When Skip Sroka and his partner, John Kammeier, were ready to downsize from their longtime residence in Northwest DC’s Phillips Park, it was a 1962 townhouse in Upper Georgetown that caught their eye. Though it was dated, the designer saw potential in the three-story home with a roomy courtyard for low-maintenance, al fresco living. “There was so much about the house that made sense,” Sroka says. “And we wanted a walkable lifestyle; I’m four blocks away from my studio and I love it.”
While he and Kammeier—president of the menswear company Nick Graham—assumed a renovation was in the cards, the project snowballed into a year-long gut job that included reinsulating the roof, heating all the floors and moving or eliminating intrusive duct-work. A dip in the second floor was shored up with a steel beam that now runs through the center of the house. The kitchen was overhauled and new bathrooms installed. Doorways shifted and all the windows on the back of the house were replaced. Skylights now brighten the third floor.
During the process, Sroka artfully layered in classic and modern elements—both practical and beautiful—that truly elevate the interiors. When the steel beam lowered the ceiling in the front hall, he designed a square motif out of large-format, marble-look porcelain tiles for the floor. “It directs the eye down and makes the hall feel wider,” he explains. Each level boasts its own door design by Sroka, and pale-oak floors in a chevron pattern unify the second-floor rooms.
Arriving for a tour on move-in day in May, this writer found Sroka and a bustling crew of unpackers and installers, all masked and maintaining careful social distance while putting the house in order with streamlined efficiency. Despite the disarray, the air of easy elegance shone through. A sleek home office, immediately to the left of the front door, boasts dark-wood built-ins and walls embellished with wide horizontal panels designed by Sroka with U channels in a reflective-metal finish. At the end of the hall, the garden room—as Sroka and Kammeier have dubbed the big, rectangular space—opens out to the courtyard. The room is anchored at one end by a fireplace, now reimagined in walnut with a reflective mosaic-tile surround and flanked by built-in bookshelves. A built-in walnut bar spans another wall.
The original iron-and-brass banister—just about the only pre-renovation holdover—guides the way upstairs, where a wide landing opens to the living/dining room on one side and the kitchen/family room on the other. Sroka realigned wide cased openings between rooms “to create a sense of passage from the dining room to the kitchen,” he explains. On this floor, ornate plaster cornices by Hyde Park Mouldings impart heft and suggest the house is older than it is. “I wanted a progression of spaces, and for this level of the house to feel a bit grand,” he notes. Custom-designed doors lead to a walk-in china closet and a powder room.
Prior to the renovation, “the kitchen was squashed in beside the dining room,” Sroka relates. He removed the wall separating it from the dining room (now a seating area with a sectional and TV) to create a breezy, open space. Envisioning a contemporary kitchen against an older-home framework, he selected streamlined, bleached-walnut cabinetry that offsets traditional moldings. Marble mosaic tile on the backsplash, hood and island front repeats the floor’s chevron pattern while Calacatta Vagli tops the counters and frames the island in a custom design by Sroka.
With skylights above the staircase and in the hall bath, the third floor, containing two guest rooms and the master suite, is flooded with light. The couple’s bed is framed by a series of mirrors that “reflect the light into the room,” says Sroka. The master bath, featuring a custom vanity, awaits the addition of a painted mural behind the tub.
For his furniture choices, Sroka took cues from the house itself, opting for materials and finishes that keep the interiors bright and airy. Glass-topped tables share space with creamy, upholstered seating, enhanced by reflective-metal accents and glossy, dark- wood frames. Eclectic art, acquired over the years, runs the gamut from soft landscapes to bold, three-dimensional contemporary art by Kmoe in the front hall.
Sroka and Kammeier are enjoying their finished abode—and its location. “This is a friendly neighborhood,” Sroka observes. “In fact, if they’re able to hold the Georgetown House Tour in the fall, we’ll be on it.” In that case, their chic home will be well worth a visit.
Renovation & Interior Design: Skip Sroka, ASID, NCIDQ, ICAA, Sroka Design Inc., Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: The James O’Reilly Group, Ltd., Washington, DC.
Flooring: universalfloors.com. Windows: loewenwindows.com through thesanderscompany.com. Drapery & Upholstery Fabrication: Fabric Creatio. Home Automation: gramophone.com. Moldings: hyde-park.com.
SECOND FLOOR LANDING
Console: councill.com. Urns & Art on Console: Owner’s collection.
Table, Chairs & Chair Fabric: universalfurniture.com. Tapestry: French Antique. Chandelier over Table: robertabbey.biz. White-Framed Shelves: theodorealexander.com.
White-Painted Cabinets/Pedestals: hanleyantiques.com. Cabinet Finish: garysimpsonfurnitureservice.com. Artworks above Pedestals: Seriographs via oncentergallery.com. Coffee Table, Sofa & Fabric: kravet.com. Wood-Framed Chairs: Lucien Rollin. Chair Fabric: architex-ljh.com. Marble Fireplace Surround: Design by srokadesign.com. Fabrication: marblexinc.com. Mirror over Fireplace: carversguild.com. Cabinets flanking Fireplace: bernhardt.com. Chrome Console: Owners’ collection. Art over Console: Ann Packard through packardgallery.com. Marble-Topped Console behind Sofa: srokadesign.com. Rug: couristan.com. Round Metal Occasional Table: theodores.com.
Cabinetry: kraftmaid.com through division12design.com. Cabinet Hardware pushpullhardware.com. Backsplash & Hood Tile: tileshop.com. Stools: sunpan.com. Faucet: brizo.com. Island Marble Fabrication: glbtileandmarble.com.
Sectional: bernhardt.com. Coffee Table: srokadesign.com. Art over Sectional: Cynthia Lynn.
Console & Ottoman: srokadesign.com. Sconces: modernforms.com. Mirror: sothebys.com. Floor Tile: architecturalceramics.com. Bench with Acrylic Legs: caracole.com. Art over Bench: Kmoe via kmoe-ptown.com.
Built-In Cabinetry: Custom mahogany. Table: julianchichester.com. Chairs: knoll.com. Rug: antrimcarpet.com.
Sofas: bernhardt.com. Draperies: Candace Olsen for kravet.com. Swivel Chairs, Ottoman/Coffee Table, Occasional Table: universalfurniture.com. Rug: antrimcarpet.com. Fireplace Tile: daltile.com. Art behind Sofa: Cynthia Lynn. Occasional Tables: Vintage Intrex via 1stdibs.com.
Bedstead & Bench: sunpan.com. Bedding: frette.com. Mirrors behind Bed: Custom through artisancustomframing.com. Nightstands: bernhardt.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com. Wood Chair: artisticframe.com.
Mirrors: Custom through artisancustomframing.com. Sinks: kohler.com. Vanity Top & Fabrication: glbtileandmarble.com. Vanity: division12design.com. Shower Tile: daltile.com. Sconces: visualcomfortlightinglights.com.