A Historic D.C. Home is Enlivened with Vintage Furniture and Eclectic Art

Monique Valeris
Photo credit: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

From ELLE Decor

When a group of real estate developers purchased a historic townhome in Washington, D.C., they were bent on modernizing every inch of the space. However, before they could execute their vision, a couple in their 30s stepped in to purchase the property with the goal of bringing it back to its glory days. The homeowners enlisted designer Zoe Feldman, who was immediately clear on one thing: It needed to be full of soul and character.

Feldman played up the home's history by incorporating carefully chosen vintage furnishings. For a sense of contrast, she layered the one-of-a-kind pieces with modern touches and eclectic art from the couple's personal collection. In designing the space, she also needed to account for the homeowners' rescue dog, so practical choices like vegan leather chairs, low-pile rugs, and performance fabrics were key. The stylish, comfortable haven embodies the hallmark of Feldman's design firm, which she has helmed for more than 15 years. “This is very in line with our natural aesthetic,” Feldman says. “It feels so timeless to me, but still so relevant and really interesting.”

While neutrals ground the home, it's also enlivened with color. In the living room, a Kara Mann for Baker sofa in an ochre-colored performance velvet steals the show. “It acts as a neutral, but with a lot of density,” Feldman says. To enhance the look, Feldman weaved in a Biedermeier games table, which serves as a spot for the couple to enjoy their morning coffee, read the newspaper, or use when entertaining family and friends.

Photo credit: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Another highlight is the master bedroom, which is bedecked in an elegant floral wallpaper from William Morris. “Even though it has color and pattern, it still feels very neutral and quiet,” Feldman says. “It is not at all chaotic.” Custom wardrobes were installed to make up for the lack of closet space and a sizable built-in daybed adds to the master's cozy feel.

Feldman's penchant for color and pattern are also on display in the bathrooms. The master bathroom features striking navy herringbone patterned floor tile, which complements crisp white walls. There was also a major design challenge to overcome: a window forced Feldman to take a risk by installing the shower's plumbing right on its glass door. “I have never done this before, but it actually ended up working out beautifully because you walk into it and see the back of the plumbing and this beautifully exposed shower." Other unexpected moments include a guest bathroom that's sheathed in Schumacher's “Leaping Leopards” wallpaper, along with a powder room—where Pierre Frey's “Le Couple” wallpaper doubles as framed art—that's awash in olive green wall paint.

Photo credit: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

For the dining room, Feldman resolved to introduce a clear distinction from the living room and kitchen. She accomplished this by making two bold design moves: painting the ceiling black and installing a textured neutral wallpaper in a geometric print from Pierre Frey. Feldman then punctuated the space with vintage oversize table lamps, artwork by St. Frank, and a Roman shade in green—one of the wife's favorite hues that's present in other areas throughout the residence.

Green shines once more in the kitchen, where Farrow & Ball's Card Room Green appears on the cabinetry, playing up the elegant curves in the space. She also added brass fixtures, a plaster hood, and a vintage Oushak rug to pull the design together. It's a significant departure from the former bare, all-white kitchen.

Photo credit: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

And since every designer understands the power of a strong first impression, Feldman addressed the foyer with the same impressive brio that is apparent in just about every space in the residence. Here, vintage sculptural table lamps and a colorful abstract piece of artwork from Jenny Prinn lend personality. An antique console table with a marble top—another Chairish find—dominates the design scheme. The homeowners were especially intrigued by its aged look, a trait that Feldman says made the project more enjoyable for her and her design team. “When a vintage piece came in and it was not 100 percent perfect and had a little nick or dent in it, they were totally fine with that because it was part of the story,” Feldman explains, noting that the console's edges are a bit worn. “We could have restored it, but we liked the lived-in feel.”

While Feldman's job has come to an end, the homeowners' work is far from over, as she intended for the decor to develop along with their taste over time. “When the home was finished, they really wanted it to continue to evolve and not feel too static,” Feldman says. “If they find a great piece of art or furniture on their travels, there's still room for it. It's a living space.”


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