Allie Mann Reveals An Emerald Gem In Aspire House McLean


Rendering via Allie Mann.

The Aspire House McLean project began in 2018, when Bill Harrison, renowned architect and principal of Harrison Design, introduced aspire design and home CEO and Founder Steve Mandel to a developer he worked with called Artisan Builders. Mandel was immediately impressed, and planning began for a showhouse in this elegant suburb of Washington, D.C.

The residence, which adapts Palladian concepts of geometry, proportion and symmetry, is modern and light filled, with vast windows to flood the space with sunlight. In order to make sure the interior design matched the caliber of the architecture, Mandel invited Mary Douglas Drysdale to be the design chair. Drysdale explains, “A talented group of designers and creatives from the Mid-Atlantic region displayed their skills to create a home that is a modern classic mix, referring to the architectural traditions of our region and to the lifestyle that people aspire to today.”

In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Allie Mann to learn more about her creative process in designing the Guest Bath for this project.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Allie Mann: This is an interesting question, being a bathroom, likely more time than other designers in the sense that much of the room was developed in the “build” process like the tile install etc. And in the year of COVID there felt like several starts and stops to the process. So to be fair, the better part of 6 months?

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Allie: I think the biggest challenge was the window treatment. This particular bathroom gets a lot of morning sunlight and the location of the window behind the bath’s entry is not completely ideal. Determining what material to use as well as pattern play was critical in understanding what would be visible during the showhouse and also how much natural light would or wouldn’t filter through the space.

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Allie: The inspiration for this room was a bold use of color. I remember when I was tapped for this space I was on a girls’ weekend in Charleston (little did I know it would be my last girls trip or flight for the foreseeable future). While we were out enjoying cocktails and magnificent dinners and walking down “Rainbow Row” I knew I wanted this space to be memorable by color. I texted my friend David Benson at Architectural Ceramics and told him to give me all the fantastic green tiles and he said he had just the perfect 2 x 8 saturated emerald for me! And who could have predicted how much we would need or love color, even more, this year.

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Allie: For the bathroom, we painted the base trim and ceiling the color of the walls Sherwin Williams Juniper SW 9679. I am glad I didn’t waffle in my decision. I thought about papering the ceiling, though that seemed out of place in this setting. I wondered if the base trim would have been too much green with the tile tub surround, it wasn’t it was perfection!

aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Allie: While a typical showhouse is an opportunity/space for designers to collaborate, in the year of COVID I felt as though it was anything but and yet the space still flowed together so effortlessly. I would attribute that natural cohesiveness to our showhouse Design Chair, Mary Douglas Drysdale who was at the home designing her space, as well as many of the architectural details throughout the home, while checking in with designers regularly.

aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Allie: I tend to gravitate towards the smaller spaces for a showhouse. I like to take something rather minor, give it life and make it stand on its own. A “Jewel Box” of whatever I am tasked to work on at that moment be it a bathroom or a bar or even a laundry room.

aspire: Describe the town of McLean in one sentence.
Allie: Mclean is a thriving community that has a small-town feel and nestled just minutes (or in some cases even a stoplight) from Washington, DC.

I should know, I am a Mclean Resident. 😊

This or That?

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Allie: Wallpaper
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Allie: Hardwood
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Allie: Beach
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Allie: Saturated Color
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Allie: Dinner
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Allie: Midcentury
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Allie: Draperies
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Allie: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Allie: Week of Broadway Shows

Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House McLean designers.

Photography by Ron Blunt.

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