Historic D.C.

May 21, 2014

The only two cities with more period apartment houses than the District of Columbia are Chicago and New York. Considering the District’s relative size, it is a genuine gold mine of these historic buildings.

James Goode meticulously catalogued them in his great book “Best Addresses,” and while there are dozens of architecturally noteworthy buildings, the height of their golden age came at the very beginning, from 1890 to 1918.

The most influential of these early buildings still standing is the Cairo at 1615 Q St., NW. Built in 1894 by gifted young architect T. Franklin Schneider, this fanciful, Moorish-inspired creation was the tallest, and probably the biggest, residential building in Washington. It drew heavy criticism for its style, its size and, most of all, its height. Firemen couldn’t get near the top in case of fire and mischievous residents would drop pebbles from the roof garden to the street below, scaring the horses pulling carriages.

The Cairo single-handedly brought about the 1894 building height regulations, which are in place to this day and make Washington the only major U.S. city to have kept its low skyline, a characteristic cherished by Washingtonians.

Our great apartment buildings are a product of the City Beautiful Movement that emerged from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The temporary “White City” in the great exposition was filled with inspiring examples of classic Beaux-Arts architecture created by Americans fresh from the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Their devotion to classicism was complete, and visitors who saw the gleaming “city” were enchanted.

Meanwhile, the McMillan Commission in Washington decided it was time to complete Pierre L’Enfant’s great plan for the city, building the grand boulevards and classic buildings that would complement the White House and the Capitol. Enter the architects fresh from Paris and Chicago, who were ready, willing and able to design the great public buildings – as well as grand apartment houses for the white-collar workers moving to Washington to fill the ranks of the expanding federal government. The makings of a real estate success story were at hand.

The list of architects and apartment buildings is truly monumental, but here are a few favorites:

James G. Hill designed the Mendota and the Ontario, and T. Franklin Schneider went on to add an incredible list to his achievements, including the Iowa, the Albemarle, the Farragut, the Cecil, the Burlington, the Woodley, the Rochambeau, California House and California Court. Three of these fabulous buildings were razed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jules de Sibour mastered Beaux-Arts techniques with the Warder (razed in 1958) and the McCormick Apartment Building, which until recently housed the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

We can thank B. Stanley Simmons for the design of the Wyoming on Columbia Road and Arthur B. Heaton for the Altamont. The architectural firm of Hunter and Bell was responsible for 2029 Connecticut Ave., NW, and Albert Beers designed the Northumberland and the unique Dresden, which perfectly fits its commanding site on the corner of Kalorama Road and Connecticut Avenue.

It was very fortunate that classical architecture had its renaissance at the same time that the federal government decided to promote the massive reconstruction of our city, making L’Enfant’s visionary design – of more than a century before – a stunningly beautiful reality.

Donna Evers, devers@eversco.com, is the owner and broker of Evers & Co. Real Estate, the largest woman-owned and woman-run real estate firm in the Washington metro area, and the proprietor of historic Twin Oaks Tavern Winery in Bluemont, Va.

Georgetown Garden Tour Has Banner Day

May 15, 2014

Despite a downpour and drizzle — something every garden needs — the Georgetown Garden Tour enjoyed a busy day with visitors checking out gardens, each with its own noteworthy and high qualities.

While the Pyne garden got top attention, across town there were nine gardens for lovers of horticulture and home with arrivals at most place continuing right up to 5 p.m.
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86th Annual Garden Tour, May 10

May 7, 2014

The 86th annual Georgetown Garden Tour – presented by the Georgetown Garden Club, an affiliate of the Garden Club of America – will take place this Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s chair is Liz Evans. Ticket holders set their own pace, visiting the featured gardens in any order and enjoying afternoon tea, including light refreshments made and served by Club members.

There are a total of nine gardens this year. According to Barbara Downs, publicity chair, the “showpieces of the garden tour” are the Pyne garden on 30th Street and the Bradlee and Crocker gardens around the corner.

