Varma Residence

Washington, DC -

The Varma residence, a 50-year old ranch-style building, has been transformed and modernized to suit the owner’s requirements of a larger, more spacious house, to accommodate the family’s growing needs and to display an extensive art collection. The program includes spaces for entertaining, studying, and working, as well as private areas.

The footprint of the house was a limitation from the start, requiring creative solutions to accommodate all of the programmatic elements, while maximizing volume and square footage. The spatial layout is very efficient; making sure each space has a purpose.

The ground floor and basement levels were renovated, and a second floor was added to expand the home. A volume was added at the ground level to house a conservatory, or ‘floating study’ space. A stair to the upper level is located centrally, alongside a double-height space that links the old and new portions of the home. A balcony overlooks the main space, allowing the owner and their guests the opportunity to remain in the living space below, below, while viewing the art work.

A driving objective to the renovation was to enable the owner to display his extensive art collection. The idea is to live with art, allowing it to be a part of the space, not simply creating a gallery. It was important to incorporate enough wall area into the design to have space for displaying artwork. Glazing at exterior surfaces and wall openings in interior walls were carefully planned specifically for this purpose. To make a suitable backdrop for the artwork, the foyer has a double-height cathedral ceiling. Special attention was paid to controlling light, not merely bringing it into the home.

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