After living in Washington, DC for four years, I finally took a tour of the White House. It was perfect timing too because the government finally lifted the photo and camera ban on public tours. Getting a tour is no easy task either. First, you have a contact your respective Congressman to request a tour. Then you’re subject to an extensive background check which takes up to six weeks. Once the background check is approved, you will receive your pass with the date and time of your tour. The passes are typically given out a few days before your scheduled tour. Be prepared to rearrange everything on your calendar that day!
My self-guided tour was on a Saturday morning. No bags are allowed inside, not even purses. I arrived with my umbrella (it rained that day), government I.D., keys and cell phone. Unfortunately, I don’t have a high-end camera so I was stuck taking photos on iPhone. I apologize in advance for the crappy picture quality. I seriously took over 50 pictures. In fact, I had to delete old pictures because I ran out to storage towards the end. (Thanks, Apple!) There was so much to see and I didn’t want to miss any details. Each room was adorned with antique furnishings, rich colors, silk wallpaper, brass decor, vintage art, and the most beautiful chandeliers that I have ever seen. Oh, and the architecture reminded me of everything I studied in my history of interiors classes in school.
The Green Room
Here’s a massive gallery wall inside the Green Room. This was by far my favorite room in the house.
I couldn’t get over this gorgeous chandelier inside the Blue Room.
This was the one of the first ones we saw on the tour. I don’t recall the name but it looked like a ballroom to me.
I was in love with the fresh flowers in each room. Here’s a look inside the Red Room.
The State Dining Room was recently remodeled by Michelle Obama. This space had a nice modern look compared to some of the other rooms.
Brass hardware is currently trending in kitchens, bathrooms and home decor. The classic metal is rust-free and easy to mold into different shapes. If you’re dying to jump on the brassy bandwagon but don’t want to replace your existing cabinets, simply update your hardware. Switching out the hardware is an affordable way to give your space a new look. Here are 10 brass hardware cabinet knobs and pulls in different styles.
Today, I’m kicking off a new series on the blog featuring budget-friendly home decor that won’t break the bank. We will explore everything from sofas and rugs to window treatments and bedding. First up, sofas! As you know, a high quality sofa is a requirement in every single home and apartment. It’s where we spend most of our time — watching TV, lounging, reading, or entertaining guests. Who wants to binge watch Netflix on a crappy sofa? Many people believe that you have to sacrifice style or comfort for price. But that’s not true. If you do some research you can find sofas that meet all of your needs — stylish, good quality, comfortable, and affordable.
To get you started, I put together a roundup of my favorite sofas that are the perfect scale for city living. Each sofa varies in style, comes in a variety of different fabric options and costs under $1,000.
Ready to shop? Sources are listed below (click on the link).
As a designer there are two things that get me excited– big budgets and art. I’ll also add full creative control but I’m always willing to defer to what my client wants– after all it’s their home not mine. I absolutely love when my clients have nice art for me to work with. It makes my job a lot easier because an abundant art collection serves as design inspiration for the space. I had the pleasure of meeting a new client the other day. While touring their home I snapped photos of their art to get my creative juices flowing. Their collection ranged from framed prints to canvas paintings and everything in between. Take a look!
These two pieces are by neo-cubism artist James Kann. He wasn’t on my radar but I immediately fell in love with his work. The bold colors and sharp lines create a playful scene in my client’s library.
In the living room, this piece creates a focal point in a small sitting area. Oversize art always makes an impactful statement and great conversation pieces.
This piece is hanging in the dining room. I love the rich texture it brings to the space. We’re planning to go with a rustic modern vibe–reclaimed wood furniture, neutral walls and subtle patterns in the window treatments and rug.
Here are a few more notables.
If you haven’t started building your art collection yet, my design services can help you get started. Don’t let your walls remain bare any longer.
I wanted to bring you a quick update on a new project that I’m currently working on. My client lives in a beautiful historic rowhouse in the Gallaudet area of Washington, DC. She’s made some minor updates to her home over the last few years, like renovating her kitchen. Now she wants help pulling the whole house together to make it truly look and feel like a home. In phase one of the project, we’re focusing on the living room, master bedroom (with sitting area) and the master bathroom. The Louisiana native desires a space that is casual and relaxed with California coastal vibes. My goal was to keep the walls throughout the space light and airy and filing each room with layered textures and hues that are reminiscent of the beach. A grasscloth pendant light will hang in the bedroom and marble hexagon tile will compliment the existing clawfoot bathtub.