Tickets are $35 and may be purchased online at georgetowngardentour.com or on Saturday at Christ Church, 31st and O Sts., NW, or at any of the tour sites. The tea, in the church’s Keith Hall, will be served from 2 to 4 p.m. There is also a garden boutique where Haitian linens, handwoven silk textiles, vases, pots, statuary and other garden-related items will be sold.

All proceeds from the tour are returned to Georgetown in the form of maintenance and beautification of its parks, green spaces and trees. In addition, funds go to support the Student Conservation Association at Dumbarton Oaks Park, which trains at-risk youth to remove invasive plants and carry out other horticultural work.

Time To Shop the Big Banks for a Mortgage

April 23, 2014

During the refinance boom, the largest banks with the largest portfolios were simply overwhelmed. Simply put, they had more clients and business than they were able to process. To add to the burden, federal mortgage regulators stiffened the rules and targeted big banks for audits during the boom. All this combined to make the process of getting a loan less than efficient.

In today’s marketplace, refinancing has cooled down. Though still burdensome, the regulatory environment has become a constant. What this means to the consumer is that the large banks have the capacity to handle today’s level of business as efficiently as smaller institutions.

With the implementation of the Dodd-Frank rules on mortgage lending, which went into effect in January of this year, all mortgage companies, big and small, have to underwrite to the same rules. Gone are the days of the “nimble” underwriting standards of the smaller mortgage players.

If you have significant deposits in an institution, you may be entitled to meaningful discounts offered to good customers. These can range from discounts on the bank fees on closing costs to discounts on the rates and points.

Large institutions also have money to lend. They have billions of dollars in deposits that they can lend out as jumbo mortgages – generating excellent spreads for the banks and excellent rates for consumers. Some of the smaller banks cannot offer the same rates on jumbo money. Smaller intuitions may not even offer jumbo fixed-rate mortgages.

Another advantage of having a mortgage at the institution where one banks is the convenience of having all the information on the bank’s website. One can transfer money to pay a mortgage and keep track of escrows, balances and the like. The large institutions also tend to hang onto the servicing rights. Most people like the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their mortgage will not be sold and resold again.

The bottom line is that the environment has evolved and one should take a look at the larger institutions when shopping for a mortgage.?

Bill Starrels is a mortgage loan officer (NMLS#485021) and lives in Georgetown. He can be reached at 703-625-7355

The 2014 Georgetown House Tour, APRIL 26

1689 34th St., NW

This house and the surrounding townhouses on 34th Street and Reservoir Road were built around 1951 on the site of the extensive gardens and pool of Friendship House, the last of the large estates owned by Evalyn Walsh McLean, heiress and socialite. McLean is best known as the last private owner of the 44.5-carat Hope Diamond, now on exhibit at the Museum of Natural History.

This brick, colonial-style, semi-detached home has four levels. The current owners purchased it in 1998, when they combined households from England, South Africa and Virginia. They immediately embarked on a series of renovations allowing for a more open floor plan, finished the top floor, upgraded the carriage house and, most recently, renovated the original 1951 kitchen in the English basement. Almost all of the main floor and lower level is the owners’ design. Much of the built-in cabinetry and furniture in the basement was handmade by them. The mature wisteria, planted in 1998, was the owners’ first addition to the garden. The carriage house is an architectural gem and serves as the guest room of first resort.

2906 P St., NW

This charming house, on a large lot set back from the street, was originally built sometime between 1844 and 1865, when the frame structure that forms the heart of the house (a double parlor on the first floor and two second-floor bedrooms) was erected. Sometime later, a rear addition was built, comprising the kitchen on the first floor and an additional bedroom suite on the second floor. During the 1960s, the house underwent a major renovation, which included altering the curved stairs in the main part of the house and an addition to the front at the west side of the property to include a garage, an indoor pool and a second-floor artist studio connected by a spiral staircase.

