Designer Tracy Schlegel and her builder-husband Mike fashion their own outdoorsy escape in Bethesda

On balmy summer evenings, designer Tracy Schlegel can be found relaxing on her lofty deck, nestled among the tall trees lining the backyard of the home she shares with husband Mike and their two teenage children. The C&O Canal and Potomac River meander in the distance. “I sit there with a glass of wine and look out to the view,” reveals Tracy. “It feels like you’re in a treehouse.” 

The sylvan parcel—bordered by protected parkland and located within Bethesda’s quaint Brookmont enclave—sealed the deal for the Schlegels in 2001. Charming outside yet crumbling inside, the 1928 “Hansel and Gretel cottage,” as Tracy describes it, checked all the boxes too. “We were purposefully looking for a house that needed a full makeover with the intent to completely gut it,” recounts the designer, who worked in advertising back

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