When people walk into Colman's house, tucked away in Georgetown, they invariably ooh and ahh. And I am no exception. Once a stable for a stately home, the home is truly one-of-a-kind.
Colman, a DC native, had her sights on this converted stable for more than 30 years, but it wasn't until a year ago that she actually set foot inside. She recalls, "When I heard it was on the market I pounced. As soon as I entered the massively fabulous living room. I didn't need to see any more, that was that. Sold." The living room, with its impossibly high vaulted ceilings, curious little windows and arches, and majestic stained glass windows, is the home's centerpiece (and thus deserving of a special post all its own). "This house is all about that main room, and it's where we all hang out. And because we don't have a basement, I actually get to lay eyes on my preteen son; otherwise, I'm sure he'd be subterranean until high school graduation."
When it came to decorating her new home, Colman says the bulk of her budget was blown by boring things like boilers and central AC. She also had to decide between a handful of big projects: refinishing the floor, replastering the popcorn walls, building radiator covers, refinishing the trim, and new lighting. "Being all for immediate gratification, impact and ease, I went with new lighting everywhere and all things trim." The radiator covers were inspired by local king of design Darryl Carter. Notice how she extended the radiator cover to make a parsons desk for her home office space!
Colman, who is a nurse-turned-decorator, describes her style: "I love a textured neutral palette in a mostly traditional setting with artifacts as accessories. As a decorator, my house is my laboratory where I can experiment with styles, so I don't have to experiment in clients' houses!"
The stained glass windows, which were added by a previous owner, are purported to come from the Iranian Embassy. Colman decided the best thing for the room would be to cover the walls with wall art from head to toe. "I am still working on that, and things are moved around on a daily basis!"
Colman gets a lot of her inspiration locally, explaining, "Georgetown itself has a great variety of antique shops that are full of inspiration, such as Marston Luce, John Rosselli, Jean Pierre Antiques and Jardin. But it's worth shopping around because the Georgetown shops can be very pricey." For example, several months ago she bought one of her favorite pieces, an old masthead statue, for just $150. Some time later she was browsing in one of the finest shops in Georgetown and spotted a similar masthead "for exponentially more cash." Colman believes that "inspiration can be found anywhere and I always go with my gut, even if it's a ginger jar from Target."
When prodded, Colman admits that she has had friends say "This is the coolest house in Georgetown". So far, it's a winner in my book!
• Paint: Benjamin Moore ballet white, trim in white dove.
• Large sofa: Martha Stewart for Bernhardt.
• Chandelier and sconces: Currey and Co.
• Large mirror: came with the house. I had to keep it in mind when choosing the lighting.
• Art: Most prints from eBay, then framed at a you-frame-it store. They never want you to use such big mats, but you must overrule them. Every time! I collect skulls, which is morbid but probably stems from my background in biology and nursing and my love of all things related to physiology and anatomy. The small skull painting is from the website a painting a day. Every artist paints a canvas every day for a year and all are sold for $100.
• Root chair: A new purchase and favorite of mine by JF Chen.
• Other small sculptures and art were made by my kids. Children's work deserves optimal placement!
(Images: Colman Riddell, Catrin Morris)