The current owners purchased the property in 1999 and later began another major renovation within the existing footprint to expand the kitchen, open up several smaller rooms and add the back staircase and French doors leading to the side and rear gardens. The renovation, designed by architect Outerbridge Horsey and executed by contractor John Richardson, transformed the indoor pool room into a family room and added a lower-level playroom to accommodate the family’s three children.

3102 P St., NW

The current homeowners purchased the house four years ago, when they moved to Georgetown from New York. They removed walls on the lower level to create a small theater room for family movie-watching and redid the lower foyer with blue slate flooring and white beadboard cubbies to accommodate the sporting activities of their four children.

Outside, notice that the bay window that matched those of the three neighboring houses was removed in the 1980s so that the garage could be added. In the entryway is a striking green and white Kelly Wearstler wallpaper. The Lucite waterfall console table coupled with the faux-bamboo mirror maximizes the use of the narrow space.

3141 O St., NW

This distinguished townhouse, built between 1957 and 1959, was once the home of F. Joseph Donohue, a District Commissioner from 1951 to 1953. The site dates back to the early 19th century, when it was a livery stable on what was then Beall Street, a few doors down from the legendary Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Baking Company on the corner of today’s Wisconsin Avenue and O Street.

The current owner has renovated the house, aspiring to “take the 1960s out of the house” and “create the ambience of a Paris apartment,” she said. The exterior is a contemporary adaptation of the Federal architectural style. The offset door, a departure from rigid Federal symmetry, allows for a modern necessity: a full-size garage. The spacious garden was completely redesigned for LB Design by local landscape architects Fritz & Gignoux. It has been nearly doubled in size by converting what used to be a back alley into a croquet lawn with an attractive water fountain and a stone seating area.

3254 O St., NW

This detached residence sits on a large lot that includes a detached brick carriage house at the back. The property was first conveyed in 1770 to Caspar Shaff. The original structure was built in the 1830s. Subsequent owners included both George and William Beall, who bought it in 1841 for $10 and sold it in 1853 to the Vestry of St. John’s Church for $100. In 1860, the house was enlarged by the creation of the front living room and a formal Federal façade was added in front. Notice the mounting block outside the front gate and the original ironwork stairs.

The current owner is an architectural and interior designer and real estate agent. She has spent the past 15 years improving and updating her home while preserving its many period details, such as the original heart-of-pine, random-width planked floors. The entryway suggests coziness, but the house is actually of substantial size with multiple bedrooms and a lower-level guest suite that offers a serene garden view.

The owner just completed a major renovation of the combined kitchen and family room. With the addition of three more sets of French doors, the kitchen area has been transformed into a more open floor plan to unify the kitchen, family room, brick patio and garden. The dining space, with its Pembroke drop-leaf table and English Chippendale armchairs, affords a splendid view over the manicured, southern-facing garden with its circular brick pathway and dramatic weeping willow tree.

3417 P St., NW

Think of 3417 P Street as two independent structures combined into a single home. The heart of the residence, to the east, was build in 1852 as a carriage house and stables by William Herron, a local contractor, to serve his large 35th Street home (seen on previous house tours). In 1951, Wesley Steele, acclaimed organist for St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, purchased the carriage house and later added to the property, building the two-story guest house and garden area. The house was featured in the 1967 Georgetown House Tour, when visitors were invited to inspect Steele’s personal pipe organ. A sensitive recent renovation, overseen by the current owner and architect Dale Overmeyer, restored beams in the living room, moved the kitchen to the garden level by the pool, re-landscaped the garden and created a harmonious flow, the better to integrate the two structures into one home.

Approaching from the east along P Street, note the original carriage doors and well-preserved brick carriage tracks. By the entrance stands a massive antique Italian door, where a flight of flagstone stairs ascends to the living level of the house. From the garden, look up and to the right to see the outlines of the original carriage house and two subsequent additions. The garden is unusually large for Georgetown. Walk past the pool to the upper terrace to take a look at the dining area secluded under a magnolia tree near the soothing fountain. Because the garden is effectively above and protected from the street level, little traffic noise reaches here.

