Designer Alessandra Branca's clients, a young couple new to the Georgetown area, had looked at town houses for a year before finding "the one." But almost as soon as they decided to buy, the place became unavailable.
Not ready to settle for anything less than a home they loved, they continued their search. The waiting paid off when their original choice came back on the market.
"It was meant to be in so many ways," says Branca. "It's a classic 19th-century residence that was lovingly restored and smartly added on to."
Branca's challenge was to make the interiors as pleasing as the exterior. "We looked at each space as a sense of place. It had previously been the home of a gentleman -- and it was beautiful -- but we needed to warm it up and add some spice," she says.
Starting in the entry, hints that you should expect the unexpected include coral linen velvet on a classic bench and curtains in a sedate Rose Cumming silk ticking banded in sunny yellow.
The living room was more like a passthrough on the way to the family room and didn't invite you to sit down and stay. Branca incorporated three sitting areas into the room and added a color scheme that is anything put predictable.
At the far end of the room, a steel gray damask-covered sofa, from Branca's own collection, is silhouetted beautifully against yellow silk curtains.
"Their furniture is very classical, but by juxtaposing it in different ways, we were able to give it new life," says Branca. "The room is sunny, joyful and a little modern in its own way."
In a corner of the living room, a banquette provides a cozy spot to rest. Branca designed the '30s-inspired wallpaper and comissioned it in an unexpected color combination.
The graphic pattern of the stair runner by David Hicks complements the black-and-white photography.
"One of our greatest fortunes was the architecture of this room," says Branca of this 16-foot-high space with a grand Palladian window.
Complementing the room's mossy green palette is a magnolia-on-parchment piece created by the designer's mother, a botanical artist. "It's another acknowledgement of Washington, D.C., with all of its wonderful flowering trees," adds the designer.
While the living and family rooms have opposite tacks, the master bedroom has it all. Though it is decked in hushed hues -- soft, restful blues and pinks -- a closer look reveals a hot pink accent color and a clue to the predominant color in the adjacent sitting room.
The curtains stand out in a pretty "but not too froufrou" floral pattern, says Branca, "and celebrate the height of the room."
Each evening, the homeowners like to retreat to the sitting area overlooking the family room. The hot pink provides plenty of warmth on its own, but when need be, a fireplace heats things up a few more degrees.
The room's striking hue plays on the coral color found in the living room, and is paired with a rich chocolate brown more readily apparent in a pair of chairs that feature a fresh version of a traditional toile.
"This house is very proper and serious on the outside; inside, it's pure sunshine," says Branca.
By Heather J. Paper, Southern Accents