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Designer’s Paris Notes

La Biennale Des Editeurs De La Decoration…2001

DESIGNER  Jean Bouchoux Higgins, Inside Out Interiors, Inc., Vienna, VA

Every two years, the great fabric houses of the world gather to introduce the latest in color and design to the trade and the public.  This five day show is a definite must for designers wishing to get an advance preview of color and textures for the next two years.  Presented at Quai Branly with a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower, this large exhibit both fascinates and captivates one’s imagination.  The list of exhibitors is endless.  Among those easily recognized are: Boussac, Brunschwig & Fils, Colefax & Fowler, Donghia, JAB, Jaguar, Houles, Jim Thompson, J. Robert Scott, Lelievre, Manuel Canovas, Pierre Frey, Nobilis, Rubelli, shacko Hesslein, De Gournay (wall panels) and Tisserant Art & Style (Christopher Norman).

The colors that I noticed, in particular, were greens, purples, mauves, egg plant, deep apricot, browns, gold, wines and iridescent. The combinations and use of textiles were exceptional.  Many of the exhibitors were showing very large scale prints made possible by changing more traditional prints through today’s computer technology.  This gives a far more contemporary look to a fabric.  Don’t misunderstand, the French will always have their gorgeous silks, etc., but the future for the textile industry in the computer age is about to explode.

An interesting thing happened on this trip.  We (my husband and I) were seated with two Americans in the Exhibit Hall Restaurant during lunch.  It was a delightful experience to meet Rosecrans Baldwin, President and CEO of Bergamo Fabrics along with Lori Weitzner, a designer for Sahco Hesslein fabrics. After we finished eating, we were invited to preview Ms. Weitzner’s designs and the new Rubelli line.  What a luxury to have the designer describe in detail how she gets her inspirations and the interface she has the mills in fabric selections and the combinations of textiles and colors.  Quite a fascinating description.

Ms. Weitzner also designs rugs for a company called Endless Knots.  They are made in Tibet of wood and silk and can be seen at Hollis and Spencer.  Lori Weitzner’s designs are timeless.  This charming young woman has a ton of talent.  Keep an eye on her name.

Grans Baldwin wove us through both the Sahco Hesslein and Rubelli line.  It was very exciting to see the new designs prior to introducing them to the showrooms.  By the way, they will be introduced at J. Lamberth soon.  Be sure to look for what’s hot and in for 2001 and 2002.

In addition to the thrill and chill (brr!) of Paris in January, the exhibit had some exquisite new lighting at Tisserant Art & Style, a Christopher Norman line, which is also J. Lambeth.  We were given a wonderful presentation on the production of one chandelier, describing the labor intensive process involved from design to completion.  Look at their website,

Another item to look for is a wallpaper mural that looks like an entire wall from a Tuscan villa…incredible scenes with a very realistic touch. York Wallcoverings should have this in their books soon.  Of course, the de Gournay panels are breathtaking and were beautifully presented (these are available at Matches at Miley).

While in Paris, we also attended the Paris Furniture Fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibit halls.  I had attended in previous years, so the excitement wasn’t quite what it was the first time but is a huge show introducing some very avant garde designs as well as the more typical furniture styles.  It is an enormous undertaking to do this in one day.  Take at least two days for this event.  We were in the hall featuring mostly French country.  The Grange exhibit was well done and very crowded.  The best part of this show is that even though it is so large, it is all in one location making it easier than High Point.  Just dress warmly. It was very cold.

As well as the two shows we attended, there was another show called “Maison&objet” which was close to Charles de Gaulle Aeroport.  We did not do this show because it was so far out of town but perhaps une autre fois!

Do this once in a lifetime, or if the spirit captures you (as it has me), go just for the experience.  In your free time visit the museums, go to the Village Suisse to browse and look at the gorgeous antiques, take a run around the Place des Vosges or just enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of Paris.  Be sure to have some of the great food and wine while enjoying one of the greatest cities in the world.

