D Magazine: Inside One Family's Glam Midway Hollow Pad by Carol Hu

A model of perfect symmetry, the living room features custom Milo Baughman-style sofas upholstered in Perennials Plushy, 1970s brass and Lucite swing-arm floor lamps, a pair of white plaster Brutalist table lamps, and a Karl Springer coffee table—all from James McInroe Inc. For the rug, the designer chose antelope-patterned carpeting by Couristan. A painting by Carol Hu fronts the fireplace.   Photography by Nathan Schroder

A model of perfect symmetry, the living room features custom Milo Baughman-style sofas upholstered in Perennials Plushy, 1970s brass and Lucite swing-arm floor lamps, a pair of white plaster Brutalist table lamps, and a Karl Springer coffee table—all from James McInroe Inc. For the rug, the designer chose antelope-patterned carpeting by Couristan. A painting by Carol Hu fronts the fireplace. Photography by Nathan Schroder

A couple looks to a like-minded team to create their grown-up house.



Step inside the home of Sarah and Adam Saxton and witness surroundings that belie the couple’s respective years. 

Its thoughtful composition and eloquent design forms an impression of inhabitants with a more experienced residential resume. 

In fact, their Midway Hollow home marks the third address for the 30-somethings and the couple’s first-ever build—prompted by the impending birth of their twins, Patrick and Harry, and their two large dogs. With lots in the neighborhood in short supply, they ultimately purchased a small home on a nice patch of land and had it cleared for construction.

Miles Durham, the builder of their previous home, was called in to execute the 14-month project. He, in turn, recommended architect Scott Marek, who formerly worked under local architecture legend Frank Welch, to draw up the plans. 

Scott’s mission: to blend Adam’s modern predilections with Sarah’s more traditional appetite. The couple supplied Scott with a heaping pile of incongruent ideas, spanning styles from modern saltbox to Georgian Colonial. “It is very difficult to get to the essence of what a client likes about an image,” explains the architect. Each contains a ton of information—budget, color, details, etcetera. Synthesizing that down to a coherent whole is sometimes challenging. Ultimately, it is the feeling we strive for, not an exact replication.” 

“He nailed it,” Sarah says of Scott’s work. His triumph is revealed in a house exhibiting traditional proportions and symmetry, but constructed using modern materials, including white stucco, ebony-stained wood, commercial windows, and a metal roof. 

Equal consideration was given to the home’s interior framework, with functionality taking the lead. To the Saxtons, that meant one generously sized expanse doing triple duty as the kitchen, living, and dining spaces. “In this house, we wanted to use every single room—no rooms just for show,” she says of the 3,800-square-foot soft contemporary. 

When it came time to choose a designer, Sarah didn’t hesitate, tapping James McInroe, who had created the interiors for a friend 10 years prior. “It was the first house I’d ever walked into that I was like, ‘This is really cool,’” she remembers. “We didn’t even consider anybody else.”

James articulated the couple’s style in a warm, tonal palette of topaz and ochre hues and a multi-era collection furniture, some they brought with them and others he selected. 

The designer bestowed a measure of sizzle where he deemed appropriate. In the cobalt library, velvet upholstery and metallic wallpaper deliver as much drama as any volume on the black enameled bookshelves. He tucked the room’s drapery underneath crown molding, a stealthy trick for preserving the full width of the library windows: The draperies actually hang in front of the walls, James reveals. The room is Adam’s favorite for enjoying his morning coffee, and it’s where cocktails are served when friends come for dinner parties.  

In the living room, heavy satin draperies hung at ceiling height glamorize and parcel off the space. “I think draperies add architecture to a house,” James says. But for as lavish and dressed-up as the interiors appear, the design reality involved smoke and mirrors. With two 2-year-olds, the Saxtons required furnishings that were as durable as they were beautiful. James turned to commercial carpets and kid-proof textiles: Lizard-embossed vinyl poses as leather on dining chairs. Indoor-outdoor velvet postures as top-drawer cloth on a pair of Milo Baughman–style sofas, which James sized for the room as well as Adam’s 6-foot-4-inch frame. 

Aiming to delineate a dining room within the wall-less communal space, James chose a hexagonal David Hicks wallpaper, which he inset in a framed-out nook between the kitchen and entry hall. 

Sharing her designer’s infatuation with wallpaper, Sarah went with a scene-stealing Matthew Williamson–designed pattern for the powder room. “I’m not scared of wallpaper at all,” Sarah says. “But if I had done it on my own, I would have played it a lot safer. James gave me the confidence to say, ‘Okay, you can totally put tigers in your powder bath.’” 

As the rooms took shape, James would introduce what are arguably the home’s most arresting design elements: the mix of vintage lighting. The couple quickly realized that illumination was their poison—and they were hooked. Sarah admitted to blowing the budget on a pair of globe pendants in the entry hall, the library’s J.T. Kalmar fixture, a Gaetano Sciolari chandelier crowning the dining room, a collection of table lamps, and the imposing Tommi Parzinger leather-and-chrome chandelier that stars in the master bedroom. “Not many people put a giant chandelier in a bedroom, but I think it’s perfect,” she says.”

For the first-floor guest bedroom, Sarah led the design charge—not a stretch for the homeowner who studied interior design at Oklahoma State University. Her proclivity for fearless choices is evident in the Brunschwig & Fils abstract animal print dressing the walls and upholstering the headboard. “I don’t live in the room every day, so I wanted to do something bold in there,” she says.


