Classical details add up to elegance


October 04, 1992|By Yolanda Garfield

Luxury is born of a marriage of texture and scale, believes Darryl Savage, principal of DHS Designs in Chevy Chase.

To achieve this marriage, he refuses to turn his back on a bargain. He enjoys the fresh results when simple materials are enhanced with elegant finishes. And he'll place an inexpensive, yet beautifully scaled find in a room with rarer objects.

"I prefer the juxtaposition of the simple with the elegant," he says. "They complement each other."

Mr. Savage developed his taste for blending simplicity, practicality and luxury during his tenure as the primary designer for a well-known hotel chain. At the same time, as the proprietor of Annapolis Street Antiques, he honed an ability to forage for residential design details.

The stock market crash of October 1989 forced Annapolis Street Antiques to close. For Mr. Savage, what could have been a

disaster was an opportunity. He elected to devote himself full time to his own interior design firm. DHS Designs was born.

The new opportunity afforded Mr. Savage the time to do what he prefers -- to hunt for exactly the right piece, in likely places such as antique stores and design showrooms, and in unlikely places such as flea markets and the Philadelphia Flower Show.

In this Arnold home, he used architectural details and the creamiest, palest color palette to unify a diverse collection of one-of-a-kind and not-so-fancy furnishings and accessories gathered from around the world and around the corner.

This house's "envelope" -- its floor, ceiling and walls -- needed to be readied first. Division between important spaces was eliminated. For instance, the small entry between the foyer and living room was removed and accented with columns, and the doorway between the living room and dining room was raised, thereby blurring distinctions between the spaces. Attention to lighting enhanced the drama of the space, where inexpensive sisal rugs top oak floors.

Architectural details include heavy ceiling moldings and cornices, as well as a custom mantel that incorporates old pieces of a discarded mantel, and a pair of corbels -- wood architectural pieces embellished with plaster flourishes. Fine artist Katrina Lankford faux-painted the walls to resemble limestone blocks.

Comfortable upholstered furniture is used throughout the house. addition, Mr. Savage has placed accessories throughout, believing, as he does, that they make the mood. In the foyer, a turn-of-the-century garden statue purchased at the Philadelphia Flower Show greets guests. An enormous classical mirror rescued from a crumbling French hotel was discovered at E. J. Grant Antiques in Savage.

The mirror is flanked by copper-plated urns unearthed during a trip to the Poconos. Though their finish was peeling, the urns' proportions found favor with Mr. Savage. (A paint job renewed the finish.) Custom-painted iron stands by Niermann Weeks, an Annapolis firm, support the urns.

"Some small details are flea-market finds," says Mr. Savage. " . . . the small chair near the table, the fireplace andirons, were all found in small shops on Howard Street and elsewhere. I use what works, because that's what makes the room work."

The result? Careful customization, attention to detail and one man's sense of adventure have made this home spectacular.

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