Great Room Remodel in Washington, DC: Pt 2

A Cleveland Park Townhouse Gets a Great Room Makeover

Great Room Remodeling

In part two of this great room remodeling blog series, we continue to discuss what the project entailed (if you missed part one, be sure to read it!).

Fireplace Wall Gets New Design

The 21 foot tall tower of brick at the fireplace wall was not a proper design solution. The brick chimney mass projected 24 inches from the wall and rose to the ceiling where the brick corbelled out in a feeble attempt at architectural detail. We decided to eliminate the brick, and the wood burning fireplace was easily converted to a gas log.

To create an appealing design, it was decided to fur out and clad over the brick in new drywall with a stone face. To keep the mass of the chimney minimal, the old corbel bricks were cut off, which allowed us to create a new crisp rectangular form from floor to ceiling. With a bit of research, we selected an appropriate stone, Silver Travertine, for the new facing and hearth. Installed with its grain horizontally, it helps offset the vertical dominance of the room.

Careful elevation studies helped us determine the stone face of the fireplace should be 13 feet. To avoid the clunky intersection of wood baseboard with travertine marble, an unobtrusive recessed metal base was detailed. In addition, the stone slabs are set off by being recessed 2 inches back from the face of the drywall, allowing each material to enhance the other with the articulation of a plane change. The new facing of drywall and travertine conceals the old brick, and provides an elegant material, sophisticated intersections, and ideal proportions for the great room.

New Balcony Wall Receives Harmony

One of the messy features of the space was the interior wall with its four differently sized openings. Nothing was organized or harmonized. The rear living room was built with a two story volume space (ceilings were 21 inches high). The upper level dining room was built with the intention to overlook the great room. However, the builder’s poor design of the dining room’s two upper balconies had a solid 36 inch high wall, and upon that was another 36 inch high picket railing. From above, one could not experience the sense of space or view intended. From the great room, the wall appeared a jumble of punched openings.

Living Room Remodel

The first design priority was to make sense of the varied openings and silly railings. It was decided to cut the openings down to floor level and make the widths of the openings align at the first and second floor. Within the resized openings, new metal railings were installed to enhance a proper balcony experience from the upper level dining room. Oak flooring finishes and oak nosing complete the detail for the new openings. Now, when one takes a step back to look up at the balconies, the wall, with its four openings, makes sense.

Check back soon—part 3 of this great room remodel spotlight is coming next, with information about the remodel itself and the award Wentworth won!

“ Hi, Bruce,
I look forward to your articles in Chevy Chase Village Life -- I love bungalows so I immediately read the article in the latest issue that arrived yesterday (as your team was here planning for the photo shoot). I also liked the Sponsor Spotlight this month -- featuring your company. Is it possible to get a reprint or link to your article on porches that appeared recently? I would love to add one to our NC beach home, but so far no one has been able to figure out how to get access from the inside to the outside! I know my sister would love to see the article too. Thanks for ALL of your amazing work. I hope you will feel free (and confident) to use us as references. The only hard part will be communicating what an outstanding job -- beyond our high expectations -- your team did for us. We are demanding, but your team is more demanding in the excellence that they deliver. ”

Linda, Chevy Chase, MD