An antiques-filled Prince George's County house illustrates the fact that life moves on, and quality endures. Once dark and formal, the house today celebrates a change to softer, easier colors. Oriental carpets, antiques and fine reproductions collected years ago by the owners were retained. Floral chintzes are used with the rich brocades and damasks of the past. The decorative changes have reflected the changing lifestyle of the family, as the children have grown up and left. The owners, who now enjoy a splendid freedom, chose to echo their new life in the decor. With the help of interior designer Teresa Buchanan of E/I Design Associates located in Annapolis, they have succeeded.
Designed and built by architect F. Edward Wright 14 years ago, the house mixes classical Georgian with the charm of a French chateau, resulting in an elegant, richly detailed New Orleans-style hybrid. The interiors are unabashedly Georgian colonial. The style of the house is unified architecturally by extremely heavy moldings, as well as numerous French doors and windows topped by subdued arches. Because of its sunny exposures, the interior design uses wood shutters on almost all of the windows and doors. These admit light but protect furnishings and finishes from fading.
The swirling blue-and-yellow floral design of the living room's Tabriz carpet served as the inspiration for a color scheme that features pale yellow as the basis. In the foyer, the plain pale yellow walls were accented by a dark mahogany chair rail that caps the wainscoting. In the living room, walls and moldings were painted the same shade of yellow, then rag-washed with an opaque glaze. This technique allows the yellow undercoat to show through, bathing the room in a subtle, sunny glow.
The 19th century living room sofa had been upholstered in a damask years ago, and with time had merely mellowed, rather than faded, so it was left untouched. Along with other antiques such as the 19th century child's chair and the 18th century drop-leaf side table, the room exhibits a timeless elegance. New pieces include the fanciful chintz-covered ottoman and love seat.
At the rear of the house, a small solarium is granted importance by a custom-painted silk wall covering designed by Ms. Buchanan and executed by Chinese artisans. The intricate cherry blossom design was planned to fit exactly the wall space between the three French doors, so that no detail of the branches appears to be interrupted. A silk Oriental carpet and an electric light fixture fashioned from a 19th century lantern complete the look.
From the solarium, leaded glass French doors lead to a private study. Here, an antique maple tilt-top table is set between twin 19th century wing chairs. The flame-stitch upholstery of another wing chair, and the Tree-of-Life patterned draperies are not new, but with time have achieved an attractive patina. These patterns stand up to the strong color of the red-and-white custom-designed Stark carpet, a departure from the soft shades elsewhere in the house.
Candlelight seems especially flattering in the soft shrimp-pink dining room. Here, exquisitely detailed paneling was painted to coordinate with a shrimp on pale yellow wall covering. An extensive collection of antique English, Chinese and Dutch china complements the late 18th century English dining table. The chairs once belonged to the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. The fire screen is a mid-19th century family piece. Of note is the handsome 18th century Pennsylvania mahogany chest.
A breakfast nook, placed conveniently near a corner grill center, features a reproduction onion lamp above a 19th century Sheraton table. Beneath the corner grill, a decorative iron door conceals extra storage.
In the master bedroom, an 18th century American linen press is used as storage. Here also, an antique mahogany Windsor chair, and a 19th century drop-leaf table are complemented by vibrantly colored Qum and Sarouk Oriental carpets. The bed is richly hung with an oxblood under fabric that is softened by lace. Draperies as well as bed upholstery and skirt are in a coordinating print fabric. The overall effect is one of attention to detail, and appreciation for the best of tradition.