Transitional– Colonial/Contemporary Update and Expansion

McLean, Virginia
Two phase project initiated in 1997 with major update and adjustments to existing 4000 sq. ft. home to accommodate client’s special furnishings and lighting. Work included major renovation of interior spaces and blending of new with existing. Phase two, begun in 2004, involved substantial expansion, 2300 sq. ft., and complete renovation of existing kitchen. Space planning for upper level new bedrooms, architectural style for large theater/game room, finishes selections, furnishings, lighting, and tile/stone for new kitchen and baths. Extensive project management assistance during client extended travels.

U.S. Air Force, Europe, Housing Directorate

BEQ/BOQ Furnishings – Provided interior design support to contractor furnishing enlisted and officer billets command-wide. Assistance required site visits, space analysis, and selection of items to install in a wide variety of existing billets. Emphasis was on effective use of space, functionality, durability, and appearance. Program ran over 24-month period.

U.S. Ambassador’s Residence. Seoul Korea

Public Spaces – Provided design recommendations and guidance for arrangement of public/entertainment spaces in the Residence. Structure embraced traditional Korean architecture and presented the interior design challenge of blending East with West styles. Coordinated design concepts with renowned Korean designers to assist in integration of two culture furnishings.

Update Select Custom Home

McLean, Virginia
Complete interior renovation and update of a grand 7000 sq. ft., colonial in a traditional style. Elegant, but dated, home required substantial interior rework; new paints through out, window treatments, carpeting, and specialized cabinetry. Complete new furnishings for entire house. Selected, procured, and, installed all household items, dishes, silverware, and linens.

U.S. Army Club and Community Management Directorate, Far East

Militarv Club Interior Design. Korea and Japan – Developed designs for seven clubs in Korea and two clubs in Japan. These projects involved complete rehabilitation of a wide variety of structures ranging from 30-year-old Quonset buildings to relatively new modern permanent hospitality facilities. Responsibilities included design, sources development, negotiations with local contractors and procurement actions with vendors in the CONUS and throughout the Far East.

Hartell House. CinC’s Mess. U.S. Forces, Korea – Designed and implemented major expansion of the CinC’s mess in Seoul, Korea. Work included the construction of a 30-person theater with special sound enhancing systems and materials. All the public spaces ( dining room, reception area, and lounge) were refurbished and equipped with new furnishings. This effort required close coordination with the Commanders Staff, as well as the Public Works Office, to insure timely completion of the work and compliance with applicable codes.

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Flag Officer’s Wardroom – Obtain furnishings, select fabrics and finishes to refit the Admiral’s wardroom aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The project faced some extraordinary challenges—like the very constrained passageways and even narrower watertight doors below decks. The project was completed and the wardroom was the best furnished in the entire fleet.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Furnish Several Conference Rooms – Provided design theme for the upgrade of several specialty clinic conference rooms. Procured and supervised installation of furnishings.

Transformation from Traditional to Contemporary


Sleek taupe and black living room tones begin the transformation from traditional to contemporary. The tapestry bordered fabrica rug and rich fabrics create a sophisticated yet warm mood.

Integrating Cultural Artifacts
INTERIOR DESIGN Jean Bouchoux Higgins
Inside Out Interiors, Inc., Vienna, VA
TEXT Jane Morley, Washington, DC
PHOTOGRAPHY Omar Salinas HiTech Photo, Tysons Corner, VA

When Jane Pelley moved to the Washington, DC, area in September 1997, she took the opportunity to change the rhythm of her life by making a transition from working woman to lady of the house. With the same single-minded drive with which she managed and grew her own advertising firm in Dallas, Texas, she poured herself into the job of creating a beautiful home for her husband, Scott Pelley, and her two children in McLean, Virginia. An Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CBS News, Scott is often away on assignment, and he came to Washington to cover events at the White House and the activities of the President here and throughout the world. Jane wanted “a beautiful, welcoming, and comfortable environment” for Scott to come home to after a long and hard trip where he could relax and where they could entertain friends and colleagues.

