Allison & Steve’s Bethesda Masterpiece

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Allison, Steve, and their sons, Ethan and Jeremy
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Size: 4 bedrooms and guest house
Years lived in: 2

Today’s House Tour is a bit of a detour from the beloved small, homespun spaces that we often showcase. When interior architect, Miriam Dillon, introduced us to Allison and Steve’s magnificent home, we knew that we couldn’t help but share it with our readers. The home is an inspiring example of the possibilities that arise when a homeowner with fantastic vision collaborates with the perfect design team to transform dream into reality. Striking photography, incredible millwork, and timeless furnishings are just a few elements of their Bethesda dream house.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Walking into Steve and Allison’s home I was struck immediately by two things: the regal stability of the structure and the dramatic placement of their expansive photography collection. Later Miriam Dillon, the designer, would tell me that those two aspects went hand in hand. Often it was the photographs that informed the surrounding millwork, as was the case with the striking portrait of the butcher in the entryway, part of Richard Avedon’s In the American West project. The photograph and its placement sets the tone for the house — a refinement that embraces the rugged and the real. Allison and Steve’s passion for photography, particularly portraits, is apparent throughout the home. A fascinating array of black and white portraits — ranging from gritty to whimsical to classic — line the walls making you feel almost as if you’ve entered a private gallery.

Likewise, it was easy to sense Allison and Steve’s appreciation for the structure of the house itself. This was most apparent through the simple lines and understated grandeur of the accessories and furnishings, all of which compliment and highlight the architecture rather than compete with it. The overall effect is unusual — but most definitely refreshing — for a home of this stature. Far from being a pretentious display of luxury, this home is a celebration of timelessness and stability.

If you’re still hungry for more of this home, be sure to check out Miriam’s blog to see some of the behind the scenes work that went into bringing Allison and Steve’s vision to life.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Hmmm?? I am rustic and old fashioned and Steve is modern. We tried to blend his clean lines with my desire to have a warm, inviting home that wasn’t too stark or cold.

Favorite Element: We love that we use every bit of space. We didn’t want rooms we didn’t use.

Biggest Challenge: We built a home for the 365 days a year that we live here. We didn’t build a home for the 5 days a year we entertain. So, sometimes when we have company, it feels a little cramped in the kitchen. However, it is just the way I like it!

What Friends Say: They all love it and they all comment that it feels like the “perfect” size, not to big, not to small!

Biggest Embarrassment: Am I allowed to say I don’t have one? I pinch myself when I come home!!

Biggest Indulgence: Biggest indulgence was two Kong bar stools from Design within Reach. They are for my kitchen island and I knew my boys might destroy them but Miriam loved them and I had to agree. They make my kitchen. They were worth every penny!!

Best advice: Miriam kept reminding me to use fabrics that were suitable for my boys and my two sheepdogs. She directed me away from fabrics that showed lint or dog hair! She also directed me toward furniture that really captured both my style and Steve’s. For example, she used a traditional chair but covered it with a modern circular pattern. I got the chair I wanted and Steve got the modern look he wanted. She also advised me where to spend money and where to save money. Instead of an overpriced side table at the design center, she found me a great side table at Restoration Hardware for a fraction of the price. So, my best advice is for anyone to use Miriam!

Dream source: Thomas Pheasant

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:
Appliances: Sub-zero, Wolf, Ferguessen

Cabinets: Woodmode Cabinets by Amy Collins LLC

Hardware:Restoration Hardware, Stone River Bronze

Furniture: Baker, Donghia, Bausman & Comp, Cisco Brothers, S. Harris, Lee Industries, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Restoration Hardware

Accessories: Random Harvest, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx (my favorite store) and flea markets

Lighting: Dominion Lighting, Hudson Valley

Rugs and Carpets: Carpet Impressions

Tiles and Stone: Architectural Ceramics and GLB

Windows: custom by Robyn McCahill

Artwork: Black and White Photography, Richard Avedon

Paint: Main level and upstairs hallway/landing: Benjamin Moore Bone White; Dining Room and Master Bedroom: Benjamin Moore Wheeling Neutral; Allsion’s Bathroom: Benjamin Moore Silver Crest, Jeremy’s bedroom (with the bears): Shaker Beige and Fairview Taupe, Ethan’s bedroom: Benjamin Moore Sag Harbour Grey

Flooring: Distressed Walnut

Architect: Mark Sullenberger, Custom Design Concepts

Interior Design (excepting the bedroom suites): Miriam Dillon, assisted by Rebecca Foley, Custom Design Concepts


Principal Bedroom Designer: Vincent Sagart, Sagart Studio
Cabinetry and paneling: Poliform by Sagart Studio
Beds: Poliform by Sagart Studio
Furniture: Poliform, Porada, Flexform through Sagart Studio
Window treatment: fabrics from Donghia and Schumacher through Sagart Studio
Accessories: Flos, Artemide, Flou through Sagart Studio

Builder: Sandy Spring Builders

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Allison and Steve! And a special thanks to Miriam Dillon for introducing us to this incredible home!

Images: Leah Moss

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