It all started with a guest room—in another house. Designer Annette Hannon was just completing the small suite in her clients’ 11,000-square-foot home in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Washington, D.C., when they found a new property in Georgetown: a 19th-century row house that a builder had just renovated. With their three children grown, Hannon says, “the homeowners really wanted to downsize and liked being close to everything in the city.”
Hannon, who had already gotten a taste for her clients’ style in their previous house, immediately began taking inventory of what would be retained for the new one, which was about one-third the size. “I was fortunate to inherit a wealth of good pieces to work with,” Hannon says, explaining that her clients have lived abroad and traveled the world, accumulating fine art, rugs and furnishings along the way.
The designer’s priority was curating the art—mostly European Impressionist oils mixed with other paintings by artists in Maine, where the owners have a summer house. “Wherever they are, they really embrace the culture and the people—and the art really brings back great memories for them,” Hannon says. To display it, she adds, “We used the landings to highlight some pictures, but also to bridge the gap and introduce the next set of artwork throughout the house.”
The living room, in particular, is a showcase for works from Maine and the Netherlands, where the couple once lived. To ground the space, Hannon zeroed in on a rug the owners had in the old house. “The design is mesmerizing,” she says. “There’s so much movement in it, and it’s really quite warm and inviting.” Hannon pulled colors from the rug’s pattern for the upholstery and window treatments, and she tapped decorative painter Charma Le Edmonds to glaze the wall panels for a painterly look that wouldn’t compete with the artwork.
As she furnished each room, Hannon strategically mixed new pieces from Baker and David Iatesta to accentuate the owners’ existing furniture. In the dining room, she re-used the owners’ table and chairs but commissioned custom storage chests from Iatesta that fit into the room’s window niches. The next task was to highlight a 19th-century screen the owners purchased in Japan. “I enjoy the Japanese aesthetic because it’s quiet; it’s about clean lines,” says the wife, who wanted the dining room walls to flow from the screen’s design but was uncertain how to do it. Edmonds stepped in with a wall mural that subtly echoes the screen’s colors and design. “Charma understood the idea and made it happen,” the wife adds. “Now, I love the entire room.”
Across the hallway, Hannon added warm cosmetic touches to the newly built kitchen, again repurposing one of the owners’ rugs and incorporating vibrant Roman shades that give life to the taupe cabinets. Instead of placing a table and chairs in the corner, Hannon opted for a sofa. “It’s a wonderful area where they both read the paper in the morning,” she says. “It’s a much more comfortable environment than just having chairs.”
As for that guest room, the couple enjoys frequent visits from their children and grandchildren, so the home’s guest suite gets heavy use. Thankfully, the guest quarters Hannon originally designed for the other house was easily transplanted with the addition of a vintage Gustavian chest to top it off.
The owners are thrilled with the way Hannon pulled old and new together. “I like it because it feels like me,” the wife says. “I appreciate Annette’s calm, soothing style. It’s just so nice to be in. You can sit down and you’re comfortable in it.”