Home Life: On the Waterfront

by Virginia Coyne

Washington power couple Amy and Tripp Donnelly unwind at their contemporary creekside residence in Easton, Maryland. 

Amy and Tripp Donnelly and their son Finn stand on the dock leading to Hunting Creek outside their Easton, Md. home. The Hinckley yacht behind them is part of a fleet belonging to the nearby Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond.

They’re the quintessential Washington power couple – he’s the founder and CEO of REQ, a brand management marketing company whose clients include Amazon, eBay and Sweetgreen; she is a partner at the law firm Arent Fox, where she focuses on mergers, acquisitions and licensing, for multimillion-dollar businesses and sports franchises, including Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Tripp and Amy Donnelly are also philanthropically involved with several charities, including Children’s Hospital, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Sibley Hospital Foundation.

When the busy duo needs a break from their taxing schedules, they (along with their seven-year-old son, Finn) retreat to their weekend home on Hunting Creek in historic Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “As soon as you cross the Bay Bridge your blood pressure just drops and you can relax,” Amy Donnelly says. “It’s so peaceful to be out here, and that’s really what we love about the area.”

The previous owner expanded and modernized the structure originally built in 1981, to include large doors and windows facing the pool and the creek beyond it

Slip-covered sofas and chairs by Restoration Hardware surround the fireplace in the living room. The ceiling is maple, one of 12 different types of wood in the house.

The Donnellys purchased the five-acre, six-bedroom property, which they’ve named “Southwind,” in 2016. They know the area well as they’d visited friends there for years. They also knew they wanted to be on the water (Tripp grew up sailing with his father on the Bay) but were surprised to find that many of the houses for sale were traditional center hall Colonials that lacked water-facing views.

When they came across the cedar-roofed house with a contemporary, open layout and views of the creek from nearly every room, the couple was immediately smitten.

The previous owners had undertaken a significant renovation of the property in the early 2000s, hiring the acclaimed Seattle-based interior designer Terry Hunziker, renowned for his collaborative approach to working with builders, lighting designers, landscapers and artisans, to spearhead the project. Hunziker’s signature is simple: holistic layouts that bring the outside in. To that end, he designed large windows and doors to enhance the views and filled the house with a dozen types of wood – flawless maple ceilings, 100-year-old pecky cypress beams in the dining room, rich lacewood in the den and nautical teak in the kitchen.

100-year-old pecky cypress beams were added to the dining room ceiling during the renovation. The table and chairs are by Restoration Hardware. The kitchen cabinetry was crafted locally out of nautical teak.

Tripp Donnelly says it was such attention to detail that ultimately sold them on the property. “We fell in love with the house when we learned someone before us had spent years thinking through where the dining room should be, for example, or what type of wood should be used in each room.”

The Donnellys commissioned carpenters from the Amish Market in Easton to create a custom nine-foot waterfall sideboard. “Ipanema,” a work by Canadian-born artist Parvez Taj hangs above it. Coffee table books showcasing photographs by Tripp’s favorite photographer, Slim Aarons, sit on the tabletop. Tim Law, proprietor of home goods store American Holiday in St. Michaels, helped source the lamps and ottomans based on similar pieces Amy had seen in a magazine.

Most of the custom Hunziker-designed furniture was not left behind by the previous residents, save for a sectional in the den. The Donnellys wanted to mirror the original pieces and found a Restoration Hardware sofa and armchairs similar to Hunziker’s to place around the fireplace in the living room, just as the designer had done. For help with accent pieces and artwork, the couple looked to District-based designer Lauren Rakowsky; Jamie Merida, of Bountiful Interiors in Easton; and Tim Law of American Holiday in St. Michaels. Tripp Donnelly’s collection of coffee table books, including several featuring the work of Slim Aarons, known for his mid-century society photographs (many of them pool and beachside), fill the bookcases and tabletops. Much of the blue-hued artwork on the walls depict shorelines and sailboats, further enforcing the aquatic theme.

When not inside the house, the Donnellys are creating their own memories on the water – fishing with their son or boating with friends to the nearby Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels for a dockside meal and of a bottle (or two) of rosé.

The den features a custom-designed sectional by interior designer Terry Hunziker. District-based designer Lauren Rakowsky helped accessorize the lacewood bookcases.

The office nook outside the master bedroom boasts water views.

Published in our June 2018 issue. 

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