It all began when an interior designer friend asked architect Stephen Muse whether an interior wall could be moved to increase the size of a wet bar in this 1970s home. As a favor, Muse looked it over. While on site, he gave the owner his résumé and it turned out that “she knew a dozen of the projects we'd done, and liked them,” he said. She hired Muse, and the project grew in scope from one wall to every room.

Grand Award: Whole-House Remodeling: Now Worth the Drive

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It all began when an interior designer friend asked architect Stephen Muse whether an interior wall could be moved to increase the size of a wet bar in this 1970s home.

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Built in a wooded area, the house's rear façade faced the street, with access to the front via a long private drive. “There was great anticipation of what you'd find because the drive was so long,” Muse said. “But it was very disappointing when you got to the top of the hill.” The clients wanted a nicer entry sequence — starting with the driveway — as well as better connections between and improved quality of interior spaces.

Muse created an entry court, making the driveway terminus more welcoming. “It's a wonderful elevation change, and they really defined the courtyard with the columns,” the judges said. The front “porch” and loggia offers shade, while allowing great swaths of light through rectangular openings. The new entry-wayopened the original cramped foyer and brought what the judges described as “a spine of light” into the home.

To improve interior flow, Muse relocated the stair in the entry. Other improvements include renovation of all interior surfaces with a varied palette of finishes, replacing windows, and a new lighting system to highlight the clients' growing art collection.

The judges liked that the home has a “warm” rather than a “stark” modern look. It has “good, quiet modern architecture,” one said.

Category: Whole-house remodeling, over $500,000

Location: Washington, D.C.

Contractor: George Fritz, Horizon Builders, Crofton, Md.

Designer: Stephen Muse, Muse Architects, Bethesda, Md.

Interior designer: Jose Solis Betancourt, Washington, D.C.

Landscape architect: Holt Jordan, Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture, Washington, D.C.