A Transformed Contemporary Great Falls Abode with a Gold Palette


Contemporary Powder Blue Master Bedroom Vignette

The master bedroom’s custom chandelier is reflected in an Oly mirror above the clients’ own dresser, which Mitchell topped with limestone to refresh the look. The draperies and matching bolster pillow are made with Pollack fabric.

Contemporary Master Bedroom Seating Area Accents

Fresh flowers enliven the master bedroom's seating area.

Paris Map Powder Blue Master Bedroom

Because the husband has an office in Paris and the family visits frequently, Mitchell had custom prints created from a vintage Paris street map to serve as a focal point in the master bedroom. A bed from Stewart Furniture Design and wing chairs by RJones & Associates sit poised on a Stark rug.

Contemporary Gray Hallway Niche

An ornately carved mahogany door featuring brass details, purchased in Cameroon, resides in a hallway leading from the living room to the library/office and master bedroom suite. Pierre Frey’s Erevan wallpaper provides the backdrop.

Contemporary Green Library

An old-fashioned ladder rolls along a rail spanning two walls in the library/office, painted in Benjamin Moore’s deep green Pine Brook; African masks are the central feature. Leather club chairs are by Barbara Barry for Baker; the cotton drapery fabric is by Clarence House.

Contemporary Blue-Accented Dining Room Sideboard

A moody landscape by California artist Wade Hoefer hangs over a sideboard by David Iatesta. The vintage dining chairs are upholstered in Manuel Canovas’ embroidered Tolede fabric in Aqua.

Contemporary Blue-Accented Dining Room

Because the dining room is open to the foyer, Mitchell chose a David Iatesta table with legs instead of a pedestal base so it wouldn’t look as if it were floating. A Niermann Weeks chandelier crowns the space, which is covered in Osborne & Little wallpaper.

Contemporary Gold Living Room Vignette

The living room boasts a bold palette of black, gold, and white.

Contemporary Gold Living Room with Vaulted Ceiling

The family gathers regularly in the living room, with a custom sofa and club chairs in an indoor-outdoor fabric by Duralee. The reclaimed wine barrel chandelier by BoBo Intriguing Objects stands out against the room’s white rafters.

Traditional Cream Curved Foyer

Designer David Mitchell had a vintage lantern painted in Benjamin Moore’s Ancient Ivory for the foyer. Its lines enhance the swirling shapes in the wrought-iron stair railing, the Thomas Paul rug and the Farrow & Ball wallpaper panels.

A vacation house was out of the question for a Virginia family in a constant state of travel—two of the three children are away at college, while dad commutes internationally every week for work. Home itself, then, is a vacation when everyone is together at one time. That’s what spurred the decision to move from an in-town, walk-everywhere neighborhood in Vienna to the more pastoral setting of Great Falls. “We wanted our primary residence to feel like a vacation home, where we could really recharge and unwind,” the wife says.

The family found their ideal site in a stone cottage discreetly set into 3 acres with plenty of woods and wildlife—but the dark, country French interiors weren’t their style. To make a change, the owners hired designer David Mitchell, whose sense of casual elegance the wife had long admired. For his part, Mitchell had found the ideal clients. “The house is always full of travel and music and love,” he says. “It was such a great atmosphere to work in.”

With so many busy schedules, the interiors needed to be warm, welcoming and easy to live in—beautiful but not too precious. “It’s a real family house,” says Mitchell. “They live in their house and all throughout it.” That means the living room wouldn’t be an untouched relic, but a frequent gathering spot for family cocktail hours. “It brings the family together,” the wife says. “We just settle in at the end of a long day with drinks and appetizers.”

The living room is where Mitchell centered the home’s main-floor color scheme, incorporating golden hues that would “dance” through every other space: In the dining room chair backs, visible across the foyer, and more subtly in the floral print of the draperies in the library down the hall, which also leads to the master suite. The bedroom’s pale blue palette also features touches of yellow in its window treatments. “You have to take into consideration what you can see from where,” Mitchell says. “And then, you try to build relationships with things.”

Contrast was also important, so each space would be distinctive even as it flows into another one. Mitchell had the library painted a deep green gloss as a warm transition from the luminous living room. “You come from this room that has all this light in it, and it’s nice to have something that’s dark and warm to envelop you.” The darker space also sets the stage for a large collection of African masks—Mitchell tried to place the family’s travel artifacts throughout the house, he says, “without seeming like a museum or an afterthought.”

More artifacts adorn a prominent wall of shelving on the lower level, where the family entertains most often. “We are the unofficial party holders for all the sports teams,” the wife says with a laugh. Therefore, Mitchell added drama at every turn, including bold patterns and colors, oversize light fixtures, and a gallery wall of framed antique sheet music.

Mitchell’s blending of the dramatic with the practical, punctuated with art and accessories that are meaningful to his clients, was “dead-on” for what they envisioned, the wife says. “There’s not a day I wake up when I’m not so happy to be in such a warm and beautiful place.”