Frye’s friend Matt Covell, also 43, founded Structure, a custom home construction and renovation company based in North Bethesda, Maryland, in 2016. He remodeled Frye’s home in 2019-2020 and brought the gladiator to Matt Corrado, an entertainer and high mutual. school friend, to “paint it in rainbow colors as a housewarming gift,” Covell says.
“We put it in a niche near the main level powder room for a photo op just for fun, and it looks like they’ll keep it there,” Covell said.
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Family and friends are at the heart of John and Bridget Frye’s North Bethesda home, which was remodeled and expanded in 2020. The house, a 1950s red-brick hiker with a basement, was owned by the sister of John, who had lived there with friends for several years. Once she moved in, John rented it out for a few years and finally bought it from his sister in 2004.
Matt Covell, John and Bridget were among the crowd hanging out at the home after college, which served as a gathering place in the early 2000s for a large group of friends from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, then located in Wheaton. , md.
“Most of our friends lived with their parents after college, so it was like a fraternity where Matt and I lived with other roommates,” John explains. “Matt and I have been friends since sixth grade and we met Bridget in high school.”
Bridget, 43, is a former graduate teacher from the University of Maryland, while Matt and John are graduates of John Carroll University near Cleveland. John and Bridget married in 2007 and have three children, aged 9, 11 and 12.
“Five of us shared a bathroom on the ground floor and it got crowded as the kids got older,” says Bridget. “Everything was falling apart to the point that we had pinhole leaks everywhere, and the appliances were all breaking. At one point, there was water cascading through one of our cabinets. kitchen on the counter.
The Fryes had discussed design plans with Matt for a few years, then decided to move to live with John’s parents in August 2019 so the house could be rebuilt. They hired Carib Daniel Martin, an architect based in Kensington, Md., who worked with Matt.
“It was such a fun project because we all know each other so well and how they live and play at home,” says Matt. “It was a much more personal experience than usual.”
The Frye’s were able to use equity from long-term ownership and a construction loan to renovate the home.
“We looked at other homes in the area, but it made more sense for us to remodel into what we really want,” says Bridget.
Avoid the “McMansion” look
Since the three friends share fond memories of the home and the community, it was important for them to blend into the neighborhood even as they tripled the living area to approximately 6,000 square feet.
“We wanted to retain the scale of the neighborhood and avoid that McMansion look, as we added to the side and back of the house and built a second level, we were able to place the front of the house below the line roof,” says Matt.
The foundation was found to be crumbling, so the renovation required a complete refurbishment, although the original brick facade was retained and painted white.
“The foundation problem turned out to have a silver lining because it had to be dug in and we got some extra ceiling height,” says Bridget.
The foundation was made waterproof, so they were able to install wood floors even in the basement.
The white exterior of the house is punctuated by a wooden front door that matches the wooden garage doors. The natural slope of the hill behind the house allowed a relatively simple extension.
“Matt’s attention to detail is amazing,” says Bridget. “His sister is also a decorator, so we were able to get her advice.”
The “dream party room”
The house has white oak flooring throughout, with a patterned white oak ceiling stained a darker shade in the hall. To the left of the hall is a large home office with pocket doors. Across the hall is the dining room, which the family uses daily for meals.
“Matt’s sister helped me choose the textured coral-colored wallpaper for the dining room and I found the pearl chandelier,” says Bridget. “I wanted this room to be bright and also more casual than a formal dining room so we used it all the time.”
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A pantry and full pantry adjoin the dining area and feature dark blue walls and a matching ceiling. Modern-looking glass doorknobs are installed throughout the home for a transitional look that complements the elaborate crown molding in many rooms.
The back of the house is an open family room and kitchen with a wall of windows overlooking the grassy yard and trees behind the house.
“Matt told us about this brilliant idea he had for the fireplace, which is a floor-to-ceiling wall of white oak pieces that almost look like siding,” Bridget explains. “I wanted a bench with a view of the trees and the greenery behind the house.”
Windows flank the fireplace, and built-in shelves and cabinets flank the window seat.
When the renovation was in the framing stage, Matt realized that if he installed a NanaWall bifold glass door between the family room and the adjacent screened porch, it would nearly double the entertaining space.
“We’ve had up to 50 people here with the heaters on on the porch and the gas fireplace in the family room,” says John. “We probably had as many or more when we were in the hiker in our post-college days, but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable.”
Matt describes the combined indoor-outdoor space as the “dream party room.”
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When the family lived in the unrenovated house, Bridget says they could only really entertain themselves in the backyard.
The screened porch features a patterned white wood ceiling and privacy screens so people walking on the nearby path cannot see inside. A side door leads to a deck with a grill and steps to the grassed yard.
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The family room’s open kitchen contains what Matt calls an “aircraft carrier deck” marble island with five seats for the whole family to sit at once.
“We opted for cabinet fronts for the appliances for a cleaner look since the kitchen is open,” says Bridget. “We also extended the island marble on the counters, the backsplash and even under the cabinets above the stove.”
Bridget wanted to keep the window to the side of the original section of the house to keep the kitchen bright but wanted more storage space, so Matt designed a glass-fronted cabinet with glass shelves to let in the light to shine through the window.
On the other side of the kitchen near the staircase leading to the upper and lower levels are the niche with the sculpture of the gladiator, a powder room with a pocket door and a cloakroom with a hook and a basket for each of the five family members. Bridget chose navy and white hardwood floors for this space and an inexpensive basket weave fixture.
The staircase to the upper level has two large windows and paneling on the walls, with an oversized round light fixture with hexagonal tiles. The first bedroom on this level has a niche for an office, a walk-in closet, a full private bathroom, a toy closet and access to a storage closet.
Two other bedrooms share a bathroom with a double sink vanity. Nearby are a laundry room and a linen room.
The master suite features a white wood cathedral ceiling in the bedroom, which has windows on three sides. The bed sits in a niche with a navy blue painted accent wall and two pendant lights instead of sconces.
“Matt often started his ideas with ‘wouldn’t it be cool if?’ and that’s how we ended up with the niche and the pendant lights, which we love,” says Bridget. “In our bathroom, he came up with the idea of matching the marble countertop with the marble bench in the shower and extending the floor tiles over the shower wall on one side.”
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The master bathroom also has a freestanding tub in front of a window.
The lower level features French doors to a covered patio and features a dramatic mural painted by Matt Corrado along one wall and a complementary painted backsplash above the built-in bar and shelving. This level also includes a guest bedroom with a walk-in closet and a full private bathroom. Another full bathroom is adjacent to the exercise room, which has windows overlooking the backyard.
Most of the renovation was completed during the pandemic, but as the Fryes and Matt Covell began ordering items in late 2019, they were able to avoid delays due to supply chain disruptions.
“A lot of couples joke that they need marriage counseling during a major renovation like this, but for me it was an amazing opportunity to be with my best friends at the height of the covid lockdown when I couldn’t see anyone but my family,” Mat said. “It was such a stressful time for everyone, and it was professionally and personally rewarding to do this together.”
The Fryes and their children virtual schooled and worked from John’s parents’ home until they moved into their renovated home in February 2021.
“The fact that all three of us have been lifelong friends made this experience easier,” says John.
Matt appreciates the trust his friends have given him to renovate their home.
“They listened to my ideas and then either trusted me or we could joke about it if they didn’t,” he says.
The result: a new home where friends and family can gather is much nicer than what Bridget likes to call the “flop house.”