Four different ceilings help open up a Maryland home for coming together and entertaining


When a couple from Venezuela bought a home in Bethesda, Maryland several years ago, the place was in desperate need of liveliness.

The owners love to entertain, but the house was a collection of spaces that were too small. Thus, the architect Richard Loosle-Ortega opened it. “Customers come from a culture that values ​​family gatherings and often having fun with friends. Open spaces allow this interaction, ”he said.

New owners love color too, and architects have conducted multiple test studies to find the right combinations for each room. To ensure the definition between the rooms of the open plan space, four different heights and types of ceilings have also been brought together to create a bold and playful renovation.

The entire main level of Casa Venezuela has been renovated including the living areas, kitchen, study, dining room, master bedroom plus bathroom and a new guest bathroom. A new addition in the back has been built on the 3,000 square feet of the house. footprint.

The living room of the house has retained its old ceiling and the all-white palette highlights the colorful paintings. Immediately adjacent is the dining area, infused with color thanks to a sloping swept ceiling in a bright orange and exposed joists in a matching warm hue.

BEFORE: The original dining room had a small window and was separate from the kitchen.
NOW: The new sloped ceiling glows orange above the dining area and features exposed wood joists to further define the area.

Nine foot ceilings rise above the downstairs kitchen and office – the office can be separated from the kitchen with large blue sliding doors and offers a view of the courtyard with two walls of windows .

Building materials include Azek decks, Hardie exterior panels, Ikea kitchen cabinets, and white oak floors. Durable features include recycled decks, steel balustrades (low maintenance) and double glazed windows.

Casa Venezuela, completed in early summer 2020, took two years to design and build.

Architect Richard Loosle-Ortega, partner of KUBE Architecture in Washington, DC, answers a few questions about Casa Venezuela:

BEFORE: The old kitchen was small and isolated from the rest of the ground floor of the house.
NOW: The kitchen ceiling is raised and the room includes a splash of bright blue with complementary yellow counter stools.

What was the old house like and how did you change it?

The kitchen, dining room and living room were in separate rooms with small openings between them. The views to the back yard were through small windows.

We opened up these spaces to create a large, fluid space between the living room, dining room and kitchen. The open plan allows integration between spaces. The addition gave us enough space to make the first floor more comfortable and to add an additional office.

A new terrace, large windows and sliding doors now allow views and light to flood the interiors. Although the plan is open, each space is still defined by different ceiling heights and other design elements.

Can you tell us more about each of the ceilings?

The ceiling – eight feet – in the front living room remained unchanged, extending from the front of the house to the new steel beam adjacent to the dining room.

To help define the dining area, we decided to capture the space of the existing hipped roof attic space and transform it into a higher sloped ceiling with skylights and exposed joists.

THEN: Walls and a lower ceiling surrounded the original living room.
NOW: Natural light and colorful artwork illuminate the living room which is defined by a steel ceiling beam.

Between the existing house and the addition is a narrow, seven-foot-high transitional space that houses structural elements. To avoid cutting into the roof structure of the existing house, the addition slides under the eaves, resulting in a lower ceiling.

On the other side of the transition space is the kitchen and office, with a ceiling nine feet higher. As this is the end of the house, a higher ceiling allowed us to use larger windows and bring in more light.

The windows are striking, are they oversized and difficult to install?

The windows and doors have been deliberately chosen to be large in order to bring as much light as possible into the interior space and present views of the rear garden from anywhere in the house. Windows of this size – eight feet tall – weren’t difficult to install, but the back wall had to be stiff enough to maintain its structural integrity.

BEFORE: The old bathroom was small and cramped.
NOW: A slatted window over the shower draws natural light into the remodeled bathroom.

What were the challenges of building this new space?

There weren’t a lot of challenges during construction. The main design challenge was how to bring more light into the interior and how to create a fun space for entertaining and spending time. Opening up the floor plan and adding large windows and skylights helped achieve this.

Georgie Binks is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributor to The Star. Contact her at [email protected]

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