Southern Hospitality on Capitol Hill

After decorating her client’s historic D.C. townhouse, Andrea Houck helps plan a summer celebration that takes cues from the interior design and the gardens beyond.
Capital Hill townhouse and garden
The classic Capital Hill townhouse received a front garden makeover, taming the wildness to allow for seating.

When lifelong Louisianian Bridget Boustany and husband Charles moved to Washington, D.C., they each had their own wishes. Charles wanted to be near the Capitol so he could bike to work, while Bridget was intent on finding a home with enough outdoor space to cultivate an urban oasis for entertaining. Luckily, both requests were fulfilled with a historic townhouse boasting front and rear gardens in a storied Capitol Hill neighborhood

Bridget fell hard for the embroidered silk floral fabric from Pierre Frey that set the palette for the interiors.

To help her with the interiors, Bridget knew she wanted a fellow Southerner who would understand her love of formality, antiques, and Southern hospitality. Her search led to Washington, D.C., designer Andrea Houck, originally from Morganton, North Carolina. “It was design love at first sight,” says Bridget. “We both like the same things—florals, color, and a welcoming Southern aesthetic. Adds Andrea, “We had such a great working relationship that developed into a friendship.”

Dining room of a Capital Hill townhouse
A Brunschwig & Fils grasscloth softens the dining room, while a crystal chandelier adds a glamorous note.
Powder room with a bold Aubriet floral wallpaper from Designer's Guild over the sink.
Aubriet wallpaper from Designers Guild creates a floral explosion in the powder bath.

While respecting the home’s history, Andrea wanted the interiors to also speak to Bridget’s personal preferences. “To some degree, the house dictates what you can do in a space,” she says. “This home’s historical past paired with Bridget’s love of antiques instantly imparted a sense of formality, but we also wanted a little twist that was feminine and colorful.” With that in mind, the designer conceived a palette defined by Bridget’s favorite hues of purples and lavender. “Once Andrea showed me the embroidered silk floral fabric from Pierre Frey with lavender in the design, I knew it was perfect for this home,” says Bridget. Andrea used the silk for the window treatments in the parlor and then pulled in complementary colors and patterns. To temper the elegant fabric, she chose a cut velvet stripe for the large ottoman and purple-hued tweed for two benches. And for a contemporary touch, she added in metallic finishes as well as more colorful art.

A disparate grouping of china and glassware comes together on matching placemats over a linen tablecloth.

While the interior architecture was in beautiful condition, the front and back garden spaces needed attention. For someone hailing from sultry South Louisiana, Bridget found the D.C. climate especially enjoyable, so an alfresco entertaining space was important to her. “We have the most beautiful fall and spring here, and much of summer is temperate as well,” she says. She worked with Derek Thomas of Thomas Landscapes to add more patio space for seating and dining. “We also put in a lot of bulbs that I didn’t get to enjoy as much back home because we didn’t have that cold spell for planting,” Bridget says. The garden is rife with tulips, daffodils, hellebores, and rubrum lilies, as well as evergreens that keep it green throughout the seasons.

Bridget and Andrea fluff the floral arrangements before the guests arrive for the garden party.
Bridget decorated cookies to fit with the garden party theme of lemonade and flowers.

To celebrate the last breath of summer, Bridget asked Andrea to help her plan a backyard party that paired casual and formal elements to charming effect. The two delighted in pulling together a lively garden gathering that included a multitude of floral arrangements starting at the front door and culminating on the back patio. The pair worked with local floral talent Ursula Gunther of fleursDC for arrangements that stylistically and colorfully linked the interiors to the outside. “I wanted to incorporate flowers that made sense in the house and in the garden—nothing too avant-garde and wild,” says Ursula.

Ursula Gunther of fleursDC added a surprise among the hydrangea blooms by including striking bicolor anemones.

Inside, the floral designer employed seasonal dahlias from a local Maryland farm, along with delphiniums and garden roses from Rose Story Farm in California. “I made sure the arrangements echoed each other without blending in too much or popping out in a way that would distract from the interiors,” she says.

Capital Hill townhouse garden with brick wall and arbor
In the back garden, a lush, green arbor creates a focal point that helps to highlight the patinaed brick wall.

For the outdoor tables, Andrea presented Ursula with an abundance of purple and green hydrangeas from her neighbor’s garden. To create an element of surprise, Ursula tucked bicolor purple anemones into the hydrangea bunches. “Their black eyes and twisting stems brought movement and a slightly modern vibe to the hydrangeas,” she says. “I think the anemones created a conversation starter when guests sat down at the table—an ‘ooh, what is that flower’ moment!”  Such details were one of many that came together to bring Bridget’s vision to life—a laid-back, Southern-style celebration smack dab in the bustle of Capitol Hill.

By Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Erik Kvalsvik & Stacy Zarin Goldberg