Traditional Bethesda Property with Sophisticated Interiors


Traditional Neutral Living Room with White and Cream Accents

This serene living room features a soothing palette of white, cream, and blue. A striking light fixture makes a major statement.

Traditional Sunroom with Blue Accents

Pitched ceilings and a wall of windows allow natural light to flood the sunroom. The chunky wool area rug from Floor Covering Resources features 4-inch brown leather banding with antique brass nailhead trim that was applied by hand.

Traditional Cream Entry with Hardwood Staircase

The entry features a charming staircase with a graphic runner. Flowers add a touch of femininity and enliven the space.

Traditional Cream Living Room with Blue Accents

In the living room (aka the music room), creamy light caramel walls and a diamond-textured sisal rug provide a neutral backdrop for blue accents. A pair of vintage Frances Adler Elkins-style loop stools were re-covered in a Manuel Canovas velvet stripe.

Traditional Cream Entry with Center Hall Table

The unstained-oak center hall table from Century Furniture offers a contrast against the dark wood floors; the open sculptural base keeps the sightline between the front and back of the house uninterrupted.

Traditional Cream Dining Room with Periwinkle Chairs

Designer Sally Steponkus paired the homeowners’ existing Baker dining room furniture with a Chinese hand-knotted rug from Stark and Cowtan & Tout drapery fabric. Jean Duquoc’s Mary hangs on the wall next to an easel holding Childe Hassam’s The Nymph of Beryl Gorge.

Traditional Family Room with Pine-Paneled Walls

Warm knotty pine-paneled walls in the family room surround two custom Chesterfield sofas by Lee Industries. The custom leather ottoman is also by Lee Industries. The tray ceiling is painted in Lulworth Blue by Farrow & Ball. The side tables are from The Kellogg Collection.

Traditional Master Bedroom with Pale Blue Accents

Interior Designer Sally Steponkus dubbed her client’s favored shades of dusty light blue as “Marla blue.” Within that range, Benjamin Moore’s Windy Sky graces the master bedroom. The bed linens are from Restoration Hardware; the Greek key pillows are from The Kellogg Collection.

Traditional Pale Blue Bedroom Seating Area

A white lacquered chair from Stanford Furniture in Claremont, North Carolina, is upholstered in a pale blue-and-white herringbone pattern by Kelly Wearstler for Lee Jofa. The curtain panels are made from a Jim Thompson silk ikat, and the lamp is from The Kellogg Collection.

Designer Sally Steponkus knew almost instantly that her relationship with clients Marla and Barry Beck would be a symbiotic one. At their first meeting, the couple referred to an image on the designer’s website that they wanted to use as inspiration for their home; they had no idea it was a picture of Steponkus’ own living room. “The sofa in the photo encapsulated the look they wanted for their house: clean, crisp, tailored, and blue,” says Steponkus. “My challenge was to translate that one sofa into a look for an entire house.”

The Becks, founders of Bluemercury, the national chain of luxury beauty retailers and spas, bought their shingle-style Bethesda home in 2011 after falling for its “urban-suburban” neighborhood and its open floor plan. They worked with builder Phil Leibovitz, the home’s original builder, with consultation from Studio Z Design Concepts, to open up the public spaces even more by widening doorways and taking down a small interior wall. The kitchen, breakfast room, sunroom, and family room now make up one grand open space.

The couple was familiar with Steponkus’ work after admiring a room she designed for the DC Design House in 2010. So when they bought their home the following year, they knew whom to call. “I liked Sally’s energy,” Marla says. “She’s young, vibrant and creative, and her style is a mix of traditional and modern, which is what I wanted.”

The Becks envisioned their new home as formal enough for entertaining but durable enough to withstand a young and growing family—daughters Ariel and Sophie are 11 and 9, and son Luc is 7. And there had to be blue. Lots of it. A favorite color of Marla’s since childhood, it’s also what she wears most often. “Sally knew if she showed me any other color than blue it wasn’t going to work,” Marla says with a laugh. In fact, Steponkus says she and her designers now refer to a medium, dusty, light blue—her client’s preferred shade—as “Marla blue.”

To comply with the wife’s request, Steponkus incorporated blue tones in every room, mixing patterns and textures to keep things interesting. The designer paired it with other neutral shades such as white, gold, beige, cream, and caramel to create spaces that are soothing and sophisticated yet still fun and family-friendly. (She did, though, manage to persuade the Becks to paint an art room on the third floor a playful pale pink.)

In the sunroom, where the Beck family can frequently be found, Phillip Jeffries navy grass cloth dresses the walls and is framed and softened by floor-length ivory curtain panels with a navy tape trim. A sofa, upholstered in a Jim Thompson navy and white fretwork pattern with navy piping, sits next to a pair of blueberry-colored club chairs and a white grass-cloth-wrapped vintage game table with Chinese Chippendale chairs. “It’s my favorite room in the house,” Marla says. “I lay on the couch and read and look up to the trees and sky.” It’s Steponkus’ favorite, too. “The previous owners had closed off the beautiful view with shutters,” she says, “so I had the shutters removed to create an incredible sightline from the front door all the way to the backyard.”

The Becks moved into their house in June, and at their request, Steponkus had completely furnished the house by the time they returned from a summer at the beach in September. “Working on this project was intense but fun,” she says. “We had a really good time.” Adds Marla, “I’m so happy with the house. I wouldn’t change a thing.” Except, perhaps, the pink room. “I keep saying I’m going to change the wall color,” she says. “To blue, of course.”