Text: Lauren Walker
Photos: Barry Dixon
Following in the footsteps of his family, a homeowner of a Georgian estate in Chevy Chase, Maryland, approached designer Barry Dixon and architect Geri Yantis to give his sprawling abode the aesthetic and practicalities he dreamed of.
While the former city dweller had an appreciation for the more traditional style of his parents’ space, he knew he wanted his personal home to include more modern and masculine accents and sensibilities. The lush grounds of the home and the owner’s passion for hunting and outdoor living inspired the color palette and overall design style Dixon would infuse into the interiors. “My client wanted this home to be a reflection of the way he lives,” says Dixon. “I mixed masculine and progressive pieces with some inherited, more traditional furnishings—nothing fussy—and knew I needed to accommodate his two Labrador retrievers as well.”
The sunlight-flooded foyer welcomes all who enter the home and offers entry to the study, dining room, and living room. A round table, commissioned from London, with three solid bronze legs draws the eye and features decoupaged guinea fowl feathers upon closer inspection of its top. An antique lantern hangs from the rich, grasscloth-covered ceiling, a selection Dixon made in order to warm the space and make the ceiling feel slightly lower. A floor-to-ceiling mirror sits parallel to a deep green, fringe-trimmed banquette, a well-loved technique Dixon refers to as a portal mirror.
“I’ve used this method in several of my projects,” he says. “I do a custom frame and place the mirror right on the floor. It’s amazing how much light and space you can add to a room this way.” To create a comfortable environment during larger parties, the designer also added multiple seating areas within the space. “People love to sit on that banquette, and it is so comfortable,” he says. “We prioritized placing the furniture in a way that was easy to maneuver around but was also hospitable for entertaining.”
In the living room, Dixon placed a large rug of his own design, custom dyed to coordinate with the views of the trees and the dark floors. Velvet-covered swivel chairs allow for easy and comfortable TV viewing, while a game table and chairs and brass sofa table contribute to the rich, warm palette.
The dense material used between the ceiling coffers was trimmed out with bronze nailheads and beautifully quiets the room. The designer also used Greek and Irish touches throughout the home to pay homage to the owner’s mother and father. The study, for example, includes an 18th-century, hand-carved piece that features Zeus holding lightning bolts, while antique bronze sconces flank each side. A stone pillar houses a gilded eagle, and the owner’s treasured book collection is on full display.
Continuing the theme of bringing the outdoors in, the dining room was given a wallcovering that features trees and foliage and a custom, commissioned light fixture that at first glance looks to be constructed out of natural leaves. Dixon employed another floor-to-ceiling mirror that reflects the wallcovering and leather dining chairs keep the masculine vibe at play.
“I wanted this room to feel like you were dining within the natural landscape,” he says. The kitchen is a mix of light and dark finishes and includes three distinct seating areas. Another technique Dixon loves to use in his designs is the tall, round table that sits against the island. “I’ve used these in contemporary and traditional kitchens alike,” he says. “When you’re entertaining, you can pull the barstools away and have a great space for food and drinks.”
The owner’s suite is made up of a series of chic rooms that incorporate both modern pieces and special antiques passed down from his family. Antique dressers sit on each side of the iron bed, and a seating area sits on a thick, natural wool carpet. French doors open onto the upper terrace, and Dixon hung the owner’s cherished collection of hunting prints on herringbone-patterned panels. “The goal was to curate the heavier French antiques with more modern, clean pieces,” he says. “That careful mix is really what brought this home to life and gave it the exact feel the owner wanted.”