What do you think so far? Additional project updates soon come!
Studio apartments tend to get a bad rep from renters. They’re small, cramped and lack storage space for furniture and belongings. Despite their disadvantages, living in a small studio is fairly common in urban areas like Washington, DC. And if you’re reading this article, you’re probably either living in a studio apartment right now or currently searching for one. While you may be struggling with space to store everything, studios do offer one major benefit in disguise—smaller spaces are easier to decorate than larger ones, especially if you’re on a budget. In this article, I will cover a few tips for making life in a studio apartment enjoyable and stylish.
Space planning is the Holy Grail to making studio living work. Take a moment to analyze the layout of the room. Pinpoint the light sources and visualize the traffic flow patterns. Then determine how you intend to use the space. Will your sleeping area be separate from your living area? Do you plan to sleep in a bed versus a sleeper sofa? Do you need an area to work from home? What about pet areas or entertaining? The answers to these questions are essential to carving out zoned areas for properly utilizing the space.
Once you’ve identified your main living areas (sleeping, eating, entertaining, working), arrange your furniture in each zone. Measure out the room to ensure that your furniture fits the space. An easy way to measure the room is to first measure your foot. Then walk along the perimeter of the room, placing one foot in front of the other. As you move along, count each step. This should give you a basic estimate of the room’s dimensions. It’s also important to avoid cramming in too much furniture. Remember, space is king!
Next, determine what style furniture to use. As a general rule, keep the furniture simple. Overstuffed chairs will overpower the room. Stick with clean lines. Mirrored pieces, glass and see-through acrylic like ghost chairs add depth to the room. For example, if you go with basic coffee table instead of a storage ottoman, select a table with a glass top. The glass will give the illusion of more space. Multipurpose pieces will give you more bang for your buck.
In terms of colors, go light on the walls. Dark colors will make the room feel heavy. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re living in a small dark closet. White walls and dark floors will make the room feel larger. Add removable wallpaper in fun patterns to break things up a bit.
After painting the walls, don’t forget to accessorize. Every small space needs adequate lighting, texture and pattern. Mix and match materials for added character and visual interest.
If you living in the Washington, DC area and need help decorating your studio apartment, contact Gray Livin’ to schedule a consultation (click here). Happy Decorating!
When you get married building your first home together as a couple is important. But furniture negotiation and conflicting styles can lead to meltdowns and drama. It’s not always as simple as deciding which sofa to buy. You’re blending two different styles, preferences, and previous lives (old furniture) under one roof. A common question that arises is — how do you pull it all together in a stress-free way while letting your voice be heard? Here are my tips for maintaining your sanity and love for each other while decorating your new home.
Take Inventory. Let’s face it. We all hate parting with our treasured belongings. Whether it’s the grungy arm chair from your first apartment or your massive collection of snow globes, each person walking into a marriage owns something that is valuable to them. Unless you’re moving into a mansion, you may not have enough space to store everything you both own. Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be a daunting process. The best solution in this case is to meet in the middle — choose a number that you both agree on that represents the number of items of sentimental value that you each get to keep. Everything else gets trashed, donated, or sold on Craigslist. For example, if your number is three, then you each get to bring a total of three personal items with you to your new home. The number of items you keep can be determined by how much storage space you have. Additionally, some couples like to limit the “keep” list to one box per person. Either way, taking inventory and coming up with a purging plan right off the bat eliminates clutter and frees up space for new items that you can purchase as a couple.
The Big Compromise. Ladies, I hate to break it to you but he’s going to want to have a large television in the family room. Don’t fight it, let him have it. That means you get to have something you want like the floral wallpaper in the master bathroom. Give and take is the key to blending styles and preferences. Know when to put your foot down and when to bend a little.
Pick A Style. What do you do when your spouse’s style doesn’t match yours? You envisioned a contemporary space with clean lines and neutral colors while your mate prefers bold colors and a clunky leather sofa. The first step is to settle on a neutral color for the walls. Whites and grays are great neutrals to consider. Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray, Snow White, and Vintage Pewter are my favorites. Next, select an accent color for pop. Sprinkle the accent color in your artwork, throw pillows, or rug. If your mate only prefers neutrals only, add depth to the room with a mix of textures like a glass table, shiny metal accents, faux fur fabrics and varying wood tones. In terms of furniture, a Chesterfield sofa like this one from Restoration Hardware tastefully combines both masculine and feminine elements. The classic design is sturdy enough for lounging and watching sports while the tufted detail and curved lines add a touch of elegance to a room. You can also find similar versions available at any price point.
