A Small But Stylish Basement Is a Couple’s Retreat from the Hustle and Bustle of D.C.

A Small But Stylish Basement Is a Couple’s Retreat from the Hustle and Bustle of D.C.

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

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The Nobles’ Nest is our first home as a married couple, for this reason alone we have a special adoration for this basement apartment. The couple who lived in the space before us are coincidentally our friends, and when they were moving out we conveniently slid right in to fill their spot! The best part of living here? We are within a few blocks of most of our friends and community. It is not uncommon to have surprise drop ins and spontaneous dinner or drinks with our friends in the neighborhood! When things feel too crammed, or I am desiring a nicer bathroom or more kitchen counter space—I stop myself and think: “One day you will miss this little place and all that comes with it! Savor this season!” It truly is all about perspective.

This sneak peek of a small but stylish basement apartment just wasn’t enough; in this full house tour Samantha shares more photos and info about the home she lives in with her husband!

As for the actual apartment itself, we love how cozy and safe we feel here. It has become a little retreat for us away from the hustle and bustle of our busy D.C. lives. Our landlords (a family above us, they also happen to be friends) give us creative freedom to make the space one that we love, and being that I love design and decor, this is so valuable to me. We are not typical renters looking for a place to camp out; we want the space to be one we are proud of and reflects us! What makes this so fun is that it is very low cost and low risk to make styling and decor changes in such a small space.

One of my favorite parts of the home is the window above the sink in the kitchen and the natural light it brings in. In the spring and summer I typically prop it open with my wooden rolling pin and let the natural air in when I am cooking; it also makes for a handy escape for the smoke I am known to produce during cooking experiments, ha! Not to mention this window is a great spot to keep my plants and fresh flowers (Dan knows how to keep a flower vase full). I am also a big fan of the built-in bookshelves that allow me an opportunity to practice styling, store books, and utilize as a bar area! My husband laughs because the space is always evolving and changing. He jokes that he will look at something, and then 10 minutes later the object has moved five inches or to a new spot entirely. I am always tweaking things so it stays interesting and feels right!

We love hosting intimate dinner parties, or having a date night in and cozy-ing up on our loveseat (the largest size couch we could fit in the space) to watch a flick or read. A very typical evening for us would start with a quick walk to the Whole Foods two blocks north to grab a few supplies for dinner. While I start whipping out dinner, Dan is on bartender duty—Moscow Mule is the Nobles’ “house cocktail.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: My style is ever-evolving but I have a split personality on this front. Some days I want earthy textiles, airy bohemian elegance with Floridian flair, and other days I want mid-century modern, bright, feminine and eclectic. It really depends on how I’m feeling!

Inspiration: The anchor piece and inspiration of our living room was no doubt the lady in pink—my flamingo print! This piece certainly dictated the direction and tone of the space so I was very deliberate and careful in selecting elements with colors, textures, and patterns that would complement rather than compete. Daniel and I love living in this type A city, but we are very proud of our Gulf Coast roots where life is a little more relaxed. I wanted the decor to be lively and fun with a few strategic nods to our favorite coast! My goal along the way was to ensure the space felt welcoming, interesting, fun, and comfortable!

Favorite Element: The vintage mid-century modern dresser in our bedroom. I am always getting questions about where it is from and I feel quite proud that I landed her on Craigslist for $100! I bought it right when I moved to D.C. five years ago and I originally intended to refinish it, but I have grown to love the natural wear and blemishes.

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge with this space is the awkward shape and small size! The “dining area” is lumped in with our tiny living room, which means that we are always rearranging and moving furniture around to make room for our guests when we have dinner parties. With hospitality being a major priority to us, I was very careful to make sure that all the surfaces in our living room are free of clutter and kept minimal. This makes for easy and fast rearranging on the evenings where we have to convert the entire front room into a dining room for more than four. When there are only four of us, we will often borrow a side table from the living room and use it as an extension of the dining table to set extra glasses or dishes on it. Thankfully we have very gracious friends who are also familiar with tight D.C. living quarters!

Proudest DIY: The flush mount tassel “shade” I handmade to conceal the less-than-appealing light fixture in the bedroom! I used this light fixture from lulu & georgia as inspiration. While I am all for making our rental space look nice, there is a limit to how much we are willing to financially invest, so rather than changing out all the dated flush mounts and fixtures, I thought to myself “I’ll cover them with shades!”

