Classically Modern Living Room

Modernism gracefully collides with elegance in the formal living room of this historic Georgian Revival designed by J Allen.
White Living Room With Purple Sofas

White Living Room With Purple Sofas

The homeowners needed tons of seating for entertaining large groups. Designer J Allen provides plenty of seating with long, streamlined couches that don't clutter the space. Two sets of nesting tables add extra surface area for parties, but can also be stored away when not needed.

For this Washington, D.C., project, J. Allen combines modern furnishings with traditional architectural details to create a formal living room. We caught up with Allen to find out how she mixed the two styles and created the entertaining space that the homeowners desired.

Describe the homeowners' wishlist.

The homeowners of the 1923 Georgian Revival wanted to highlight the character of the home and incorporate more modern elements. They required multiple areas for conversation and entertaining.

Formal yet Modern Living Room

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Before: Empty Space

The 1923 Georgian Revival living room features beautiful architecture that the homeowners want to highlight, as well as create a comfy, modern space for entertaining.

From: J. Allen

After: Made for Entertaining

The homeowners needed tons of seating for entertaining large groups. Designer J Allen provides plenty of seating with long, streamlined couches that don't clutter the space. Two sets of nesting tables add extra surface area for parties, but can also be stored away when not needed.

From: J. Allen

Warm Sitting Area

Two curved chairs placed next to the fireplace create an intimate seating area in the formal living room. A square golden mirror adds a touch of glam over the mantel.

From: J. Allen

Cool, Contemporary

Two small benches flank the door, adding a few extra seats. A collection of glass dishes hang on the wall, creating a cool, abstract art piece.

From: J. Allen

Timeless Design

The formal living room combines modern furnishings with the classic architectural details. Even with the mix of different furniture, Allen keeps everything low to allow for an open, flowing environment.

From: J. Allen

What were the homeowners' design problems?

The largest issue in this space was creating a sense of balance. Balancing the blend of antiques with modern furnishings to create an interesting yet harmonious flow; as well as creating a functional floor plan that was balanced around the original architectural details.

What was your biggest obstacle in this space?

The biggest obstacle in this space was scale, incorporating multiple seating areas to accommodate a maximum number of people without the space feeling crowded with furniture. This was accomplished by selecting and customizing very large streamlined pieces that do not add a great deal of visual weight to the space.

How does the end result match up with your original vision?

I love this space, the end result is pretty identical to my original vision. However, there is one thing that was changed from my original vision. I really pushed for grander window treatments. I think full panels of silk would have put the space over the top, but the large original moldings are a highlight the homeowners couldn't bare to cover.

What lessons did you learn?

Old homes equal plaster walls and ceilings, which add to the timeline, budget and mess. Minor construction projects resulted in a dust factor that was outrageous. The homeowners were occupying the property and what was supposed to be a clean, simple and contained project, ultimately affected the entire 6,000-square-foot home. In the future, I'll recommend a hotel.

What are the "hidden gems"?

The addition of the blue via the dogwood paintings and antique-style benches really add a energetic pop to the monochromatic palette. The collection of artifacts on the fifth century Greek distressed wood tables represent the homeowners travels: natural unformed malachite from Ivory Coast, decorative beads from Uganda and a hammered metal bowl from India.

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J. Allen

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Perceptions Interiors Allied ASID 5614 Connecticut Ave. #291 Washington, DC 20015 202-330-5619