3413 P St., NW

This house’s bright yellow brick and deep green shutters cannot be missed as one walks along P Street. Behind this facade lies an appealing private garden spanning the entire side of the house and offering seclusion from the public street. This garden was among those featured in Adrian Higgins’s 1994 book, “Secret Gardens of Georgetown.” Glass-paneled doors along the side of the house give one the feeling of living in the garden. The layout of the house is linear, the front room being the living room, behind which the hall provides the entryway from the garden. Next comes the dining room and kitchen, with a doorway to the rear of the garden.

For all that comfort has been the owners’ top priority, on display in the house are many antiques, interesting and unusual objects and family heirlooms. These include paintings by Mr. Knight’s great-grandfather, Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924), and grandfather, Louis Aston Knight (1873-1948). The frames that hold these artists’ paintings have been expertly restored by Bill Adair. Mrs. Knight is herself a talented and accomplished artist.

3026 Q St., NW

This grand four-story mansion, built around 1850, has passed through many hands since it was first sold in 1871 for $4,500. The property was added to during the early 1970s, when land was excavated to create a garage and driveway (something much coveted in Georgetown), and the rear gardens were replaced by a 15-foot-wide swimming pool. The present owner has narrowed the pool to make way for a terrace for entertaining and outdoor reading, a particular passion of the owner, who has made sunny reading nooks on all four levels, both inside and out.

The house is full of fine original millwork, particularly near the entrance. A sumptuous archway frames the staircase and hall, which leads to the kitchen overlooking the pool. Note the dark oak hardwood floors throughout and the owner’s choice of an impressive if unusual palette of blue and purple, intended to convey an air of serenity. While the 1970s addition is restrained in appearance, the double-high dining room with skylights is spectacular. Visible through the glass atrium, a star magnolia and a weeping cherry soften the more modern rear exterior.

1530 Wisconsin Ave., NW(The George Town Club)

The George Town Club is an elegant city dining club providing a warm retreat for its members, with fine cuisine, privacy and friendly, gracious service. Formed in 1966, the club brings together leaders from the business, professional, social, philanthropic, political, social, cultural, academic and diplomatic sectors.

The club occupies 18th-century frame buildings. Club founders extensively renovated the run-down historic building, adding the brick entryway, excavating the lower level and importing European wood paneling. The wrought-iron work by Samuel Yellin was rescued from the demolition of the original Morgan Guaranty Trust Company building in New York. Over time, two adjacent brick townhouses were incorporated into the club premises.

On the second floor, the extraordinary oak paneling in the main dining room was created in the style of Robert Adam, England’s premier architect in the late 1700s. At either end of the sideboard are large fishing-vessel figureheads, framing a leaded-glass demilune that was originally a feature of J. P. Morgan’s private office.

In the past year, the interiors of the club’s main-floor rooms have been substantially updated, preserving historical architectural features. Light sisal floor coverings have replaced the worn dark rugs, and some parts of the walls have been upholstered in a light neutral linen fabric to offset the extensive dark wood paneling. The most dramatic change has been the complete renovation of the Grill Room. The updating of the club’s decor was a collaboration of interior designers Andrew Law and Debbie Winsor, both Georgetown residents and club members.