Jane was immediately drawn to the charm of the exterior of the traditional fieldstone and clap-board Cape Cod house situated on five wooded acres that included extensive gardens, a pool and a tennis court. Coming from a zero-lot-line property in Dallas, Jane “liked the idea that we could have a large space, and that the children could play in the woods.” But the interior of the house was another matter. Built in the 1970s, the house was in need of updating, was filled with traditional fabrics and style, and much to Jane’s dismay, the house had virtually no built-in overhead lighting. A major aesthetic and technological transformation would be needed before the Pelleys’ collection of contemporary furniture, art, and lighting fixtures – as well as cultural artifacts from their trips all over the world – would be at home in the house.

The Design

Pelley escapes from the deadlines in the rich luxury of his library. Emmy awards received for news coverage and photographs Pelley took on trips around the world remind him of deadlines to come. 

Pelley escapes from the deadlines in the rich luxury of his library. Emmy awards received for news coverage and photographs Pelley took on trips around the world remind him of deadlines to come.

Enter Jean Higgins, principal of Inside Out Interiors, who was exhilarated by the idea of doing a non-traditional, contemporary interior. “They had some very nice contemporary pieces – a sofa, a couple of overstuffed chairs, a black baby grand piano, a unique dining room table and eight chairs, and some wonderful glass lighting fixtures, including an opaque Venetian glass floral design in delicious primary colors. And Jane was terrific to work with: open to new ideas, enthusiastic, and committed,” Jean recollected. Like the Pelleys, Jean had traveled abroad extensively and had already tackled the problem of integrating interesting, and from a design standpoint, challenging “stuff” into her own home.

Jean Higgins began the project by consulting architect Steven Thomas and together came up with a concept: architectural details would be added to the house – rich wood built-ins, a coffered ceiling – that would add contemporary with a choice of color, woods, and slightly exaggerated scale, but that could easily be “re-visioned” later as appropriate details if the interior were ever transformed back into a traditional one. Jean also brought in master electrician Greg Lucas to design and install overhead lighting in each room as her plan for each room began to evolve through an ongoing dialogue with Jane.

A kitchen corner comes alive with views of the perennial gardens and pool while whimsical fabrics enhance the colors of an opaque, hand blown venitian chandelier the Pelleys bought in Italy. 

A kitchen corner comes alive with views of the perennial gardens and pool while whimsical fabrics enhance the colors of an opaque, hand blown venitian chandelier the Pelleys bought in Italy.

Elegant But Whimsical

The first room they tackled was the dining room. Jean wanted to use a neutral color palette because of the colorful contemporary American and traditional Sengalese art the couple wanted to hang in the room. The walls were painted a very light beige and then a taupe diamond-shaped pattern was applied; sconces were added and also painted taupe. The resulting faux painted walls have an elegant, almost neo-traditional look, but the exaggerated size of the diamonds lends a contemporary, whimsical flair to the room. Jean chose a Baker sideboard and highboy designed by Barbara Barry to complement the table and chairs owned by the Pelleys. One can sense the Biedermeier and northern European influences that shaped these pieces, but in their contemporary setting they look thoroughly modern. The chairs needed reupholstering and Jean wanted to do something colorful, yet remain part of the neutral palette she was using. For the eight chairs she chose a dupioni silk fabric that was available in eight different colors, deep tones that resonate perfectly with the colorful artwork in the room but that don’t blare. Framing projectors and track lighting spotlight the artwork and a unique light fixture the Pelleys brought from their Dallas home completes the room.

