home interior design

This 116-Year-Old Home Is the Original Tiny House

Old-school proportions didn’t constrain its style.

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Faced with a lack of light and lots of architectural quirks, Sarah Bartholomew refreshed a historic Georgetown rowhouse with neutrals, fool-the-eye details and an aviary’s worth of feathered friends.

Celia Barbour: Tiny houses are a trend now, but this home is 116 years old! How did its size influence you?

Sarah Bartholomew: I always let a house tell its story, and this one was clear about what it needed to be: a pretty, all-American home in beautiful, historic Georgetown. Whoever built it was not especially wealthy, so I tried to keep the style simple: fresh, eclectic and easy- going, but not loose or casual.

Was a 1,200-square-foot house with just four rooms — two downstairs, two up — a design challenge?

Yes. For example, it has no foyer — you walk right off the street into the living room. I wanted to create a moment by the front door where you could pause and hang your coat, but it had to feel cohesive with the room. That’s why there’s a bird print over the entry console instead of a mirror. The kitchen doubles as a dining room. I had the table custom built to a specific size: It’s big enough to accommodate six but small enough that one can move around it.

Your furnishings, too, are often multipurpose.

I like things to be both/and, not either/or. I’m drawn to furniture that’s sculptural, as it adds graphic drama while still being useful. For instance, the Regency-style chairs by the front windows have interesting silhouettes and can serve as pedestals for objects or books, then they can be cleared off when needed as seating. Similarly, the bull’s-eye mirror and Chinese stools add visual impact without making the room feel busy or crowded.

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These owners could have afforded a bigger house. Why did they opt to go small?

They prefer tiny. This is their second home; their main residence is in California, but that one is not large, either. Having spent time in Japan, the wife believes in living well but compactly. They are always on the go — Europe, Asia, the West Coast — and she doesn’t want a lot to maintain. And no need for a home office: The husband, who is in the tech field, can work anywhere as long as he has a tablet.

Yet it doesn’t feel like a dainty little doll’s house.

Well, he’s tall — he played basketball— so I didn’t want petite settees and French chairs everywhere. The living room needed a comfortable sofa and welcoming lounge chairs. The bedrooms had to feel calm and restful.

What issues did you face updating an old rowhouse?

Houses built a century ago didn’t have things we now consider necessities, like plumbing and electricity. These amenities were added over the years and, as a result, there are all these quirks in the walls and ceilings. To mask them, I hang groups of repetitive (but not identical) items, which draw the eye and distract from the asymmetry. The living room has bird prints by Olof Rudbeck, a 17th-century Swedish scientist and artist. In the guest bedroom, I filled the wall above the bed, which juts out, with brackets holding shells and coral.

Rowhouses can be dark. How did you bring in the light?

The previous owners had put plantation shutters on the front windows, but I wanted more daylight. I installed linen curtains with a sheer lining; they provide privacy but let about 80% of the light through. And I replaced the solid wood panels in the front door with glass panes.

So the whole facade becomes a source of light! What about the interior of the house?

Because the living room is a long, narrow space, it needed overhead lighting, but the ceilings were too low to install cove fixtures — I used flush mounts for ambient light. I didn’t want lamps to stick out too much, so I went with slender brass ones. In the kitchen, the ceiling consists of the floor joists of the master bedroom upstairs. Pendant lamps hang from the support beams, the only place where we could run electrical wire. I also added under-cabinet lighting and sconces on the walls.

sarah bartholomew living room                                                                                                              NGOC MINH NGO

Tell me about your use of color.

The client wanted the main rooms to be neutral. She said, “I’m on the go all the time. I want the house to feel soothing.” I love neutrals, too, but I didn’t want the palette to feel boring or flat, so I layered in a lot of textures and patterns. The sofa has a hand-blocked Carolina Irving Textiles print, the chairs a leafy pattern, the pillows a stripe. There’s even a faint pattern in the rug. Natural textures include vellum, wicker, leather, brass and marble. I added blue whenever we needed a pop of color. I love blue and white — always have, always will — and used the combo in the master bedroom with a traditional floral on the headboard, bed skirt and curtains. Then I added little touches of black to the room with the lampshade and artwork. Black keeps blue and white from going over the edge into sweetness.

