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Daring Strokes – House & Design Mag

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Designer Catherine Ebert invigorates a new DC home with rich textures, colorful furnishings and exuberant artwork

gallery.com. With their then-toddler and six-month-old in tow, a young couple set out to find a more accommodating replacement for the Capitol Hill row house they’d outgrown. “We were busting at the seams in our old place,” recalls the wife, a health-policy professional. “We had kids’ toys everywhere.” A newly built home within a quiet enclave in Northwest DC offered the space and family-friendly amenities they craved. Its big kitchen, basement with playroom potential and private backyard where their children could play sealed the deal in 2020.

Also appealing was the clean-lined architecture of the center-hall abode. “This is a well-done update of a traditional style,” observes the husband, who works in real-estate investment. But the interior, while beautifully finished with imposing marble accents, felt stark. 

“There’s a lot of black and white and big slabs of stone,” notes the wife. “We wanted to warm it up.”

Envisioning what the husband calls “contemporary, colorful and comfortable” spaces, the owners enlisted designer Catherine Ebert to bring them to life. The brief was clear: Don’t play it too safe. 

“They wanted something bold, with a little bit of drama,” recounts Ebert. “The architecture is sort of substantial—with high ceilings and chunky moldings. The house has a strong personality, so I sought out elements that would meet that moment.”

First, the designer addressed “a sea of drywall.” A plaster-like, decorative-paint finish awakens the living room walls while wall coverings animate several other spaces. A textured-vinyl selection from Phillip Jeffries, for instance, lends the powder room off the foyer a “glam-pow” presence, says Ebert. “Wallpaper is a wonderful way to differentiate spaces and add personality. It takes walls from blah to fabulous really quickly.”

New furniture was a must, given that few of the owners’ existing pieces measured up in scale. Ebert sourced unusual finds to amplify the interest. For evidence, look no further than the foyer’s black-and-gray console, which sports a malachite faux finish. The designer explains, “I was looking for a wide variety of ways to introduce special materials, textures and finishes throughout to give the house the substance and richness that it needed.” 

When Ebert had trouble finding the perfect piece for a space, she designed one herself. The living room’s sculptural coffee tables—with lacquered bases and smoked-glass tops—serve as illustration. “That room is really rectilinear,” she notes. “I wanted to add a layer of movement and organic shape.” For the husband’s home office, which lies just off the living room, she conjured a desk that cleverly conceals electrical outlets and wires in its base cabinet.

The owners’ preference for vivid hues dictated many selections. Take, for example, the green-velvet chaise resting on a custom-colored, splatter-print rug in the living room. “Whenever there was a choice between a safer option and a stronger option,” the designer reveals, “they always went for the stronger one.”

Ebert also curated a collection of art to bring in more color. “We had some big walls to fill,” she says. “I helped identify those places that needed robust artwork.” Hanging in the dining room, a powerful abstract painting by April Midkiff “energizes the vista down the entry hall.” The family room’s happy Hunt Slonem piece, depicting multi-hued finches, “provides a perfect segue to the outdoors,” accessible through steel-framed sliding doors.

In that family hangout space, which opens to the kitchen and breakfast nook, the designer balanced the couple’s request for a grown-up feel with practical considerations. A teal-toned performance fabric from Lark Fontaine clads the sofa. The Tulip table and indestructible chairs in the casual dining area can be wiped with a sponge. “We plan on raising our kids here,” states the husband. “We didn’t want stuff that we would feel uncomfortable having a two-year-old sit on.”

Upstairs, the primary suite serves as a soothing escape for the parents. Ebert encased the bedroom in monochromatic shades of dusty blue, starting with faux-silk wall covering from Phillip
Jeffries. “The clients are very well-traveled,” says the designer. “I was trying to call up that luxurious hotel-bedroom vibe.” 

Wallpaper bedecks the en-suite kids’ bedrooms too. The quirky Shattered pattern by Abnormals Anonymous enlivens the daughter’s pad. And a starry covering lines the ceiling of the son’s nursery. As fun as these spaces are, the lower level is, perhaps, the ultimate kids’ zone; its rope swing and climbing wall are popular neighborhood attractions. The basement also comprises a TV-viewing area, kitchenette and guest suite.

