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House Tour : Secrets Revealed!

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Those of you who have been following my blog series know that I designed and built my mid-mod dream home for my family in Bethesda, MD, and it's finally time to reveal it.

If you’re new to my blog: Come on in and take a look around! If you want to play catch up, give this behind the scenes blog a read here.

Exterior shot of the home

In designing our dream home, no detail was too precious and things had to have a touch of whimsy. I relate to architecture as well as sculptural pottery, which you’ll find reflected throughout my home. You'll find Jonathan Adler giraffes, Noguchi lamps, architectural sketchbooks from college, travel trinkets, and lots of Star Wars Legos. My home is practical, organized (a must!), fun, and comfortable.

Today, as part of my house tour, I am also letting you in on some secrets. Even though I have been an architect/designer for many years, I still had a very stressful time designing my own home and thinking back, I would still do things differently if I had to start over. A few of the rooms even ended up being used in ways they were not intended! Read on my friend…


It would be interesting to know how many hours it took to design this kitchen, but I don't think I really want to know. I spent a lot of time browsing Pinterest and shopping online late into the night. We used Kitchenaid appliances, Brizo fixtures and Ultracraft cabinets. I still love the mix of the glossy white upper cabinets with the warm mid-mod walnut base cabinets.

What's my favorite feature? Actually, I have a few...

  • The Kohler sink that came with these cool accessories such as a bamboo cutting board, grated racks, and a colander that fit right into integrated grooves on the side of the sink

  • The USB ports in the extra large island

  • The backsplash - its so great when it catches the light just right

  • The pot filler with filtered water (how did I live without this before?)

  • Lastly, the appliance garage is a total game changer. One important tip...make sure the appliance garage is deep enough. Ours is not deep enough and I have to put the rice maker to the side when closing the door. Live and learn!

During the design of the house, I had this amazing idea to design and custom build a “dish drying cabinet”. One where you place dishes and pots in to dry so it keeps them off the counter. Something went awry in cabinet production so we scrapped the idea. Luckily, our amazing kitchen designer suggested that we include two dishwashers - (one small 18" one and one regular size. So, I could still dry pots and pans out of sight and when we have people over and use tons of dishes, I could use both at the same time. The idea was brilliant, one that I had overlooked while designing. I have never looked back since then.

View into the kitchen. Can you spot the second dishwasher?

Did you know - if you need an extra-long quartz countertop, you need a "jumbo" slab, which sometimes have fewer finish and color options? Of course, that also means it's more expensive. This island was designed originally to be 11 feet long but we had to shrink it by 7” because standard quartz tops aren't made that long. Now I know and so do you! Browse the kitchen from every angle by visiting this gallery here.

Featured Sources:

  • Ultracraft Cabinets

  • KitchenAid

  • Regina Andrew Chandelier

  • Brizo Plumbing Fixtures

  • Bob Williams and Mitchell Gold Pendants

The Great Room

My favorite room is the Living Room/Dining/Kitchen combo we call the Great Room. Rather than a traditional foyer, you enter directly into the Great Room from the double doors, which makes a powerful statement. There is an angled ceiling that starts at nine feet one the low side and goes up to 14 feet high. It all happens in this room - from hot pot dinners to heated games of Sushi Go to Cobra Kai Netflix marathons. In the winter, Mimi the cat’s favorite spot is at the base of the red freestanding Preway fireplace. In the summer, the great room has a view out to the backyard where we can watch the boys in the pool.

Fireplace corner

The red Preway fireplace for the great room corner was easily my favorite item I bought for the house. I purchased it from a vintage store in Maine online, where I got it for a steal. But once it arrived, we learned the red enamel pipe/flue that came with it did not work in the house. So we came up with a solution to use a black flue instead. Initially I was disappointed but I don't notice it anymore and it feels like the black flue should have always been there. A happy design accident! It adds an amazing pop of color to the great room.

Featured Sources:

  • Vintage Preway fireplace

  • Slim Aarons art

  • Bob Williams and Mitchell Gold side table

  • Industry West Leather Chair

Primary Bedroom

Many new builds have primary bedrooms as large as my whole first floor. I don't understand this thinking...seems like wasted space to me and a room that is hard to furnish!

For designing my bedroom, I followed a Goldilocks approach: not too big, not too small, but just right! I'm normally not drawn to the color green but this shade feels peaceful yet not boring. We added two walk-in closets (Ikea Pax system) - one for myself and one for my husband which I would highly recommend if you have the space.

What was my favorite thing about this bedroom? The roller shades in my bedroom automatically lower at night and when I need privacy and automatically rise when I need help dragging myself out of bed in the morning.

