Ada's Art-Filled Apartment

Ada's Art-Filled Apartment

Annie Lou Berman
Sep 13, 2010

Name: Ada Polla
Location: Georgetown — Washington, DC
Size: 800 square feet

Ada Polla found a perfectly located apartment in Georgetown and with a couple quick tweaks was able to turn an otherwise unremarkable rental into a chic, simple and personalized home that hints at her Swiss roots and showcases her great collection of contemporary art.

Ada's one bedroom ground floor apartment on a charming and quiet corner in Georgetown could not be more convenient as it's walking distance to the office and showroom for her skincare line, Alchimie Forever. Not one to let bad lighting and dreary paint get in the way of an otherwise perfect place, Ada quickly had the whole place repainted in one color, replaced the existing old and broken light fixtures with sparkly new track lighting, and installed custom window treatments that allow in the desired sunlight while still affording the necessary privacy.

She then thoughtfully furnished it with a combination of family heirlooms and new items from mass-market design stores. The chairs, secretary, bureau and table from her grandparents and the other objects and treasures from her family and friends — like the old alchemist mortars from her father — point to her strong family ties and sense of quirkiness.

And the remarkable collection of artwork, started through her family's gallery, Analix Forever in Geneva, really makes it her own. She keeps things spare and paired down and lets the major pieces, large and small, standout. The big diptych portrait in her bedroom is a total focal point and the small drawing of the Last Supper by artist friends tucked into a living room shelf pulls you in.

It's orderly and organized yet still fun and a little unexpected and exhibits the same attention to detail and characteristics that Ada undoubtedly uses in her business.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Classical with a twist. Elegant. A mixture of old and modern.

Inspiration: Jackie O. and Bunny Mellon. My maternal grandmother. My godmother.

Favorite Element: The mantel of the fireplace is like a work of art. A clear oil lamp, a 16th century wooden painting of a saint, antique books, and a white taper candle, all set against a mirror. I could sit on my couch for hours just looking at that – and at the roaring fire I can light in my working fireplace.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping 800 square feet of space uncluttered and organized. Not being able to entertain as I wish I could given the lack of space.

What Friends Say: That I am definitely a European (I guess that's because some of my furniture comes from my grandma and great-grandma…)

Biggest Embarrassment: I moved in the chandelier in the living room was so low and long (in addition to being ugly) that my taller guests kept hitting their heads.

Proudest DIY: Placing the artwork and hanging what I could on my own.

Biggest Indulgence: I spend more on contemporary art than I should.

Best Advice: Less is more. And "everything has a place and everything in its place."

Dream Sources: Domino Magazine (I am still mourning its closing). Antique stores. Design stores in Paris.

Resources of Note:


    • Sherwin Williams Pure White, SW7005


    • Couch, CB2
    • Round dinner table and four chairs are from my grandmother. I recently reupholstered the chairs with wine-colored velvet fabric by Robert Allen.
    • The light fixtures (track) are by Nora Lighting (with a dimmer, absolutely essential!)
    • I love the white solar shade (ShadeStore).
    • The secretary is from my grandfather – I use it as a bar…


    • Krups coffee machine; one of my most prized possessions.


    • Crate and Barrel bed – Tate queen in linen
    • Legna linens from Valeriane boutique in Vienna, VA
    • TV stand from Crate and Barrel – Era
    • Two chairs are from my grandma; I recently reupholstered them with slate-colored velvet fabric, also by Robert Allen.
    • Nesting bedside tables from CB2, Peekaboo
    • custom-made curtains in silvery slate fabric by Kravet.


    • Awesome washer and drier in one. Great for small spaces

Thanks, Ada!

Images: Annie Lou Berman

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