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Le Decor: The Importance of Being Green

April 11, 2014

Just as Kermit the frog explained, it’s not always easy being green. Still, with a growing planet and shrinking resources, it’s important to do your part. One way to reduce your carbon footprint is buying furniture made of ecofriendly materials. Furniture retailers are doing their part by offering certain products made from reclaimed or sustainable materials. Below are just a few eco-conscious options for your home. [gallery ids="101692,143965,143958,143961,143945,143950,143953" nav="thumbs"]

Le Decor: Le Decor: Modern Inspirations

Art is one of the best way to inspire a space in your home. After reading through the February 26th Arts Preview issue of The Georgetowner, I was inspired by the current “Gravity’s Edge” exhibit at the Hirshorn (February7- June 15, 2014). The vibrate colors and abstract method of detecting the force of gravity, allows for one to experimental and free to mix traditional with modern works of art. There are many ways to introduce invigorating contrast into a space, and art is one of the best. Here are some examples where modern art breathes life into traditional rooms. [gallery ids="101669,144642,144646,144637,144651,144654,144659,144666,144662" nav="thumbs"]

The Auction Block

1. Freeman’s

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)

“Odalisque étendue”

Auction Date: May 4

Estimate: $100,000 to $150,000

As part of their sale of Modern & Contemporary Works of Art, which will include works
by Andy Warhol, Richard Pousette-Dart and Sam Francis, Freeman’s will offer this drawing
by Henri Matisse. Matisse’s series of odalisque pictures were made in the 1920s, after he
relocated to the French Riviera, and are representative of a softening of the artist’s approach
following World War I.

2. Bonhams New York

Peter Beard (b. 1938)

“Orphaned Cheetah Cubs in Mweiga nr. Nyeri, Kenya, 1968”

Auction Date: April 29

Estimate: $30,000 to $50,000

Bonhams will host a Fine Photographs auction, featuring more than 100 works from photographic masters including Ansel Adams, Jan Dibbets, Nan Goldin and Sally Mann. A highlight of the sale will be selections of animal photography, including Peter Beard’s “Orphaned Cheetah Cubs in Mweiga nr. Nyeri, Kenya,” from 1968. Beard, a prominent photographer and cultural icon, is known for his pictures of African wildlife, as well as his good looks and playboy impulses.

3. Sotheby’s

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

“La Séance du matin”

Oil on canvas?

Auction Date: May 7

Estimate: $20 million to $30 million

Bright, classic and fresh-to-market works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger from a private American collection will lead Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art. The three paintings are important examples from a key phase in each artist’s career. “La Séance du matin” is one of Matisse’s celebrated works, painted in Nice in the 1920s It depicts his studio assistant Henriette Darricarrère, to whom he offered painting lessons during their time working together.

4. Potomack Company

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)

“Letter to Wang Jiyuan,” 1967

Auction Date: May 3

?Estimate: $6,000 to $9,000

This one-page letter, in ink on paper, was inscribed by the internationally renowned 20th-century Chinese artist Zhang Daqian to his friend and colleague Wang Jiyuan. The two artists held a joint exhibition at the Smithsonian in 1971. Daqian wrote this letter from Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1967, beginning his salutation warmly: “Jiyuan, my dearest brother, and to those you are closest to….” The letter is one of several Zhang Daqian letters featured in Potomack’s May sale.

Bringing the Hammer Down
Final selling prices for last month’s featured Auction Block items:

Potomack Company

Qi Baishi,?“Rat Eating Loquat and Two Gourds,” 1924

Ink on paper on scroll

Auction Date: Feb. 22?

Estimate: $60,000 to $90,000

Final Selling Price: $194,000


Child Hassam, “The Norwegian Cottage,” 1909

Oil on canvas?

Auction Date: March 30

Estimate: $200,000 to $300,000

Final Selling Price: $242,500?


John James Audubon and John Bachman?, “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America,” 1845/48

3 vols., hand-colored lithographs

Auction Date: April 1

Estimate: $200,000 to $400,000

Final Selling Price: $245,000

The Auction Block & Bringing the Hammer Down

March 13, 2014

Foxall (Foxhall) Late Fall
By Benson Bond Moore (1882-1974)
Auction Date: Feb. 22
Estimate: $2,000 to $3,000
A group of American paintings with local
interest will highlight Potomack’s February
Catalogue Sale. Notable among these works is
Benson Bond Moore’s “Foxall Late Fall.” A
native Washingtonian, Moore lived in the city
for 70 years and depicted regional scenes in
some some of his greatest paintings. Foxall, as
originally spelled, was one of Moore’s favorite
areas to set up his easel. This particular rendition
of Foxhall was painted in 1923 when
Moore turned to his impressionistic style.

