Classic and contemporary: A traditional Ellicott City home gets a modern update

For Howard Magazine

It was a match made on

In 2015, Ellicott City resident Ann Summers was exploring the popular website where home professionals showcase their work, looking for inspiration for the two-story Colonial home that she and husband Douglas Jarrett bought in 1994.

“Every time I would save something, it was [the work of] Elizabeth Reich in Baltimore, Maryland. So one day I just picked up the phone and called her. She came over and we talked and I loved her ideas and we went from there,” Summers says.

An interior redesign unfolded over the next two years as Reich, a designer at Jenkins Baer Associates in Baltimore, and Summers created a fresh, updated look for the home’s living room, dining room, first-floor master bedroom suite, foyer, study and half-bath.

Summers and Jarrett had repainted, but little else had been updated since the four-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath, 3,900-square-foot home had been built in 1989. A 2008 renovation delivered the couple’s dream kitchen: an open floor plan with ample counter space and an island, perfect for the large family gatherings the couple hosts. But it also left Summers turning a new eye toward the adjacent dining and living rooms.

Key to the home’s new look would be incorporating the traditional, handcrafted furniture and decorative items that Summers and Jarrett had collected.

Reich “was willing to work with what I had. I have some items that are family pieces and … they have meaning to me. Liz worked with them, and that was important to me,” Summers says.

The result is a modern, fresh take on a traditional home.

Reich relied on simple fabrics, using patterns with layers to provide texture. She incorporated new furniture with clean, modern lines. And she mixed simple patterns together, all tactics that tend to make traditional design feel more modern.

Reich started with a few simple construction changes to make the rooms feel larger and provide more natural light in the dining and living rooms. She added small transom windows above the existing windows in the dining room. She raised the height of openings between rooms by two feet.

“Her best idea, really, was raising the two doorways,” Jarrett says. “We have nice [high] ceilings, so this let everything come up.”

Reich also installed half-round molding two inches below the dining room’s existing crown molding and painted it all white, making the crown molding appear much larger.

“It gives it a very impressive feel,” Summers says.

In the dining room, Reich chose blue floor-to-ceiling drapes with a rounded geometric pattern. The walls were painted by Baltimore-based artist Kelly Walker of Artstar Custom Paintworks to look like a royal blue silk wallpaper.

The room’s existing furniture, a traditional hutch, chairs and a table, remained.

A sisal rug softens the dining room’s formality. A modern giclée print, which Summers bought from the online art dealer Horchow, plays off the blue tones in the room.

“The modern piece of art behind the table gave the room a nice juxtaposition,” Reich says. “I like to find balance in a space by using something that’s not necessarily expected.”

It’s a theme repeated in all the rooms, and ultimately it helped shift the way Summers and Jarrett use the updated spaces.

The living room had become dated and less used with time.

Reich installed picture-frame molding to create a traditional feel and painted the room a light pewter. This provides a muted backdrop for the room’s signature item: floor-to-ceiling drapes of alternating slate blue solid panels and white geometric patterns.

“One of the secrets is you have to look at a room and think of what you want to be the standout,” Reich says. Throughout the home, she and Summers would “work an entire room around something that would get us excited,” Reich says.

A navy blue velvet couch, a round side table and the baby grand piano, once played by the younger of the couple’s two grown daughters, stayed in the room.

Two soft brown leather tufted chairs by Oly Studio softened the room’s existing traditional furniture.

The living room is Jarrett’s favorite: He often uses one of the leather chairs for reading. The changes created a relaxing, light-filled space and a comfortable entertaining area that Summers and Jarrett use more often.

Reich’s redesign also changed the way the couple uses the first-floor master bedroom, which sits off the dining room.

They kept their original bedroom furniture, though Reich rearranged it. She chose a dark beige color for the wall and updated the bed linens to make the room feel more intimate.

She added additional seating to the room, something it had lacked before. An oversized sofa chair on one side of the bed often draws Jarrett for reading or relaxing.

A bay window, empty before, now holds a Hickory Chair vanity with an interlocking circle pattern in bas relief, a feature Summers uses daily. Another sofa chair also helps fill out this previously unused space.

Changes to the home’s study didn’t change its use — Summers works from home at least once a week in her role as a technology manager in enterprise data at Wells Fargo — but it did become Summers’ favorite room soon after its completion last year.

The room’s unique wallpaper, a charcoal-colored textured pattern of cumulus clouds, is Summers’ and Reich’s favorite decorative finish.

But, Summers says, “what’s really wonderful about this room is there are so many work stations.”

A floor-to-ceiling custom-made cabinet in a ceruse oak finish, which gives it a slightly weathered look, provides storage space and a spot for her computer. She can spread out papers on the clean-line, mid-century-inspired desk by Julian Chichester, which sits in front of the cabinet. Its vellum finish provides durability. A third computer workstation sits in what used to be the room’s closet. A chair and small table to the side of the room provides another place to sit.

The room’s signature is a distinctive modern antique brass-and-glass chandelier from O’lampia Lighting. Its arms reach out at odd angles and varying lengths from the base, and not all the glass globes are the same.

“It looks really fresh to put a modern fixture in a more traditional space,” Reich says. “I like throwing lots of beautiful things together.”

The refinished half-bath next to the study is a testament to this approach. Reich created the marble sink, which sits on a simply styled brass stand, from a remnant. The metallic finishes draw the eye, from the wall custom painted to resemble marble stone tiles to the metallic silver painted ceiling.

In the two-story foyer, Reich placed a new marble top on an existing black chest of drawers. She placed an abstract glass lamp and a mirrored tray on top.

“Little things like that, you can switch up in your space to give them a whole new feel,” Reich says.

As the five-room redesign wrapped, Summers started eyeing the next round of rooms ready for a refresh. With their youngest daughter out of the house, her room could use a design along with new furniture before out-of-town family visit for Thanksgiving. And the family room, which suited Summers until she looked around with fresh eyes post-redesign, could use a fresh coat of paint and some furniture updates.

She will turn to Reich once again for help in creating a modern traditional vibe throughout.

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