Raul and Jean-Marie Fernandez have realized their dream house with the help of Washington architect Anthony Barnes and the interior design firm Solis Betancourt.
An exclusive except from “Essential Elegance: The Interiors of Solis Betancourt”
By Dana Demange
This article is a revised version of a chapter in Jose Solis and Paul Sherrill’s recent book “Essential Elegance: The Interiors of Solis Betancourt” (Monacelli Press).
Reminiscent of the French chateaux of Normandy, the Fernandez residence in Potomac, Maryland, evokes the enchantment and timelessness of a fairy tale. The interiors were inspired by the traditional architecture, but they also contain modern references that provide an overall look of freshness and simplicity. Paul Sherrill and Jose Solis of the interior design firm Solis Betancourt envisioned spaces filled with sunlight and graceful furnishings conducive to elegant entertaining while comfortable and relaxed for family life.
The turreted entry room introduces a romantic spirit. Butter-colored rolled plaster walls and ivy-filled pots lend inviting warmth to the stone floors and stairs of the spare stair hall. An 18th-century Aubusson tapestry brings color to the room while also making a historical and stylistic reference. The wrought-iron sconces, railing, and door handles are a consistent architectural detail throughout the house.
The dining room combines sophistication with an easy luxury. A carefully orchestrated interplay of texture and pattern enriches the setting. Antiqued celadon velvet softens two niches that flank the entrance. Across the room this fabric is repeated in the flowing draperies that frame a series of French doors. A modern interpretation of tapestry, printed velvet with distressed gilt touches, covers the Louis XIII-style chairs. Damask-lined walls create a subdued atmosphere, enlivened by the sparkle of reflective light from the hand-carved mirror, crystal chandelier and sconces.
The delicate pistachio, lilac, and peach accents in the adjoining living room could have sprung from a shimmering Impressionist painting. Floral motifs on the Chinese folding screen and in the paintings are echoed in the silk embroidered draperies. A limestone fireplace dominates the room architecturally while an assortment of glass and ivory colored tables lends a modern sensibility. Chunky sisal carpeting keeps the room casual, as does the aged finish of the fumed Russian white oak flooring used throughout the house.
The spacious kitchen is central to family life. Antiqued strié painted cabinets with stained cane inserts give a rustic feeling to the area as does the v-grooved plank wood ceiling with its light paint wash. In warm weather, meals may be served outdoors on the nearby shaded loggia or adjacent to the pool in front of the guesthouse.
In the library, oak paneling, pilasters and ceiling beams were heavily distressed and rubbed with celadon-colored paint. This pale green subtly reappears in the upholstery fabrics, with tapestry pillows to bring color and pattern to the space. The shelves are lined with a finely woven rust-colored grass cloth to complement a collection of terracotta antiquities, bronze sculptures and leather-bound books. The chandelier and gilded lamps beside the sofa add a dash of contemporary flair.