Anu Dahiya (far left) uses her family’s home gym to work out with friends. Photo by Michael Ventura.


An Inspiring Space

Tucked away in the basement of Ravi and Anu Dahiya’s home in the Avenel neighborhood of Bethesda is a home gym with a black ceiling, black floor, backlit white shoji screens and a wall of mirrors that together create an inviting space to work out.

“This is a small space, so a black ceiling makes it feel higher and the screens are a calming influence,” with their clean lines, frame and opaque material, says Anthony Wilder of Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, which redesigned what used to be an unfinished storage room into a functional gym.

Ravi, who was a member of the Harvard University rowing team, uses the rowing machine in the gym four or five times a week, often in the afternoon. Two ceiling fans help keep the space cool, which he says is key with a hard workout.

“For me, the big issue is just time,” says Ravi, a facial plastic surgeon who goes to work early in Rockville and is busy with the activities of his two children in the afternoons and evenings. “I need a very time-efficient workout, so to have it at home is absolutely essential, otherwise I would never work out.”

The rubberized floor has some give, which is good for Anu, an internal medicine doctor who uses open space in the gym to exercise. She often plays training videos and uses weights when working out with friends.


There is an illusion of natural light in the room thanks to the translucent shoji screens (made of a synthetic material to look like rice paper). The screens cover up the furnace, hot water heater and other utilities. Track lighting is mounted on the ceiling, which is painted black to hide the wires and duct work above.

Ravi says he likes the bare-bones industrial feel of the home gym, and the design elements and lighting make it welcoming. “It’s not a room I dread coming down to,” he says.