House Tour: Mary's Animal-Inspired Home

Washington, DC

Name: Mary
Location: Cathedral Heights, Washington DC
Size: about 1,500 sq.ft.
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

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When Mary moved to DC from St. Louis in 1964 for translating school, she brought DJ the tiger and a small espresso pot (the pot didn't last long). We realize that DJ may offend some, but he was an antique in 1964 when her father found him in a St. Louis antique store. Mary's home is the result of her love for animals and an accumulation of antique furniture and art acquired over generations...

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When she first moved to DC with DJ, Mary lived in a furnished efficiency. She had to leaves notes asking staff: “please don’t vacuum the tiger.” Since the 1960's, Mary has acquired furniture and home accessories, though DJ still has an prominant place in her home. As you can see in the photos, Mary's cats Sam and Slutie enjoy the combination of animal decor and antiques.

When moving to her current home from a bigger space, Mary got rid of many items. She chose a place that didn't need major renovations. Mary spruced up the kitchen by closing off pocket doors previously in place and added the open shelves from Elpha.

Mary currently writes the Social Scene column in The Georgetowner and The Downtowner biweekly newspapers and is very involved with the Washington Humane Society.

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AT Survey:

Style: eclectic.

Inspiration: animals and pieces that having meaning for me.

Favorite Element: the library and balcony.

Biggest Challenge: overcrowding. I got rid of tons of stuff when I moved in.

What Friends Say: they enjoy it. People who don't approve of the tiger don't come back! The place opens up nicely for parties with the balcony and living room space.

Biggest Embarrassment: desk clutter and having no dining room table (it's a game table).

Proudest Element: DJ the tiger on the wall. DJ took up my entire first apartment (a small, efficiency studio) and I didn't have DJ up for many years because it's politically incorrect.

Biggest Indulgence: art and buying things I like.

Dream Source: to have lots and lots of animals like I had when living in Jamaica.

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Resources:

Furniture: from family. The living couch set is from Bloomingales in the late 1970's, when it first opened in DC. I used new fabric from Calico Corners for the bedroom headboard. The Armoire is from Thieves Market Antiques.

Accessories: mostly from family. The monkey lamps came from the Wisconsin Avenue Collection and the floor lamp from Pamela Barkley at Foxhall. Books are from family. I have a lot of books on art and St. Louis history. I also have my great-grandfather's bound theology books (that he wrote) and books of all the letters that my father daily wrote to my mother during WWII when he was in the navy. My father later bound the letters into books. I have books from my father, including "Jerusalem Bible" personally inscribed to him by Dali, whom my father knew.

Lighting: dining area chandelier came with the house (part of the original design). Ikea lamps.

Rugs and Carpets: family rugs and Chinese needlepoint rugs (from a store that's no longer open).

Artwork: Mostly from my parents. The cheetahs are from Jamaica. A French artist painted the portrait of my mother as little girl in the 1920s (hanging in the living room). My favorite painting is in the living room called Siamese in Savannah. The painting has two cats and the artist Stella Pearlmutter painted them while living in Jamaica. The animal prints in the bathrooms are from a friend who buys them from England.

Paint: largely inherited because I liked the green colors. I added the summer yellow and pink rose in the bathrooms.

(Thanks, Mary!)

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Rachael is a fine artist and writer and when not obsessing about home decor she works in hospitality, spa and art events (galleryreinvented.com).