- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2011

Innovative design ideas and a spirit of philanthropy come together in the fourth annual DC Design House, which benefits Children’s National Medical Center.

Established by Skip and Debbie Singleton, principals of DC Living Real Estate, in 2008, the design house provides a showcase for local interior and landscape designers and has raised more than $400,000 for the medical center in the past three years.

This year’s DC Design House, at 3134 Ellicott St. NW in the Forest Hills neighborhood, will be open to the public beginning Saturday. The majestic 12,000-square-foot English Country Tudor-style mansion sits on an acre and is currently owned by the Wasserman family. It is on the market for $4.9 million. The home was built in 1925 for Charles Woodward, founder of Woodward & Lothrop department store. Movie stars, politicians, diplomats and dignitaries all have enjoyed hospitality in this home.

Today, the grounds have been restored with a koi pond, pea-gravel paths and a lawn terrace and boxwood maze at the back, designed by Scott Brinitzer Design Associates in Arlington.

On the side of the residence is one of the more unusual features to be found in a Washington home: a 20-yard swimming pool with an adjacent dance floor. Jeff Potter, with J&G Landscape Design Inc. in Spencerville, added Capitata yews as an entrance to the dance floor to separate it from the swimming pool area, along with mass plantings of rhododendrons and arborvitae columns.

Inside, this home has dramatic spaces for entertaining, such as the two-story living room, along with cozier rooms, such as the family room, the “hideaway” and the “secret garden” bedroom. Samantha Friedman of Samantha Friedman Interior Designs in Gaithersburg transformed an office rimmed in built-in cabinets, shelves and desks into a bedroom designed for a modern teenage girl.

“For inspiration, I started with a fun yet sophisticated fabric that I used for faux roman window shades on the windows,” Ms. Friedman says. “The focal point for the room is a poster bed that sits on top of a wool floral rug, which I had cut and trimmed from a broadloom carpet.”

Ms. Friedman says homeowners on a budget can have any carpet cut and trimmed into a rug.

“The faux window shades can also be a budget-friendly option for homeowners who want to add color and sophistication without the expense of a full shade,” Ms. Friedman says. “The fabric can sit at top and hide standard honeycomb blinds that can be used for privacy.”

Ms. Friedman added a window seat and a whimsical outdoor swing to the room. She found the swing online and painted it to complement the fabric shades.

Barbara Franceski, owner of Barbara Franceski LLC in Alexandria, transformed a dark wood-paneled family room into a light and comfortable room with multiple seating areas and a mix of textures in the fabrics and furnishings.

“I wanted a fresh but warm tone for the room, so I painted the walls Oxford Stone by Farrow & Ball, but I also left the dentil moldings as plain wood to match the wet bar,” Ms. Franceski says. “The wood touches tie the room together, and I picked up the shape of the moldings in one of the light fixtures. I also played with curves to offset the vertical nature of the paneled walls, so there are a couple of circular tables, a curved settee and even some small circular objects placed around the room for interest.”

Ms. Franceski created three sitting areas in the room, including a settee on casters that can be moved when entertaining. She also opened the space around the front window to add more light.

“People are sometimes afraid to paint paneled walls and prefer to take down the paneling, but you can get nice vertical lines with painted paneling and can have a bright room when you use a light color,” Ms. Franceski says.

Interior designer Nadia Subaran, with Aidan Design in Bethesda, painted the pool kitchen a pale gray shade by Farrow & Ball called Dove Tail, accented with trim work and wood beams in bright white.

“The kitchen was originally dark and chopped up, with red brick and wood walls and outdated cabinets, but I also wanted to blend modern style with a retro look,” Ms. Subaran says. “I added a Vermont soapstone counter and a farmhouse sink, and I was able to fit a stainless steel refrigerator into a deep niche. The most important element when you are redoing a kitchen is the design and layout of the room, to make it as functional as possible.”

The pool kitchen provides a catering space for poolside parties and for residents when they are enjoying the outdoors.

“I wanted to blend the indoors and outdoors since this is next to the pool, so I took down shutters and made sure the windows are noticeable,” Ms. Subaran says.

A cozy room that owes its color scheme to the outdoors is the upstairs “hideaway,” a comfortable sitting room with a deep window seat overlooking the back gardens and koi pond. Designer Lauren Liess of Herndon covered the angled walls and ceiling in grasscloth for a textured backdrop that emphasizes the shape of the room, then furnished the room with comfortable chairs and a custom-designed concrete parsons table.

The master suite and dressing room, designed by Iantha Carley of Iantha Carley Interiors in Silver Spring, features a crisp green-and-white color scheme in the bedroom with a combination of floral and geometric fabrics. The adjacent dressing room features colorful wallpaper balanced by a series of closet doors painted in high gloss neutral gray.

“Homeowners can go crazy with bold color and wallpaper patterns in small spaces like a powder room or a dressing room,” Ms. Carley says. “In small spaces, I always use high gloss paint, too, because it reflects the light.”

The DC Design House will be open to the public from Saturday through May 8 from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased at the house.

No food or drink, children younger than 8 (including infants), photography, pets or high heels are allowed. For more information, visit www.dcdesignhouse.com. For those interested in purchasing the home, contact Realtor Ellen Wilner with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Bethesda at 301/634-4182.