Kiyonda Powell Wraps A Recreation Room In “Cabin Cool” Style


Rendering by Richman Studio/ Kiyonda Powell Design Studio.

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 Kiyonda Powell to learn more about her creative process in designing the Recreation Room for this project.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Kiyonda Powell: From concept to design development to installation took 7 months approximately.

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Kiyonda: The biggest challenge was the size of the room. It was one of the largest in the house and I wanted to make sure we could properly and thoughtfully fill the space based on the design concept.

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Kiyonda: We did have a moment where I thought we would not have the sectional in time. We were still missing a piece at the opening but we adapted. I don’t think anyone noticed 🙂 It was a huge component to the room so I am happy we were able to work it out.

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Kiyonda: I was inspired by my undergrad experience living in the mountains of western Maryland and vacationing there with my “framily” (a group of close friends from college).

The recreation room on the terrace level of the home was designed with a focus on entertaining. There are architectural details and finishes that are prominent in the home so I chose to embrace and enhance the room’s envelope by letting the space guide my design direction. The walls are wrapped in shiplap, which inspired me to come up with a design that celebrates gatherings in a remote cabin setting. I wanted to create warmth with wood textures and layer the space with familiar, yet reimagined patterns and motifs. I have coined my design concept “Cabin Cool” – the place where people can gather and enjoy each other’s company with games and lively conversation. The cool place to be! A few highlights in the room include the decorative wall finish, eclectic art, as well as the custom modular sofa that was inspired by the game Tetris. I want the space to have a relaxed and casual mood, sprinkled with playful elements befitting a recreation room.

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Kiyonda: I usually don’t get the opportunity to design/decorate entertaining spaces in the home so that was somewhat out of my comfort zone, but I was able to achieve a welcoming environment as described by the showhouse visitors and that is a hallmark that is important to my design style.

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?
Kiyonda: I believe the designers did have discussions about their overall design choices which allowed for neighboring designers to consider how they worked together. I also feel it was done in a way that allowed everyone to showcase their work without compromising the essence of their style.

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?
Kiyonda: I initially wanted to do a smaller space and that choice was based on resources as a first-time showhouse participant. I believe there are opportunities to really flex with creative problem-solving in any space, any size. I do think the larger space I received allowed me to get creative with the space plan and to seek out new and supportive partners to help me achieve my goal. As a result, I look to challenge myself with various types of spaces in upcoming projects.

aspire: Describe the town of McLean in one sentence.
Kiyonda: McLean VA is a suburban, family-oriented place to live.

This or That?

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Kiyonda: BOTH
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Kiyonda: HARDWOOD…Wait, I love them both (package deal)
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Kiyonda: That’s a tough one, im a beach bum but the mountains always have my heart
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Kiyonda: Do I have to choose?
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Kiyonda: Brunch! DC is such a brunchers town
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Kiyonda: 18th century
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Kiyonda: I love my windows with layers!
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Kiyonda: Hmmm, I have no clue
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Kiyonda: Definitely the spa!

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

Photography by Ron Blunt.

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