The Dining Room
Interior designer Lana Barth thinks the term “eclectic” has been overused when it comes to describing home design. So she defines her style as “whatever I like.”
And the colorful, contemporary elements that Barth likes fill the town house that she and her husband, George Rothman, bought nine years ago near the intersection of Democracy Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.
Barth, with a background in fine arts and interior design, likes to mix works by contemporary artists with repurposed items. In her dining room, a traditional rectangular side table originally belonging to Rothman’s mother was remade by Bodil Meleney, a Takoma Park artist who created the dozen Poetry Benches situated along the Bethesda Circulator route in downtown Bethesda.
The table legs now end in four human feet carved from wood. Meleney attached human hands, also carved from wood, to the inside of the tops of the table’s legs. The hands hold the lines that support a wooden hammock and reclining woman. “If you untied either one of the lines, the poor woman would fall to the floor,” Barth says.
Meleney also crafted the room’s red and blue “Democrat” and “Republican” armchairs—with wooden elephant heads on the arms of one, and donkey heads on the other—and redesigned the glass dining table, now supported by repurposed drainpipes.
The couple’s frequent guests gravitate toward Gretchen, the mannequin that Barth and her husband discovered in a Virginia store 12 years ago. “We decided to buy her, and then George picked her up when I was out of town because she took up so much space in our little car,” Barth says. “When I came home, she was sitting in the dining room dressed in some of my old clothes from the ’70s.”
Barth, who describes her home as “ever evolving,” is the rare designer who finds working on her own home easier than working for clients.
“In my house, I can take it as far as I want to,” she says. “A lot of times clients in this area are afraid to push themselves. They just won’t try new things.”
All of her clients have to find their personal style, she says. “In the end, when I leave, they have to be comfortable in their own homes.”