You said that a house tells its own story, but this one turned out more like a poem.

Every detail counts: A functional object can become a beautiful moment to look at and enjoy whenever you walk by. Each gesture is an opportunity to tell a little story within the larger story.

See more photos of this gorgeous home »

This story originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of House Beautiful.

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Take A Peek Inside 19 Living Rooms In Actors’ Homes

By Melissa Minton

When actors are not on location for an upcoming movie or television show, they retire to their high-design homes around the world. In their living rooms, celebrities (and their designers) incorporate cozy fireplaces, comfortable seating, bold art, and warm lighting to create spaces that are perfect for any occasion, whether they are entertaining A-list friends, learning their lines, or relaxing with family. Take a glimpse at the personality-packed living room decor of George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Degeneres, and many other stars and see where they kick-back after a night on the red carpet.

DERRY MOORE

The main room in Angela Lansbury’s Irish retreat was designed by Stephen Pearce to offer varied spaces for relaxing, such as a fireside reading area and a bright breakfast nook.

SCOTT FRANCES

The living room in Jennifer Aniston’s Los Angeles home by Stephen Shadley is an intimate space that opens to views of the koi pond.

ROGER DAVIES

Custom-made sofas upholstered in a Great Plains fabric stand before the living room fireplace in Patrick and Jillian Dempsey’s Malibu, California, home, devised by Estee Stanley Interior Design; the painting at left is by Thomas Helbig, the large round table is by Dos Gallos Furniture, and the Alma Allen low stool (used as an end table) is from Heath Ceramics.

WILLIAM WALDRON

The New York apartment of actor Will Ferrell and his wife, auctioneer Viveca Paulin-Ferrell, was renovated by architect Richard Perry and decorated by Shawn Henderson. The living room’s boulderlike seating is by Smarin, and the Hans J. Wegner wing chair and ottoman are covered in a Zimmer + Rohde fabric. The artworks include, from left, a Roy Lichtenstein print, a Mario Dal Fabbro sculpture from Maison Gerard, and two Sol LeWitt woodcuts; the television is by Samsung.

WILLIAM WALDRON

In another living room in Ferrell’s home, Robert Indiana serigraphs are displayed above a Vladimir Kagan sectional sofa clad in a Pollack fabric. Vases designed by Patricia Urquiola for Baccarat glitter on the Milo Baughman cocktail table; the red armchairs and ottoman are midcentury, and the bronze sphere is by Hervé Van der Straeten for Maison Gerard.

SCOTT FRANCES

A Maynard Dixon artwork hangs above the living room fireplace in Diane Keaton’s Beverly Hills home, which was decorated by Stephen Shadley; a William Ritschel painting is on the far wall.

MARY E. NICHOLS

An English dog painting is set over the living room fireplace in Rob Lowe’s Santa Barbara home, designed by David Phoenix, while a photograph by Lyndie Benson is above the Dutch secretary.

MARY E. NICHOLS

Schuyler Samperton decorated the interiors of this beachy Los Angeles home for actor Rob Morrow and his wife, Debbon Ayer.

BJÖRN WALLANDER

In George Clooney’s Mexican home by Legoretta + Legoretta, the living room features a slipcovered sofa and armchairs and a pair of stools by Casamidy grouped around a cocktail table by SL Westwood Design.

SIMON UPTON

In the living room at Jane Fonda’s New Mexico ranch, the carved-wood chandelier has arms that echo the antlers of the mounted elk, the actress’s quarry from a Montana hunting trip; two Marion Kavanagh Wachtel paintings flank a set of French doors, and the lamps are circa-1900 Handel.

MARY E. NICHOLS

A Persian rug hangs above the family room fireplace in Samuel L. Jackson’s Los Angeles home, decorated by Cecil N. Hayes; the mantel holds stoneware pots and a pair of West African chiwaras.

