When Aly Jacobs, a former morning radio host at D.C.’s country station, 98.7 WMZQ-FM, and her husband, Matt Leydig, a commercial real estate executive at EagleBank, were expecting their first child in 2015, they decided to move from the District’s U Street Corridor to Bethesda. They wanted to be closer to their work, Jacobs in Rockville and Leydig in Bethesda. They wanted a larger home with a backyard. And they wanted a family-friendly community where they could raise their son, Sam, who’s now 1½.
In the breakfast nook, Restoration Hardware chairs upholstered in an indoor-outdoor fabric surround a reclaimed wood farmhouse table from Arhaus. A traditional country lantern by Visual Comfort in an overscale size makes the table feel more contemporary. The linen curtains from Elizabeth Eakins feature a geometric pattern and are trimmed with a navy band to add a touch of sophistication.
The couple found a teardown in downtown Bethesda and began to plan what Jacobs calls their “forever” home. As architectural plans were being finalized and implemented by M.A. Builders in Kensington, Bethesda-based interior designer Erica Burns managed the selection of materials, helped design the kitchen and bathrooms, and chose lighting, hardware and finishes.
The resulting six-bedroom, colonial-style home is befitting to the neighborhood and features an open floor plan, with more formal rooms in the front and a great room in the back.
Aly Jacobs (pictured with her son, Sam, and dog, Izzy) loves to entertain in her new home. “The kitchen is all white and crisp,” Erica Burns says of the inset cabinetry from Reico Kitchen & Bath in Bethesda. “I chose a textured, handmade subway tile for the backsplash. If you’re doing white on white, add texture so it doesn’t fall flat.” The tile is by Architectural Ceramics. The kitchen hardware is polished nickel, contrasting with oil-rubbed bronze fixtures used elsewhere in the home.
“I love the open feel of it,” Jacobs says. “It’s such a comfortable home to raise a family in. We’re together, but everyone has their own space, too, whether a man cave or playroom.” She adds, “Coming from D.C., where Matt and I shared a closet and sink, it feels really good to have separate vanities and our own closets in the master suite.”
Other architectural features include 10-foot ceilings; dark brown, wide-plank stained wood floors; and sliding glass doors in the great room that open onto a screened-in porch.
Jane Churchill linen drapes with fringed appliqué periwinkle dots are playful yet sophisticated in the formal dining room. The carved-wood Swedish-style chairs from Bliss Home are gray-washed and upholstered in purple Schumacher velvet. A dramatic brass lantern from Visual Comfort hangs above the table. The custom-cut Fibreworks carpet is made of banded sisal.
“[The couple] knew what they wanted when it came to design,” Burns says. “They both love to entertain, and host family and friends. Matt is definitely more traditional, and Aly, who likes patterns and color, is more on trend. My job was to bridge the two of them.”
For the color palette, the couple went with greiges (a blend of gray and beige), blues and purples, similar to choices in their D.C. house, but, Jacobs says, “This time around we wanted the furniture to function for kids, too.”
The white, gold-tipped metal mirror comes from Carvers’ Guild. Traditional buffet lamps with Greek key-inspired bases have ruched Quadrille shades and sit atop a custom-lacquered gray china cabinet. The silk wallpaper is by Phillip Jeffries.
Burns took the family into account with her selections. The kitchen has stain-resistant quartz counters; the great room sofas are navy, with machine-washable cushions; and even the chaise in the dining room is upholstered in a durable Sunbrella fabric, and it’s become Izzy the dog’s favorite perch.
Furnishings are even practical in the front of the house, where things get more formal. “In the dining room, we did this pretty light-blue silk wallpaper that’s dressy, but we installed it above the chair rail to avoid little handprints,” Burns explains.
An updated Rogers & Goffigon plaid on a pair of CR Laine swivel chairs combines the home’s palette of greiges, blues and purples. An oversize 4-by-4-foot painted coffee table from Tritter Feefer provides a place for adults to put up their feet or for kids to work on a puzzle.
The dining room also features a round, custom-made 84-inch table that comfortably seats eight people. It can be expanded into an oval to accommodate up to 12 people.
“One of our favorite things became the dining table,” Jacobs says. “[Burns] knows I like to entertain, so she said, ‘Why not a circle?’ We hosted our first dinner party a couple of months after moving in. Everyone was talking across the table to each other.”
In the living room, navy grass cloth wraps a built-in custom bookshelf. An antique mirror that reflects the dining room across the center hall is joined in the niche by a scallop-backed CR Laine sofa that shows off gray fabric-wrapped button trim on its cream-colored Sunbrella upholstery. The side chairs are upholstered in an overscale Schumacher botanical print in blues and purples. Custom throw pillows include a Holland & Sherry wool bouclé, while square ottomans in a Pindler fabric sit in front of an Aidan Gray coffee table. Light fixtures include a pair of whimsical porcelain tassel sconces by Coleen & Co.
The living room, also in the front of the house, is a space that became a decorative standout. “It was a large, boxy room with a long wall that had no windows or doors on it,” Burns recalls. “I thought it would be a great place to do an interesting built-in, so we did a clean-lined one, with shelving and cabinets, and even an inset for a sofa. Then we wrapped the bookcases in grass cloth. It’s functional, while adding warmth and character.” A patterned, tone-on-tone pearlescent wallpaper covers the remaining living room walls, adding a touch of glamour.
In the master bedroom, a pair of brass swivel lamps and roomy night chests sandwich a platform bed. A plush blue-green chenille bench sits at the base of the bed, and a pair of armchairs and an ottoman occupy a seating niche.
The master bedroom walls are finished in a neutral paper-weave covering from Thibaut, with the sitting niche defined by contrasting geometric wallpaper from Stroheim. A scalloped linen shade on the chandelier casts a soft light at night, and the ceiling glows in the palest of sky blues during the day. Painted night chests from Pottery Barn provide storage.
“I wanted to pick timeless silhouettes, classical pieces, and durable, user-friendly materials that could handle the wear and tear of a growing family,” Burns says.
Writer Charlotte Safavi lives in Alexandria, Virginia.