Featured Sources:

  • Tom Dixon pendants

  • Hunter Douglas roller shades

Primary Bedroom Bathroom

This whole "let's build a new house” project started because we had the smallest, grossest primary bath in history. It is the kind of bathroom that you constantly clean and it never seems to actually get clean. That is why it was so important to get the bathroom right. Once we started designing the house this bathroom changed a dozen times. We went back and forth - clawfoot tub? larger shower? bath vanity with makeup area? Eventually, the thing I wanted was PRIVACY. So we added a separate toilet area but it added a lot of extra square footage to add walls and a small door. So the bathroom got even smaller and became a bit more challenging to fit everything in. In the end - it it as spa-like and glamorous as I wanted? No. But - it's simple and clean with a touch of cool vintage.

Why Installing a Japanese Soaking Tub in My Bath Was the Best Worst Idea Ever…

We went back and forth on this Japanese tub. We thought "we never take baths!" so let's just put a deee-lightful little makeup area for me in this spot. But THEN we thought "the next person who will enjoy this house will probably want a tub" so we went with a 51" round Japanese style soaking tub. Unfortunately, the freestanding tub faucet drives me COMPLETELY insane. It's basically in the middle of the room because there was a perimeter beam next to the tub where I originally had it. I wanted to put the tub faucet in the corner but I was convinced by others that that was a bad location in case it broke and it would be difficult to replace. Sigh. Anyway, I am glad we did add the tub, simply because the tub is amazing and the kids absolutely love to use it.

Featured Sources:

  • Artistic Tile

  • Hansgrohe

  • Brizo

  • Signature Hardware


This room's use was a complete mystery to me when we were designing this house. But, what I did know was that I wanted it to be some sort of bonus room where all the windows could be opened and I could have the feeling of being outside - just without all the bugs. The room is currently a sitting room where my fiddle leaf plants thrive and guests and I can escape from the kids while they watch a movie in the great room.

The sunroom played a vital role during the first few days/months of the pandemic because we designed it as a neighborhood learning hub, with a couple desks for kids to Zoom with their teachers. Some kids did great, and some just stared out the window at birds or the occasional fox running around the backyard. My favorite feature? The solid, dark engineered wood floors complement the deep green walls perfectly and are very durable. Having floors so durable means I don't even mind when kids run through it dripping wet from the pool.

Featured Sources:

  • Jonathan Adler lighting

  • Article sofa

  • Industry west leather chairs

  • Golden Oldies vintage

Guest Bath

It’s common to have a little powder room for a first floor bathroom but we opted for a full bath with a large shower adjacent to our guest room. My favorite thing about this bathroom is the large format tile with its distinctive design and fun feel. They are 24” x 48” size; unique and not seen in too many bathrooms. The shower floor needed small mosaic tiles (you can’t use large tiles on the shower floor for draining and safety purposes) so we got the manufacturer to chop up the large tiles and adhere them to a 12x12 backing for an easier install. Almost all of the plumbing fixtures we chose for the house are from a company called Brizo. Brizo is made in the US, but its parent company is Delta. The fixtures are really solid and I wanted fixtures that look modern, a bit whimsical but not too weird.

Featured Sources:

  • Architessa

  • Artistic Tile

  • Brizo

  • Slim Aarons Art


We hired a local stair company to build the stair that served as a focal point of the house. The stair designer was experienced and understood all the nit picky details that were important to me. He was super patient and realized the complexity of the stair. All of the details including the stain of the wood, the details of the metal shoe on the balusters, and the modern profile of the stair nosing were so critical. We think it turned out just right and it's the perfect focal point when you look down the hallway. To see the stairs from every angle, click here!

Featured Sources:

  • Mitzi Lighting

  • Century Stair - Haymarket VA

  • Jonathan Adler lighting

Kids Baths

The kids' baths were fun to design, as they should be. I wanted them to be similar but not exactly the same. If you have boys you know they can be very messy and dirty creatures. So I chose finishes, mirrors, fixtures and vanities that were durable, whimsical, and easy to clean. The larger bath has access from my little guy’s bedroom as well as access from the hall for guests. The smaller bath has access only from my other son's bedroom which gives it a nice sense of privacy. The larger bath has two single vanities placed close together to form one long one vanity and has a white field tile. The smaller bath has just one long vanity and has black field tile. I prefer the black tile myself!

XBox Room

I wanted to provide my kids with a place to play with friends and also provide them with a space away from me. ;).

So, we designed a fun playroom on the 2nd floor with two TVs, a variety of fun seating, a table for games, and a balcony with a great view to the backyard. Among my favorite features of the room is the Ikea pegboard used as installation art to display a wall of colorful Nerf guns.

From the balcony, there are days where I can see my young son playing in the yard as well as my husband relaxing after a long day of yard work. I remember now why we decided to do this whole "let's build a new house project." This makes me smile and reminds me that maybe– just maybe – it was all worth it.

Do you need help with a new build or large reno like this one? Reach out today! Let us help you get into the home you have always dreamed of!

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