A Capitol Hill Beauty

January 14, 2013



Made another visit over to Capitol Hill over the weekend and snapped a photo of one of my favorite exterior projects. It usually takes forever for things to get wrapped up and tweaked to “perfection” but my client had finally replaced a light fixture and refinished her beautiful mahogany door (with marine varnish). The entry, completed:





Before (tired, peeling, blah…blah):








And after (Benjamin Moore Dorset Gold  HC-8 on the body/ Dark Walnut BMCC 1358 as accent):













Oh how I adore the eclectic architecture in this neighborhood.  Many of these  “pressed brick” townhouses date from the late 1800’s and  have “Italianate” ornamentation.  The paint treatments are all over the map, some more traditional and others really funky and irreverent.














And there is the lively Eastern Market, in full swing on weekends. Check it out, enjoy the stroll and… and be sure to look up while you’re walking!







Eastern Market




Transformed Rowhouse Exterior ~Redux

July 27, 2012



I just returned from a completed row house exterior project in Old Town, Alexandria and had to share.




The  row house, dating back to the 1800s, is situated  in a block of  houses that are much the same. Many have been remodeled but most retain the original “facade”. In this particular block, many of the homes are set back with a small front garden and white picket fence.



When starting to pull together color options for exteriors I always take into consideration the color schemes of neighboring houses. This pretty blue one sits directly across the street.



And this saturated red exterior is directly next door.


Entrance before


So here is the entrance of my project.  The house was painted an “anemic” gray with darker trim and a faded  blue door.  Not enough contrast. Very tired. Very bland. Fabulous bones…much room for improvement.



Exterior before


With such a small slice of exterior, three window boxes looked too busy.   Because all houses on the block had white painted fences, I didn’t consider changing that, but the white didn’t relate to anything else on the house.  The door treatment was all wrong. I usually paint the storm to match the door rather than the surrounding trim.


Exterior after


Here is the house with its new colors.  The facade is now more snappy and ordered.  There is nice crisp contrast with the fresh white trim on trim and window sashes (which now relates to the fence).  After testing with large samples, we settled on one of my favorite mid-tone neutral colors for the exterior- Benjamin Moore’s Briarwood. Trim is Brilliant White; shutters and door are Black Forest Green. I limited the colors to three only to keep things clean and simple on this tiny plane (restraint– this is Virginia).  The house sits nicely with its neighbors and is ~ much improved.  All it needs is a spot of  color in that one little window box. Another happy client!


Benjamin Moore Briarwood



Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green





Shades of Nature: Settling (quietly) into the Landscape

April 30, 2012


I love working with exterior color. But most of  my projects are in the environs of the city and leafy (but dense) suburbs of Washington, D.C. (though I did have fun with a remote consult in Alaska a few years ago).  I would love to help design a house in some truly spectacular setting– like  the desert in New Mexico or something on the craggy coast of Maine. When choosing an exterior palette, I always take into consideration (first and foremost), the architecture of the dwelling. Then I look to its context– how the building is situated on a lot and what surrounds it.  Most buildings, especially houses, should settle quietly into the landscape.

I wanted to share a few examples of  structures that do this beautifully. Most of these buildings have been designed by very talented architects, for whom color is integral to design, inside and out.  And their settings are all pretty spectacular.


via Shope Reno Wharton Architects

I’m not sure what this is– perhaps a guest house?  The form is striking and the use of color understated but so effective. I love the grid pattern of the “16 over 16” windows flanking the entry (painted a strong but quiet green, similar in value to the dark shingle siding). Designed by  Shope Reno Wharton Architects .


via Dwell

This house, published in Dwell Magazine, was built on one of the outermost islands off the coast of Maine.  The client  had envisioned ” an unobtrusive abode that would blend with the local color…”  It was designed by Alex Scott Porter Design .  Aluminum cladding chosen for the harsh climate… guessing color choices were limited. Love that gray… pretty perfect.


Feldman Architecture

One of my  favorites- this beauty was designed by the San Francisco firm of Feldman Architecture .   For Feldman Architecture, “beauty is found in quiet understated forms, expressive structure, timeless materials, and carefully resolved details. The firm’s designs celebrate light-filled open spaces with a strong connection to the site and landscape.”


via Bosworth Hoedemaker

Seattle-based architect Bosworth Hoedemaker was tasked to transform a former concrete-block boathouse, on the shores of Hood Canal,  into a functional guest house/ boathouse. The result is so striking- the strong simple forms (square windows and  blocks of gray sliding doors) are softened  and balanced by the color of the interior (simple marine plywood).


photo Catherine Tighe

Restrained use of color by New York-based architect Deborah Berke for this Litchfield County, Connecticut “farmhouse”.


via Elle Decor

Elle Decor featured the bucolic (Wisconsin !)  getaway of New York designer Richard McGeehan .  The article states that ” The Shaker-like simplicity … appealed to his rigorous aesthetic. Another draw was the row of windows along the building’s 44-foot length, which provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape.”


via Rehkamp Larson Architects

The Minneapolis firm of Rehkamp Larson Architects designed this modern farmhouse. Strong but simple form and color. Iconic.


And here is the ” Russell House”” in Palm Springs. Modernist with orange elements repeating and balancing the strong forms of the desert landscape.


via Mathis Interiors

Ending the post with this image… have no idea who took this stunning photo (let me know if you do) or where this is…Nova Scotia perhaps? Guessing neither an architect nor designer was involved here. And “mother nature” surely had something to do with that worn blue/green color.  Simply beautiful.