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The Ingenuity And Individuality Of 2014's D.C. Design House

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[All photos by R. Lopez]

Twenty-seven design teams gather in one 5,593 square foot home to completely remodel twenty-nine different spaces. They have one month to get the job done. It sounds like a plot of a reality TV show for Bravo or HGTV, but actually, this was the challenge presented to the designers selected to help upgrade this year's D.C. Design House in Forest Hills. Throughout the week, the teams have been showing off their handiwork as impressed visitors take note of how this many artistic visions can miraculously work together and play off each other.

Having a singular paint sponsor in C2 must have helped the color scheme from becoming disjointed. Yes, some rooms went with a brighter approach than others, but similar colors kept popping up repeatedly: lime green, dark and sky blue and shades of white and beige. Kerry Ann Rodriguez of Cahill Design Build points out that the playroom's dark blue is similar to the one they used on their walls and that the front door's sky blue pond shimmer was close to the color they used in their bathroom. Even without communicating with each other, the teams had some similar ideas. "The colors as you walk through go really well with each other," she says. "It all really flows." That had to be a relief as several of the designers commented that they had not seen the rest of the house.

Each space presented their own unique challenges. Several rooms had to make choices as to whether to paint their radiators (as Joanne Fitzgerald of Gatega Interior Design did with the one in her bathroom) or turn them into a covered table (which is what Cleveland Hall Design did in their bedroom. Some walls had to be knocked down. Plumbing had to be easily accessible.

Then there was the matter of the weather. The landscaping that D&A Dunlevy Landscapers did for the entryway in particular had to work around the snow and cold temperatures. They had to move snow out of the way and dig holes for the planting they did and redoing the stone landing was even more challenging. Gina Benincasa and Blake Dunlevy commented that below 40 degrees, they couldn't work on the masonry. "We waited for that very small window to open up and then we jumped on it," said Dunlevy.

However, many of the designers found inspiration in reuse. Rodriguez said that their green glass fish artwork in the pool dressing room came from the remains of a knocked out shower door. Cheryl Lynn Doyle, who designed the guest suite, used garden benches and an old screen that she found to give some heft to the room and give it a sense of being "in the treetops." The barnacles in the master bathroom are actual shells that were placed on the wall with a dark grout. Many other designers took inspiration from either the former owners or the era from which the house was built. Twenty-seven different visions should not work together this well.

D.C. Design House

4951 ROCKWOOD PKWY NW, , WASHINGTON, DC , 20016