A Waterfront Home
Images Courtesy of Gordon Beall
Having the perfect little waterfront home on the Eastern shore of Maryland is a dream come true until you see a house that’s even more perfect right next door. This conundrum was good news for interior designer David A. Herchik of JDS Designs, as his clients found themselves in that very situation. “The homeowners owned the house next door,” he says, “then they bought the new one as well.”
The homeowners were already clients of Herchik’s DC-based firm which also includes his partner Richard J. Looman and Nicholas Beck. When the homeowners heard the house next door was going on the market they quickly made a successful offer and turned the keys over to Herchik. The family had worked with the design team on other residences including their full time residence in Bethesda.
The new owners were drawn to the house because of it’s larger size and the way it was sited. “Every room has a view of the water,” says Herchik, “it was built and designed for artists so it was very compartmentalized, there were a lot of cabinets for drawings.” The goal was to open the space up, maximize the views and make the house work better for an active family of five with frequent guests.
Designs by JDS Designs
“We ripped a lot of stuff out and reconfigured the spaces from a permanent residence to a weekend house for the family,” says the homeowner. Larger windows were planned as the hunt began for colorful furnishings. Herchik knows his client’s tastes and began assembling a design pallet stretching from rural antique stores to the European continent.
“They wanted the whole house sunny and cheery, very transitional, with lots of folk art,” he says. The level of trust extends to the point where the design team assembles objects and furnishings without much input from the clients who don’t see the end results till the final walk-through.
“It’s so awesome, he’s the best,” says the homeowner, “you do a lot of planning in terms of colors but when he puts the house together at the end you don’t know what’s going to be in there.” Although most of Herchik’s selections make the cut, there are exceptions. “He picked out a life-sized clown statue for us once,” says the homeowner with a laugh, “and I told him – ‘that’s not staying.’”
What did stay was several rooms full of funky charm starting with the casual dining area that can be seen from the front door. Walls are painted a soothing shade of celery, sliding glass doors lead to the beach and flood the space with natural light. For the evenings, Herchik went all retro-Euro on the lighting. “it’s an old French street lamp,” he says. But the eclectic touches are just getting started.
The designer knows that his client was a synchronized swimmer and found some unique art for the dining room wall. “They’re old swim suits from the 1920’s that we found in an antique store” he says. Above the suits from yesteryear’s bathing beauties are three glass sculptures, one for each of the family’s children. Chairs around the table were kept low and opened back so as not to block the water views.
The kitchen adjoins the dining room and luckily for the design team not much was needed to bring the room up to snuff. “We used the same layout, put in a penny tile backsplash, painted the cabinets and lit them from the inside,” says the homeowner. Some appliances were also changed out.
The kitchen shares a wall with a larger dining area that also serves as a breakfast room. The ceiling is vaulted and the interior walls became pickled beadboard with a green wash. Seating on one side of the table is provided by a banquette. The focal point and the illumination is provided by a hotel sign from a French inn which was a bit hit with the homeowner.
Bringing bits of the real world into the house and making it feel like a home can be seen in everywhere including the great room which is just off the kitchen. Built-in cabinetry was removed to clear space for a new fireplace made from dry stacked stone. An indentation was left in the middle for a flat screen TV. There’s also niches for stereo equipment and firewood for those nights when crackling flames provide the best entertainment.
The great room is sheltered by a beadboard ceiling, this time finished off with a natural stain. Furniture is clubby and casual with the coffee table hailing from Istanbul. There’s also a retail style magazine rack from a funky antique store outside of Richmond, Virginia. The doors lead out towards the pool and like all the rooms in the house, windows look towards the water.
Down the hall from the public areas of the house is a room set aside just for kids. “In the children’s TV room, the whole thing is about games,” says Herchik, “but the room can also be used as extra guest quarters because the sofa is a sleeper.” A spinning wheel plucked from a carnival and commercial signs warning of high water decorate the robin’s egg walls. “We really like folk art, so we played it up for the kids room,” says the homeowner.
The room adjoins a homework area behind the stairs outfitted with a French, zinc-topped table. Casual furniture keeps the mood playful and more commercial signage can be seen in the front hallway.
The first floor master suite comes next, a room that required moving a wall to make space for the homeowner’s king-sized bed. Window sizes were increased to maximize the view. Linens match fabric used on the bed itself, tying the whole ensemble together into one vision of comfort. A separate sitting area provides a spot for taking in the morning light, and hanging pendent fixtures from Venini add a touch of graceful elegance to the room.
The master bath is defined by a raised double vanity done in teak wood with rectangular vessel sinks. Floors and walls are covered with one by one mosaic glass tiles as reflections are captured by an oversized, antique, Venetian mirror. Vintage images of more swimming ladies pay homage to the homeowner’s passion for the water and keeps the mood of the space in a beachy frame of mind.
The upstairs is occupied by more space for guests and the kid’s bed rooms. The daughter’s sanctuary is a buttery vision that began with the bed canopy. “The fabric started it all,” says the homeowner, “it turned out to be the cutest room in the whole house and I think the designer had the most fun doing it.” The fabric is shear with colorful butterflies flitting though. Painted butterflies were also commissioned for the walls, springing from the hand of an artist brought in from Connecticut.
The princess’s bed is a queen-sized addition from Italy, the painted desk was dispatched from Switzerland. The attention to detail in the little girl’s space even touched the heart of the builder. “Our contractor insisted on bringing his wife in to see the room,” says the homeowner.
But the boy’s room is another knockout. “it used to be an artist’s studio,” says the homeowner. “There was a small sink for cleaning brushes and a counter but we needed more room for people to sleep,” she says. Sink and counter came out as bunk beds were moved in. The previous owner had once lived on a boat and had finished the room in horizontally laid beadboard to mimic the tongue and groove planking of a ship’s hull.
The designers kept the nautical vibe in place while sprucing up the pine cladding with a marine grade finish to add some shine. Overstuffed furniture was covered by kid friendly fabric. The effect is a playful treatment on the boy’s room that’s further accented with ship’s wheels and model boats.
Although the project involved a major makeover to the house, the designers and clients consider the work to be a piece of cake which allows them to focus on the rewards. “It’s a home where everybody feels comfortable, they felt at home the minute they walked in,” says Herchik. The homeowner agrees. “It wasn’t that hard and it’s now the perfect retreat for the family,” she says. And the house they used to live in? The family now uses it as a guest house for their new place next door.
Text and images originally appeared in the June/July 2008 issue of Chesapeake Home Magazine.
For more eclectic features not about