Biggest Indulgence: Honestly, I am saving all my larger indulgences for when we are in a larger space, BUT I am a believer in investing in real art made by actual people! Most of the art we purchased for our home is from Minted, and while they might only be prints of the originals, they are still an economical way to support real, talented artists and photographers while also having a unique and meaningful piece! Buying art can be intimidating, but with websites like Minted, Madeline Frances, and Society 6 you can experiment with different styles and learn more about what you like and then commission an original piece when the time is right! I am also a big fan of investing in quality accent pillows! My husband is now completely unphased by my desire to splurge on a $100 pillow.

Best Advice: I will echo the same advice that I gave in the house call:

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!


Sherwin-Williams, City Scape

Console Table — Madison Seating
Art Print — Minted
Coat Hooks — Anthropologie
White Mirror — Craigslist
Vase — Target
Blue Marbled container — Homegoods
Gold Cacti — Homegoods
Beaded Garland — Target

Loveseat Sofa — Target
Green Accent Chair — World Market
Black Leather Accent Chair — Target
Acrylic Coffee Table — Overstock
Wood Topped/Black Iron legs Side Table — Homegoods
Marble Top & Gold side table — Target
Wooden/Gold Modern Lamp — Homegoods
Faux Raw Hide rug — Overstock
Vintage Turquise rug — Decor market
Cacti Print — Minted
Lovely lady Print — Minted
Abstract Yellow print — Minted
Beach Pier Print — Minted
Abstract Gray print — Minted
Butterfly Print — Minted
Commissioned Print — Steve Penley
“Stay a While” Painted by yours truly
Mini Wall Hanging Planters — Etsy
Faux air plants for planters — Hobby Lobby
White Indoor Planter stand — Target
Yellow & Blue Accent Vases — Home goods
Matte Black metal plant potters — H&M
Flamingo Art Print — Society 6
White Grid lined Curtains — Target + (I hand drew the grid lines) — Target
Blue Strokes pillow — Anthropologie
Ivory Faux Fur lumbar — World Market
Cream textured weave lumbar — Target
Silver Fish wall hanging — Target
Black faux fur Stool — Target

Dining Table — Older version of this from IKEA
Dining Chairs — Older version of this from IKEA
Mirror above table — Target sold out but similar here at CB2
Bamboo Folding Chairs hanging on the wall — Bizchair.com
Seat cushions — H&M
Macrame Table Runner — World Market
Black Vase — Salt & Sundry

Copper Cabinet Knobs — Target
Vase — Anthropologie
Reclaimed Wood Shelf — West Elm
Copper Pot Rack — Wayfair
Chunky Weaved Runner — Rugs Direct
Plant Basket — H&M
Peel & Stick Removable Marble Print Backsplash — Wayfair
White Canisters — Salt & Sundry
Small Decorative Cutting Boards — H&M
Copper Tea Kettle — Homegoods
Paper Towel Holder — Crate & Barrel
Food Scale — Target
White Glass Egg crate — Salt & Sundry
Utensil Holder — Crate & Barrel
Art print — Minted

Headboard & Bed — Old World Market
Bedding — West Elm — West Elm
Blue Accent Pillows — Navy Pillow 1; Navy Blue Pillow 2
Lumbar Pillow — Pier 1 Joanna Gaines Collection
Lamps — Target
Dresser — Craigslist
Layered Rugs — White 8×10 — Amazon; Indigo Target
Banana Leaf Prints — Society 6 + Framed and Matted by Hobby Lobby:
Brass & Leather Knob Hardware for side tables — Anthropologie
Swivel mirror & book shelf — World Market
Weaved Baskets on Wall — Salt & Sundry but same here Etsy
Assortment of Vases on dresser — H&M & Target
Candle Sticks — H&M
Gold Glass Jewelry Box — H&M
Macrame Wall hangings — Etsy and Etsy
Custom Calligraphy — My friend Lauren Laster over at — Etsy and (Matted and framed by Hobby Lobby)
Light fixture — handmade by yours truly
Mini black potters for cacti — H&M

Horse Print — Minted
Floral Print — Minted
White Frames — Homegoods
Bath Towel Ring — Anthropologie
Toilet Paper Ring — Anthropologie
Towel Hooks — Target
Storage Baskets — H&M

Thanks, Samantha and Daniel!

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