Photographed by Gordon Beall
it’s every interior designer’s dream to work for clients who truly appreciate sophisticated materials and sound detailing. And that’s precisely what Baltimore-based interior designer Patrick Sutton found in a family of four who traded a 3,000-square-foot townhouse for the chance to build their 14,000-square-foot dream home in the Green Spring Valley. “For these homeowners, design is a passion and a lifestyle,” says Sutton. “They appreciate what the world of design has to offer, so I could push the design envelope. It was no different than a chef cooking for someone who really appreciates food.”
Sutton, a trained architect, was hired midway through construction to select mouldings, lighting and all interior materials, as well as to craft and execute the interior design concept, which he describes as “contemporary classicism.” “Our goal was to create a house that was warm and comfortable yet contemporary and energizing— uplifting, not staid,” he explains.
Beyond the threshold of the formidable 9-foot-tall-by-4-foot-wide mahogany front door lies the foyer, where French limestone flooring, a metallic-gray grass cloth ceiling and white walls create a calm palette that prepares guests for the drama that unfolds in the adjoining living room.
Also referred to as the “martini room,” the living room features a simple and polished formality. A white, frosted blown-glass chandelier hangs from a ceiling painted a high-gloss shade of platinum that reflects the illumination of the chandelier. A herringbone-pattern wooden floor and white cowhide rug soften the room’s extravagance with rugged imperfections. “I think this is the one room in the house that called for formality,” says Sutton. “It reminds me of black tie and pearls.”
In the dining room across the foyer, the color palette is decidedly regal, with high-gloss taupe walls and accents of eggplant, crimson and gold creating a pared-down Italian Baroque feel. The 14-seat mahogany and yew wood table, which is framed above by a pair of rock quartz chandeliers, blends with the herringbone flooring in the living room. Two cobalt blue, export-style Chinese urns stand at either end of the sideboard. “A house should showcase the best of every era and every culture,” says Sutton. “To me, that’s what makes an interesting home.”
Sutton’s ability to bring intimacy to a room with 12-foot-high walls, such as those found in the family room, begins at the top, where he installed reclaimed antique fir beams.
“They take the seriousness out of the space,” he explains. For the center of the room, he designed a fumed-oak coffee table that can endure the beating of propped-up feet and damp glasses. “The table combines a contemporary steel base and age-worn wooden top,” says Sutton. “Those two elements together perfectly describe the style and the feel of the house.”
The master suite is a comfortable blend of feminine and masculine. A four-poster mahogany bed is draped with cream-colored velvet lined with steel-blue silk. On the bedside tables rock crystal lamps strike a sturdy pose in front of large-scale distressed antiqued mirrors. The adjoining master bath is a study in serenity, with a gray-blue stone floor bordered with dark stained bamboo and white marble mosaics that tie in with the built-in mahogany cabinetry and white marble details elsewhere. The walk-in shower has polarized glass windows that turn from translucent to clear with the flip of a switch.
The lower level of the house is dedicated to fun, housing a 12-seat theater, game room, gym and basketball court. Tucked into the north wing of the floor is an unexpected twist: a glass-walled garden room with the atmosphere of an ancient orangerie. The trim around the glass doors is coated with an Old World, plaster-like finish while the ceiling mimics the look of pressed, bronzed metal. Fig trees and rosemary plants thrive in the sunlight.
Meanwhile, upstairs in the kitchen, which is enlivened with hints of Mexican tile and pottery— a nod to the clients’ second home in the Southwest— their youngest son sits at the island and muses about his surroundings. “I’m into style,” explains the 13-year-old. “And I appreciate all the details,” he says as he points to the graphic blue Ann Sacks tile above the stove. “It makes such a huge difference in each room.”
Spoken like a true interior designer in training.