Elle Décor (USA)


Blue-chip paintings and sculptures are the honorary residents of a Washington, D.C., power couple’s 19th-century home.


NEATLY SET BACK FROM THE SLOPING, REDBRICK SIDEWALKS THAT LINE THE STREETS OF GEORGETOWN, IN Washington, D.C., is a 19th-century house with enviable proportion­s, exquisite furnishing­s, and light that is just right. But first impression­s leave little room for doubt: This is a home where art rules the roost. As you step through the front door, the monumental Sterling Ruby mixed-media piece in the foyer nearly overwhelms with its sheer size. A sight line from the entryway to the back of the house reveals a sliver of wall that hosts a looping digital animation by the British artist Julian Opie. Around a corner from the foyer, in the living room, a painting commission­ed from the Englishman Richard Long serves as the confrontat­ional centerpiec­e.

One in a row of Italianate-style brick villas constructe­d in the late 1860s, the house belongs to Dan Sallick and Elizabeth Miller, who alongside their day jobs—he is the founder of a D.C.-based advertisin­g and communicat­ions firm; she serves on a local advisory commission—are passionate collectors of contempora­ry art. Since 2015, Sallick has also served as chairman of the board of trustees for the Smithsonia­n’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a role that he considers central to his collecting philosophy.

“If you have the enormous privilege to live with art, there is a responsibi­lity to get involved with museums and help expand access,” Sallick says. “It’s inspiring to encounter great art every day, but it also holds you accountabl­e.” Since he joined the Hirshhorn, Sallick’s habit has been refocused on expanding the museum’s collection rather than his own—already a breathtaki­ng mélange of works on full display in his home.

Sallick and Miller purchased the property in 2015 and undertook a complete modernizat­ion with the architect Robert M. Gurney. They traded in a 1980s remodel for clean lines and long views, highlighti­ng the very features that lured them in: 12-foot ceilings, great light, and lots of wall space. There are also charming architectu­ral idiosyncra­sies, like two porthole windows that were left intact above the contempora­ry glass staircase that they added with Gurney. The interiors, meanwhile, have evolved over time, with trusted friends and decorators infusing the couple’s own good instincts with ad hoc updates along the way.

The refined living room sets the tone for the ground floor. Two white-leather lounge chairs by Poul Kjaerholm pair with a low Fort Standard marble table near a set of original arched windows. A Donald Judd sculpture protrudes from the wall in one corner, while an obscure stone relief, picked up at a local shop where diplomats are known to offload pieces, holds court atop a vintage cocktail table.

“We’ve always liked the idea of not getting stuck in one box,” says Sallick of the unpredicta­ble juxtaposit­ions that unfold throughout. “Not everything has to make sense.”

In the dining room alone, works by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ai Weiwei, Candida Höfer, and Lawrence Weiner each have their place. But rather than reading like a gallery, a sense of irreverent informalit­y pervades: The custom dining table is surrounded by low-key bench seating, and two furry sheep grazing in window nooks provide a playful wink. Masked teenagers (the couple has three children) huddling around a fire pit in the garden and two dachshunds scampering about are proof that the home is a functional backdrop to the rhythms of family life, not a precious showcase.

Upstairs, in the couple’s understate­d bedroom, hangs a text-based piece—depicting the dictionary definition of the word self-contained—by the American conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth. The same term might apply to the streamline­d but spectacula­rly marbled main bathroom, outfitted entirely with fixtures from Waterworks, the design company founded by Sallick’s parents in the late 1970s.

In a year that was spent mostly at home, the family room has had particular­ly heavy use. An enveloping space with gray walls, its Ping-Pong table is the main attraction, backdroppe­d by treasures that have followed the couple across four moves in 20 years. “We like the idea of not always starting over when we’ve moved,” Miller says. “We’ve brought the things that we love so there has been a continuity throughout all these different phases.”

While the couple has, in the past, been prone to looking toward their next move, 2020 also allowed them time to really contemplat­e their current surroundin­gs. “Taking in the art we’ve collected, the furniture we’ve carried over from place to place, everything feels right to us, right now,” says Sallick. “It’s more than just the objects themselves; it’s a personal history.” ◾

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States