In the 1980s, Porten Sullivan Homebuilders in Bethesda, Maryland built a community of townhomes called “Cloisters West.” Located in Georgetown, Washington, DC these townhomes were built of red brick in the American Federal style. With several models to choose from, the potential owner could either have three or four levels. Fast forward to the 21st century, one version known as “The Franklin” features four levels and a soaring double-height sunken living room. However, these models seldom come up for sale. After purchasing one of the other models, Rhonald Angelo Interiors collaborated on transforming the living room to match that of the Franklin model. In addition, after carefully reviewing the floor plan and discussing it with a structural engineer, we worked out the plan.

As part of a long-term project, Rhonald Angelo Interiors will completely modernize this home, while retaining the traditional exterior character. Since this is not a historic home, the owners consented to remove all of the previous interior architecture, including converting the standard windows into 15-foot high French doors and adding a shallow balcony. Taking advantage of the two master suite options on the levels above, we also propose opening the ceiling in the dining area to increase the sense of space on level one. The kitchen will be the next project.

All of the standard millwork was removed, as well as the flooring, fireplace mantel and surround, and railings. The new firebox was raised up from the floor, and a larger crown moulding and taller baseboard give more presence to the spaces. Previously flat and boring surface walls and ceiling will have depth thanks to a neutral grass-cloth-like wall-covering. New wide-plank hardwood flooring (left bare) replaces narrow boards and runs in the opposite direction to visually widen the rooms. The new focal point is a dramatic charcoal grey floor-to-ceiling stone that surrounds the fireplace in a wave pattern. The French doors feature high-end hardware and tempered glass. Window treatments are not necessary because of the room’s height above the ground. However, to control glare and provide enhanced privacy if desired after dusk, the doors include Smart Glass. Typically in residential suburban settings, if large expanses of glass are between the interior and the exterior that is wooded, after dusk you end up with large black holes in the wall. The Smart Glass solves this problem by creating an effect of glass curtains (sheer drapery) to bounce the interior light back into the room.

Against this serene backdrop, a collection of contemporary furnishings fill the rooms with modern grace. A classic bust greets the owners and visitors alike near the entry to the home. A corner chaise-longue and matching daybed ground the main living area by the fireplace, while a sleek chrome and wood wall shelving unit holds books, objet d’art, and a vintage vertical turntable. In the dining area, a circular table with a pedestal base and a high-polished richly-colored top ease circulation. Dining armchairs upholstered in leather and fabric, carry the texture theme from the living room. Dramatic lighting “Overlap” designed by designer Michael Anastassiades, and is “… a tribute to the distinct cocoon wrapping technique that the Italian designer lighting company has won several hearts and awards with.” I fell in love with this pendant because it creates exactly what I was looking for in this double-height space.

Supporting essentials include elegant and modern coffee/drinks tables. On the dining table, a bronze chess set from two UK designers awaits its players to begin.

MATERIALS – Ambra Noir Limestone (Fireplace Wall): Artistic Tile – Custom French Doors with Tempered Glass: TW Perry – French Door Hardware: H. Theophile – Flooring: Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring – Custom Millwork: AJ Kochis, LLC – Textured Wall Covering: Winfield Thybony/Kravet

FURNISHINGS & ACCESSORIES – Anderson Paolina Chaise -Longue & Daybed, West Ottoman, Russell Arm Chair (Fabrics/Leathers), Boden Coffee Table, Kitai Drinks Table, Dalton “Chrome” Book Case, Neto Dining Table, Boteco Sideboard, Lawson Dining Chairs: Minotti It; Reproduction Classical Sculpture: Private Collection; Wooden Display Pedestal, Antique Soup Tureen: Knightsbridge Charleston, SC; Colosseum Photograph: Dario Veronesi; Photograph of Pompeii House: Yaopey Yong; Overlap Pendant Surface-Mounted Luminaires (3): Flos; Kelvin LED Floor Lamps: Flos; Vintage Wrought Iron Railings: Bespoke Gates & Railings, UK; French Empire Gilt Bronze Candlesticks: F&B Antiques; Bronze Edition Chess Set: Skyline Chess, UK; Marble Tray, Black & White Stripe Box: Kravet; Vintage-Style Vertical Turntable: Pro-Ject; Brass Trumpet and Bonsai Trees: Client Collection

Photography Renderings © Rhonald Angelo Interiors Rendering Team