Although Chase Maggiano and Chris Cormier Maggiano owned a delightful bungalow in Washington, D.C., perfect for riding out the pandemic—plenty of space, dog-friendly backyard, you get the idea—Chase heard the siren call of Zillow during lockdown. “We had zero desire to move, but I didn’t want to think about [COVID] anymore,” he says of browsing real estate listings for sport. Today, the Chevy Chase, Maryland, house that architect Pierre “Paul” Childs designed for himself and his wife, Evelyn, is better off for that escapist pursuit. Beginning in late 2020, the Maggianos purchased and updated the modernist marvel, which likely would have been torn down otherwise.
The hobby turned serious when Chase stumbled upon the cylindrical building, which the April 1978 issue of Architectural Digest called “a graceful tower.” Yet he also noticed that the Childs residence had been languishing on the market, especially by pandemic standards: “Save for a couple of appliances, everything in the house was original to 1975, and I think people were put off by those needs.” A teardown-minded developer had indeed submitted an offer to purchase the place. But Evelyn Childs’s brother, who was overseeing the transaction and protective of his family’s legacy, chose the Maggianos for their commitment to stewardship.
Chris’s professional architect training (he now works as a political and philanthropical advisor), prepared the couple for the renovation at hand. They were also armed with Childs’s hand-drawn construction documents, which revealed, for example, what a necessary roof replacement could or could not accommodate structurally. The new homeowners paid further attention to the drawings’ annotations to discern the original architect’s desires from his budgetary compromises.
Because Childs devoted many of those comments to affordable surfaces, the Maggianos thought extensively about finishes. “Our goal was to stay as true as we could to Paul’s intentions for each space,” Chase says, noting that he and Chris either honored Childs’s original sources or deduced the materials he might have chosen today. They removed the acres of wall-to-wall carpet, mostly installing oak in its place. While the couple reconfigured the compartmentalized bathrooms to feel more commodious, they made sure those spaces still possessed the curved forms and penny-tile cladding of yesteryear. Outdoor lights now run on a Philips Hue system, which have most recently bathed the curved façade in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.