November-December 2011 | Bethesda HOME

Room to Grow

Three teenagers get the bedroom makeovers of their dreams

Erica Vassos doesn’t pick up the phone when she’s feeling homesick.

Instead, the DuPaul University sophomore pores over photos of her bedroom back in Potomac.

Eight years ago, Joan and John Vassos moved their family from Olney so that Erica and their three other children could attend the Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac and Landon School in Bethesda.

“We looked at a million different homes but never found anything we liked,” Joan Vassos says. They finally bought a tear-down in Bradley Hills and hired Jim Rill of Rill Architects in Bethesda to rebuild it.

Once the architectural drawings were finalized after about a year, the couple spread the plans across the dining room table and let each child pick a room. At 15, Erica immediately knew she wanted the one with the “cool ceiling and fireplace.”

She already had a vision for the décor: “soft with light pink walls and a touch of flair with splashes of zebra print.” A far cry from her “very frilly” bedroom in Olney “with angels and ribbons all over the walls.”

Joan Vassos began the decorating process by buying black furniture. Erica considered it “a little iffy, [but] we eventually agreed the room might look too candy pink with white furniture,” Joan says. She used two chairs with a bold black-and-white cow print along with a zebra print rug that had been in the den of the old house. Then Erica chose fabric for custom-made bedding: a black, white and hot pink zebra stripe.  

“Although the décor of the room is fun,” Erica says, “the chandelier adds some sophistication. And, of course, the walk-in closet is a must for a teenage girl.”

Joan Vassos didn’t expect her daughter to weigh in on the adjoining bathroom décor, but Erica had a vision for that space, too: a vessel sink, and white tile with black accents. “I could’ve sat in the tile store for hours wondering what to buy,” Joan says. “Erica came right in and picked out the tile. I told her I should take her with me for all the home shopping.”

Now 20, Erica comes home from Chicago once every four to six weeks. During her long winter break, she relaxes in front of a gas fire in the bedroom, watching the Cooking Channel. “It adds a sense of coziness during the winter,” Erica says.

The fireplace, made from western Maryland fieldstone, has just enough detail—including a decorative screen and a wide, white mantel—to make it feminine, Rill says.

“I felt like I lived in a closet freshman year after being in my room for all of high school,” Erica says. “Coming home to the greatest room ever makes the two-hour flights worthwhile.”