A 500-Square-Foot, Unbelievably Beautiful Basement Apartment in DC

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Name: Samantha Nobles and her husband Daniel
Location: Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, renting

My husband and I have been enjoying life on Capitol Hill for five years; this basement is our first home together as a married couple, and so it has a special place in our hearts. I work in real estate and own a side interior decorating business, and my husband works for an insurance company. As Florida Gulf Coast natives, living in a historic Capitol hill basement with no central A/C, little-to-no natural sunlight, low ceilings, and few updates/improvements might seem like a total drag to many folks…BUT we call it our home!

Once you walk into the door, you are standing in the living, dining, and entryway all at once! It was a total decorating challenge, but one I accepted with much joy. We are not typical renters; given my passion for design and decor, we changed a lot about the space to make it feel more like our own. From painting, to changing cabinet hardware, and even installing a “peel and stick” backsplash in the kitchen—we wanted the space to be a place we are proud of, not one we are simply camping out in.

One of my favorite things about the space is how cozy and safe it feels being burrowed in our little rabbit hole—it truly feels like a retreat for us. I also laugh when I realize that there is literally nowhere my husband can go to escape my presence in this place, which is mostly lovely! The space has everything we need, and we are thankful to live within walking distance of good coffee, amazing cuisine, best friends, beautiful parks, and the US Capital! Life really is sweet on Capitol Hill in the Nobles’ Nest.

Any advice for creating a home you love? 1)Be bold! Have you entertained the idea of buying an oversized photo of a flamingo and hanging it in your living room? Go for it! Decor is not permanent; do not be scared of making a bold step towards something that could really be a show stopper and central talking piece in your home—you will thank me later.

2) Don’t force pieces that simply do not work proportionately with your space. I often see people having irrational attachment to pieces that are way oversized or simply not a good shape/style just because they bought it 10 years ago for a lot of money. These things end up being a stumbling block and hindrance to making the space cohesive…I advise bringing in a third party to speak objectively and help you make the hard choices when things just aren’t coming together.

3) It’s your home, make it look like it. No, I don’t mean hang photos of yourself everywhere (please don’t do that), I mean choose pieces that mean something to you and say something about what you believe, feel, enjoy, and cherish! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good quick and dirty trip to Target for impersonal trendy pieces just like the next gal…but the reason I love my home is because it has personal touches that remind me of where I’m from, where I’m headed, and who I am! Remember this takes time, but it’s well worth the process!

What is your favorite room and why? It isn’t really a room per se, but I really adore the “bump out” bookshelves that are in the hallway en route from the living room (north) to the kitchen (south). These shelves lend themselves to both function and expression. I love being able to use them to practice styling, store belongings, and as a home for barware. Being that our nest is long and skinny, I walk past them to get to virtually any part of the home, and I enjoy the feeling I get when I catch a glance of them. Even when the rest of the house might feel like a chaotic mess, this tiny little bay area of curated and clean shelving brings a little comfort and zen to our space.

Thanks, Samantha !

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