Divide The Workload. Most women want free reign for designing the house but don’t really care about the backyard. Most men to do so make him the King of the backyard. While the wife is busy selecting paint colors and fabrics, the husband can focus his attention on planting trees, routine yard work, and his beloved BBQ equipment.
Designate Personal Space. From time to time you may find yourself needing a breather from your love muffin. This isn’t because you dislike them, but a little “me” time or solitude is great for self-reflection, prayer, meditation, time-outs or relaxation. This can take place in a designated area of your home like the man cave in the basement. For the ladies, large walk-in closets and spa bathrooms have doubled as our lady caves. Spare bedrooms also make good neutral zones. Stake out your zone and claim it.
Hire A Designer. When in doubt, hire a pro! A good designer is skilled at creating gender neutral spaces and helping couples discover a design aesthetic that suits their lifestyle. Be sure to visit Gray Livin’ online to learn more about my services and to book a design consultation.
Hey guys! It feels like ages since I last posted. I wanted to do a quick check-in to let you know what I’ve been up to lately. I’m in the process of wrapping up two interior design projects and I hope to have pictures available to share with you soon. Both projects should be complete by the end of this month. Fingers crossed. If you follow me on Instagram you can see a few progress shots. I can’t wait until install day.
In the meantime, here’s a little interior design inspiration for you. I created this vibrant moodboard for an imaginary young family that needs help with their living room. I would paint an accent wall in turquoise blue (maybe in the entryway right off the living room) and then incorporate that color throughout the space. I also thought it would be fun to layer the space in different patterns and textures. What do you think?
Do you need interior design help in the Washington, DC area? Gray Livin’ offers affordable design packages for any size budget. Contact us today to get started. Click here.
In February 2013, I made a life changing decision to quit my job. At the time I working as a government contractor for a high-profile Federal agency. I had a lucrative salary with benefits, a healthy work-life balance, an easy commute to work, and an awesome boss. The only problem was, I was leading a double life. By day I analyzed statistical data and wrote technical reports; by night I created mood boards and blog posts for my interior design business. I spent two years juggling a full-time job while managing a business on the side. I literally worked around the clock–right after work I would stay up til 2 a.m. cranking out blog posts, responding to client emails, and scheduling social media content. My weekends were dedicated to site visits and shopping trips for furniture and accessories for my clients’ homes.
I quickly became engrossed in my business and began to lack focus at work. I knew if I wanted to take my company to the next level I needed to quit my job. As I started planning my exit strategy, tons of questions were running through my mind.
How will I make ends meet?
What will my friends and family think?
What if I fail?
After spending months weighing my options back and forth, I finally quit. And since then I have probably endured more lows than highs. Initially, clients weren’t trickling in fast enough and it wasn’t long before I exhausted my savings. Panic set in and eventually I found another job. I told myself this was a temporary setback. I planned to quit (again) just as soon as I able to generate enough business to stay afloat. I couldn’t believe that I was right back where I started — working full-time and moonlighting as an entrepreneur. I tap danced for my new employer for approximately nine months until they fired me. It was the first time that I had ever been fired from a job. Who was I kidding? I knew I didn’t belong there. My ego was bruised but I learned a very valuable lesson — sometimes when you’re afraid to jump, God will push you off the mountain. But don’t worry He will catch you on the way the down.
Over the past four years, I went from being a full-time employee to full-time business owner to full-time employee to full-time hustler. The journey has not been easy. In fact, it’s been long and difficult. There were days when I had very little to eat and times when I struggled to pay my bills. My social life dwindled. Friends disappeared. I missed out on countless opportunities to do things that I enjoyed. And while my peers were getting married, having kids, buying new homes, new cars, and traveling all around the world, I was busy dealing with the trials and tribulations of running a business. Despite everything that I’ve been through — the setbacks, sacrifices, late nights and early mornings — I have no regrets.
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t. So that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Unknown
If you’re trying to decide whether or not you should quit your job to start a business, ask yourself this one simple question–is the dream worth the sacrifice?