers
An original design by S & L these block printed pillows pack a colorful punch
anywhere they land and the gold and silver accents keep things interesting.
Tucker Chairs
Versatile and lightweight, these chairs are perfect most anywhere. 
Available in 7 colors they are also a very affordable chair option when you need a bunch. 
So much yumminess to love!
We can't wait to see what Serena and Lily come out with next. 
These are two ladies who read our designing minds. 
Until Next Time,

design + development by fabulous k