Architect: David Jones Architects, 1739 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009; 202/332-1200, davidjonesarchitects.com.
Interior designer: David Herchik, JDS Designs Inc., 528 8th St. N.E., Washington, DC 20002; 202/543-8631, jdsdesigns.com.
Photographs by Gordon Beall
Text by Candace Ord Manroe
David Herchik isn't one of those designers whose signature style asserts itself as loquaciously as a Louis Vuitton logo. Look carefully at his work, though, and certain themes emerge. "I'm a big advocate of mixing strong pieces of furniture together, with each piece having its own bold lines that are a blend of both curves and rectilinear motifs," he explains. Proof of that approach is his recent design of a venerable Georgetown home overlooking the Potomac.
Built in 1911 for the two sisters who founded the Georgetown Garden Club, the house has aristocratic bones that demand their due. "The design had to be fitting for the grandeur of the architecture," David confirms. His floor-to-ceiling draperies, rich silk damasks and cut velvets, custom rugs, and oversize lighting, along with a few well-edited antiques, all honor the architecture. "At the same time, I wanted spaces to feel really soft and elegant," he says.
The best means to that end was color. "The palette of yellow-gold, cream, and slate-gray gives the design a soft sophistication," explains David, who used the colors to weave together the large formal living room and the adjoining dining room, repeating the living room draperies' embroidered silk on the dining room walls.
Yet however beautifully executed, color isn't too reliable for revealing whether a design is David's--he is as comfortable wielding intense, saturated hues and jewel tones as he is the softer classics that he used in this home. (One look at the rich garnet walls and bright accompanying hues of the lobby he designed in last year's Washington Design Center Showhouse proves his attitude toward color--it's all about what's appropriate for the location, client, and even his own mood. And BTW: He's contributed to 13 showhouses.)
Because of its articulation of the fluid and the linear in tandem, neoclassical, not surprisingly, is David's favorite design period. "I love it because the pieces really relate to a mixing of the genders--they're not too hard, they're not too fluffy." Neoclassical references appear not only in his residential work, but in most of those 13 showhouse rooms, as well as in his Capsule Collections furniture.
Still, a period purist? Not really. David knows when to let a design chill in the moment, out of 18th-century reach. This home's casual family room is proof. The master bedroom's jazzy, overscale rug motif and its beautifully funky painted-mirror chest reveal yet another truth: David also knows how to let go and just have fun.