Designing With Animal Prints
The owners of this Cherrydale home love vivid colors, patterns and wild creatures. It shows in the décor.
When the millennial couple, both tech company employees in their early-30s, purchased this Craftsman-inspired home in Cherrydale in January 2020, it was 60 percent built. It was also the first home they’d ever bought.
Two months later, they packed up their two cats (they’ve since acquired a dog, too) and their ubiquitous young-adult Ikea furniture and moved from their less-than-1,000-square-foot D.C. apartment into 5,000 square feet that still smelled like fresh paint. As they padded around the mostly empty interiors, teleworking during the pandemic in their respective spaces (spare bedroom for him, kitchen island for her), they were ready to tailor their new digs to match their tastes.
Pretty much from the get-go, the couple (who prefer not to be named, so we’ll just call them “Hannah” and “Ben”) enlisted Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, owner of Blakely Interior Design in Rhode Island, where Hannah grew up. As luck would have it, Hannah had a connection to the designer; her mom worked in the firm’s business office.
The home’s primary living spaces were their first design priority. They shared with Photopoulos their color preferences, fondness for animals (wild and tame), and requirement to stay on budget.
Having grown up in New England, Hannah was tired of Colonials and had more recently taken a liking to Craftsman-style architecture. Ben’s taste runs more contemporary, so the aesthetic of their house, built by Arlington-based Enhanced Homes, is a middle ground.
“We were looking at the new-build market in Arlington and this house is really unique. The lot is over 10,000 square feet,” Hannah says, noting that they love the big yard and appreciated coming into the process midconstruction. “It was nice that the house wasn’t fully done so we could still choose countertops and that sort of thing, but it wasn’t so daunting to start all the way from an empty lot and try to design the entire house.”
Enhanced Homes owner Ryan Fubini, whose company builds six to eight homes a year (many of them, like this one, as speculative properties with a certain buyer profile in mind), says this was one of his favorites. “It’s fun to get creative,” he says. “Knowing the price point we were seeking [meant we could] spend money on the bells and whistles.”
Artisanal touches in the six-bedroom home include striking black window frames, double-stacked kitchen cabinets, a butler’s pantry for entertaining and oak hardwood floors.
Fubini went all out on marble in the master bath, but says he’s also had “a lot of success not going crazy expensive with tile, and just finding unique designs and patterns.”
Case in point: The black diamond tile that Fubini chose for the powder room floor, which caught Photopoulos’ eye and became a springboard. Knowing her clients liked yellow, she decided to complement the tile floor with an active chinoiserie wallpaper by Thibaut. They loved it. “Sometimes when you’re designing for clients, you want to push them a little past their comfort zone,” she says, “to really get great design.”