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Digest Design IV: On Deck With Martha

May 21, 2019

I recently toured one of  Vicas Interiors’ completed projects, a spectacular new build modern McLean residence. Martha was placing patio furniture on the deck above the pool area and explaining the elaborate landscaping required to build a hill around the putting green.
(Photo by: msvicasinteriors.com)
DISH: Every project is different and by the time you focus on a client's outdoor space, you know their style and budget. What is your primary objective/vision that is a constant?
VICAS: The outdoors is an extension of their indoor living space so it should have the same feel and style. It should be a “room” and not depart from the style inside. 
Outdoor finishing is a major investment. Good furniture will last and look great for many many years. 
(Photo by: msvicasinteriors.com)
We love to use outdoor rugs to help soften and define spaces. They work wonders! 
Seating should be comfortable and accommodate the same numbers that an outdoor dining area does.  Dining/bar dining chairs should always be comfortable.
(Photo by: msvicasinteriors.com)
It’s important to mix furniture from different vendors or at the very least different styles from the same vendor, otherwise your outdoor spaces tend to look like a furniture showroom.  
Chaises are classic but more people are interested cabanas these days. Invest in a really good umbrella for shade.  The base needs to be heavily weighted. I’m a big fan of the rectangular cantilevered type. 
This porch photo with a fireplace has a rustic Chinese inspired coffee table with very contemporary seating. It keeps it interesting. 
(Photo by: msvicasinteriors.com)
DISH: What do you look for in outdoor textiles?
VICAS: In covered spaces, you have a lot more leeway on fabrics and cushions. When cushions are completely open to the elements, it is important to invest in really good ones that have a special type of filling that is called reticulated foam. It allows water to flow through and not get waterlogged. There is nothing worse than going to sit outside on a beautiful day just to discover that it rained the night before and the seats are soaking wet. 
(Photo by: msvicasinteriors.com)
Outdoor fabrics are amazing these days and come in almost unlimited colors, textures and patterns. We are using them inside often. 
They are bleach cleanable regardless of color. Believe me, my clients have all had experiences where they have had to test the manufacturer claims!
DISH: How do you add visual interest throughout the outdoor areas?
VICAS: Throw pillows creates the mood and adds punch and excitement or elegance to the space. 
Lighting is critical for atmosphere. Candles, hurricanes, lamps on porches. It’s just as important to layer lighting outside as it is inside. 
(Photo by: msvicasinteriors.com)
Fireplaces and pits extend the season to nine months in DC, and we love them!
I defer to the experts on landscaping but I think that using flowers, potted plants and trees in covered and uncovered locations completes the look. 

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Break into Architecture & Design With Simon Jacobsen

May 12, 2019

Andrea Koppel interviewed Simon Jacobsen, founding partner of the internationally acclaimed Georgetown-based architectural firm Jacobsen Architecture, LLC Wednesday, May 8, 2019 on Time4Coffee.


Download podcast or watch online.

Andrea Koppel (Photo by: imdb.com) Andrea Koppel


Simon Jacobsen is a recipient of many prestigious awards in architecture and design from The American Institute of Architects, The Society of American Registered Architects and he is also an inductee of Architectural Digest’s AD100. 



  • How to break into architecture and design
  • How the qualities of energy and confidence can be a super fuel to propel you in this industry
  • Why social intelligence is a paramount skill to cultivate
  • Why your major in college doesn’t matter but why a graduate school degree may make the difference
  • How traveling the world can help you become a better architect and/or designer
  • Why you should watch the movie Apollo 13 to get a sense of the stresses involved in this profession
  • Why you should listen to T4C episode #72 to learn more about Simon’s current job and his career

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Digest Design III: Martha Vicas Kitchen Makeover

April 26, 2019

“Remodeling a kitchen makes such a difference,” explained Martha Vicas during a walk through of her latest makeover in a stately brick 1900s built colonial NW residence.


“It’s the heart of the home,” she continued, pointing to the custom gris stone and oak bar in what was recently an enclosed patio, now part of the extended dining area.

Before the remdoel (Photo by: Barnes Vanze Architects) Before the remdoel

Long-time clients, Vicas recently remodeled their weekend home in Annapolis with a bright white gleaming kitchen. The family were soon finding the dark wood, granite and oversized black-and-white tiles in their DC home kitchen lacking by comparison. Time to call in M. S. Vicas Interiors again.


Before she starts, this designer always take a complete inventory. Drawer by drawer, she walks through the kitchen with her clients to see what’s there, what they have, what they use. From utensils and spices to tableware, even emptying the dishwasher to assess pivoting room and ease of access to storage cabinets. Are cookbooks at the right height, food visible in the refrigerator, plates and glassware reachable from shelves?


After taking stock, Vicas inquires about all the must haves. “One of the best ways to see what the clients really like is collect Pinterest photos. Lots of them.”


"The three main elements of a kitchen design are appliances, finishes and counter tops."

After the remodel (Photo by: Barnes Vanze Architects) After the remodel

This family loved the blue satin finish cabinetry and the special shade of off-white custom lacquered cabinetry. To coordinate with the rest of the home, wood trim around the windows was done in a brighter white. 

(Photo by: Barnes Vanze Architects)

Lots of natural light streaming in, but so many windows presented a challenge when it came to selecting the right material for backsplashes. With a limited amount of space between sill and counter, tile was nixed in favor of the same marble used on the island and counter tops. 


Originally wanting quartz, Vicas persuaded her clients to go with a subtle blue grey veined marble, her preferred counter top material, for its natural beauty, "After all, marble has been used in Greek and Roman temples for centuries… But it does need to be honed, as it comes out of the quarry shiny.  You must seal the stone after installation and reseal it yearly.”


To pick the perfect slab, she brings all her paint and tile samples with her to make the selection in good light before the fabricator delivers the stone she’s chosen to the site. 

Pendant lights (Photo by: Barnes Vanze Architects) Pendant lights

When it comes to lighting, some clients like pendants, others recessed. Adding a bit of “jewelry’ to the decor, pendants are the decorative choice. In this home, Vicas advised her clients to use pendants in the kitchen rather than the dining room. Not in both places.


Mixed metals is one of her favorite details. “Brass is very popular and looks great with the blue cabinetry, but not for faucets because they get too much usage and will patina.”  She chose a bronze finish for the pendant lights.

New oak floor (Photo by: Judith Beermann) New oak floor

To harmonize with the rest of the home, which has 2 3/4” oak flooring, she selected a 5” oak for the kitchen area applied in the other direction.


The most rewarding part of a project for Vicas is to see her clients’ reaction to the finished product. This kitchen remodel was no exception.

(Photo by: Barnes Vanze Architects)

“We love it! The aesthetics, and now there really is a place for everything!”

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