Home Life: Fusing Friendship and Design

Anne Hollenbach and Jill Pritchard Ghareeb were sorority sisters. Twenty years later, they were interior designer and client.

by Dara Klatt

Anne and Sam Hollenbach with their children, in the home designed by Anne’s Sorority Sister, Jill Pritchard Ghareeb of JG Lighting & Design

After meeting at their Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at George Mason University,Anne Hollenbach and Jill Pritchard Ghareeb became fast friends and stayed close for two decades – spanning collegiate bashes, after-work happy hours, matrimony, pregnancy, home buying and career building (then career switching).Two decades after their initial Greek life AOPi bonding came the true test: mixing business with friendship.

Anne confided to Jill — a graduate student in interior architecture who had recently ditched her business development job with J.D. Power & Associates — that she was struggling with a cohesive style direction on the new build home that she shared with her husband, Sam Hollenbach. At the same time, Jill hungered to build on her design chops in a “blank canvas” house. The duo talked it through and decided to collaborate but were resolute that friendship took priority over things like roman shades, fluted oak vanities and quartz countertop choices.

The goal that Anne and Sam articulated to Jill was for each room to feel “special” and for their personalities to shine through.“We didn’t want it to be decorated like a ‘model home,’ a space that’s trending and for the majority to love,” Anne notes. “We wanted our home to be who we are.” That meant mixing textiles, prints, colors and materials as well as adding contemporary elements to timeless pieces and thinking through durability factors with young kids with sticky fingers in the house.

Having grown up in the historic charm of New England, in a colonial-styled house filled with of stenciled wallpaper, antique jelly cabinets, dried flowers and mallard figurines, Jill’s taste naturally trended toward the traditional — but with an edge. That would come into play working with her friend Anne, who was laser-focused on her vision and happy to embrace slow design if it meant a more satisfying outcome in the long run.

In one example of patiently waiting until the perfect piece was discovered, Jill had rummaged upon an accent pillow that Anne adored early in the design process. It became a must-have pattern to outfit the formal living room drapery.  For nearly two years, the women hunted “through the ends of the earth” to find an almost identical fabric. “When we landed on it,” Jill says, “it was worth it!”

The dining room is an example of the calm, inviting and sophisticated look that Anne Hollenbach had envisioned. “Jill [Pritchard] curated an attractive and well-balanced assortment that harmonized exceedingly well together,” she says. In this room, a handwoven jute rug by Dash & Albert and a branching bubble chandelier by Vault were selected.

Prior to the “exquisite” pattern find, as Anne would call it, the starter piece of the living room was actually an accent chair with a pole rattan frame and bundled natural abaca rope along the sides. Jill worked with Anne to add a smoked glass and mixed metal drum shape chandelier to illuminate the room. Now, Jill says, “The formal living room is such a stunning representation of the couple and the drapes make the space!”

In another challenge, Anne had inherited her mother and father’s oversized and ornately designed kitchen table and wanted to incorporate it into the design. It had been in the family for decades and was where Anne plopped down to eat at an age when her feet still couldn’t hit the floor. A Kelly Green houndstooth fabric was affixed to the back of the dining chairs to make the set “feel fresh yet still personal” to the family’s history. While a Chicago cityscape wallpaper print by Maya Romanoff was chosen, a hammered metal Harper chandelier was also hung to ornately center the table and give the space “an elevated old world feel.”

“Dark, moody and intimidating is how I would describe this room. You mean business
when you walk in here,” Anne says, referring to the custom cabinetry painted in Benjamin Moore Salamander with Titanium black granite.

Surprisingly perhaps, it wasn’t just the AOPi bond that first brought the women together for the interior design. It was the lighting … and Jill’s husband.

Anne admits, “Lighting was the first initial reason why I reached out to Jill. Her husband, Jon Ghareeb, is in the lighting industry and both are passionate experts when it comes to lighting. ”A licensed electrician and the principal owner of JG Lighting & Design, Jon guided Jill in elevating the Hollenbach’s interior with chandeliers, sconces and task lights. (“I run all of my lighting selections by him before presenting options to a client,” Jill says.“He has incredible taste and often sees different angles of a project that I wouldn’t have thought of.”) In turn, Jill helped educate the Hollenbachs on how color temperature, intensity, location and switches play an important role in creating a perfectly lit space.

From the artful drum-shaped Klaus chandelier by Arteriors and the aged iron and antiqued mercury glass Lorford Sconces to the Hudson Valley Glendale brass pendant light, “Jill brought layers of light into our home,” Anne says.

In a way, isn’t that what friends are for?

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