Marcelle Ferron
Oil on canvas
Auction Date: Selling Exhibition,
Feb. 14 to March 9
Sotheby’s will present Canadian
Abstraction, a selling exhibit of mid-century
Canadian abstract art in New York. This is
the first exhibit of its kind outside of Canada
in decades, which will highlight some of the
best examples of works by artists such as Jean
Paul Riopelle, Jack Bush, Jacques Hurtubise
and Marcelle Ferron, many of whom were
exhibiting their work alongside the great midcentury
Surrealists, Modernists and Abstract
Expressionists in New York, London and Paris.

Chinese Famille Rose Porcelain ‘Boys’ Vase
Daoguang mark and of the period
Auction Date: March 15
Estimate: $30,000 to $50,000
Part of its Asian Arts auction, Freeman’s will feature a selection of exquisite
porcelain and bronze artifacts, including this this rose porcelain vase
decorated with a group of young boys.
Other highlights include a Tibeto-Chinese cloisonne enamel gilt
bronze stupa and a Japanese Namikawa Sosuke cloisonne enamel vase.

Selection of Exotic Skin Handbags from the
Estate of a New York Lady
Auction Date: February 22
Sloans and Kenyon’s Auction of Vintage
and Contemporary Fashion, Couture and
Jewelry will open with an exhibition from
Feb. 19 to 21, and will feature vintage and
contemporary fashion, couture and accessories
by designers including Chanel, Hermès,
Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la
Renta, Yves Saint Laurent and many others,
including signed vintage and costume jewelry.

Set of Six Russian Gilt and Polychrome
Decorated Porcelain Dessert Plates
Krnilov Brothers Manufactory, St. Petersburg,
ca. 1900
Auction Date: Feb. 19
Estimate: $15,000 to $20,000
Doyle New York’s Belle Epoque Auction
will showcase 19th and 20th century fine and
decorative arts reflecting the opulence of the
bygone era. These featured plates are each
decorated with a circular medallion depicting
different historic versions of the Russian State
seal, including a double-headed eagle with
outspread wings clutching an orb and scepter
surmounted by a crown. Other highlights
include a Russian bronze by Nikolai Lieberich,
a Tiffany canister lamp, and an elaborate
Napoleon III gilt-metal ebonized side cabinet.

Final selling prices for last month’s
featured Auction Block items:

Saint John the Baptist Roman School
17th Century
Auction Date: Jan. 29
Estimate: $6,000 to $10,000
Final Selling Price: $11,250

James Edward Buttersworth (1817-
1894) “Schooner’s from the New York
Yacht Club Racing in the Narrows”
Oil on canvas, ca. 1870
Auction Date: Jan. 24
Estimate: $70,000 to $100,000
Final Selling Price: $106,250

“A Child and Nurse in the Foyer of
an Elegant Townhouse, the Parents
Beyond Jacob Ochtervelt” (1634-
Auction Date: Jan. 30
Estimate: $3 million to $4 million
Final Selling Price: $4,421,000

“Allegory of Poverty and Vengeance”
Northern Italian School
ca. 2nd half of the 16th Century
Auction Date: Jan. 28
Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000
Final Selling Price: $17,500 [gallery ids="101633,146086,146077,146080,146084" nav="thumbs"]

The Power of Color

Color surrounds and enlivens our lives. The appropriate use of paint color in the interior of our homes can give the illusion of elongating walls, reducing corners, raising ceilings and expanding the overall room size. The colors we select not only affect our sense of the space but can profoundly affect our emotional state. When working with color, note that paint is one of the least expensive ways to artistically set the stage of our interior spaces.