The kitchen and breakfast room were in good shape, but Jean wanted a stronger visual connection with the dining room and wanted to integrate the unique Venetian glass chandelier that Scott and Jane had bought in Italy. She chose an informal taupe wallpaper that blends with the faux-painted walls of the dining room and contains a graphic design that is at once abstract and geometrical. A pleated valance for the windows uses a fabric that picks up the colors of the chandelier as well as the palette used in the dining room. The same fabric was laminated with plastic and then used to cover the seats of the chairs in the breakfast room – a wise decision given the Pelleys’ two young children.

With its brick floor, the family room at the back of the house seems to have been a patio at some period in the history of the house. Small windows did not really allow the Pelleys to enjoy the view of their pool, gardens, and woods, and the room lacked interesting details. Architect Steven Thomas suggested enlarging the windows, and adding a coffered ceiling, built-ins, and fireplace and mantel details. Master carpenter Bo Meenehan was brought in to fabricate the granite-countered wet bar, bookshelves, cabinetry and a media center. The Pelleys chose a bird’s eye maple with a light-to-medium stain for the built-ins and Meenehan made two trips to New York to buy the wood. “We had seen bird’s eye maple build-ins in the home of one of Scott’s colleagues at CBS and thought they were gorgeous,” Jane recalled. “When ours were completed I told the couple that their cabinetry had been our inspiration. They laughed and said they would be sure to tell their faux painter”! Accessories in the room include many family photographs, as well as photographs taken by Scott on a trip with Jane to Africa and a framed Masai tribal spear. Jean and Jane decided against treatments for the enlarged windows to maximize the view, but Jean did have the windows coated with a low-E film to protect the wood, upholstery, and the Tibetan rug from too much sunlight.

Jane and Scott already had a beige and black living room sofa they loved and Jean found a Jack Lenor Larson fabric that reminded her of it. She suggested that a black wool rug be custom made with a design that incorporated the fabric as a border, and then used leftover fabric to recover an overstuffed chair the Pelleys brought with them. Recessed lighting, a baby grand piano, and black wood carvings done by Jane’s father, a surgeon in Oklahoma, all add visual drama to the room.

Thinking Over The Top

For his study down the hall, Scott’s only mandate was “think over the top.” Taking him at his word, Jean and Jane again enlisted the taste and craftsmanship of Bo Meenahan to create a room paneled in solid cherry with built-in bookshelves and a media center. When queried about the wood, Scott wanted “thick” and the slightly overscaled wood treatments give an almost postmodern feel to the small room. Multi-tiered mouldings meet the ceiling and pilaster details enrich the design, extended to include cherry-framed and mullioned windows looking onto the lawn and woods beyond. The two most prominent accessories in the room were brought back by Scott from trips to Moscow and Xian, China – a large red Soviet flag and a small-scale reproduction of a life-sized chariot and horses excavated from the same archeological site that revealed the army of terra cotta warriors. The room is an inviting gentleman’s respite from the activities in the rest of the house.

A remarkable aspect of Jean Higgins’ design concept is its flexibility. When the Pelleys make their next move (in fact, Pelley is now with “60 Minutes II” in New York), it will be easy to transform the interior into an entirely traditional one. The rich wood built-ins and the faux-painted geometrics of the dining room walls will have only happy memories of their walk on the wild side as soon as new owners with more traditional tastes move in.


Carpet:  Fabrica Chez Cut Pile
Cut velvet tapestry:  Jack Lenor Larsen from Cowtan & Tout, Washington, DC
Fabrication:  J.Brooks Designer Carpets, Fairfax, VA
Pillows:  Designer Elements, Inc., McLean, VA
Covered lotus vase:  Designer Elements, Inc., McLean, VA
Mirror:  Baker, Knapp & Tubbs, Washington, DC
Raku Pottery:  Pugrant Associates, Washington, DC
Wrought iron vase holder:  Pugrant Associates
Carved ebony bird and head:  Reece Boone, M.D. (Jane’s Father)
Calligraphy silk screen:  Designer Elements, Inc., McLean, VA
Flower arrangement:  Hedgerows, McLean, VA
Lighting:  Greg Lucas
Gazelle sculpture:  Designer Elements, Inc., McLean, VA
Photograph:  Owners’ Original
Artwork:  Dan Rizzie
Window design:  Domain Designs, Seattle, WA
Window fabric:  Kirk Brummel-Jagtar Silk
Window hardware:  J.L. Anthony, Dallas, TX
Tieback hardware:  Houles
Vase with lillies:  Owners’

