A Color Expert’s Own Brightly Hued Home

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Name: Annie Elliott, CEO Bossy Color Interior Design
Location: Woodley Park, Washington, DC
Size: 2700 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 8.5 years

With a business called “Bossy Color” one naturally has a strong point of view when it comes to design. Enter Annie Elliott, the energetic designer behind Bossy Color Interior Design based in DC. When I photographed an interior project for one of Annie’s clients a few months ago, I had a hunch her own home would be a vibrant gem bursting with personality. And of course Annie and her sunny personality didn’t disappoint.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Seated in the beautiful neighborhood of Woodley Park, nestled between large stone homes and lush, tree-lined streets with personal gardens is Annie Elliot’s charming three-story home that she makes with her husband and daughters. The home opens to a grand foyer with high ceilings and rich hardwood floors. For added pop and a touch of whimsy, Annie used wall-to-wall wallpaper with an exotic bird printed textile. The foyer invites you to enjoy the sunlight of the large living room bursting with vignettes of color, charm, and personal touches that reflect Annie’s penchant for eclectic design. The living room itself has been redesigned a number of times over (just ask Annie’s patient husband), and on this particular day it sits dressed in rich golden yellow hues, greens, and pinks.

Being the hands-on designer that she is, Annie also reupholstered all of the chairs and couches herself, including a beautiful barrel chair with teal leather fabric. Even the restroom, which sits just off the dining room in a discreet manner, gets a full makeover, playing off the deep green carpeting of the dining room with full on wall-to-wall striped green wallpaper, light green floor tiles, and green accent furniture.

And while the downstairs rooms opt to be the life of the party, the upstairs bedroom seeks a more demure presence, preferring to take the colors downstairs (yellow, green, and blue) and turn the volume down. The instant serenity of the bedroom is achieved by the soft white bedspread, calming light blue wall color, whimsical headboard, wooden accents like the mid-century credenza and rocking chair and the natural textures such as the bamboo window chair.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mixing old with new and high with low is the style I’m most comfortable with. I just feel better when there’s an antique or vintage piece anchoring the room – it makes the space feel less “design-y.” For that reason, Celerie Kemble is one of my biggest style inspirations. And Jamie Drake is my hero for color and general awesomeness.

Favorite Element: I am such a sucker for herringbone floors. Wood, stone, ceramic…it doesn’t matter. They’re my favorite design element, for sure.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge in our house is having a powder room off the dining room. I mean, eeew. It was a FULL bath when we first moved in, but we did away with the shower recently. We tried to figure out a way to move the doorway, but in the end, we figured that in a 100-year-old house, you have to live with some quirks!

What Friends Say: Our friends love our house…but then again, if they didn’t love it, they’d probably be wise enough to stay mum! Lately, they’ve been saying that they find the new color of the dining room soothing. It’s a pale blue-gray by Farrow & Ball, appropriately named, “Light Blue.”

Biggest Embarrassment: My biggest embarrassment – SHAME, really – is that it took me 6 years to crack the code on my own living room. I dragged my poor blog readers through the process…I simply couldn’t get the wall color right. It’s a north-facing room with only one window, so my first thought, naturally, was yellow. (Anyone who knows me is rolling their eyes right now; I’d paint the whole world yellow if I could.) But because I was a new designer, I thought that was the easy way out. I squelched that urge and spent the next 6 years experimenting with warm whites, blues, even a pinkish red…my poor husband! In a fit of disgust, I finally said, the heck with it, I’m just going to go with yellow. REAL, bona fide, Monticello, egg-yolk yellow. (The yellow pictures on my website are of that room.) I love it. Finally.

Proudest DIY: Tragically, I don’t have a lot of time for DIY projects these days; I used to paint anything that would stand still. I’m slowly painting our radiators various metallic colors, and I recently painted the frame of our foyer mirror. It’s a nice big mirror I found at Home Goods, but the frame was a dull fake wood. I was worried that it wouldn’t hold the new paint – I didn’t have time for a primer (and by that, I mean that I was too lazy to do a primer), so I just crossed the fingers of my non-paintbrush-holding hand and did it. And it turned out fine.

Biggest Indulgence: My headboard. Hands down. I used Galbraith and Paul’s fabric, “Birds” in the colorway Lake, and I still think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It makes me happy every single day. How often can you say that?

Best Advice: If you see something unusual that you just adore – a piece of art, a chair with zany upholstery, a kooky lamp – BUY IT. You’ll always find a place for something if you love it. (This excludes stuff you can get from normal shops; I’m talking about things that are one-of-a-kind.) I literally lie awake at night regretting the things I didn’t take home…a pair of small ’60s landscape paintings comes to mind. Don’t let this happen to you!

Dream Sources: My dream source would have to have an accompanying dream SPACE! If money grew on trees, I would buy every interesting object that caught my eye and stash it in my spacious, well-lit, climate-controlled storage space. From 1st Dibs to my favorite junk shop on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to all of the fancy antique stores in Europe I haven’t been to yet, I would just buy and buy and buy, knowing that the perfect opportunity to use each of these amazing objects would eventually present itself.

Resources of Note:


  • Farrow and Ball “Light Blue”


  • Wallpaper: Nina Campbell, Osborne & Little “Paradiso” print
  • Painting: 20 x 200 (now defunct)
  • Gate leg Table: Former Dining room table from Annie’s childhood
  • Sideboard: Heirloom from grandmother
  • Mirror: Home Goods
  • Lamp and Shade: World Market
  • Tray: West Elm


  • English Chair: Family heirloom
  • Chair: Family heirloom that Annie reupholstered
  • Table: Grandmother’s
  • Sofa: Craigslist (reupholstered by Annie in Robert Allen velvet)
  • Settee: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams “Mona Sofa” (Annie reupholstered)
  • Coffee table: Room and Board
  • Little tables: West Elm
  • Armchairs: to the trade store: reupholstered
  • Curtains: Haute store
  • Lamp: Melwood thrift store
  • Pillows: Manwell Canovas
  • Rug: Rugs USA.com
  • Gold Cricket Box: Etsy
  • Stools: Husbands’
  • Vases: CB2


  • English sideboard: Annie’s grandmother
  • Chair: her parent’s from New York in the 60s
  • Lamp: Barbara Berry from Circa Lighting
  • Painting: Joe Myer (Eastern Shore)
  • Table: Goodwood DC
  • Antica chairs: Design Within Reach
  • Drapes: Manwell Canovas
  • Robert Allen hardware
  • Slingshot: Graham Boyl
  • Rug: Home Decorator’s Collection


  • Chest from Vermont
  • Marble tiling: Online purchase
  • Lamp: Store in St. Michael’s, MD
  • Brass: Etsy
  • Lampshade: Shade Store
  • Green Wallpaper: Farrow and Bald “Drag Paper”
  • Mirror: One King’s Lane
  • Painting: Etsy (Elizabeth Brown ” Dragon’s Appetite)


  • Headboard:
  • Bookshelf: Ikea
  • Pillows: Etsy
  • Bedding: Company Store
  • Danish Credenza: Ebay
  • Lamps: Circa and World Market
  • Mirror: Ikea
  • Painting: First Annie purchased from Corcoran Gallery
  • Monica J. Bose art
  • Rocking Chair: Christening present to Annie when she was born
  • Pillow: Pottery Barn
  • Dresser: Husband’s from his childhood
  • Rug: Flocati rug purchased online
  • Ceiling Lamp: Minka Aire

Thanks, Annie!

(Images: Nicole Crowder )

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*Tour previously published