Veranda, January, 2010
J U S T O U T S I D E W A S H I N G T O N , D. C .
INTERIOR DESIGN BY SUE BURGESS ARCHITECTURE BY GLENN CHEN FONG
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GORDON BEALL
PRODUCED BY RICH MICHELS TEXT BY LINDA E. CLOPTON
11/18/09 5:12:16 PM
11/18/09 5:12:19 PM
THEY’VE GOT GREAT LEGS IN BETHESDA, MARYLAND,
AND THEY CAN THANK DESIGNER SUE BURGESS
OF CHEVY CHASE. IT’S PART OF HER SIGNATURE
uncluttered style to mix the practical with the
chic. “I’m comfortable with a leggy room,” she
explains. “Leaving chairs and sofas unskirted
gives airiness and lightness to a space, and that
creates a background of serenity.”
Serenity. A valuable asset in a busy world,
especially just outside our nation’s capital.
The desire for a sophisticated, soothing sanctuary resonates with a husband and wife whose
previous house Burgess had decorated. When
they decided to build a smaller home, they called
on her as soon as they received the plans. “I love
Sue’s style,” the wife says. “She’s into neutrals like
I am. I wanted this house to be cozy and comfortable but with beautiful appointments—custom
An espresso front door and entry floor of French
limestone from Paris Ceramics set the tone at a Maryland
home with interiors by Sue Burgess. Cowtan & Tout linen-cotton
on Minton-Spidell benches. Antique table. Custom mirror and
railing. Stark stair runner. TOP AND RIGHT: Brunschwig & Fils fabric
on Baker sofa; Malabar silk on pillows. Worlds Away floor
lamps. Stools from Gore Dean as tables. Hinson & Co. fabric on
vintage chairs. Donghia vase on Formations fireplace surround.
Vintage mirror. Langhorne Carpet Company rug. Currey & Co.
chandelier. Scalamandré trim on Cowtan & Tout silk at windows.
11/18/09 5:12:25 PM
11/18/09 5:12:30 PM
11/18/09 5:12:35 PM
11/18/09 5:12:41 PM
touches like nice moldings and wide doors.”
Involved from the ground up, Burgess relied
on her experienced eye for composition and
refinement. She changed the location of the staircase. She added coffers and crowns, twelve-inch
baseboards and elegant finishes such as glazed
walls. “Subtle glazing gives depth to a space,” the
designer explains. “You can’t achieve that with
just straight painting.”
On the practical side, Burgess created large
storage areas near the kitchen. “The walls are
very thick there because of back-to-back fireplaces, so it made sense to use this for floor-toceiling shelving. Women would kill to have that
kind of storage space,” she says with a laugh.
As for ambiance, the entry sets the tone. The
French off-white limestone floor introduces the
home’s subdued palette. This marriage of style
and practicality continues throughout in simple
window treatments and those “leggy” interiors.
“The client has dogs, and they, as well as men’s
shoes, are hard on skirted upholstery.”
For the hub of the house—the kitchen—the
wife wanted the floors to look old, so Burgess
chose hand-scraped wide planking. “My dogs
are in the kitchen a lot,” says the wife, “so when
their nails scratch the floor, I don’t care. The more
scuffed up the patina gets, the better it looks.”
Despite the serene background of the rooms,
Burgess designed a few surprises for dramatic
effect: “We’re such creatures of habit, we need to
test ourselves a bit.” Case in point: She painted
the dining room walls a rich chocolate brown.
The look stimulates both appetite and conversation yet stays in sync with the neutral palette.
Many furnishings came from the couple’s
former home and took on new personas with
fresh upholstery. A few well-chosen accessories
enhance the decor without dominating it. “It’s
easy to get carried away with the small things,”
Burgess says, “but you need an overall balance.
If you’re pleased visually, you feel comfortable.”
The homeowners agree. “I find it very soothing here, very easy to live with,” says the wife.
“Sue has such elegant taste that building this
house was a labor of love.”
PRECEDING PAGES: Nancy Corzine chairs in Country Swedish fabric. Niermann Weeks table, sconces and chandelier.
French antique lamps. Mirror Fair mirror. Pierre Frey viscose-linen for draperies; Samuel & Sons trim. Asmara rug.
TOP AND RIGHT: Glant linen-cotton for headboard and bedskirt. Nancy Corzine silk-cotton on pillows. Rose Cumming
silk with Samuel & Sons banding at windows. Vaughan lamp. Baker sofa in Fonthill cotton; pillows in Pierre Frey
cotton-viscose; Houlès trim. Speer Collectibles table with mirror top. Pierre Frey cotton on vintage chairs. Vaughan
chandelier. Stark rug. ABOVE: Waterworks tub and faucetry. Global Views table. Larsen silk at windows.
11/19/09 1:29:29 PM
11/18/09 5:12:54 PM
ABOVE AND RIGHT:
R. Jones & Associates sofas in Niermann Weeks mohair;
pillows in Rose Cumming silk noil. Niermann Weeks sculpture and Vaughan
lamps on table by David Iatesta. Vintage mirror. Rose Tarlow-Melrose House
chair in Highland Court fabric. Carole Gratale Incorporated coffee table.
Draperies in Cowtan & Tout fabric. Fireplace surround and light fixture, both
by Formations. Patterson, Flynn & Martin rug. BELOW: Dessin Fournir chandelier.
Dennis & Leen table and chairs, upholstered in Classic Cloth linen-wool.
11/18/09 5:12:59 PM
11/18/09 5:13:03 PM
“ T H I S A I RY K I TC H E N H A S G R E AT F L OW F O R
F A M I L Y, F R I E N D S A N D T H E D O G S.”
11/18/09 5:13:08 PM
Wood-Mode cabinetry. Classic Floor Designs wide oak
planking. Waterworks sinks and faucetry. Wolf stove and
hood. Chameleon Fine Lighting pendants. Dishwasher by
Miele. Fabric for shades and banding fabric, repeated
on La Forge Française Ltd. stools, both by Cowtan & Tout.
11/18/09 5:13:12 PM