Holly's Fashionably Rustic Home in DC

Holly's Fashionably Rustic Home in DC

Nicole Crowder
Aug 29, 2012

Name: Holly Thomas, Refinery29 DC
Location: Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Renting

Holly Thomas is a do-it-yourself girl after one's own heart. With a background in journalism and a day job centered on finding cool haunts and thrifting treasure troves in the D.C area, this sweet southern transplant knows a thing or two about editing out the excess to find those rare birds of vintage paradise.

As the editor of DC Refinery29, Holly's daily duties involve seeking out great vintage shops, or thinking up ways to recreate or repackage fashion and found objects. And she does just that with her one-bedroom home in the beautiful Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.. Beautifully reclaimed furniture plays a practical and functional role. With the help of her boyfriend Paul she has built nearly all the installations and details by hand, from the sliding bathroom door made of salvaged barn wood, to the powder blue velvet upholstered headboard in her bedroom. Holly also runs the fashion line Butler and Claypool, which she operates out of her home, using the space as a showroom. She and her boyfriend also built each of the clothing racks out of salvaged wood and metal tubing. Juxtaposed with the dresses, bags, and jewelry from her collection, Holly's home also has a slight edge of masculinity about it. Deep mahogany furniture, navy, leather, loafers and fedoras mix beautifully with floral prints, velvet, and chevron printed lamps.

While the front portion of Holly's home serves as the showroom for her home, the back room serves as the work area. Spools of colored thread and yarn sit next to rulers and paint brushes, Mod Podge and a sewing machine. Personal touches like old family photos and family hand-me-downs help bring an added charm and warmth.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style/Inspiration: It definitely has rustic and industrial touches. But I really like the Swedish country house look. I like Swedish everything — fashion, beauty — everything. I wanted it to feel comfortable but still really cool and unique. And I think I've gotten to the point where the furniture that I'm finding is stuff I'm going to keep forever.

Favorite Element: That I can do everything that I do here. I can work here. I can have my shop here. I can do my creative stuff in the back. It's a very natural and practical space. And I love that it's all been a big part of my relationship. Paul and I have done a lot of stuff together. Every little detail we've done together, and can say "Oh I painted that, or I built that, or Paul bought that on Craigslist."

Biggest Challenge: The doorways are really small! None of the big furniture fits through them. We've had to take a few pieces around the block and enter through the back door of the house if we wanted anything in the back room. I've had furniture wedged in the doorways when I was here by myself and I'm thinking "Great. Now I'm stuck."

What Friends Say: I think people think it's really cozy. They like to take naps on the couch. It's just a house made for comfort.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the front door. It's not really a nice color, but then if people need directions it's really easy to tell them to look out for the orange door.

Proudest DIY: The upholstered headboard! I can't even tell you how that came about. We had seen all these online tutorials about how easy it would be to do an upholstered headboard. Not so much initially. After I knew I wanted it to be powder blue velvet (it just popped in my head!), we went to Paul's mom's garage with all of our supplies. For some reason we forgot to measure the piece of plywood, and by that time we have already finished reupholstering it. When we brought it back to the house, that's when we saw it was way too big! Paul and his band were on tour and I started to wait until he was available to help me, but then I went ahead with a circular saw — I took it apart and reupholstered it on my own.

Biggest Indulgence: Mostly everything I own is either from flea markets or thrift stores. But going to Ikea is probably my biggest indulgence. Every time I go I spend at least $200. I don't know how! Having a lot of their little items that are $2 here or $5 there is really tempting.

Best Advice: You have to have too much and then start editing. You can't buy piecemeal and expect it all to be perfect. You have to buy what you love, and it's best to start with too much so you can edit down. Use Freecycle, use Craigslist. Collect as much you can and then figure out what you really want.

Dream Sources: I'd love to rent a U-Haul and go up to Brimfield in Massachusetts — I've seen bloggers and buyers get such incredible finds, and I know it'd be an amazing road trip. My second choice would be the 127 Sale, which is the world's longest yard sale — a 127-mile stretch of road between Alabama and Michigan, with secondhand goods all along the way. It seems like a picker's paradise!

Resources of Note:


• Glidden Blue-Grey Slate in front room/showroom and on the back wall in the living room/project space
• Benjamin Moore Timber Wolf in the bedroom and kitchen


• Planter: Glass canister off an Ikea lamp
• Self-built wooden racks; metal pipes from Home Depot and wood from Second Chance in Baltimore
• Mirror: Goodwill
• Chandelier: Habitat ReStore in Waldorf
• Desk: Second Chance in Baltimore
• Vintage velvet chair: Family hand-me-down
• Typewriter: Lucketts Store in Leesburg, Virginia
• Crates used as shelves are salvage from grocery stores
• Side table: Hand me down
• Shelves: Salvaged wood
• Lamp: Goodwill
• Couch: Craigslist
• Trunk: Craigslist. Present from her boyfriend
• Antlers: Craigslist. Present from her boyfriend
• Jewelry and accessories: collected and are merchandise for her shop Butler and Claypool
• Coca cola crate: random thrift store in Williamsburg, Virginia
• Wood desk chair: Habitat ReStore in Waldorf
• Rug: Lowes


• Vintage flag: 48-star flag
• Black candle stick: Ikea
• Theater seats: Craigslist find by boyfriend – a great steal for $65.
• Bookcase: Self-built with wood from Home Depot and legs from Ikea
• Lantern: Dumpster dive
• Wood table: Ikea
• Electric fireplace: Home depot
• Curtains: Ikea
• Lamp shade: DIY project
• Day bed: West Elm. Found on craigslist
• Birdcage: Gift from family friend
• Bell jar: Trohv
• Rug: Goodwill in Williamsburg, Va
• Sewing machine: 1970s Kenmore, belonged to my mom
• Projector: Epson 705 HD projector, from Best Buy
• Coffee table: Bought for $20 from Salvation Army in Waldorf MD;
• Trunk underneath: Unique Thrift in Wheaton


• Crates: Salvaged from grocery stores
• Frame turned into chalkboard
• Butcher block countertop: Made from salvaged Ikea tabletop


• Dresser: Goodwill. Sanded and painted
• Mirror: Richmond thrift store
• Bed headboard: Self made
• Pillows and bedding: Ikea
• Shelf wood: Second Chance. 100-year old wood
• Map: Paper Source
• Cowhide: Home Liquidator in Chesapeake
• Rug: Home Goods
• Lamp: Ikea
• Chair: Craigslist, repainted frame
• Mirror: Grandmother's
• China hutch: First Craigslist purchase
• DIY pants with studs made for her boyfriend
• Art lamps: Second Chance in Baltimore
• Vintage hats


• Wooden door: Community Forklift in Hyattsville
• Vintage frames + family photos


• Tea pot and cups on front porch – Blue Danube china, a gift from my aunt
• Porch furniture – IKEA patio set

Thanks, Holly!

(Images: Nicole Crowder)

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