Furnishings in the living area include a Minotti chair, B&B Italia sofas, Chista's Volcano tree-trunk table and lamps and stools .

One of the must-have skills of a residential designer is the ability to convince a homeowner to toss out familiar furnishings for a fresh look. Setting an example for his clients, interior designer Robert Shields jettisoned his antiques, baby grand piano and Old Master paintings for minimalist d├ęcor when he moved from Rosslyn to Georgetown in 2007.“I was starting to formulate ideas of my own about what contemporary spaces could be,” says Shields, who tested the concepts in his newly purchased, two-level condominium. " I wanted my surroundings to feel better than any spa, like I was on vacation when I came home.”
Robert Shields poses in his all-white living room.

His airy duplex achieves that goal with an almost all-white space that soothes the eyes. Judiciously placed against the bleached backdrop are sooty shapes supplying graphic contrast.“The challenge in a white space is how to handle the darks,” the designer says.“If you don't balance them, the room can feel lopsided.”

He points to the equilibrium struck by the living room's symmetrical arrangement of brown sofa pillows and bronze lamps. Overhead, dramatically angled espresso-painted beams direct the view to opposite ends of the space. The open kitchen continues the light-dark motif with white and chocolate-veined marble covering the countertops and backsplash in contrast to dark and light cabinetry.

In addition to banishing clutter, Shields made the interior seem larger by raising the ceiling more than a foot and connecting the entire space with seamless white flooring. He opened the stairwell leading to the upper bedroom level and extended the wall at the end of the foyer so it would align with the kitchen.

The end tables and bar near the stairwell and foyer.

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