Old World Modern

The front hall combines ornate architectural finishes with elegant simplicity.

The Whites put their faith in Hawthorn, who devised a plan that would emphasize the home’s classic lines while infusing it with a modern flair. As the designer explains it, Jack White had gone to Oxford and loved the ornate woodwork inside its venerable buildings. Hawthorn was inspired to create a space “reminiscent of Oxford, with a sense of Old World craftsmanship, but do it in a modern way.”

The result is an interior in which intricate millwork and architectural finishes such as moldings, cornices and friezes all figure heavily into the design scheme. At the same time, clean-lined, simple furnishings communicate a more contemporary aesthetic and offset the elaborate backdrop of walls and trim. 
A settee designed by Barbara Hawthorn to fit the space.

The architectural finishes are particularly prevalent in the entryway, a two-story space that feels both airy and elegant. To achieve the effect they wanted, Hawthorn and her clients pored over catalogs, choosing a mix of Greek-, Roman- and Victorian-themed cartouches in the shapes of grape leaf clusters, flowers and acanthus leaves. “Each cartouche is different,” Hawthorn says.
 
Without altering the home footprint, Hawthorn created a light, spacious kitchen and family room area.

All the decorative moldings in the entryway, and the door frames, were handcrafted by Warrickshire Woodcrafters of Reston, Virginia, using Indonesian mahogany. Hawthorn added large-scale dark-stained frames to the wide doorways leading into the living and dining rooms, integrating the existing window transoms above them into the design with faux-paint treatments. In fact, the interior doors in the foyer area are all “plain old builder doors,” says Jack White. Rather than replace them, Hawthorn saved money by having them faux-painted to look like heavy mahogany with an inlay of lighter fruitwood. “I had to find just the right value that was golden and had depth,” Hawthorn recalls. She turned to decorative painter Paul Levy for the job.
 
Painstakingly detailed friezes, brackets and moldings adorn the stairs.

Though the designer carried the Oxford theme into the rest of the house, the living and dining rooms were transformed largely through paint (trading the “Easter-egg” colors for soft creams), upholstery and new, more modern carpets. “We took the traditional furniture and reupholstered it in modern fabrics,” says Hawthorn. “They have beautiful pieces that weren’t showcased enough so I created vignettes with the furniture and their art to draw attention to them.” Decorative wood moldings over the fireplace in the living room were shadowed and glazed to bring them into relief. 
 
Three Italian intaglioselicate carved impressionsrom Greek mythology.

The family room, which adjoins the kitchen, underwent a major transformation. “We wanted to lighten the space and make it feel bigger,” Hawthorn explains. She replaced the traditional fireplace with a wider, more contemporary one, which has the effect “of making the room seem stretched out.” The new fireplace surround is made of eye-catching honey onyx and Walker Zanger glass tiles, and the hearth is limestone. Columns to either side are actually pull-out-drawers that hold videos. Laser-cut lattice doors above conceal a 62-inch TV.
 
Dark-stained mahogany woodwork is seamlessly melded with a faux-painted transom to create a striking entrance to the dining room.

The walls were painted a soft yellow and woven Conrad shades replaced the draperies so as not to obstruct the natural light. Wherever possible, Hawthorn installed LED lighting. 

Prior to the remodel, knee walls had separated the kitchen area from the family room. Under the auspices of Cabin John, Maryland, architect Robert Wilkoff, these half-walls were replaced by columns, which served to open up the room. The door to the powder room was strategically moved out of kitchen view and tray ceilings trimmed with architectural accents were added above the dining and kitchen areas, along with chair rails and crown moldings to connect the family room and kitchen with the rest of the house. Wilkoff drew up an elevation of the family room area to show the Whites how the room would look.

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