Alex Deringer, co-owner with Courtney Cox of Ivy Lane Living in Alexandria, Virginia, believes a person’s home should tell his or her individual story. Her 4,500-square-foot, three-level residence on a unique two-acre lot in the heart of the city does exactly that. The home was originally a farmhouse built in 1912. Deringer wanted a family-friendly environment—a place where every room is approachable and comfortable for children as well as adults. She created a casually elegant home through her use of family heirlooms, soft neutral colors, and a pleasant mix of furnishing styles and designs.
“We maintained the original footprint of the house and added an open floor plan in the rear that enables natural light into the space. The front portion of the house is more compartmentalized and has a more traditional feel than the addition,” says Deringer. “Because of that, we kept the palette light in that space, permitting the front rooms to make the best use of the natural light they have.” Random-width, mellow-toned hardwood floors unite the spaces. Deringer used Dove White by Benjamin Moore as the base color for some of the walls and the majority of the trim. She added varying degrees of a neutral tan with subtle blue accents to other parts of the living space.
The foyer is simple with an inherited antique dresser as a focal point and a unique, antique chandelier. To the right of the foyer is an office and library for Deringer’s husband and to the left is a formal parlor. The parlor holds an antique piano that belonged to her family, a vintage mirror, and a set of antique, hand-painted Limoges plates that were the first gift she ever received from her mother-in-law. “I feel that your home should be an evolution of who you are,” she explains. “These pieces that were part of our families, and part of our growing up in many cases, help tell our guests who we are.” The light grass cloth area rug and gentle-toned Schumacher grass cloth wall covering create a neutral canvas. Deringer mixed up the slipcover upholstery in the simple chairs using tones of beige and blue. They are Baker slipcover chairs with fabric by Osborne & Little. She then added accessories like the whimsical pillows in a fabric by Vervain. The iron and glass table, a design by Salvations Architectural Furnishings in Silver Spring, Maryland and a small outdoor metal accent table by David Iatesta further breaks up the style. “When things match too strongly, they die away from each other,” explains Deringer. “They make a room look flat and artificial. I like to ‘layer’ different styles and elements in my designs.”
The formal dining room has a cream area rug and walls in Grant Beige by Benjamin Moore. One wall is covered in a Thibaut trellis print, also in a neutral tone. Other family antiques, the buffet and matching antique corner cabinets, again bring in a touch of history and family tradition into the design. The drapery fabric has metal thread vines on an ecru background. Window treatments are simple throughout the house, allowing natural light to filter into the rooms.
In the rear addition of the home is a living room with French doors that lead to the back patio. The sofa and armchair are upholstered in a quiet beige Schumacher fabric. Two blue accent chairs are in a flame pattern by Travers. Walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Sail Cloth and the trim continues in Dove White.
One of Deringer’s favorite rooms is the master bedroom. “It’s high up and you can see the treetops from all the windows. I call it my tree-house room,” she adds. The walls are painted Hollingsworth Green by Benjamin Moore. It continues the outdoor leafy feel. The chandelier is an Old-World design by David Iatesta and brings in that historic touch Deringer is fond of. The linens on the bed are from Ivy Lane Living’s boutique—a retail component of the design company. Deringer loves to mix metals in her designs. She feels the glam feel of the Oly floor lamp adds reflection and sparkle to the room.
Although the addition has a more modern open floor plan, the design of both areas of the home is cohesive because of the smooth transition of color and the continuing relationship of furnishings and attitude. The mix of antique and vintage, formal and casual, and the varied styles, attitudes, and periods of accessories unify all the rooms. This home truly reflects Deringer, her family history, and her personal development.