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?
Pamela Harvey: I had about 3 months to design and complete the installation.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Pamela: Getting product to the house in time was our biggest challenge. My eureka moment was when I realized how strong the DC Design Community is and that when we need help with something we rally together to support one another. It is a great feeling to know we have each other’s back.
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Pamela: One of our biggest challenges was finding the right thing for over the fireplace, I can not count how many hours of research went into finding the perfect piece for above there. I knew what I did not want, but really struggled to find the perfect statement piece and I think we did with the Thomas O’Brien mirror from Century Furniture. A perfect over-scaled mirror in white oak and the geometry of the circle inside a square
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Pamela: Taking my cues from the room’s symmetry of balance and scale, I have created an artful mix of modern furniture pieces with classic lines. Black, Beige and Bourbon is the color palette
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Pamela: Creating a room in a designer showhouse allows for my personal taste, style and creative side to shine and I will take a few more risks than I might for a client’s space.
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?
Pamela: In my own personal case, I had the advantage of seeing the kitchen plans and since my room was adjacent to the kitchen, I felt it was important to coordinate the 2 primary family spaces. I loved the modern vibe of a sleek black kitchen and brought black accents throughout my room. The fireplace surround was matte black marble, as well as weaving black in with the textiles, one side table and some accessories.
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?
Pamela: I really enjoy creating a larger spaces, but smaller spaces like a powder room tend to be my most creative. Large living spaces that we spend so much of our time in need to feel calmer and cleaner and I love to create more drama in a small space like a powder room or laundry room.
aspire: Describe the town of McLean in one sentence.
Pamela: An upscale family-focused suburb close to DC with lots of small town charm.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Pamela: Black and White
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Pamela: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House McLean designers.
Photography by Ron Blunt.
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