Urban Elegance: A Peek into the Washington Design Center's 2009 Spring Design House

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Come one, come all, today the Washington Design Center is unveiling its 25th Design House to the public. The theme of the spring showhouse is "urban elegance," a broad phrase that produced a wide variety of creative interpretations by the dedicated designers who brought the design center's dim basement to luxurious life. Rooms range from vibrant to monochomatic, and from minimalist to plush girly glamour. The common thread? Nearly all were designed to wear many hats: an expansive living room equally suited to a large gathering as to personal meditation, a cozy family office housing both a kids' craft station and a parent's formal desk, to name a couple...
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The vibrant foyer was designed by Annie Elliot of Bossy Color, who swathed the room in a saturated version of the yellow and gray combination that reigns in the 2009 DC Design House in Georgetown. Deep high gloss gray molding hems posh upholstered silk walls in rich yellow for an effect that is both bold and refined. Annie also brought the room alive with an eclectic mix of artwork ranging from an oversized hologram to a serene photo still life of the Tabard Inn. She balances the dramatic colors and lively artwork with many traditional clean-lined furnishings.
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Samantha Friedman's elegant dining room features a jaw-dropping round table from Century Furniture that twists to expand in order to accomodate a formal dinner group or an intimate family meal. We love the gracious chadelier and clubby built in bar.
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Matt Costigan's media room combines warm modern elegance with a rustic masculine vibe. Those of you who still aren't sold on the idea of leaving your TV in the wide open will appreciate his use of Michael Cleary's "Vision Art" feature which lowers a painting over the TV screen when you prefer conversation to movie watching.
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Nestor Santa-Cruz's bar lounge is the most minimalist and modern of this spring's design house. Aside from adding a carpet remnant and painting a white accent band of color on two walls, he did nothing to change the architectural details of the room. The transformation relied on timeless furniture pieces in a limited palatte. In his description of the room, he quotes Madame Eugenia Errazuriz's line, "elegance is elimination!"
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Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey had the unique challenge of creating an elegant children's room in a tiny space, which she achieved with a clever built in that houses a cozy bed and trundle, open bookshelves, and a plethora of drawers for storage. We love the sumptuous but kid-friendly fabrics from Cowtan & Tout that make the room warm and inviting for children and adults alike.
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Sandra Meyers took on the challenging task of creating a family office that is as equally appealing to a parent writing a letter to an old friend as it is to a child sitting down to fingerpaint. To strike this balance she covered most walls in a warm striaand included plenty of comfortable child friendly storage options, while reserving one wall for the calm, cool colored parents' space which includes a glass topped desk and a sophisticated greek key papered accent wall.
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Jennie Curtis and her team from Material Differences created a luxurious master bedroom washed in a pleasing array of ivories and aquas that is both warm and refreshing. The elegance here seems to some from the abundance of rich materials and the incredible attention to the smallest of details.
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Gloria de Lourdes Blalock took on the largest of the rooms. However, she managed to make the expansive space feel at once gracious and intimate through a variety of small and large vignettes, each deliniating a small conversation zone while also helping the eye to move around the whole of the room. We love her pairing of natural elements —branches and rocks— with refined high end materials in similar themes—Donghia's milo chairs. We also appreciated the way Gloria used shadows as an art form. One notable example is the coat hooks hung on the center of the ceiling whose shadows mimic the branch patterns used around the room.

End note: the total absense of natural light made every space a challenge to accurately capture on camera. So, while normally pictures may speak a thousand words, this event is a must see in person. Admission is free to the public.



(Images: 1, 2: Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman courtesy of The Washigton Design Center, 3-14: Leah Moss)

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