Stunning Skylights

Area homeowners let the light shine in



(page 3 of 3)

Dome Sweet Dome


Photos by Morgan Howarth

Political consultant Mildred Webber Holmes is admiring the skylight installed above her top-floor landing. “It gives the upstairs the look of a Tiffany lamp. I absolutely love it,” she says. It replaced “a muted, dim skylight that brought in nearly no light—horribly ugly yellowish plexiglass. We couldn’t see the sky.”

Six years after buying their home in the Wesley Heights neighborhood of Upper Northwest D.C., Holmes and her husband, Chris, tasked Anthony Wilder of Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, with redesigning the skylight as part of a third-floor renovation. He’d be drawing new plans for a guest room, bath and sitting area, and while he typically wouldn’t recommend skylights in historic homes, especially in the front of the house, he made a suggestion that the homeowners liked: an octagonal, leaded, pastel-tinged window. 

In this 1928 French country-style home, he found an unusual flat spot on the roof above the third-floor ceiling. At roof level, high enough to be invisible from the street, Wilder’s team placed a square metal box with clear, insulated glass. This outer window makes the skylight waterproof. 

Things were trickier several inches below, in the staircase ceiling. The design team built an octagonal frame to hold the lower window in place. This skylight is a dome, not flat, because “over time, weight can settle and undulate,” Wilder explains. “A dome won’t do that.”

Sunlight heats up lead, which—combined with gravity—would make the window sag. So Wilder added strong metal ribs throughout his design to help support the weight of both the glass and the lead. He also added the color amber around the edges of the glass for warmth. Holmes sees purple, blue around the center circle, and occasionally green and pink. “You can see different colors at different times,” she says. “It’s definitely part of the whimsy.”

It’s part of why visitors clamor for the third-floor guest room, which has a view of the skylight. “Guests go on and on and on about it,” Holmes says. “They fight about it, even though they have to walk up two flights of stairs.”

On sunny days, the skylight brings brightness all the way down to the first floor. It updates the home while fitting in with its classic period appeal. Looking ahead, Wilder says, “this will sell the house. You’ll never see anything like this in any house outside of London or Paris.” 

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Figuratively Speaking

Public school buses in Montgomery County, by the numbers

8 Great ‘Affordable’ Neighborhoods

We’ve rounded up Bethesda-area neighborhoods with nice houses, a strong sense of community, a convenient location—and the relatively low average price of less than $700,000.

New Places to Live

A guide to luxury apartments, condos and townhomes in the Bethesda area

Lovin’ Lancaster

Our roundup of food finds in the Pennsylvania city includes market stands, factory tours and farm-to-table restaurants
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »

French Country Estate

Potomac $1,900,000

Quiet Cul-de-Sac

Bethesda $1,479,000

All the Bells and Whistles

Bethesda $1,335,000

European Style Villa

Potomac $2,495,000

Privacy and a Pool

Bethesda $2,749,000
Edit Module

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading
Local Professionals

Edit Module

Talk With Us

On Social Media

     

Edit Module
Edit ModuleEdit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags