before and after

Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library

by Annie Werbler

Longing for a grown-up space in which to house the artifacts of their special family history, Sarah and Archie Smart tasked Residents Understood with creating an elegant den — in a spare room previously filled with a random assortment of toys belonging to their two young children. Jessica Centella and Kiera Kushlan, the principals at the Washington, DC design firm, sought to bring the 275-square-foot room back to its original 1936 Colonial-style glory, with some contemporary flair added for good measure.

Archie’s grandfather David Archibald Smart co-founded the men’s lifestyle publication Esquire in the 1930s, and left him with an incredible collection of magazines and family photos matching the age of the home. The couple wanted to transform their bonus room into a space worthy of displaying the family’s rich story. Taking cues from the original millwork, built-in storage was added for the many magazine volumes. The room’s heavy wooden finishes and paneling remain for budgetary reasons, but were modernized and highlighted by a few generous coats of deep navy blue paint. Additional built-ins mirroring those on the fireplace wall provide floor-to-ceiling book storage while bringing balance to the room.

In a small area built for lounging, the furnishings needed to be comfortable but not bulky — so a large leather sofa is balanced by a sleek, tufted grey model across the way. Unique architecture left little wall space on which to display framed photos, so clearing an area behind the seating results in the creation of a personal gallery. Finally, a colorful shag rug, faux fur throws, and shiny accents add warmth and texture to the scene. Both Sarah and Archie now have a space to call their own – one fit for a refined gentleman or woman alike. —Annie

Photography by Bonnie Sen

Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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Sarah and Archie Smart's black wall of built-in bookcases not only adds function, but brings intimacy and texture to this living room.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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The deep Benjamin Moore Westcott Navy paint color adds a sleek, modern polish to the casegoods.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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Lighting by Schoolhouse Electric, leather sofa from Restoration Hardware, and textile accents by West Elm are combined to form a rich and elegant room.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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The cozy reading room features many traditional elements styled in contemporary ways.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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Sparkling coffee table accessories from Salt & Sundry add a dapper study vibe fitting of its contents.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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Though the wood paneling on the fireplace wall remains for practical reasons, the woodwork was painted a dark navy blue to add contrast and lend contemporary flair.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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An impromptu family gallery wall was created behind the tufted grey sofa from Room & Board (in an area with little wall space in which to display framed artwork).
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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A dignified leather butterfly chair sourced from The Citizenry is draped in faux fur for contrast and softness.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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The gallery wall features framed family photos taken around the time when the 1936 house was built.
Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library, on Design*Sponge
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A new built-in desk area with open bookshelves makes use of an awkward corner.
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Bound volumes of Esquire, founded by the homeowner's grandfather, are prominently displayed on new built-in bookshelves.
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The 275-square-foot library is designed with a roughly symmetrical layout.

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