Spectacular Contemporary Renovation in Washington, DC
July 6, 2012
No sooner had the homeowners purchased this magnificent hilltop retreat in one of Washington, DC’s most exclusive neighborhoods than a call was placed to BOWA, the design build contractor. The homeowners wished to remodel the existing, very formal main level of the home to suit their more contemporary tastes. As often happens, making large-scale changes to one level of the home can impact the other spaces, thus creating design and engineering challenges.
The first obstacle encountered by the construction team, was the property itself. The home sits atop a large hill and is accessed by a narrow driveway with a very tight circle at the front. Hauling off debris from the initial demolition and transporting new construction materials was mainly done the old-fashioned way – carried by hand up and down the hill. The next hurdle required a more technical solution. The existing structural system was precast concrete, and when the original kitchen walls came down it was necessary to create a new foundation for the two new point loads.
Another challenge for the design team was an existing spiral staircase located at the center of the home’s foyer. This awkwardly placed feature provided secondary access to the upper level, as well as access to the front portion of the lower level. Eliminating this staircase necessitated the addition of a hallway on the lower level to adjoin the two existing rooms, which were previously autonomous spaces located on either side of the in-structure garage with each accessed by its own staircase. As such, the entire lower level was renovated and freshened to accommodate the family’s needs.
On the main level, the walls enclosing the kitchen were demolished to open up the space and improve flow. The space for the original, adjoining breakfast room with banquette was incorporated into the kitchen design. A multi-purpose island now runs the length of the expanded room to provide seating for casual meals and a great display area when entertaining. Countertop work space and storage abound and the clean, contemporary lines are enhanced by the open floor plan.
Perhaps the focal point of the first floor is the magnificent, three-sided stone fireplace, which serves as a divider between a casual sitting area adjacent to the kitchen and the more formal living room. The weight of the stone necessitated embedding wood beams in both the floor and ceiling to transfer the loads. An additional structural modification had to be made for the existing double chimney flue. New built-in media cabinetry was custom designed and fabricated and then field modified to cover the flue.
From the renovated foyer, which was enhanced by a beautiful marble floor with a custom medallion and spectacular crystal drop chandelier, the line of sight continues uninterrupted to the stone fireplace. The homeowner, an interior decorator and very active in every aspect of the home’s design, chose a soothing neutral color palette and sumptuous materials to create this very sophisticated, but warm and livable space. The result is a beautiful home which now suits this young family with a passion for entertaining.
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