Tall chest:  Barbara Barry Collection at Baker, Knapp & Tubbs
Glass table & chairs:  Owners’ Collection
Chair fabric:  Lee Behrens Silk at Decorators Walk, Washington, DC
Chair upholstery:  Jose Goncalves, Arlington, VA
Candlesticks & opaque bowl:  Squire Chase, McLean, VA
Chandeliers:  Owners’ Original-Luna Lighting Pendant
Faux diamond walls:  Carolee Morrison, Interior Beaux-Arts
Lighting contractor:  Greg Lucas
Rug:  Shayan Oriental Rugs, Chantilly, VA
Window treatment: Same as living room
Artwork over butler’s tray:  Brenda Kingerly
Butler’s tray table:  Baker, Knapps & Tubbs, Washington, DC
Crystal decanters:  Owners’ Original
Circular metal sculpture:  Design Elements, Inc.
Plant stand:  Pugrant Associates, Washington, DC
Artwork in betwwn windows: Artist unknown from Goree Island, West Africa (purchased on trip to West Africa with President Clinton)

Paint:  Ralph Lauren Suede
Cherry woodwork and carpentry:  Bo Meenehan, Lovettsville, VA
Leather chair:  Grange Furniture, Washington, DC
Rug:  Sav Corp., Washington, DC
Accessories:  Owners’ Collection
Emmys:  Scott Pelley Awards
Lamp:  Home Specialty Store, Reston, VA

Architectural Design:  Steven Thomas, architect
Fabrication, painting & wood selection:  Bo Meenehan, Lovettsville, VA
Tibetan rug:  Galleria Carpets & Rugs, Washington, DC
Chairs:  Baker, Knapp & Tubbs, Washington, DC
Chair fabric:  Decorators Walk, Washington, DC
Sofa:  Decorators Walk, Washington, DC
Sofa fabric:  Decorators Walk, Washington, DC
Sofa table:  McGuire at Baker, Knapp & Tubbs, Washington, DC
Coffee table:  La Barge
End table:  By owners
Gazelle Sculpture:  Designer Elements, Inc., McLean, VA
Photograpghs & Artwork:  Owners’ Collection
Circular Venetian glass platter & stand: Squire Chase, McLean, VA
Stick Basket in fireplace:  Designer Elements, Inc., McLean, VA
Russian boxes:  Owners’ Collection
Crystal Paperweight:  Owners’ Collection

Window and chair fabric:  Telar/Folk Album at Duncan.Higgins.Perez, Washington, DC
4 Each Venetian glass dishes:  Squire Chase, McLean, VA
Furniture, dishes, glassware & linen:  By Owner
Exterior gazing ball: W.Kent Smolinski Landscape Architechts
Window treatment design:  Domain Designs, Seattle, WA
Venetian chandelier:  Owners’ Collection by Marco Polo Glass Studio purchased in Italy
Accessories:  Owners’ Collection
Wallpaper:  Am-thol’o-gy, Impressions Handprinters, Inc., Capital Carousel

A Home For All Seasons – Windover House

Read the full Article below, double click on the pages to enlarge, and select the small square in the topbar to make full page.


When first interviewed for the interior design position for Windover House I thought, what a great project this could be for Inside Out Interiors, Inc. It had such wonderful bones to begin with, a superb addition design by Richard Foster the Architect, and best of all; it was just one mile from the office. It was love at first sight. I liked what I saw and enjoyed the enthusiasm of the owner. The chemistry seemed right and I crossed my fingers.