Inside 4 Beautiful Bethesda-Area Homes

From channeling the French countryside to bringing home the African plains, these stunning pads are filled with punch and personality.



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Out of Africa: Antique African spears flank the fireplace, which is topped with a moody painting of a Masai woman by artist Phyllipa Marrian. A life-size Buddha, which the Sulemans purchased while living in Kenya, centers the room. “It was so inspiring,” Gross says of the couple’s art and artifacts. She papered the walls in metallic, perforated tree bark—with the green wall paint visible behind it—as a sophisticated nod to the palm wood coffee and end tables by Marc Van Rampelberg. The custom green hide rug by Stark and animal-print seat cushions conjure the African plains, as do the gridded-back club chairs by McGuire. “Slim had his imprints all over this room. He wanted this to be his Africa room,” Carisa says.


Photo by Angie Seckinger

At first flight: “The curve of that staircase to me is so extraordinary that I didn’t want to take away from it,” Gross says. “It reminded me of a modern-day Gone With the Wind staircase.” She chose a multitiered crystal chandelier from Fine Arts Lamps to complete the space.


Photo by Angie Seckinger

Like a dream: Dilan Suleman, 10, was in preschool when he moved to Potomac, but Gross created a sophisticated bedroom to last through his childhood. His parents had the striking four-poster bed made from knotted and twisted cedar harvested on a Kenyan tree farm. “The way it comes together is reminiscent of elephant tusks,” Carisa says. Gross added blue fabrics that weren’t too childish, including a fanciful area rug by Jaipur. “Dilan is a Pisces. He’s into fish,” she says. “Whenever I’m doing a kid’s room, I always want to honor their individual personalities.”


Photo by Angie Seckinger

Fit for a king: “My husband wanted a really rich experience in the dining room—golds and purples,” Carisa says. Gross sourced a hand-knotted New Zealand wool rug from Safavieh and aubergine art glass by Mila Brown to set the right tone. She placed the couple’s painting of zebras by Nairobi artist Timothy Brooke over the fireplace for a bold touch. The designer also upholstered the chairs in the couple’s dining set with purple cotton-velvet and gold Kravet Couture fabric with an inlaid elephant pattern on the backs. “Even though it’s elegant, we’re still trying not to forget the African influence,” Gross says, pointing out that she also trimmed the room’s paneling in gold, which enhances the luxurious effect.


The Suleman family in their breakfast area, left to right: Slim, Savannah, Carisa, Gisellah and Dilan. Photo by Michael Ventura​

Natural wonders: The gazebo-like breakfast area provided the perfect dimensions for a teak table and benches by Nairobi furniture maker Marc Van Rampelberg. Gross added a pendant light from Global Views. “Because it’s a contemporary piece, it doesn’t take away from the lines of the table,” she says. The space also includes a simple mohair-covered chair in the sitting area, an ebonized-ash cocktail table, and a tiered bamboo end table.


Photo by Angie Seckinger

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