The 1970s Great Falls rambler Tracy Eiler and Randall Jackson bought in 2021 did not match their contemporary style. The house had multiple additions and different styles inside. But it had 5 acres of beautiful landscaping, plenty of space for large family gatherings, and room to display their art collection.
“The bones were right, but nothing else was right. The color was really drab. The interior was like this kind of yucky, pale yellow,” says Eiler. “We wanted bright and airy and something that would really let the light in and have an indoor-outdoor feel.”
Previous additions turned the former 1,500-square-foot house into 6,000 square feet, Jackson says.
“The layout is kind of odd, we joke around and call it the ‘Franken house’ all the time because you would never design it the way that it is laid out. But for us and our lifestyle and our big family, it’s perfect because of all these places where you can go and have a private conversation or just relax and read a book,” Eiler says.
The couple hired interior designer Laura Hildebrandt of Vienna-based design firm Interiors by LH to bring in their style, show off their art, and make everything cohesive.
A Space for Art
Hildebrandt chose Benjamin Moore Gray Huskie paint to unify the entire space.
“I picked up on the tone from the stone of the fireplace and from the stone in their kitchen granite,” she says.
“They had such varied art. They’re huge art collectors. That was really my main focus. It was, ‘How do I tie in all of this art and this incredible landscaping that you can see from everywhere, and really make it look like my homeowners?’” says Hildebrandt. “That’s why I decided to do kind of a neutral background and let the art really sing and speak and be the focus of their home.”
Eiler and Jackson, tech executives who moved from Silicon Valley, each collected art before getting married, then bought pieces together.
“We really love organic shapes. We love figurative art,” says Eiler.
“I just bought art if I saw it, and it just sort of spoke to me. I didn’t have a rhyme or reason to it, so the collection was kind of eclectic,” says Jackson, who put his artwork into storage when he originally moved from Falls Church to California.
“We took it out of storage. We started putting it together and saying, ‘I can’t believe how well this works together,’” he says.
Their collection includes paintings and sculptures by artists from around the world: Paris-based artist Patricia Simsa; South African artist Gail Altschuler, who is based in London; Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, sculptor Letwin Mugavazi; and U.S. artists Varnette P. Honeywood and Kadir Nelson. Some of Nelson’s works are part of the permanent collections of the House of Representatives, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Eiler says she bought Jackson a baseball-themed print of Nelson’s for Father’s Day only to find out Jackson had bought a work by Nelson decades earlier.
“We didn’t know that it was Nelson until I took it to get it reframed, and we took it out of the frame, and it was like ‘Oh my god, it’s the same exact guy’ but early in his career and the style is quite different,” says Eiler. “It’s really cool.”
A brightly colored painting by Honeywood that depicts African women with differing shades of skin hangs above their bed. Honeywood’s artwork has appeared in TV shows, including The Cosby Show and A Different World.
In an area of their home that the couple calls the lounge, Hildebrandt used “soothing and natural colors” — blues, beiges, and greens.
“Throughout the year, you’re going to get the different colors out the windows. … I really wanted to kind of have beautiful fabrics and textures, but I didn’t want them to compete with the artwork and the landscape. It really had to be like a marriage of everything,” says Hildebrandt.
In that room, a custom Chesterfield sofa in Romo velvet in Forenza Marjoram faces a bank of windows, while an all-black mobile that Eiler commissioned from MODmobiles hangs from the vaulted ceiling.
“We just love it because it just brings a little bit of motion to the room, which I think really works beautifully with the big windows,” says Eiler.
Hildebrandt says she used custom-designed Lucite tables to further enhance the mobile and the artwork.
“We wanted something in the corner that was light but still had weight, so I thought the Lucite would be perfect. And it really just gives a little bit of sparkle,” says Hildebrandt.
In the dining area, an 11-foot contemporary table by Julian Chichester seats 12. “We put these low chairs all around the table … and they just work perfectly,” Jackson says.
“I’m so delighted because we wanted to have a table that could seat many, many people comfortably, and we have it,” Eiler says.
Fit for a Queen
While Hildebrandt helped coordinate changes in a number of rooms, it’s one small one that stands out as “a labor of love.”
“We went through many iterations of what that powder room should look like, but we knew we wanted it to be glam,” she says.
A hand-hammered copper sink from Thompson Traders of Mexico sits atop a hand-embossed custom vanity.
“We had a faux finish painter come in and do a custom alligator finish on the cabinet to give it texture and interest,” Hildebrandt says.
Eiler nicknamed the room the “queen’s womb.” “When you walk in there, it’s like being inside a jewel box,” Eiler said. “And it’s a little surprise because it’s right off of the kitchen. When guests are here and they go to use the powder room, it’s always a surprise. You hear them open the door and say, ‘This is so pretty in here.’ That piece I’m really happy with.”
Feature image by Christy Kosnic