If you think loyalty to Baltimore is only a hallmark of our sports fans, consider the backstory on this O Street townhouse in the heart of Georgetown. Baltimore couple Eric and Karen Dickman inherited the tony address with three floors of vintage ’70s furnishings from his parents. They decided to remodel and add a wing to revamp what had been Eric’s boyhood home for their own use. But, get this, they didn’t choose a D.C. designer for the work. Eric, a rural land market manager for the No. 1 homebuilder in the mid-Atlantic, and Karen, a horse owner and trainer, were living in Federal Hill at the time and found what they needed right in their own backyard.
“We researched The Washingtonian’s online list of designers but they didn’t appeal,” says Eric. “There was a fresh quality to using Baltimore talent that overrode the gloss of D.C.”
The design firm they turned to, Amanda Austin Interiors, facilitated what Eric refers to as “a full gut reno with an addition in back for a new kitchen and master bedroom suite above.” D.C. architect Outerbridge Horsey executed the plans and secured approval from the local historic commission.
Right from the start, supervision from Austin and her associates, Jackie Bayer and Sadie Johnson, ensured there were no surprises going forward. “If we hadn’t anticipated where the furniture would go in every room during the bare bones stage,” says Eric, “we would have messed up the room dimensions and incurred expensive change orders later.” Consistency was just the ticket for the busy couple who could review plans with Austin’s firm only a short walk from where they lived in Baltimore. Key to changing the house from Eric’s predictable boyhood home to something he and Karen loved was creating an open but edited plan from the old rooms. Svelte built-in storage helped keep the look clean.
“I worked with Lyndon Sentz of Lyndon Heath Cabinetry in Lancaster, Pa., to personalize the look and function of the built-ins,” says Sadie Johnson who specialized in space planning and furniture layouts. “We used reclaimed barn wood for flooring everywhere because repurposed wood is a warm addition to crisp, contemporary rooms.”
The project holds a special place in both the owners’ and designers’ hearts, as it was one of Amanda Austin’s final projects before her untimely death two years ago. In finishing the design, Jackie Bayer extended Austin’s flair for unusual textures and furnishings.
“Amanda found a great faux alligator-covered coffee table with Eric and Karen in the D.C. Design Center, which inspired her [to place] a similar pattern on large vinyl tiles for a nearby wall,” says Bayer. That graphic look gave Bayer the idea to assemble black-and-white patterns of varying vintage, among them a collection of Wedgewood Basalt ware for the shelves she acquired piece-by-piece from websites. “We saved some of Eric’s family furnishings for interest in the new rooms,” she says. “As they live with them, they decide what to add or subtract.”
Indeed, a home’s design always evolves over time—as do design firms. Bayer and Johnson recently have changed their firm’s name to Emerald Hill Interiors, where they are committed to carrying on Austin’s legacy of providing fresh style and the highest level of service to their clients.
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