Before & After: An Esquire Magazine Library

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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

  1. pia says:

    what an incredible makeover!

  2. Leslie says:

    I love this! I’ve been trying to think of how to make a library in my living room, and this is so classic but fresh.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Stunning! Love those dark walls contrasted by that butter soft leather.

  4. That really went from banal to fabulous. Powerful makeover. I bet the pink house was much loved in its day.
    Books always look good.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Very nice!

  6. Kiki says:

    Gorgeousness by the gallon – LOVE that built-in wonderful library – one of my many (surely never to be fullfilled) dreams…. Love that chair and the furry cover in pic 8 and adore the warm fuzz of no 10. Thanks for feeding my eyes :)

  7. Kaitlyn says:

    I love it. Classic! Good job!

  8. kimithy says:

    Dang, that is an awesome makeover! Well done!


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