Name: Christine Mitchell
Location: Petworth; Washington, DC
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented
On a silvery (and very cold) November afternoon, Christine Mitchell invited me over for what was not an official "Friendsgiving," but by the time I left, it felt like it had been.
She'd gathered a group of DC creatives to be there for the shoot, and to talk a bit about their work that furnishes her house. We sat around a table made by Chris Davis of Davis Woodshop, decorated with flowers arranged by Katie Drenga of Drenga Designs (if you like what you see and you live in the DC area, sign up for their "Hands-On Wood Refurbishing" Living Social class). Becky Lee Eutsler of Studio Red Yellow Red described her furniture restoration process, and we raised a toast to Torie Partridge, of Cherry Blossom Creative, whose illustration had been published that morning on the front page of the special Thanksgiving food section in the Washington Post.
Christine's decor is an extension of these friendships that have been forged over food and art. She emphasized that while the house, which she shares with a roommate who was not home at the time of the shoot, is a work in progress, the gatherings that she hosts around the table make it feel absolutely like home.
It all reminded me of that Adam Gopnik book, which takes its name from a Fergus Henderson quotation: "I don't understand how a young couple can begin life by buying a sofa or a television, don't they know the table comes first?"
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: My style tends to be ever changing and eclectic, connecting a love of food, art and music with a rustic foundation. I’ve always been a fan of Spanish colonial and French bistro styles as well, so throughout the space you’ll find little hints of both.
Inspiration: Each room is inspired by something different. The open kitchen and dining room is inspired by our chalkboard wall. There, we can create art, feature menus, and create any table setting we want against the dark backdrop. My roommate and I both worked in the music industry (we met working at DC’s Nightclub 9:30), so the inspiration and focal point of our living room revolves around our record collection and music posters. The inspiration to my bedroom design is that of the pin-up or golden era glamazon — I wanted to create a warm, vintage feel.
Favorite Element: My dining room table. It’s the beating heart of our whole house and it symbolizes everything I cherish and stand for. There, we come together in the most primal way and eat together, thereby sharing ideas, laughing, and supporting local artists in their craftwork. Food is art and the table becomes my palette. I can choose any plate and any dish and make each occasion feel different from the last.
Biggest Challenge: Taking all of our collective belongings and making them work together in a cohesive way. That and every single inch of the house is carpeted and painted in a monochromatic color not of our choosing. Making do with the existing layout and colors really challenges us to make the best with what we’ve got. I want to make this feel like a forever home, but it’s not always up to you so you have to ask yourself what you’re willing to invest in.
What Friends Say: That our house feels like a vacation. They love the open space and brightness of the rooms. It’s not your typical narrow, dark DC house. We have a lot of space, which is a rare thing in the city. They also love the dining room with the aforementioned chalkboard wall. Friends and guests alike will draw on it, leaving their own little artistic mark.
Biggest Embarrassment: The carpets. ALL WHITE. I’m constantly vacuuming or steam cleaning just to keep it looking presentable. I love and prefer hardwood floors.
Proudest DIY: The footboard to my bed. I found this tall looking rack by a dumpster one day and it looked like a folding screen of some kind. It turned out to be much taller than I thought, but I took it anyway. I sanded it down and wove Christmas lights in it. It’s better than any lamp and makes me feel warm and relaxed when I turn them on.
Biggest Indulgence: Flatware! I love to entertain about as much as I like to eat. I have discovered that I have a dangerous love for teacups, coffee mugs, and plates of any color and material. My dream is to own a full Deruta dinner set one day. Until then, I just collect what I can to create a colorful spread at the dinner table.
Best Advice: Reach out to your network of friends and family for help and inspiration. In the spirit of sharing and supporting people’s businesses, I have found that everything is possible and obtainable; everything from the design and layout, to the art and furniture itself was made possible by a friend or local artisan. If it wasn’t bought, it was bartered. If I couldn’t afford it, I borrowed tools from friends and made it myself. There is so much that we can do to support one another while satisfying our own personal sense of style. My home goods are a reflection of that philosophy.
Dream Sources: If I had no financial constraints I’d be a frequent shopper at West Elm, Thos. Moser, and any and all antique stores. I’d own Delft and Deruta dinnerware and a home filled with custom made furniture.
Resources of Note:
ENTRY / OFFICE
KITCHEN / DINING ROOM
- Table and benches - Davis Woodshop
- Dishes - Great grandmother’s iron plates, and Deruta plates from Italy on loan from a very kind friend
- Serving bowl - Deruta from Italy
- Glasses - Antiques store
- Table runner - made by Katie Drenga of Drenga Designs
- Flower arrangements - Katie Drenga of Drenga Designs. She upcycled the centerpieces from old bottles and put her own creative twist to it. Her sense of color in her arrangements are impeccable. She bought the flowers from Whole Foods. She then assembled them together.
- Chalkboard paint - came with the house
- Mirror - made by Becky Lee Eutsler of Studio Red Yellow Red
- Wall color - came with the house
- Rug under table - Restoration Hardware's faux fur throw doubles as a great rug!
- Bookshelf - IKEA
- “You ever drunk Baileys from a shoe” artwork - A print from “The Mighty Boosh” via Etsy
- Sofa - The Room Store
- Pillows - yard sale
- Round side table - free section on Craigslist
- Lamp on side table - same yard sale
- Black and white artwork over sofa - same yard sale
- Console with records - IKEA
- Curtains - West Elm
- Screen at footboard - salvaged from outside a dumpster
- Rita Hayworth poster - Hospice Thrift Store
- Duvet - Bed Bath and Beyond
- Pillows - World Market
- Wool blanket - annual DC Big Flea
- Black bookshelf - Target
- Dresser - free section of Craigslist
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(Image credits: Natalie Grasso)