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.”
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Annie Elliott: Thanks to the pandemic, we had about four extra months to work on our room. We started in January, paused March-May, and then finished up for the August installation.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Annie: When we were assigned a room on the lower level, we weren’t sure that the exuberant, high-style, English country house bedroom design we had planned would work. But once we mapped everything out and got a feel for the space, we realized that we absolutely could do it! In the end, the room felt like a hidden gem tucked away in its own private wing of the house.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Annie: Our inspiration for our room was the gorgeous Cowtan & Tout Rutland fabric that we used for the canopy bed and drapes. It’s a woodland scene that feels sophisticated, warm, and enveloping. With all of those trees, it was a natural leap to birds, which we incorporated in the art and accessories around the room.
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?
Annie: We did not collaborate, but there must have been something in the air. We were delighted to see the use of strong, bold colors (pink walls!) and whimsical touches throughout the whole house.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Annie: Wallpaper!! It’s no contest
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Annie: Saturated color
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Annie: 18th century
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Annie: English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Annie: Broadway shows
Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House McLean designers.
Photography by Ron Blunt.
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