Passion Project

For his personal residence, John Banks and Spitzmiller & Norris transform a 1951 Lewis Crook-designed classic into an elegant retreat that graciously blends inside and out.

Being patient can yield great results in the search for a home, but it’s not always easy, as interior designer John Banks can attest.

“It was time to downsize from my large home,” says Banks, “and I was originally thinking I would move to a town house of some sort, but I couldn’t find anything to suit me even after months of looking.”

The designer’s search ended when a house only two doors up from his current residence became available. Designed by noted residential architect Lewis Crook in 1951, the home was well built and cared for, but dated. Banks, a seasoned home flipper, was fairly confident it could be renovated to his liking, but he brought in architects Robert Norris and Rick Spitzmiller of Spitzmiller & Norris for confirmation. The house was purchased, and the talented trio got to work.

The neoclassical façade and interior detailing appealed greatly to Banks. “The original casework, plaster walls and marble floors were wonderful, so we didn’t change them,” says the designer, “but we added moldings and over-door pediments to rooms that were lacking those beautiful details.”

“The sunroom needed to go with the feel of the original house,” says Norris, “so Greek Doric columns that mimic the façade were added, with large panes of glass between the new family room and the sunroom, making this room bright and airy in feeling. We also added the same Doric columns to the rear exterior.”

Other parts of the home were reimagined for new use—the library was converted into a guest room, and the dining room into a casual family space. And then there’s the master bedroom. “It had no connection whatsoever to the beautiful rear garden, which seemed unfortunate,” says Spitzmiller. “By enlarging a curious, underutilized pass-through area, we were able create a new master bedroom with the best-in-the-house view of the garden.  The former master was put to use as efficient and handsome closet space with enough area remaining for a private office and an expanded master bathroom.”

Banks did need to bring some of his decorating prowess to the house. “Some of the rooms were very dark, so I added in lighter wall colors and carpets and updated furnishings,” he says. While the interiors read fairly traditional to keep with the style of the home, they are well edited and elegant, thanks to choice antiques and inherited pieces, some outfitted in new fabrics, from Banks’ former residence. He also layered in Oushak rugs, soft window treatments, floral patterns, and antique mirrors and light fixtures. It all suits the designer to a T.

“This is my last house—no more flipping,” says Banks. “It has all the space I need, and I certainly didn’t have to move far.”