Text: Tiffany Adams
Photography: Gordon Beall
As a native of Alexandria, Virginia, designer Courtney Cox has a certain penchant for character-rich homes. So, when she and her husband, Chris, were shown a stately early 19th-century house in the city, her curiosity was piqued. At first, its position on a main thoroughfare appeared to be a drawback, considering their two young children, Carter and Virginia. “But then I got a peek at the garden, and I was totally taken. I thought, ‘This is magic, and I want a little slice of magic for my family,’” she says.
Cox, who co-owns Ivy Lane Living with design partner Alex Deringer, has always put style at the forefront of her career, first in the apparel industry and now in interiors. The pair, who feel a special bond and closeness with their community, note they love creating comfortable and approachable spaces, whether large or small, and doing so within a range of budgets. “It’s such a personal thing to come into someone’s home and help them with design, and we are so honored to be able to do that with our clients,” says Cox.
While she takes on a variety of projects and styles in her work, she notes her personal aesthetic remains relatively consistent. “The bones of my house are always going to be neutral. I like to add in pops of color with accessories I can change out over time, and I love, love, love to bring the outdoors in,” says the designer. This idea is on full display in the dining room, where Gracie screens are seen alongside a Hunt Slonem work depicting butterflies. “I wanted this room, especially, to feel very soft and garden-like,” she says, pointing to the light blush drapes, coral settee, and delicate chandelier, which conveyed from the previous owner.
The philosophy carries into the nearby family room, where a garden obelisk, lattice-work nesting tables, and a Niermann Weeks floral chandelier lend the feel of an open, airy courtyard, while practical pieces, like an acrylic art table for the couple’s daughter and an ottoman that can be wiped clean, make the space function at peak. Of course, all of this is amplified by the view out to the aforementioned backyard, where century-old wisteria and hydrangea frame afternoon swims in the pool, and vintage lanterns illuminate cocktail hours with friends and family.
First started in 1790 and completed in 1820, the house is true to homes of the period with a ground floor that, while spacious, is separated into just four areas: the dining room, living room, kitchen, and family room. Upstairs, the home’s private spaces include four bedrooms and a library. Wanting to be respectful of the home’s original design, Cox kept the floor plan intact, adding her spin through the furnishings and accessories. “I think when it’s a smaller house, you use what you have more often, and we use every room here,” says Cox. “For instance, if the kids are in the family room relaxing, my husband and I may scoot off to the living room for a glass of wine together.”
The craftsmanship and attention to detail are apparent in every room and were yet another draw to the home for Cox. “I love historical details because they are very hard—if not impossible—to replicate,” she says. In the same way, she’s just as passionate about vintage and antique finds to accentuate and complement these features. “I think hunting and pecking is much more exciting than buying everything new,” she says. Each space reflects this with an ever-present mix of new and old that creates a fresh yet time-honored design.