The natural light coming into a home through windows and glass doors make subtle changes in the colors in each room. In Georgetown, a pink-red hue is reflected into the rooms from the brick side walks and buildings. In suburban Maryland and Virginia, green is reflected into the homes from the larger green expanses of trees and shrubs.

Here are some questions that we receive most often from clients:

Q. I am moving to a large house in this area. I am worried that the rooms will look empty. Is there any remedy by using color on the walls and ceilings?

A. Absolutely. Color can effectively change our perception of the size of a space. One example is to use accent colors that are well lit to draw the eye away from empty space to the complementary color, making a large room cozier.

After looking at the furnishings and art already in their home, we ask about the clients’ color preferences. Warm grays or beige, and creams are the most popular neutrals for providing good backgrounds. An entire house using only these background colors, however, can be boring. If the main floor is large, we recommend that one of the rooms, such as the dining room, features a contrasting color that is complementary. For example, if the other rooms are beige, we might recommend a red or terra-cotta for the dining room. Green is also a good counterpoint color. From hunter to celadon and khaki, green is the best color to show off wood surfaces such as trim, molding, and wood furnishings. We might use accents of red and green (complementary colors) on upholstery and pillows in each of the other rooms to unify the entire space.

Q. How do I know what intensity of color to use in a room? How bold can I go?

A. How intense the color can be depends a great deal on the light in the room. Choose three close but different saturations of the color you want. Paint these colors on pieces of cardboard. Place the colors close to the natural light by a window and also in a far corner that receives the least light. Then try your three different intensities of color on large patches on the wall opposite the windows. When the paint is dry observe the colors at different times of day and evening. This will save you time and money before you paint the entire room. Various finishes can be applied to enliven or soften bolder colors. Glazes can soften the color as well as give it liveliness and transparency. Sponging, ragging, and washes give texture to the walls.

Q. I love the architectural details in my apartment. It has great ceiling moldings and mill-work on the doorways. I would like to feature these elements without bold, garish contrasts. What colors should I use?

A. Ceiling moldings frame a room nicely, which is wonderful. The moldings work best when they are lighter than the wall color, although the contrast need not be great. Similarly you can show off the mill-work with a contrasting color. Follow these rules and choose a wall color that pleases you.

Q. What about white? Should all ceilings be white?

A. Ceilings do not necessarily have to be white. When choosing a ceiling color, consider the color of your walls and the size of the room. If the ceiling height is low, a soft white or cream can be the best choice. A bedroom with cream walls and blue furnishings can look lovely with a pastel sky blue ceiling. If you have a high ceiling, a faux finish such as tortoise shell or a textured color can add glamor and drama to a room for entertaining.

As for whites in general, be cautious. White is less neutral than you think. It contains all the colors of the spectrum. Art galleries paint their walls white to make a strong statement that says, “Come look.” In a residence, white is not as neutral as beige or gray. There are blue-whites, yellow-whites, pink-whites, and green-whites. A brilliant white can create eye-strain and give off glare. Whites show up paintings and picture frames, and the eye is more aware of the rectangles and squares breaking up the wall. Warmer neutrals such as beige and gray say, “Come look, relax, and stay.”

If you love white on the walls, go toward the creams. Rooms using the natural palettes of cream, beige, warm gray, and taupe can be both sophisticated and calming. Plants and flowers will soften the neutral palette. Pulling in different textures for the rugs, upholstery, and accessories can make the room more interesting. Small accents of black and navy, can add to the elegance of rooms mostly defined by the neutral palate.

Dena Verrill and Alla Rogers are principals at Dena Verrill Interiors in Georgetown. Their practice serves the metro area and anywhere their clients take them. Both Verrill and Rogers are Georgetown residents. Contact them at dena@denaverrillinteriors.com or alla@denaverrillinteriors.com . Learn more at www.DenaVerrillInteriors.com.