Row House Gets Modern Makeover

Designer Andreas Charalambous transformed this uninspired row house into a modern marvel, infusing light, art and elegance.

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DP_Andreas-Charalambous-FORMA-modern-living-room-dining_h Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Hodgdon

Despite the fact that the homeowners were living in South America at the time, designer Andreas Charalambous was able to coordinate with them over the phone and online in order to make their D.C. row house the modern home of their dreams.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.

The clients, a South American couple, commissioned FORMA to totally re-design this row house in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, DC. They hired us when they were still living and working in Guatemala, and we developed the design and shared the process with them online and via phone calls. The house was dark and dated, and the owners wanted to bring more light in, modernize the house, and provide the right lighting and walls to display the photography of one of the owners and their extensive art and sculpture collection.

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What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

The space was uninspiring and dark. It needed to be chic and well lit with modern furniture. And it needed to be functionally relevant to accommodate their lifestyle. They needed a large closet area for themselves, a chic master bath, and lots of natural light throughout.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

There was not enough daylight in the house. We raised the height of the patio doors to the deck to allow more light in, painted the walls white to reflect the light, and added several skylights on the upper floor that allow for abundant daylight in the stair hall, the master bathroom and the interior room that was turned into their closet and dressing area.

How did the end result match your original vision?

The client added a couple of items at the end of the constructions documents, which were a laundry closet in the master bathroom and a bookshelf at the landing area on the second level. In the end, the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf became a centerpiece for the entire house, allowing for not just books but also the display of artifacts from their trips around the world.

What lessons did you learn from this project?

A good lesson from this job was working long distance with the client. With the client working out of the USA for most of the project, we had to communicate via email and phone. The end result was as good as any that we have done when we are face to face with the client.

What are the hidden gems that make a big difference?

A hidden gem would be the use of LED lights on the dropped ceilings in the master bedroom and dining area. It gives the rooms a different mood and a more subtle light source/nightlight at night. There are also LEDs behind the sides and top of the mirror in the master bathroom, which created the perfect nightlight.

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