MARY E. NICHOLS

The living room in the Los Angeles residence of actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband, actor and director Christopher Guest, features dark wood floors and beams offset by white walls; the home was decorated by Jan McFarland Cox.

WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

The living area in Julianna Margulies’s Manhattan apartment, designed by Vicente Wolf, is anchored by a sofa covered in a Larsen fabric. The African carved post and Portuguese Colonial candlesticks standing at the window are from VW Home, as are the Burmese side table and the hand sculpture.

ROGER DAVIES

In the living room of Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres’s Beverly Hills house, a pair of slipcovered sofas and a cocktail table, all by Kathleen Clements Design, are grouped with Louis XVI bergères; the Avalon blanket is by Hermès, and the fringed throw is an antique textile. A mixed-media sculpture by Catherine Willis takes pride of place over the hearth; to its left are a Roman bust and works by Mark Grotjahn and Ed Ruscha. A Ruth Asawa sculpture hangs to the right of the fireplace.

WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

Designers Brooke Gomez and Mariette Himes Gomez updated Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox’s New York living room with clean-lined modern furnishings, including blue-glass table lamps from Bernd Goeckler Antiques and a pair of Dessin Fournir sofas covered in a Claremont fabric; the artwork between the windows is by Louise Bourgeois, the piano is by Steinway & Sons, and the early-20th-century Turkish Oushak carpet is from Doris Leslie Blau.

ROGER DAVIES

Martyn Lawrence Bullard worked with actress Ellen Pompeo to revamp the 1930 home she shares with her husband, music producer Chris Ivery, and their two children in Los Angeles. To lend architectural distinction to the living room, Bullard framed arched passageways in limestone and installed a custom-made basalt mantel; the mirror is by Richard Shapiro/Studiolo, and the club chairs are a Bullard design, upholstered in a Kravet silk velvet.

WILLIAM WALDRON

Decorator David Flint Wood painted the living room of actress Brooke Shields’s New York townhouse in Benjamin Moore’s cozy Chelsea Gray. Portraits of Shields’s two daughters flank a heart-shaped Keith Haring work, which was a gift from the artist.

ROGER DAVIES

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith created a family haven near Calabasas, California, with the help of architect Stephen Samuelson and interior designer Judith Lance. A large retractable skylight floods the double-height living room with natural illumination. The pair of vintage resin tusks is from Downtown, and the lanterns at left are Moroccan.

SCOTT FRANCES

When actress and comedian Ali Wentworth and her husband, television journalist George Stephanopoulos, relocated from Washington, D.C., to New York City, they enlisted their friend Michael S. Smith to decorate their new apartment. The living room features a skirted sofa and armchairs, all by O. Henry House, upholstered in fabrics by Cowtan & Tout and Jasper, respectively; the Regency mirror and the mahogany bookcase were bought at auction, the settee is a Swedish antique, and the cocktail table and the curtain fabric are both by Jasper.

What Is Transitional Style? The Type of Decor Everyone Can Agree On

By Margaret Heidenry

With so many decor styles out there, it can be hard to stick with just one. Modern, rustic, shabby chic, traditional—deciding on the vibe you want for your home can be downright confusing. But here’s the great thing about interior design: Many of these styles overlap, and can actually work really well together. The design world uses the term “transitional style” to describe the type of design that melds two different aesthetics—modern and traditional—into the same room. So how can you bring transitional style into your home? Our experts break it down for you.

Defining transitional style

The key to achieving this style is balance. Transitional style welcomes disparate styles—the traditional and the modern, the feminine and the masculine—in the same space. It’s a classic, clean look that’s reinvigorated by mixing in contemporary furniture, rugs, and accessories, according to Ellie Thompson, CEO of Venyou, an online platform that lists private homes and estates for events. An angular, modern dining table surrounded by traditional upholstered chairs is a typical example of transitional design. A rule of thumb: You want the decor to be inviting and accessible, not veering too far into one trend or another.

