Great Spaces: Family Room Redux

New lighting and wall treatments make a soaring ceiling feel cozy.


Brett and Eva Esber had never really loved their family room in the 20 years they’d lived in their Williamsburg Woods home. “It was so basic and so uninspired,” Eva says, “yet it was the hub of the house.” And the soaring ceiling, though dramatic, made lighting the space especially difficult, Brett adds.
The couple had already worked with Arlington designer Andrea Houck on other parts of their home, so they called on her again to reinvent this key space, where 20 or more regularly gather for family events.

Houck’s challenge was to both embrace and tame the room’s height, while bringing views of the wooded backyard inside. She removed low, built-in cabinetry under the windows, added full-length draperies to move the eye upward, and had the stark-white mantel and paneling over the fireplace painted to look like warm mahogany. She then ran crown molding 14 inches below the tops of the walls, bringing the room down to a more comfortable scale.

New recessed lighting, a chandelier and sconces infuse the space with soft light, while neutral tones and nubby grass-cloth wallpaper invoke nature’s palette outside. The Esbers love the result. Says Eva: “Now, it’s a room to be proud of and one that we can enjoy.”


“It now has a softness and texture that it completely lacked before.”

Project Credits: A. Houck Designs,

Categories: Home & Design