by gene meyer | December 23, 2013 | Lifestyle
The sprawling, six-bedroom home underwent a $1 million renovation.
Traditional—not edgy, not showy, but tasteful and a bit eclectic. The words aptly describe the Spring Valley home of Sarah and Jon Talcott, a colonial on steroids that Sarah, a real estate agent for 24 years, has transformed from its more standard roots to something rather spectacular.
It is even more so during the holiday season, when Sarah decorates the house with bouquets of flowers: white orchards, light blue and light lime green hydrangea, Hypericum berries in rose and Celine green, and leaves and wreaths from magnolia branches, the last from her mother’s front yard. The Christmas tree, set at the foot of a circular staircase leading to the second-floor bedrooms, will have white lights and ornaments that the couple has collected over the years, with the addition of a hand-carved wood Nativity crèche. And, of course, they will be displaying the 20 or so nutcrackers they have collected, turning a small area of their home into a “nutcracker suite.”
The family room features recessed halogen lighting and subdued hues.
It’s all in a season’s work for the native Washingtonian and agent for TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. As she was growing up in Georgetown and attending Holy Trinity School, Talcott and her sister would accompany their mother, Francesca, as she went about her real estate business. Before long, Sarah had caught the brokerage bug, and she entered the field immediately after high school.
Sarah and Jon Talcott—he’s a securities lawyer and partner with Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough—bought their home in December 2005 for just under $2 million. They married in March 2006. But the house needed some work, so the couple invested $1 million in remodeling and in upgrades before moving in that August.
Sarah Talcott enjoys luxe yet classic designs like these holiday place settings, along with a vintage Carl Springer table.
They put in all new electrical and plumbing, remodeled the bathrooms and kitchen, and renovated the backyard pool, putting in new tiles, among other updates. “Jon has always been really easygoing and has let me make all the decisions,” Sarah says, smiling. “Of course, I ask his opinion; not that I take it—but I ask.”
With Sarah overseeing the work, walls were removed, headers raised, baseboards and crown molding replaced. Recessed halogen lights were installed in the ceilings. The rooms now flow into each other, from the less formal sitting room on the left as you enter the house to the formal parlor on the right, which opens onto the backyard-facing dining room adjoining the kitchen. Flanking the large, open doorway into the dining room are two carved, wooden palm trees that they purchased in Florida, which, they were told, had been found in an old hotel in the state. A shell collection from the Bahamas is displayed inside a glass cabinet in the same room. “They are a little more interesting than plates,” Sarah jokes.
The kitchen counter is made of limestone with seashells cut on the bias.
The furniture is classic: traditional, large stuffed sofas and armchairs. The interior could be the setting for a Norman Rockwell painting. Vintage prints of horses and Italian Renaissance–era architectural drawings adorn the walls. There is even a grandfather clock that is a family heirloom from Jon’s side. A number of family pictures rest on solid wooden tables.
At one end of the first floor is the garage, downsized to accommodate a mudroom, coat room, exercise room, and pantry. At the opposite end is Jon’s study, formerly a Florida room. It is distinguished by a large chandelier made from antlers and a photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt, dated Christmas 1941 and warmly inscribed “from your old friend” to Jon’s grandfather, Morris S. Tremaine, who was New York State comptroller from 1927 to 1941.
Jon Talcott’s study boasts soaring ceilings and a chandelier made from antlers.
Floors throughout the house are in white wood, and bookshelves are everywhere. The redesigned layout lends itself well to entertaining, which the Talcotts do frequently.
The brick, stone, and frame house, on a half-acre corner lot, has about 7,200 square feet of livable space. With six bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths, it amply suits their family, which includes three boys: Sarah’s stepson at Bowdoin College, the couple’s high school son attending Phillips Academy, and their five-year old, who is in kindergarten at Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School.
Instead of plates, the dining room’s cabinet presents seashells collected from the Bahamas.
Among other activities, the couple is involved with the Green Door, a nonprofit organization that helps the mentally ill return to society; Jon sits on the board. Last year, they cochaired the Green Door’s fundraising ball with former US Senator Tom Daschle and his wife, Linda. Sarah has also been active with St. Albans School. In 2010, she was co-chair of its fundraising auction, and her home was among those on the annual St. Albans Christmas house tour. Then, as now, her decorating style, she says, was “nothing outrageous, but classical and a little whimsical. You don’t need to go overboard.”
photography by greg powers