When Sonya and Don moved into their drool-worthy new Washington, DC home this Christmas they were really wiped out. Practicing lawyers with two boisterous young sons, they made a decision: They would resist the urge to plunge into redecorating or furnishing their new home. Instead they decided to just…be. In a city where everything is a project with a deadline; where everyone is in a rush to perfection, this family has chosen to sit back and enjoy their half-empty home.Let's be clear, though: living in a house like this with minimal furnishings isn't exactly a hardship. This place is simply amazing in its barest state. And big: about three times larger than their previous home Built in the 1970s, the house is all windows and wide open spaces. On the main floor, a massive (we are talking museum-sized!) hallway with sleek marble floors becomes center stage not just a passageway. The house feels so fun, open and light that you almost want to run around like a child just taking in all the space! (And that is pretty much what my kids did when they visited). It is like an evacuated gymnasium!
For the design-oriented, such a house is the stuff of fantasy. Like one big blank white canvas, the space calls out for bold, dramatic artwork and bright, innovative furnishings. Though Don and Sonya get a genuine kick out of decorating and renovating, they have decided to get to know their home before they furnish it. "We are so lucky. And we just want to have fun and appreciate the space. We want to have lots of friends over and not worry about ruining anything," says Sonya. "We want to live simply in a big house."
The largest room is the living room. And this is the last room they plan to fill with furniture. Instead it will function as an indoor playground, replete with tents, tunnels and sporting equipment. The boys play hockey up and down the hallway, with the marble floor serving as the ice rink (Don works for the Washington Capitals so hockey sticks abound). Says Don, "they use full length sticks and a net. And if they mark up the walls, so what? We eventually have to repaint anyway." Sonya bought the kids a bike with plastic wheels so they can ride from hallway to kitchen and dining room and back around again. Don and Sonya plan to screen movies against the massive blank white walls. For their son's next birthday party they are thinking about renting a moon bounce…for inside. With all the glass windows, they are pretty exposed, though the neighborhood is quiet. "I apologized to the neighbor that the living room from the front looks so barren and undecorated," says Don. "She said 'No! I love the tents!'"
Some rooms will require more immediate attention, Sonya says. Their gorgeous kitchen was already renovated but they have added a Saarinen tulip table and 4 molded plastic shell chairs (very kid-friendly and stylish). The family room is a work in progress, functioning in part as a playroom. New shelving and rugs are next on the agenda there. They hope to fix up the mudroom and invest in a new dining room table and sideboard for the dining room, maybe from Home Anthology, which is just outside of Baltimore.
We will be following Don and Sonya as they slowly decorate their enviable new home. What would you do with the space if you had it? Could you take it slow?
Images: Catrin Morris