Monday, February 23, 2009

Design challenge: a marriage of styles (with spectacular results!)

I recently had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite designers, Jim Beebe Hawes of the McLean, Virginia based design firm Caldwell-Beebe (Jim is the designer who created the magnificent interior of the Chespeake Bay house that I posted about in December). We hit it off immediately! The next day I was thrilled to get an email from Jim with pictures from a recent design project he had completed in the West End of Washington, DC, and permission to create a post using these unpublished photos.

Jim's clients for this project had always lived in a traditional houses (one was featured in the magazine Traditional Home in 2001), and were moving out of a traditional house in Charleston, South Carolina. When moving to DC, the 'young at heart' empty nesters were ready for a change. Jim's challenge: to make both the husband (a lover of contemporary style) and the wife (an avid traditionalist) happy. In other words, to create a marriage of styles.


The entryway sets the tone. A signed 18th century French fauteuil and antique tole plant stand look right at home next to the Saladino 'Platinum' console and subtle contemporary art. A few carefully chosen accessories are on the console - a blanc de chine Chinese dog and silver boxes. The space, already filled with light because of the architecture, looks ethereal with the beautiful light floors. The organic form of the branches is the perfect touch for this space. The paintings are by David Bell, owner of David Bell Antiques in Georgetown. His store is one of the 'go-to' places in DC for antiques (the antique tole plant stand in this picture is from his store) and his reputation as a painter is growing. He mainly paints on commission, and will create contemporary masterpieces to the exact color specification of his clients.


The glass walls make the space quite contemporary and fill the room with light, but how is privacy maintained with no visible window treatments? Jim said that the ceiling is recessed and privacy solar shades are mounted in the space created by the recess (this can be seen in the picture below). The shades can be pulled down when there is a need for privacy or to block the sun, and when pulled up the shades are invisible due to the room architecture. Jim said that his clients enjoy the view so much that they rarely lower the shades!

The sofa is Saladino's "Cape Sofa" upholstered in J. Robert Scott's Silk Tapis, with two pillows, one in Fortuny fabric and the other in Jim's signature diamond quilted ultrasuede.


I am particularly enamored with the antique Swedish armoire. It is circa 1800, and when opened reveals the initials of the couple who received it as a gift on their wedding day in 1819. What a history this piece must have! A flat screen TV is mounted within. The ottoman/bench is the Randolph Minor bench by Niermann Weeks, upholstered in a Great Plains nubby linen. (By the way, when checking the Niermann Weeks website for this post, I noticed that they have a brand new blog. It looks very promising!)


The coffee table is one of Jim's favorites, the Saladino three-legged coffee table with marble top. The paintings on either side of the armoire are by David Bell. I love to see symmetry on either side of an armoire, but usually I see this achieved with sconces or framed prints. The look of a set of four unframed paintings is quite beautiful.

Another one of Jim's favorite pieces is the Ellington wing chair by Dessin Fournir. He says the chair is not only beautiful, but also incredibly comfortable. The Ellington wing chair is upholstered in a sophisticated Classic Cloth linen. A custom Tibetan rug is on the floor.


The library/study is a cozy little room, with walls covered in ultrasuede. I love the contemporary piece of art set in a Baroque frame; the elaborate frame is the perfect contrast to the abstract art. The art is by Maxine Wright, and is from the collection of Vincent Price. In this picture, the subtle window sheer (described above) can be seen.

Jim's design challenge was to combine contemporary style with an element of the traditional; if the intent of the project was a 'marriage of styles', the resulting union is incredible! The contemporary is brought in with the architecture, the streamlined furnishings, and the art; the traditional is present in the antiques, the beautiful hand crafted Tibetan rug, the soft styling of the many of the upholstered pieces, and the classic fabrics. Jim also notes that many of the accessories add to the traditional element (many of which are not seen in these pictures); silver boxes, horn boxes, blanc de chine, a sweet Chinese table or two, balustrade lamps, a crusty French window frame, antique tole planters, and Redouté engavings are but a few of the treasures throughout the home.

I am not sure whether I have ever seen a home that has Swedish antiques, contemporary art, and Saladino furniture all under one roof! The wife took a big leap of faith and a major step in moving to a 'glass box', but was so thrilled with the results that she called her husband at work after the furniture was installed and thanked him for giving her such a beautiful place in which to live. Jim said that there is no better feeling than having his clients so delighted with his work.

