DC Design House Master Bath and Interview with designer Darlene Molnar and artist Natalie Steinebrunner!


I’m so excited to share this gorgeous master bath from this year’s DC Design House!  I was also lucky enough to snag an interview with the designer, Darlene Molnar, and local artist Natalie Steinebrunner, whose work is featured in the room.

Can you start by giving me a little introduction about the project, and how you got involved?

This is my first time working on the DC Design House. I have toured past DC Design Homes and this year I felt that I was in a position to lend my love for interiors to the cause. I was thrilled to be selected and assigned my top choice – the master bathroom.

How did you initially approach designing the bathroom? What inspired you?

The onyx tiles throughout the bathroom were my starting point in the room. I wanted to bring in rich tones to complement the onyx’s honey. I used navy wallpaper to accent a few walls, giving a touch of depth to the vast space. I wanted to maintain the airiness of the room, so I left the remaining walls light. Accessory selections were made to coordinate with the existing vanity – dark wood and silver. Artwork became a big part of the room. I wanted to infuse in some eclecticism, so I decided to mix art styles (paintings, screen prints, and photographs) in mixed frames on a gallery-style wall.

The use of art throughout the room is really striking – can you tell us a bit about the art, how you selected it, and do you often find yourself utilizing artwork in similar ways in your other projects?

I wanted to feature emerging local artist, so I selected works by Natalie Steinebrunner, Nicole Borgea, and Aaron Lager. This is my first time working with Natalie Steinebrunner and she has quickly become one of my favorite artists in the area. I find her work modern and refreshingly approachable. One of my favorite works of hers, Fragments, combines both of her specialties in a set of three collaged fabric and acrylic on paper. The one-of-a-kind set was created exclusively for the DC Design House. Nicole Bourgea is an expressionist artist whom I have known for many years. I am particularly drawn to her artistic process and meaningful approach to her work. Her ability to convey a deep understanding of each subject she paints has completely altered the way I view portrait paintings. I wanted to bring a bit of that depth and sense of wonder behind a portrait to this space. Aaron Lager is an emerging artist and native Washingtonian whom I have also known for many years. I find his experimental approach to be engaging and representative of the energetic pulse of emerging artists in DC. I selected four of Aaron’s photographs to showcase his diverse eye – the peacefulness of an evening lake view and a blooming flower and the grittiness of an old mill and Parisian rooftop. Every project is different and this is the first time I have relied solely on a select demographic (DC-based) to supply art. This is also the first time I have mixed such a diverse selection of work. Gallery walls are trending right now and in the past I have had clients agree to gallery-style walls that are one type of work – black and white photos in exactly the same frame. Maybe some silver mixed in. Or all abstract art, for example. There was hesitation to mix it up. I wanted to show how mixing up both the style of art and style of framing can kick things up a bit.

I noticed that you are LEED certified. How does environmental awareness affect your design process and final product? How does it benefit your clients?

I became LEED certified to stay on top of what has been happening in the design world for several years now – the evolution towards designing for healthier homes and work places. I often talk with clients about green design basics such as energy efficiency and recycled materials. I think having a LEED backgrounds benefits my clients because it allows me to break down some of the often-overwhelming LEED principles into ways they can implement on their own.

Tell me about those fabulous chairs we see with the beautiful leatherwork!!

The customized Harry Bertoia chairs are my favorite piece in the house! They are the result of collaboration between myself and my dad, a professional leatherworker. When I told Design Within Reach my plan for the chairs, they graciously sent two over and Edelman Leather was quick to donate the high-quality leather of my choice! The iconic chrome chairs are beautifully sculptural on their own, but the juxtaposition of soft leather woven throughout adds a one-of-a-kind aspect to them. Each piece of leather was hand cut and each rivet hand fastened. I often like to combine present day artisan with historically iconic pieces in my interiors and these chairs showcase that combination perfectly.

Is there anything else about the 2013 DC Design House or you that we should know or you’d like to share?

I’ve received a lot of inquiries about the chairs mentioned above, so I want to share that while there are only two available at the DC Design House, they are available with endless customization options through my website.

See more of Darlene’s work at DarleneMolnar.com

Next I interviewed featured artist Natalie Steinebrunner, to learn more about her involvement:

How did you get involved with Darlene and the DC Design House 2013?
I recently finished a new body of work that was inspired by patterns and textiles. I thought that the DC Design House would be a great environment to unveil some of my new pieces. It is exciting to see the art in a space layered with other colors, textures and finishes vs. just white gallery walls. I sent Darlene some information about my new artwork and we hit it off.

Were any of these works commissioned specifically for the space, or were they already created?Both. Darlene already had frames for the space that were in specific sizes. Some of my existing artwork fit in those sizes and worked for the space. However, some of them were created specifically for that space. Darlene showed me her inspiration photo that had different tones of blue, honey and creams. With Darlene’s inspiration in mind, I created two custom pieces. The goal was to have them flow and work with the space, but not be too “matchy-matchy.” Darlene has a great eye for creating eclectic spaces.

 Fern,  2012, Monoprint, (Seen framed on the gallery wall by the bathtub)

Wonder, 2012, Acrylic on Canvas, Original 4′ x 5′ (Still available)
(Seen framed 16″ x 20″ print on the gallery wall by the bathtub)

Sky 2, 2012, Monoprint
(As seen framed by the towel rack)

It looks like you love to work in many mediums, from mixed media collages, to paintings, monoprints, and textiles, a lot of these being very textural. Do you think that’s why they lend themselves so well to the space?
I think using texture in design can certainly add another layer of interest.

Custom fabric collages Steinebrunner created for the space based on Molnar’s inspiration photo.

Do you have a love for interiors that goes beyond just adorning walls with beautiful works of art?
Yes! I love working on my home and am obsessed with design blogs and magazines. I am very sensitive to my environment and living space. Good design is very important to me. Art can be used and applied in so many other ways for design products such as rugs, fabrics/upholstery, wallpapers, tiles etc. In the past, I have used some of my paintings for rug design. I am working on some new projects to continue using my art for product design. It is really exciting to see my art in a different medium/format.

Is there anything else you think we should know or would like to share?
In addition to the DC Design House, I will also have some of my collages featured at an upcoming gallery show in Baltimore at the Hamilton Gallery. It is a fashion themed show called BIAS- fashion reaction curated by fashion designer, Julie Bent. (See flyer below. )

See more of Natalie Steinebrunner’s work on NatalieSteinebrunner.com

About The 2013 DC Design House

The 2013 DC Design House, the foremost annual residential design attraction in the region, is a leading fundraising event for Childrens National Medical Center.

Dates: April 14th – May 12th 2013 
2507 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC
Hours: Saturdays-Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased on the DC Design House website.


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