The owners appreciated the parental point of view that Ebert, who has children a little older than theirs, brought to the project. “I really wanted a home that felt elegant but was functional,” reveals the wife. “Without Catherine’s perspective, we might have ended up with a house that was really beautiful but hard to live in. This house strikes the right balance and works for our daily living.”

Architect of Record: Akseizer Design Group, Alexandria, Virginia. Architectural Design & Interior Architecture: PETRA Design Studio, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Catherine Ebert, Catherine Ebert Interiors, Washington, DC. Builder: GC Construction, Lorton, Virginia.


Windows & Exterior Doors: marvin.com.

Flooring: petradevelopment.co. Stairs & Railing Fabrication: Century Stair Company; 703-754-4163. Stool: kravet.com. Console: bradleyusa.com. Paint: Snowbound Vases by sherwin-wiliams.com.

Fireplace Surround: petrastonegallery.com. Chaise: modshop1.com. Chase Fabric: Sahco through kvadrat.dk/en. Coffee tables: Custom by catherineebertinteriors.com. Rug: artandloom.com. Game Chairs: arteriorshome.com. Lounge Chairs: vintage Marco Zanuso. Game Chair fabric: larsenfabrics.com. Lounge Chair Fabric: zimmer-rohde.com. Center Table: m2l.com. Roman Shades: conradshades.com. Art: Owners’ collection. Wall Treatment: twindiamonds.com.

Cabinets: binovamilano.com through petradevelopment.co. Island & Backsplash: petrastonegallery.com. Pendants: rh.com. Range & Refrigerator: mieleusa.com. Pot Filler: waterworks.com. Countertop & Sink: petrastonegallery.com. Bar Stools: m2l.com.

Chandelier: rh.com. Table: dwr.com. Chairs: m2l.com. Art: Owners’ collection.

Art: April Midkiff through merrittgallery.com. Table: hellman-chang.com. Chairs: gubi.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Chandelier: gabriel-scott.com. Sideboard: bethanygray.com. Mirror: arteriorshome.com.

Sofa: hickorychair.com. Sofa Fabric: larkfontaine.com. Rug: carpetimpressions.com. Coffee Table: Owners’ collection. Pedestal Table: westelm.com. Leather Chair & Ottoman: hermanmiller.com. Frame TV Art: Hunt Slonem through merrittgallery.com. Paint: Snowbound by sherwin-williams.com.

Sconce & Vanity: rh.com. Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Fixtures: waterworks.com.

Desk: Custom by catherineebertinteriors.com. Chair: dwr.com. Desk Lamp: circalighting.com. Shades: conradshades.com. Drapery Fabric: larsenfabrics.com. Drapery Fabrication: rockvilleinteriors.com. Paint: Snowbound by sherwin-williams.com.

Bed: aneesupholstery.com. Bedding: matouk.com. Night Table: madegoods.com. Table Lamp: kravet.com. Drapery Fabric: romo.com. Drapery Fabrication: rockvilleinteriors.com. Rug: galleriacarpets.com. Chair & Ottoman: dwr.com. Pedestal: westelm.com. Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Bureau: centuryfurniture.com. Art by Bureau: Owners’ collection. Art above Bed: Amy Donaldson through  merrittgallery.com.

Bed, Night Table & Hutch: newportcottages.com. Bedding: craneandcanopy.com. Chair: vintage. Chair Fabric: janechurchill.com. Table Lamp: westelm.com. Wallpaper: abnormalsanonymous.com. Rug: carpetimpressions.com. Shade Fabric: larkfontaine.com; samuelandsons.com. Shade Fabrication: rockvilleinteriors.com.

Crib & Chair: Owners’ collection. Rug: romo.com. Shade Fabric: fschumacher.com; samuelandsons.com. Shade Fabrication: rockvilleinteriors.com. Wall Paint: Pale Smoke by benjaminmoore.com. Wallpaper: hyggeandwest.com. Shelf: newportcottages.com.

Storage Unit: us.usm.com through m2l.com. Art: Amber Goldhammer through merrittgallery.com. Paint: Snowbound by sherwin-williams.com.




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