In an interesting follow up, the couple received an unsolicited offer substantially over their purchase price just 90 days after moving in. What a great testament to the power of beautiful interior design.

To see another amazing project by Jim, please see my post on the home on the Chesapeake Bay.

All photos used with permission from Caldwell-Beebe.


  1. Really beautiful images...that first entry took my breath away...

  2. I was really wowed by this condominium, as I lived in one in downtown San Diego several years. I love that you made mention of the fabulous art in the home! As always the mix of contemporary and traditional works so well when done right!!

  3. I like the minimal color pops. Without those I would be "neutraled" out. Great mix.

  4. * Personally, the sofa and walls in the library were, simply put, DIVINE to the max!!! I could almost FEEL those T-E-X-T-U-R-E-S thru my screen, so I LOVED IT!!! Thank you! Linda (in AZ)

  5. Stunning! It's hard to find places in Manhattan that are that serene. Love the art and the solar shades. Brilliant!

  6. I love spaces with so much light! Thanks for the tour!

  7. Wow - gorgeous! Love all the Saladino pieces - you're right they fit so well w/the Swedish pieces. I was staring at the DC window view seeing if I could figure the building!

    p.s. - I'm going to post on Max & Co on Tuesday. Loved Mrs.Howard too but it was my favorite - I think it's yours too(?) I get to come back to Atlanta in May so I plan to go again!

  8. I love the interiors, especially the armoire and the artwork, but that three legged table throws me off a bit! I guess it is great for leg space next to a couch!

  9. Thank you for the comments, everyone. The first picture is my absolute favorite - the art, the antique chair, the console, the branches...I could gaze at that picture for a long time!

  10. Well you were correct, Things that Inspire.
    I love this home. I must say that the third image is my favorite. The beautiful Dessin Fournir wing chair, that stunning Swedish armoire, and Mr. Saladino's wonderful table. Mr. Bell's artwork is perfection. Yes, it is contemporary, but also timeless. The shape of the ottoman is so charming. Oh, I could go on and on.


  11. Beautiful....I adore the 3 legged coffee table and the Swedish armoire with the unframed paintings on either side.

  12. Beautiful! Now this is my idea of contemporary design. Do you know what paint colors the designer used for the entry hall walls and trim?

  13. Ohh and the first picture with the tall plant stand and the French fauteuil.....gorgeous..

  14. I simply proclaim Jim as mon oncle Brillant!

  15. The paint color is BM "White Sand" #964 for walls and BM "White Dove" for the trim. Thanks to the reader who asked this question - it is always good to know the paint colors!

  16. What lovely spaces. Yes, it is an odd juxtaposition, but they all work beautifully. There is a real art in mixing modern and traditional elements. I am looking at the pictures to figure out the elements that bring the continuity - colour, simple lines, and not too much fussy stuff.

    Lovely - I would keep those blinds down though. I don't like full sun! Good thing I live in the far north. ;)

  17. very gorgeous - I especially love all the Saladino pieces - the sofa and the coffeetable - that console! with the Swedish piece! He looks like a designer you would like to work with!!!! It's so quiet and calm and soothing. I love that chair in the corner of the living room too. very beautiful!

  18. Thank you for posting the names of the paint colors! I greatly appreciate it!


  19. Oh that armoire! I could easily move into this space...so calming, and with just the right mix. I'm delighted to find you! Hurrah, a new place to visit! Thanks for your comment - an uplifting way to begin my day!

  20. When I grow up I wouldn't mind living in a space like this! BEAUTIFUL!

  21. It really is a perfect mix. I admire (and envy) any couple who can successfully blend their styles. Beautiful.

  22. Such a beautiful home.... the contemporary & traditional elements blend together so well.

    Being able to hide the blinds is a fantastic feature. And those floor-to-ceiling windows.... spectacular!!

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  23. I walk past that building everyday on my walk home from work -it's a really unusual modern building that was just recently completed this past year. As always these modern buildings can look so cold and stark, this is a great way to give life to these modern spaces!

  24. Love the mix ! The 1st pic is my favorite


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