August 29, 2013

Modern Historical

We’re in the process of looking for a new location for our design studio (which is currently in our house and getting a “little” tight with 5 people!) and one of the ideas we’ve been toying with is buying some sort of historical home.  I love the thought of renovating a house with beautiful bones and moving our studio there.  We’d open a shop and the rooms in the house would turn into ever-evolving showrooms for clients & shoppers.  We could have design houses, special events & seminars that would include other members of the design community…  The possibilities honestly seem endless.

{A historical home featured in Southern Living}

My own home is modern, but we’ve filled it with vintage & antique things and I love that tension between old and new, fresh and aged.  And it’s been getting me thinking…

Lately at work, we’ve taken on a few soup-to-nuts full on renovation-through-decorating projects in homes that were built at the turn of the Century in DC, and they keep me from sleeping at night I’m so excited about them!!  They’re almost the exact opposite of my own home, but the concept is the same.  It’s about the juxtaposition, that tension that makes a home interesting.  These houses, like mine, have this amazing indoor-outdoor things going on.  (Well, once we’re finished renovating, they will 😉  My head’s been spinning with ideas to help make these homes fresh and modern yet timeless and gracious.

As I’ve been working on these projects in the office, we’ve also been perusing real estate listings.  We’ve come across some historical & older houses that I just cannot stop thinking about!!!  They’re in need of help but the idea of working on a home or building with historical significance, and making it feel modern and fresh would be a dream come true!!


{Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello…  it’s still incredibly fresh & modern today}

My mom used to take me to visit Clara Barton’s house at Glen Echo Park when I was little…

{Clara Barton’s House, image from here}

I remember loving the bedroom at the very top of the house, that had stairs (yes stairs!!!) in it.  It’s one of those houses you wished you could have really explored and played in as a child.

We’d also visit Mount Vernon:

{Mount Vernon, Image from here}

I always loved the back lawn overlooking the Potomac (above) and the gardens.  Fields trips here (almost yearly in grade school) were THE BEST.

It’s been so long for me, but is there also a bedroom with stairs in it at the tippy top of the house??  When I got a little older, I used to resist visiting museums and houses, always thinking it would be “boring”…  but I vividly remember these places today and remember being so surprised to enjoy visiting places like Versailles and the homes we toured in Newport Rhode Island one year at a family reunion.  (I’ll be honest, I still resist “tours” and prefer to walk through places on my own.)

{The Tea House behind the Rhode Island mansion we visited when I was in high school}

There’s something so palpable about these places.  You wonder about the people who stood there before you.  You want to know what went on.  You imagine the meals, the parties, the daily life.  It’s like the people who lied there just stepped out.  And if they’re not going to remain museums, but rather they become homes today, serious thoughtfulness is required to retain the original character and call to mind those who lived there before, but to make them fresh and personal for the people who live there now…

The idea of taking something old with a real place in history, and infusing it with an overall modern and truly livable vibe is so exciting to me…

Years ago, Victoria Hagan did the garden room at Mount Vernon (temporarily)and I’m crazy about it:

(Image via Trouvais}

The pieces are antique yet the look is clean and fresh.

Something like this would be such a perfect workshop!!!  A workshop both for us to create designs, but more than that, a canvas to stretch and grow with.  To push the envelop and learn and explore.


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