A New Home Packed With Old-Fashioned Charm

You’d never guess this D.C. townhouse is 14 years young! HGTV Magazine discovers how the homeowners added timeless character.

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Lara Robby/Studio D

Photo By: Lara Robby/Studio D

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Lara Robby/Studio D

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Photo By: David A. Land (styled by Charlotte Safavi)

How to Make a New House Look Old

Walt and Dana Lukken (pictured with their kids, Genevieve, 9; Crawford, 6; and Will, 12) were getting frazzled. Their 1890s duplex in Washington, D.C., was undeniably quaint but way too teeny. There was only one bathroom, and they were a family of five. In 2011, eager for space, they scooped up a 2002 townhouse only a few blocks away as fast as it hit the market. While they loved that it was more than 3,600 square feet over four floors and had suburban-style amenities, like a garage — a rarity in their historic neighborhood — there was a hiccup: The rooms, with their generic crown molding and bland lighting, felt charmless. “The new place lacked the character we had in our 100-plus-year-old house,” says Dana. To age the interiors, the couple enlisted designer Kathryn Ivey and embarked upon a six-month reno. Demolishing a wall, gutting the kitchen, and adding throwback details created a patina of the past. The home seems so authentic, first-time visitors are convinced it’s a preservation project. “It fools a lot of people,” says Dana. 

Exterior

It could pass for historic architecture, but the Lukkens’ brick-front home is one of 18 new-construction townhouses all built in a row on a former parking lot. Since the couple liked the previous owner’s paint job — Sebring White by Benjamin Moore — and formal front garden, their only alteration to the exterior was installing a gas-burning lantern beside the front door. 

Entryway

A super-slim console and a zinc mirror turn a sliver of the living room into a foyer.

Get the Look: Console Table

Cyan Design Schafer 42½"W x 13"D x 30"H wood and iron console table, $238, luxedecor.com

Get the Look: Pendant

Quintana Roo Moravian Star 10"-tall tin pendant in bronze finish with clear glass, $124, atgstores.com

Get the Look: Rug

Tuft & Loom Fleur-de-Lis 5'6" x 3'6" polyester rug in marigold and cream, $86, allmodern.com

Get the Look: Door Knocker

Bosetti Marella 7½"-tall brass door knocker in light antique finish, $98.50, build.com

Living Room

Replacing decorative columns with a brick archway instantly gave the living room a yesteryear vibe. The built-in bookcases date to 2002, but a traditional paint color (Van Courtland Blue by Benjamin Moore) makes them feel more classic than contemporary. The Lee Industries chairs have pale blue linen slipcovers, and the Hickory Chair sofa features pillows from Lulu & Georgia. 

Get the Look: Chair

Graham linen-blend club chair in Danish linen sky slipcover, $1,198, ballarddesigns.com

Get the Look: Pillow

Malli 18" x 18" cotton pillow, $20, worldmarket.com

Get the Look: Coffee Table

Clairemont 48"W x 30"D x 19"H glass and steel coffee table, $699, crateandbarrel.com

Get the Look: Paint Color

Van Courtland Blue by Benjamin Moore

Kitchen

Old-fashioned touches, including a rustic paneled ceiling, a farmhouse sink, and glass-front top cabinets, help turn back the clock in the renovated kitchen. Dana, who grew up near New Orleans, LA, fell in love with the Sunbelt Lighting lanterns for their resemblance to French Quarter gaslights. She chose a matte finish for the island’s absolute-black granite top because “it doesn’t show smudges or fingerprints,” she says.

Get the Look: Stool

Seagrass 27"-tall abaca and beech stool in Havana dark, $179, potterybarn.com

Get the Look: Bowl

Seed of Life 16¼"W x 8¾"D x 3"H higuerilla wood bowl, $70, novica.com

Breakfast Nook

A corner of the kitchen gained timeless appeal from almost-6-foot-tall molding and floral Lee Jofa wallpaper that looks subtly age-faded. The banquette has seat cushions covered in durable Kravet vinyl. Wall-mounted hooks hold the back cushions, upholstered in a floral Duralee fabric, in place. The sconces are from Visual Comfort, and the table was custom-made.  

Get the Look: Table

Cintra 31"H x 47½"-diameter expandable wood dining table, $999, zinhome.com

Get the Look: Dining Chair

Gear elm and rattan dining chair in natural, $96, lexmod.com

Barn Door

Before the remodel, a standard door leading to the basement lacked pizzazz — and didn’t muffle the noise drifting up from the kids’ playroom. The fix: a substantial, almost-soundproof barn door with raised panels. Sketched out by the couple’s designer and handcrafted from reclaimed pine, it was stained light cognac to let the knots and the grain patterns show through. 

Get the Look: Clock

Newgate Clocks Market Hall 19 ¾"-diameter wood composite wall clock in overcoat grey, $85, burkedecor.com

Dining Room

The dining room’s then-and-now mix includes weathered wide-plank hickory floorboards from New Hampshire and a washed-wood Currey & Company chandelier. The oval distressed-oak table and cane-seat X-back chairs, all from Restoration Hardware, take their design cues from 19th-century furniture. The green lamps are from Pottery Barn, and the bird art is from Ballard Designs. 

Get the Look: Mirror

Louis Phillipe 42" x 30" MDF, pine, and rattan mirror in gold, $449, frontgate.com

Get the Look: Lamp

Tuscan 29"-tall Hydrocal lamp in celadon green with shade, $160, theviga.com 

Master Bedroom

Hand-me-downs from Dana’s sisters, including a Federal-style gold mirror and a bed with fluted posts, bring collected-over-time charm to the master bedroom. The peeling-paint side table was purchased just four blocks away at Eastern Market, one of Dana’s favorite haunts for almost antiques. The bedding is from Pottery Barn, and the bench and the rug are from HomeGoods. 

Get the Look: Bed

Phoebe birch veneer queen bed, $1,299, horchow.com

Get the Look: Paint Color

Tea Light by Benjamin Moore

Kids' Bedroom

Genevieve and Crawford’s shared bedroom gets its character from pom-pom-trimmed divider curtains and molding that stretches almost 6 feet high. “I saw similar paneling in a catalog and loved the look,” says Dana. The trend-proof Pottery Barn Kids beds don’t match but seem like a set because they have the same simple lines and color.