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THE ART OF LIVING

as seen in Washington Spaces Written by Trish Donnally Photography by Morgan Howarth

After living in Potomac, MD, for 27 years, in a 4,500-square-foot farmhouse that was close to a century old and brimming with antiques and art, David and Flora Kanter made a dramatic change. With their three daughters grown and maintenance of the house becoming a larger task, the couple bought a 2,700-square-foot condominium and filled it with modern furnishings and local art. The idea of the Kanters’ move came in stages. First, David relocated his law office from Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, to Chevy Chase, MD. Then, gazing out the window from his new perch, the native Washingtonian noticed construction of Chase Point Condominium beginning across the street, just inside the DC line.

In the Family
“I have no interest in retiring, so I thought a good compromise would be to get the stress of the commute out,” says David, founding senior partner of Kanter & Wishnow, Chartered. “But we understood that if we were going to move, it would be for a lifestyle change. We were not just moving to a smaller house,” he says. “An urban environment was the absolute appeal.” While David was excited about the prospect of moving and enjoyed watching the progress of the PN Hoffman building daily, Flora, an artist and art consultant, resisted the change at first. She had loved rearing her daughters and entertaining in her old house with its great character. “I had a house full of antiques; what was I going to do with all that here? This was a totally different look,” Flora says. The Kanters held an estate sale and started with a clean slate. And who better to consult than their style-savvy niece, Janice Kanter, interior designer/buyer and one of the principals of Theodores? Her father is the Theodore, founder of Theodores modern furniture store, and David’s brother. Her grandfather, Mike Kanter, also owned a store, I.C. Furniture on H Street in Northeast Washington, DC, in the 1950s and ’60s.

Inspired By Art
Flora and David’s collection of paintings by local artists launched the design of their new home. “The art was key,” Flora says. Janice designed their condominium working only from floor plans because the building was yet to be completed. “They bought the unit because it afforded them walls, which they needed for their art. A lot of the others had so much glass,” says Janice, who suggested neutral furnishings and wall coverings. “I knew the art, and a lot of it had color and movement. This backdrop let us go anywhere and just let the art speak,” she says.

While most of the furnishings are new and available through Theodores, a few favorite pieces made the transition. Janice complemented their existing round dining table by Guy Chaddock, for instance, with banquettes that echo the curve of the table. When they expand the table with leaves, and pull up extra chairs, the couple can comfortably seat 12. Flora adores her new lifestyle. “I have come around. It’s wonderful to walk outside, go to a movie, and go grab dinner somewhere. I’m ‘citified’,” she says.

Through an Art Consultant’s Eye
For the last 11 years, Flora Kanter and her partner, Pamela Frederick, of ArtSPACE Management LLC, have placed original local artwork in residential and corporate environments, including The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown.

“A lot of people have art and don’t know what to do with it. There are so many things you can do with artwork to make it come alive,” she says. Among Flora’s suggestions:

  • The simpler the frame, the better. A fancier frame often competes with the image.
  • Change the framing and matting.
  • Hang similar paintings in a series over a low table; this placement strengthens the artwork.
  • Improve the lighting to make the piece more visible.
  • Reposition – look at where art is hanging and consider whether it’s in the best position.

“Most people tend to hang things too high and they look like they’re floating up to the ceiling. In my opinion, art looks better hanging lower. It’s the proportion of the art to the wall and the furnishings below it that should be considered,” she says.

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