When designing a kid’s bathroom, especially around wet areas such as the toilet, sink, and bathtub, ensure the surfaces are easily cleanable and durable—Think Ceramic wall tile and scrubbable wall paint. 

The design-minded couple took their talents upstairs, making the floor’s furnishing selections entirely on their own. To impart a locker-room feel in the twins’ bathroom, they lined the walls with black and white subway tiles and chose a penny-tile mosaic for the floor. They outfitted the space with a commercial utility sink, claw-foot tub, and frosted-glass door playfully marked with a men’s-room symbol. “We love that room,” Sarah says. “We get more comments on that than anything.”


“It was so much fun,” Sarah says of the process. “As soon as we moved in, we were like, ‘When are we going to build again?’” But don’t expect to see a for-sale sign anytime soon. The Saxtons plan on staying a while—putting down roots, entertaining, and maybe even building a pool. “We’ve had a lot of people say, ‘This is so grown up,’” she says. “I kind of wanted it to be.”

Annapolis apartment building has the feel of a boutique hotel by Carol Hu

carol hu art
carol hu painting

By Kathy Orton November 8, 2013  

A recent tour of Crosswinds, the new apartment building at Annapolis Towne Centre, revealed how the residential and hotel industries are mimicking one another these days.

About the only difference between Crosswinds and any number of boutique hotels is that Crosswinds has a mail room instead of a check-in desk. Otherwise, everything you’d expect a high-end hotel to have — lounge area, business center, exercise space, conference room and a courtyard with a pool — can be found at this apartment building.

“We want to elevate what an apartment building can look like,” said Toby Bozzuto, president of Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Group, which built Crosswinds. “We are trying to take cues from what the hotel industry has done.”

Another factor that gives this building more of a hospitality feel is that Bozzuto hired Baltimore interior designer Patrick Sutton to put his touches on the project. Sutton, whose work has been featured on HGTV and honored by the American Institute of Architects, had never worked on an apartment building. But if the finished product is any indication, it won’t be the last time.

Sutton created a look he describes as “Armani meets Ralph Lauren.” It is meant to appeal to a younger audience, though hip baby boomers would feel at home here as well.

Warm, rough-hewn wood reclaimed from a Pennsylvania barn offers a contrast to the gritty white-and-gray-flecked stone in a melange of textures in the entrance lobby. Bright African juju headdresses provide a pop of color. An array of television screens grouped together highlight works of artists.

Down the hall, hand-hammered metal baskets from India grace a wall, while a mid-century mylar/acrylic piece tucked near the business center is as much a conversation piece as a work of art. The business center, with its Macintosh computers, printer, WiFi and self-serve Starbucks, is much more than a utilitarian space. Designed with millennials in mind as a sort of Internet cafe, it features original art by Carol Hu.

Even the mail room leans toward fun rather than just function with its gunmetal chain-mail wall covering and silver orbs hanging from the ceiling.

The second floor is the place to socialize both indoors and out. Inside, the lounge is the social hub of the building, where residents can meet up with friends to play pool, watch TV, listen to music or chat. The room has a clublike atmosphere with its pair of cozy banquette seating nooks flanking the fireplace and a high-top table surrounded by bar stools. An iPod docking station is built into the wall and wired into the sound system. Nestled into a corner is a partially enclosed space with flat-screen TVs on each of its three walls. Curtains can close off the area for intimate viewing parties.

Outside, the elevated courtyard features a pool, shade pavilion/outdoor lounge, fire pit and grilling area.

The facade opens the inside of the building to the outside. A five-story wall of glass fronts the lobby and elevator area, while floor-to-ceiling glass stretches along the main level. Those driving or walking by on the way to the nearby shops and restaurants can’t help but notice the activity taking place indoors.

“It says it’s a vibrant, alive place to live,” Sutton said. “It’s not sedentary.”

The individual units are unremarkable. The one-bedroom layout that I saw was a bit cramped at 674 square feet, and its floor plan was nothing special. The apartment had the ubiquitous stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops in the kitchen, a six-foot window overlooking the courtyard that flooded the space with natural light and a washer and dryer. Clearly, the thinking is that residents will spend more time in the public areas of the building than in their own units.

There are 15 floor plans, including studio, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den and two bedroom, ranging from 492 to 1,034 square feet. Rents start at $1,425 per month and top out at $2,250 per month. The 674-square-foot unit I saw was $1,750 per month.

As of late September, the 215-unit building was 25 percent occupied and 45 percent leased after about two months of leasing.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.


Houzz.com by Carol Hu

One of Carol Hu's bestselling giclee prints on canvas is now available for purchase on houzz.com. Starting at 24x32 - 30x40", $450-1560 (hand-embellished on canvas, stretched, & framed). 

Cotton blend water resistant canvas, Archival ink, Protective topcoat, Wood stretcher bar, Floater frame

Featured in Candamill Art Gallery by Carol Hu

Feeling Pastel

Feeling Pastel

Sunset and a Thunderstorm

Sunset and a Thunderstorm

Surf Lessons

Surf Lessons

Proud to announce that Candamill Art Gallery will now be featuring these select works. They are available for purchase directly through their site (click image to shop). 

Candamill is a Brooklyn based Fashion label and Art company. They represent both local and international artists. Candamill has been featured in numerous publications such as Vogue Japan, Paper Magazine, Oyster, Nylon, Teen Vogue, Creem, Glamour, and more.