Photo by Ashley Campbell Interior Design—A modern marble table is paired with more relaxed, upholstered dining chairs.

As with any design style, there are unofficial rules to get the look. You can best achieve the mix-and-match transitional style in your home by choosing pieces that follow these guidelines.

Element No. 1: Beige is your friend

Neutral tones are the hallmark of transitional style, according to Thompson. Go for an unsaturated palette of white, cream, beige, tan, gray, or light brown. A simple neutral backdrop for the walls, flooring, cabinets, and large furniture will make the room feel timeless.

Element No. 2: Mix textures

Transitional style embraces different materials that have the same color but that give texture to the space. “Whether it be stone, wood, or leather, transitional style isn’t married to one type of material,” says Thompson. “Using a couple different textures will help you achieve an elegant but modern look.” She suggests incorporating such textures as chrome, gold, wood, glass, fabric, and faux fur into every room of your home.

Element No. 3: Use antiques strategically

Balance out an otherwise contemporary room with an antique statement piece. This will give the room depth and show off your curating skills. “Nothing makes a room feel more modern,” says interior designer Mark Cutler of Los Angeles. “The more sleek the space, the more rustic and worn the antique should be,” he says.

Element No. 4: Use bold accents sparingly

“Don’t overdo it!” says Thompson. Keep it simple by picking a couple loud pieces that accent the room but don’t clutter it. Patterns are used sparingly and tend toward geometrics. “And window treatments will be simple, with sleek lines instead of fussy or complex designs,” says Griffin.

Photo by Martha O’Hara Interiors—Yellow accessories in a transitional living room add interest but don’t overpower.

Element No. 5: A contemporary rug is a must

Transitional furnishings will almost always be partnered with a contemporary rug—think solid, geometric or animal prints—rather than a traditional rug that’s floral, paisley, or oriental, says Griffin. “This is a simple way to touch on transitional style that doesn’t require a complete redesign of your home.”

Element No. 6: Choose modern art that makes a statement

“Keep it big and bold for a greater impact, instead of hanging lots of smaller pieces,” says Griffin. Art should have a contemporary look, in terms of style and colors—abstract works, graphic prints, and photography are best.

Element No. 7: Rely on classic lines

Stick to furniture, tables, and beds that have a sophisticated shape with simple, sophisticated lines, as opposed to pieces that are rounded and ornate. Transitional furniture will be comfortable but boast straighter lines.

“Square off everything,” says Tracy Kay Griffin, lead designer at Express Homebuyers. That means that in choosing a traditional element, you avoid curves and ornate detail, and make sure it has straighter lines, to minimize detail. “For example, doorknobs could be straight levers as opposed to round knobs, and sinks may have a rectangular shape.”

The transitional aesthetic requires the seamless marrying of several traditional pieces with true contemporary pieces. Essentially, this means that your home should be a sophisticated yet livable home, full of beloved items and sensible furniture that can last a lifetime.

Home Design Trends to Watch: The Herringbone Pattern

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
mandie_range_herringbone
Photo courtesy of Laura AnnDiaz of Laura Diaz’s Photography and Mandie Maguire, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Herringbone is emerging as the pattern of choice in 2016. Herringbone is the arrangement of rectangles that is so named for its resemblance to the bones of fish.

This pattern is popping up on everything from hardwood floors, kitchen backsplashes and shower walls. It may be subtle or bold.

Mandie Maguire with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services says she’s noticed the herringbone pattern subtly appear on more kitchen marble backsplashes above a kitchen range. Also, in flooring, the herringbone pattern is being used with tile floors to give it a more rustic — even hardwood floor resemblance.

traditional-bathroom

Photo by Braswell Design+Build – Look for traditional bathroom pictures

traditional-entry

Photo by Neumann Lewis Buchanan Architects – Discover traditional entryway design inspiration

contemporary-kitchen

Photo by Croma Design Inc – Look for contemporary kitchen pictures