The master bedroom in the 4th annual Design House has witnessed its share of renovations but its most recent makeover dismisses the current era of the colossal master suite and chooses instead to celebrate understated elegance.


The 22-by-15 foot space is one of the striking rooms in the 12,300-square foot English Tudor chosen for the event, which opens to the public on Saturday. Although the Forest Hills house features maid quarters, a pool kitchen and au pair suite, the master bedroom is modest and has a master bath smaller than those found in the average metro area apartment.


"It's interesting that this house was built in 1925 and this was the master bedroom and this is considered a mansion. To me no master bedroom should ever be bigger than this room," said Iantha Carley, of Iantha Interiors in Silver Spring, who designed the room.

"It would be my sincere wish that people would get away from these huge master bedrooms where they have a sitting area. It's like they have a mini living room," she said. "Who is coming to your bedroom where you need a sofa, two chairs and a coffee table?"

The look in the old bedroom was 1980s floral chintz with a Stark Wilton carpet decorated with trellises and roses in purple, pink and green.

"I actually like the purple and green and used it as inspiration for the color," Carley said. "(The room) was just a little dated and it had wallpaper. All very expensive things, but their time had come and gone."

She turned a large walk-in closet into a fun, flirty dressing room. The old closet had a faux marble finish on the walls and doors. Now it has bright, bold Nina Campbell wall coverings featuring green and pink peacocks. A long Hollywood regency style glass table sits in the middle of the room. A Juliet balcony in the dressing room looks over the large living room below. Glamorous for a closet, but with some closets as large as bedrooms, Carley said they deserve furnishing.

"It is another room in your house. I think if you spent enough money to have a walk in closet you should have it organized and decorated," she said. "They can be dark holes if you don't do something to make it a cheery place. "

Even if the designers had wanted to extend the bath area, they could not because a shoe closet is on one side and parts of a chimney leading to a large fireplace in the dining room below are on the other. So they worked within the original footprint, removing a standard tub and glass shower door.

The master bath now has a shower, single sink and toilet, a stark contrast to bathrooms with Jacuzzi or garden tubs.

"I think in the last couple of years, people are thinking less is more," said Allie Mann, a designer with Case Design/Remodeling.

Like the master bedroom, the old bath had expensive, but dated furnishings and fixtures. An oversized, ornate white vanity took up most of the space. The vanity was so large it bumped up against the radiator on the wall. A gilded-framed mirror with odd neo-classic art on top, hung above the vanity.

Mann chose scale-appropriate furnishings for the new bath, such as a cabinet at a "comfort height" of 34 inches.

Elegant marble combines with dark sepia cherry cabinetry to give the bath the vintage look seen in the era the home was built. Honed Calcutta Chablis marble tile staggered in 12 x 24 and 4 x12 sizes in the shower and on the floor bring big style to the small space.

"More people are thinking, let's put more luxurious components in a smaller space as opposed to breaking through walls and expanding that footprint," Mann said.

Each year, the Design House event brings top Washington area designers together to remake a chosen home, which is then open to the public. Proceeds of the program are donated to the Children's National Medical Center. The 2011 home, on the market for $4.9 million, was built for Charles Woodward, founder of Woodward & Lothrop. It has seen many decades of lavish entertaining, hosting celebrities such as Kirk Douglas, as well as politicians and dignitaries. Located at 3134 2llicott Street, NW, the house is open April 9 through May 8 and admission is $20.