This Home in Washington, D.C.’s City Center Feels “Hidden in the Treetops”

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Home Type
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Gray dining room with large window, wood dining table, and lots of plants

Vernessa Shih (and her cat, Cassian) has owned this two-bedroom apartment for three years: My house is a condo tucked in the middle of busy Washington, D.C. I picked it because it has bright natural light and feels very hidden in the treetops — even in the middle of the city. I wanted a modern and airy home that felt like it could belong in southern California, where I’m from. I live there with my 3-year-old cat, Cassian, who I rescued from a shelter a month before the world shut down due to the pandemic.

We moved in September 2020 so I spent most of the pandemic doing DIY projects, learning how to wallpaper, and slowly decorating my space. I also wanted something that would be great for all my indoor plants and enough outdoor patio space to grow an extensive summer garden. I host a lot of dinner parties and patio happy hours, so it was important to me that my house was welcoming and cozy for people to visit. It’s my nest and safe space and I really cherish being home.

I often say that my house looks like the inside of my brain. It is a complete manifestation of my creativity and quirkiness, and the things that make me happy. People often tell me that my house “feels” like me, which I take as the highest compliment because I want people to feel welcomed and cozy in my house, but relaxed like they would be in a fancy hotel room. I wanted a house full of color and texture, books, plants, and all of my framed art everywhere.

Share how much it cost to furnish or design your space? It probably cost around $10K to decorate and buy all the additional furniture (couch, dining table, chairs, bed, mattress, side tables, wallpaper, paint, fixtures) for my condo when I moved in September 2020.

Describe your home’s style in five words or fewer: Bright, airy, welcoming, Californian, calming.

What is your favorite room and why? I love my living room; it’s the first room I did wallpaper in and committed to decorating. I wanted a visually interesting but cozy space where people could hang out and feel comfortable in. My house is pretty open-concept (you can see the living room from everywhere), so it was important for me to have statement wall with a beautiful antique-looking wallpaper mural to contrast with the baby pink sofa and all of the indoor plants.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I’m always looking for fun graphic prints to add to my gallery wall up the stairs, and recently went to get an art piece framed that I bought through a kickstarter from one of my favorite artists, TenHundred. It’s an uncut sheet of custom designed playing cards.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Start small, look at lots of inspiration pictures, and be thoughtful and selective when comparison shopping! Also, it’s probably do-able to DIY with enough research.

Thanks, Vernessa!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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