Abby’s Cozy Capitol Hill Nest

published Apr 23, 2015
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(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )

Name: Abby Greenawalt, photographer
Location: Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 8 years

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We first got a peek at Abby’s style in her house call last year, where she showed off her bold use of color and her comfortable, cozy selection of furnishings in her third floor apartment. The extra bedroom of her tiny space had been serving as a sublet where friends and more helped share her apartment over the years. But, because the building her apartment is in is over 100 years old, it’s being torn apart for renovations next year. Abby has decided to spend her last year in the space alone so she can enjoy it to its fullest.

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The entrance to Abby’s third floor apartment is on the second floor. “I liberated the hardwood floors on the upper level of my building from some very unsightly dark brown shag carpeting. In the following weeks I was forced to re-sand, stain, paint, and generally fix the floors and stairs to make them stylish once again.” (Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )
(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )

“Eight years ago I stumbled on to this great apartment in the heart of Capitol Hill. Busy and vibrant, quirky and convenient, this neighborhood was my ideal vision of city living. The building itself is probably 100 years old, but I accepted its flaws and made a cozy life. Decorating on a budget was less of an ideal, and more of a result of my personality and aesthetic.

Being presented with an entire second room, I opted to make it transitional. What’s behind my curtain behind my desk acts as a makeshift Murphy bed: There’s a mattress and wooden slats stored there. The bed frame is stored in one of the two closets in the apartment. When friends and family stay, I re-position the desk to make room for the bed. Otherwise the room is all-purpose — living, dining, office, etc.”

(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt)

(Editor’s note: In Abby’s House Call she originally guessed that the square footage was 750 square feet, but for this tour she measured it out and it’s actually 550 square feet living space!)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern vintage, rustic, natural, transitional + functional

Inspiration: Repurposing old or forgotten pieces, and giving them new life in my home. I am sensitive to our pervasive culture of waste, and I try to never buy new when I can find beauty and function in something that already has a history. Domino magazine, HGTV magazine, Pinterest, friends’ apartments.

Favorite Element: The balcony. It overlooks a private patio, a small garden space, and a small nook of residential townhouses just next to the Senate building.

Biggest Challenge: Space. The narrow hallways, steep staircases, and quirky slanted floors do not add up to a lot of square footage. Furniture usually has to be hauled up the fire escape, which is definitely not for the faint of heart. The rule of thumb for this apartment is that if something comes in, something goes out.

What Friends Say: Eccentric, eclectic, fun.

Biggest Embarrassment: Its age. We all try to grow old gracefully, but this old building could really use a facelift. Huge cracks on the walls, drafty windows, and old carpets on the lower floors are my biggest home embarrassment. But knowing that I’ve been able to create a home that I’m proud of in spite of these flaws is also a source of pride.

Proudest DIY: My stairs. When the landlords told me that the next renovations to my building would be gutting the place and rebuilding from scratch, I got more adventurous with my home projects. After a little too much wine, I liberated the hardwood floors on the upper level of my building from some very unsightly dark brown shag carpeting. In the following weeks I was forced to re-sand, stain, paint, and generally fix the floors and stairs to make them stylish once again. Not a project a renter is normally allowed to do in an apartment.

Biggest Indulgence: Crate & Barrel Petrie Sofa. I love that it’s button-tufted and has a mid-century look . Unfortunately it’s not nearly as comfortable as my $75 Craigslist find.


(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )


  • Old Blue Jeans – Fragers
  • Home Depot – custom color match
(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )


  • Love sign – Renninger’s Antique and Farmer’s Market
  • Great Stuff By Paul – antique bin to right of love sign
  • Rug – World Market
  • Mirror – Ikea
  • Assortment of crates – some antique from family
  • Large redwood tree print – Michael Nichols
(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )


  • Bowl – Good Stuff by Paul
  • White shelves – Ikea
  • Ceramic bananas – a market in Roatán
(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt)


  • White chair – Eastern Market
  • Curtains – Ikea
  • Ikea Shelves
  • Art – leftover frames from an decorative painter, antiques from family, a painting my mom created
  • Petrie Sofa – Crate & Barrel
(Image credit: Abby Greenawalt )


  • The red wrought iron furniture (green + orange couch) was from Craigslist
  • The rug outdoor + in the hallway was from Homebody
  • Outdoor dining table + umbrella given by my parents, who were moving at the time.

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Thanks, Abby!

Re-edited from a tour originally published in 2015 – AB