When you purchase a newly built home, you have the joy and the challenge of transforming blank walls into a place that reflects your personality and the way you like to live. While you may want to replicate some of the finishes and décor choices you’ve seen in model homes and magazines or work with a professional at your builder’s design center, another resource is the DC Design House or similar events. An annual fundraiser for Children’s National Health System, this year’s Design House transformed a 27,000-square-foot Potomac, Maryland mansion into a showcase for 23 designers.
While each interior designer faced their own challenges working with a limited budget and the inability to change certain features, each placed their own stamp on their assigned space. Yet even with the variety of styles on display some themes emerged that can help you define your new rooms.
8 trends from the DC Design House
Don’t ignore your ceiling.
The Design House features rooms with dramatic light fixtures, high-gloss robin’s egg blue paint, ceilings that look like an abstract of the night sky and one, by designer Josh Hildreth, was painted to resemble light-stained wood. In a gallery with a double-barrel ceiling, designer Cindy Grossmueller McClure placed subtly sparkly wallpaper on the ceiling and lined the seams of the ceiling with nail studs for an edgy look. The large master bedroom, designed by Denise Guadeloupe Rojas, became a more intimate space with a darker gray ceiling. Changing the color of your ceiling can dramatically impact the feeling of space and light in the room.
Wallpaper is in again.
Wallpaper in neutrals and bright colors and textures can be used in every room in the house and in unexpected places such as the back of a bookcase to add color to shelves. Technology has improved wallpaper so you can now buy removable wallpaper that peels off without damaging the walls and allows you more freedom to change it on a whim.
Bright colors can be used more often than you think.
While neutral grey and white and beige are found everywhere, the most exciting room included mint, jade and black walls with orange and red fabric designed by Caryn Cramer that surprisingly worked well together. Royal blue velvet chairs made a dramatic statement in a study by designer Lorna Gross and was used for accent pieces in the library designed by Kelley Proxmire.
Creativity makes a home your own.
While not everyone has a flair for DIY crafts, one of the most eye-catching rooms in the house included a wall of framed colorful Hermes scarves. Designer Marika Meyer purchased them on eBay and placed them in inexpensive frames. Another room, by designer Romain Baty, featured hand-painted “columns” which were really just black paint on white walls to mimic columns. Baty also painted every other egg in the egg-and-dart molding black for a distinctive and yet easy-to-achieve pattern.
Decide on a mood for a room and decorate to create it.
Most designers choose a theme or a mood or an imaginary person and make every design choice in that context. For example, Kiera St. Claire-Bowery’s bedroom with layers of fur and velvet and rugs is a “modern professional’s retreat” that’s both polished and tranquil. The designer even gave her imaginary client the name “Sloane.” In Gross’ study, the room was lightened with a touch of metallic paint and features a few whimsical items to give a serious room a more playful vibe.
Convert a small space into a “retreat.”
Several small rooms and even closet-like spaces in the Design House were transformed with lighting and color into a space to relax. Now that so many homes have open floor plans where family members spend most of their time, it’s essential to have a reading nook or a quiet upstairs space to be alone.
Turn books into art.
Multiple designers stacked books on tables and in corners to add color and set the theme for a room. One even added a few books to a bar shelf to elevate a cut-glass carafe. Another designer painted old books in complementary shades of blue for a colorful library.
Design a functional and pretty laundry room.
Laundry rooms top the list of essential features buyers require, but at the Design House Paula Grace designed a laundry room that includes open shelving with baskets for each family member’s laundry, space for supplies, an elegant light fixture, a ceiling painted blue to mimic the sky and a speaker for music to liven up laundry day. While Grace didn’t need to add the appliances to the space, she was happy to discover a cool “drying cabinet” to use for hanging delicate clothes in addition to the traditional washer and dryer.
Incorporating the things you love into your new house can transform the space into a place that welcomes you home every day.