7 good reasons why building a new luxury home was the answer for one family

Balancing practical family needs with a luxury look and feel, this Washington DC new build gets it just right – inside and out

landscaped approach to arched front door with clipped box balls and grey slate walls and steps white rendered house
(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

Sometimes when you know exactly what you want from a home, it's better to start from scratch. The owners of this newly built house certainly felt that way – they'd been looking for the right property for over a year without success. So when they found an imperfect house on a perfect plot in the exclusive Forest Hills neighborhood of Washington DC, they decided to tear it down and start again. 

With the help of architects, landscape architects and an interior designer they were at last able to create their dream forever home. 

The results speak for themselves. The elegant architecture, luxury finishes and bespoke design details, inside and out, all come together to create a very special living space – it truly is one of the world's best homes

A new home with period details – and an impressive front yard

large white rendered house with arched front door and landscaped path and mature trees around

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

A special home needs an impressive front yard. And there are many inspired front yard landscaping ideas here worth a mention. 

The homeowners asked Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture to design the exterior spaces to make the most of the lot – and give them that wow factor on the approach to the house. Joseph Richardson explains the thinking behind his front yard designs: 'The steep ascent to the formal front entry is eased by pavers leading to landings that step up to the entrance. Layers of plantings – boxwood, oak leaf hydrangea, hollies, and rhododendron – are in keeping with the cultivated suburban neighborhood.'

From first sight, as you approach the house, its architectural style references to older homes become apparent. The details in the brickwork, the limewashed finish combined with timber clad gables, and elegant arches that are continued to the interiors, all echo elements of historic homes in the neighborhood and help this new build settle well in its surroundings.

'When you look closely,' says architect Patrick Cooke of Thomson & Cooke, 'you can see the influence of older city architecture mixed with exciting new forms and details. The clients' must-have was to build something that reflected the next generation of their time in the city – a house that they could grow into and that would reflect their personality. Traditional influences balanced by a more relaxed family environment.' 

1. Imposing entrance hall

hall with monochrome tiled floor and black arched double front door with modern chandelier above

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

Step inside and the grandeur of scale in the entrance foyer is impressive. Anyone in search of hallway ideas, couldn't fail to be inspired by this space, and what interior designer Ali Budd terms 'a really beautiful classic moment with a black and white marble chequered floor and paneled archway (with hidden storage!).'
The chandelier is the Tricia Chandelier in pale brass from Arteriors

Patrick Cooke explains the concept behind the floor plan emanating from this cenral foyer. 'We were influenced by great older houses in the city that have both large scale entertaining spaces but also intimate scaled family spaces.  We drew inspiration from older houses with defined rooms and careful order and alignments of public and private spaces. We always knew we wanted a house with rooms instead of an open expansive floor plan,' he says.

2. Fun-filled family living room

family living room viewed through arched doorway with contemporary club chairs and white display shelves grey sofa

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

Straight off the hallway is the family room. As the room also leads onto the kitchen, the walls and furnishings are kept to a simple white/off-white palette. However, bright highlights inject fun and keep things informal. If you're looking for family room ideas you'll find inspiration in this space. 

display shelving by doorway to white kitchen with marble splashback

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

Ali Budd explains what inspired her to create this look. 'We were working with a really large space so we ultimately created two different seating zones in the space to break it up and make it more functional for both lounging, entertaining, and watching TV. We have millwork on either end of the space and one of our starting points with the design was the blue grasscloth wallpaper behind the built in. We went through thousands of blue wallpaper samples to find the perfect three bright blue wallpapers to give an ombre effect and add a pop of color.' 

3. Kitchen for entertaining

kitchen with marble surfaces and double islands with matching Belfast sinks with contemporary pendant lighting above and range cooker

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

Why have just one kitchen island and one Belfast sink when you can have two of each? This luxe kitchen layout has more than enough space to double up and the twin islands give a pleasing symmetry. If you're in the market for kitchen ideas there is plenty of inspiration in this room, even if you're not seeing double! 

'The kitchen was designed around both social space with two islands (ideal for larger gatherings) and also a dedicated space for the family table. The rooms all visually connect with one another through aligning openings but they maintain their own identity and privacy from one space to another,' explains architect Patrick Cooke. 

Interior designer Ali Budd adds, 'We love designing a good kitchen and this one was no exception with the double islands and bespoke burnished brass hood, Waterworks brass fixtures and Lacanche range in a dark inky green. Again, we kept the millwork classic with a mix of white oak and lacquered white Shaker millwork but brought in a more edgy element with the Roll & Hill Shape Up chandeliers that we installed mirrored above each island. There's no shortage of storage in this kitchen, with full height millwork flanking either side of the opening to the hall, two islands with storage, and drawer space on either side of the range.'

4. Space in the kitchen for family meals

breakfast nook in kitchen corner with round table and black light above with french doors onto garden

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

This bright corner of the kitchen was the perfect spot for informal family mealtimes, although the smart table and elegant overhead light continue the luxury spec of the rest of the kitchen even in this less formal space. 'We wanted to keep this space really simple and airy,' explains Ali Budd. 'There are windows on three sides that look out to the backyard and this space was all about those views.' The dining table is Restoration Hardware’s Aero Dining table.

5. Formal dining room with bespoke pieces

dining space with inlaid patterned table and black chairs contemporary chandeliers and traditional style fireplace with artwork above

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

In the dedicated dining room the luxury finishes move up a notch. Chevron floors with a brass border, and a traditionally styled fireplace mix with some more edgy furniture selections and statement lighting – these are the key dining room ideas here. Ali Budd Interiors designed the bespoke inlaid table with a geometric pattern of black, white and pale oak. The adjustable height light above the table is from RBW Lighting. Ali Budd adds: 'We were so excited to use the pink glass Orbe Sconces by Patrick Naggar from The Future Perfect to frame out either end of the large arched window.'

6. Gloss walls and paneled ceilings give the den a touch of luxury

doorway to formal living room with dark walls and light wood paneled ceiling view to fireplace

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

'The clients wanted this space to have a darker and moodier vibe fit for entertaining and as a retreat for the adults,' explains Ali Budd. 'We lacquered all of the walls in a high gloss finish in a rich dark blue, mixed in some warmth with the oak beams and paneling on the celling and added an extra hit of color in some of the furniture choices.'

7. Backyard fireplace for socializing and family times 

outdoor seating space with white sofas and contemporary pizza oven with wall and mature trees around

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

Let's hand back to landscape architect Joseph Richardson for the rationale behind one of its most surprising features. The clients had wanted an outdoor fireplace, complete with built-in televison and a lawn alongside where the children could play. 

'The fireplace was customized and designed to fit into an angled wall which lined the edge of the property,' explains Joseph. 'It houses a 55 inch TV, has a place for wood storage and boasts a herringbone pattern brick in the firebox.'    

Together with a large outdoor dining space to seat 12, and additional seating spaces, the luxury finishes are just as strong outside as they are inside this remarkable home. 

back of white rendered house with arched windows and long outside table with multicolored chairs

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

white rendered house with black clad end gable with mature trees around

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)
Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.