Ralph and Drew's Comfortably Current Townhome

House Tour

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Name: Ralph and Drew + dogs Walker and Sadie
Location: Shaw-Howard — Washington DC
Size: 1,850 Square Feet
Years lived in: 4

Ralph and Drew bring together a rare blend of traditional modern masculinity. Their home is brimming with incredible local art, mostly due to Drew's job as director of DC's Long View Gallery. Much of their home decor is hand-me-down furniture, which affirms the self-proclaimed family focus of both North Carolina natives. Yet, Ralph and Drew exude an urban sensibility. Their contemporary art collection amorously mingles with salvaged heirlooms creating a unique and beautiful home.


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Drew and Ralph moved into their Shaw-Howard townhome 4 years ago, and immediately took an active interest in the area. Ralph, an attorney, is author of the neighborhood blog Renew Shaw and Vice Chairman of the board of Shaw Main Streets, an organization that offers business advice to local storefronts. Drew's gallery is located two blocks away from their home, so it's no surprise the most prominent element of their home is the diverse art collection.

Every wall offers a visual treat, from the family portrait in the bedroom entryway to the striking portraits in the living room weaved by Drew. Even their bathroom art is fascinating. The poster in the master bath is a movie billboard from WWII Poland. In recent years these have become collectors items due to their unusual nature. During the war, Polish artists recreated movie posters for American films because Polish law prohibited the display of American advertising. Drew says, "it's counterintuitive, but many of these billboards were quite avant garde for their time."

Ralph and Drew might have an envious art collection, but they're not above shopping at popular megashops like West Elm and Crate & Barrel. Ralph says, "when we first bought our place, we went on a one-stop shopping spree at West Elm," but, what makes their home feel full of life and soul and not like a contemporary catalog, are the family pieces sprinkled throughout the townhouse. Drew and Ralph went on a recent shopping expedition in Ralph's family storage unit. During their cost-effective shopping trip, they acquired the handsome leather chair in their living room and the petite blue chairs in their bedroom. Both these pieces standout against the cool gray walls and add a traditional warmth to their space, encompassing the essence of their style. Although, there is no denying the cheerful glow of their festive holiday decorations and the loving glances of their two cute dogs, Walker and Sadie.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Style: Our style is comfortable, current, traditional and modern, but not jarringly modern.

Inspiration: We're constantly inspired by the fine art at Drew's gallery, and other artist he's in contact with because of his job. Then, like everyone else, we like popular sources, Dwell and Metropolitan Home (RIP!). Also, we are also huge fans of Jeff Lewis' style on Bravo's Flipping Out.

Favorite Element: Our favorite element is the black leather chair in the living room we just acquired from Ralph's parents. That chair represents our style perfectly. It's traditional and worn out, but still looks new and modern in our house – whereas it could look outdated in someone else's house. We also enjoy our backyard, being from North Carolina we're used to having access to the outdoors. It's such a pleasure having an outdoor area in the city.

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Biggest Challenge: We love to entertain and the house is long and narrow so the furniture arrangement is perpetually changing depending on the flow of traffic. We're always moving around chairs, but sometimes it brings a flexible energy to the space. Another issue was making sure there was continuity between the dining room and living room. We didn't want to split up the space visually, so it was a challenge finding a dining room table that would blend with the living room decor. The floors are a beautiful dark hardwood that, unfortunately, advertise the white dog fur that coats every surface.

Biggest Embarrassment: The floors are a dark hardwood that, unfortunately, advertise the white dog fur that coats every surface. Also, the decor in the partial bathroom was an "afterthought."

Proudest DIY: Drew risked his life painting the back exterior of the house. We both spent weekends renovating the backyard area that started out as a barren gravel pile.

Biggest Indulgence: Art, is by far, our biggest indulgence. The Stacie Albano painting over the dining room table was our first expensive piece.

Best Advice: Our advice is to embrace design as a process of evolution and an expression of yourself.

Dream Source: Winning the lottery and Ann Sacks!

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RESOURCES OF NOTE:

LIVING ROOM
• Photography next to fireplace: by Drew
• Black Leather Side Chair: family piece
• Black and White 'Stockholm' Rug: IKEA
• Sofa: Furnitureland South
• Pillows: West Elm
• Beige Side Chair: West Elm
• Vases: Consignment Shop
• TV Console: Crate & Barrel
• Chest by front door: Family Piece
• Miniature Christmas Tree on chest by front door: by Ralph's Grandmother
• Glass Table in corner of room: old aquarium Ralph salvaged from his grandfather.

DINING AREA
• Table: West Elm
• Green Dining Room Chairs: Second Hand
• Photography Series: by Drew
• Painting: Stacie Albano

KITCHEN
• Painting: from Ralph's Mom

MUDROOM
• Wooden Fold-out Table: Antique from 1800's, present from Ralph's Parents
• Black and White Painting: Cheryl Wassenaar

OUTSIDE AREA
• Furniture: Smith & Hawken
• Planters: Restoration Hardware Warehouse

MASTER BEDROOM
• Family Portrait: custom art by Mary Chiaramonte
• Blue Chairs: family piece
• Side Table Next to Blue Chairs: family piece
• Painting on Side Table: by Dana Ellyn
• Painting Above Bed: by Drew's Uncle Clyde (Clyde Fowler)
• Rooster Art : Matt Sesow
• Dresser: family piece
• Mirror: West Elm
• Bedding: Bed Bath & Beyond
• Pillows: Apartment Zero
• Painting on wall next to chairs: by Amy Genser

SECOND BEDROOM
• Dresser, Bed, Side Tables and Desk Chair: family pieces
• Leather Chair: Furnitureland South
• Desk: IKEA
• Side Table Lamps: Target
• Painting on Dresser: Tony Savoie

Images: Susan Mitchell Blavin

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