Designing for yourself: Del Ray homeowners lean into the process and love the product

Designing for yourself: Del Ray homeowners lean into the process and love the product
Black kitchen cabinets are softened with a natural stone backsplash.(Photo/NovaSoul Imagery/Marks-Woods)

By Kaitlin Murphy

Homeowner Jamie Nolan and her husband purchased their 1940’s brick duplex in Del Ray in 2017. The location and deep yard were big factors in the purchase with the intent to renovate in the future. The 1,220 square foot two-bedroom, two-bath home was renovated in 2012 with upgraded electrical and plumbing, so the Nolans had a great canvas to start their project.

As they considered improving their space for three people and a dog, they settled on expanding the first floor with a rear addition to provide more space and storage as well as an expanded kitchen. The desire to entertain led to an open-concept design, including a large gathering area and the addition of a small powder room. Their plans for the space required an expansion of 15 feet from the back of the house into the existing yard.

Once they met with the design team at Marks-Woods Construction Services, they soon realized that the entire home would need to be renovated to fully improve their space. In addition to the first-floor expansion, the Nolans identified a need for a primary suite with an attached bathroom, a larger secondary bedroom and a separate office on the second floor.

While the floor plan reconfigured the footprint of the home, Nolan developed her own curated vision board of design inspiration that she had compiled over the years. Lots of dramatic colors, mixed metals and different materials complemented the space and outlined what they wanted. It was a great jumping-off point for the project.

“We love Del Ray and anything we can do to make our home work long term for us is worth it,” Nolan said.

During the design and permitting phase, they found out that the yard was a nonconforming lot, which dictates how close you can build from the property line. Under the current zoning conditions, the design would not align with the rules so extra permits were required.

The contractors had to go to the Board of Zoning Appeals to seek approvals on the alignment of the proposed additions with the current house. The project experienced additional delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain delays for items like the windows and cabinetry added to longer lead time which had to be taken into consideration for the project.

During the renovation and construction, Nolan leaned into the designs and took numerous bold risks. Inspired by Parisian kitchens, the homeowners put on their own spin.

For instance, the kitchen cabinets are black along the perimeter of the room but wood tones are used on the center island, which, along with the natural stone backsplash, soften the view. Fun elements include vertical picket tiles which create the illusion of a taller space while mixed metals of brass and chrome give the area a timeless look.

This unusual pairing works well as the lighting allows for dramatic finishes while the other color choices stand out. For a bit of whimsy to counter the sophistication of the kitchen, the adjacent powder room pops with color and animal print wallpaper.

These design elements carry throughout the rest of the house and the second floor also offers some personalized and bold features.

“My favorite space is my office,” Nolan said. She selected a rich plum color paint for the walls and the ceiling is wallpapered with a cloud print. Bringing a little bit of the outside in, Nolan added a bird feeder to her office window. All the choices, decor and art work reflect her personality.

Prior to the renovation, Nolan had been working in a small corner of the home’s basement. Creating an office for herself has been meaningful.

“I created the space and the final product has really been great. It was an excellent investment of space for us,” she said.

Danielle Steele served as the lead designer for the Nolans and agreed that Nolan knew what she was doing.

“Clients should always design for themselves,” Steele said.

The family’s daughter has her own favorite detail that she loves to touch and include on any tour of the family home. The penguin print wallpaper in her room is visually appealing and the fuzzy texture is irresistible.

The back yard had a makeover as well. To replace a deck that was removed when the back of the house was expanded, they had a sustainable brick patio installed. The bricks sourced for this project were reclaimed from Old Town, which was a way to honor the family’s connection to the history and fabric of the community.

A new balcony off the primary bedroom on the second floor has a railing that serves as a hanging spot for red geraniums, which is another nod to Nolan’s Parisian design influences.

Nolan offered advice to future homeowners looking to undertake a renovation and expansion “Take more risks. Take one room and go bolder. Always go with your gut instinct and it will all work out.”

The bold design choices won two awards with the Professional Remodeling Organization, a group that represents residential, commercial and general remodeling contractors.

“Goes to show, when you have a client that likes to get involved and takes some risks, the sky is the limit,” Greg Marks, director of business development for Marks-Woods, said.

After the renovation, the Nolans ended up with the home of their dreams. They now have plans underway to renovate their outdoor space.