Names: Sara & Pete
Size: 5,000 square feet, including the basement apartment
Years Lived in: 10
Sara and Pete's DC rowhouse is decorated with a mix of antiques and repurposed theater props. The couple has long supported theater companies in DC — including Constellation Theatre and Woolly Mammoth — and have collected and incorporated their favorite stage props into their home.
Sara and Pete chose quirky and eclectic fixtures and furnishings. The result is a cozy and comfortable home.
Apartment Therapy Survey
Style: hmmm ... unstudied couples-taste-compromising dinner-party-ready informal. Or, slightly boho-eclectic contemporary.
Inspiration: Bloomsbury; Sydney Australia; Wiener Werkstatte and the Art Nouveau styles of Prague and Budapest.
What Friends Say: How long have you lived here? (implying, I think, that they want to know whether we bought before or after the neighborhood got pricey).
Biggest Embarrassment: Front yard needs much more attention! It's pretty weedy and unworthy of our neighbors.
Biggest Challenge: I try pretty hard not to buy new things that are made in a handful of foreign countries that are the "usual suspects" for the consumer-snob crowd — a strictly personal bias related to my feelings about labor practices in manufacturing. It means I'm always out there hunting down vintage or made-in-USA items, whenever possible, and that is time-consuming and can be frustrating — so many things in the West Elm catalogue are really cute!
Proudest DIY: We are not really DIY-ers, alas! I worked closely with a wonderful stained-glass artist to design the two pieces we have installed in the house, which she created and our awesome carpenter installed, and I am proud of those.
Biggest Indulgence: $6,000 Galle chandelier — which gets roughly the same number of compliments as the $220 Home Depot chandelier in the next room!
Best Advice: Hopefully your life will be long, and decorating is probably not the most important thing you'll do — don't sweat it.
Dream Source/Item: The theater! Right now I love the large painting of a nearby commercial storefront that is in our living room; it was part of the set for a play done at Woolly Mammoth here in DC. We also have a side table from the production of Quills that was at Woolly (and that has appeared since on-stage at the theater, when they borrowed it from us). We used to have a prop sock-puppet in a place of pride, that played an important part in the world-premiere production of Craig Wright's Recent Tragic Events, but we gave it to Dori Legg, the actress who was the puppeteer. And, we have a photo in a place of pride above the mantelpiece in our kitchen, that is a picture of the audience at our friend Callie Kimball's night of plays, "It's Not You, It's Me" — we're in the photo, as are several friends and acquaintances in the theater world, and our theater friends are always delighted to see it and pick out who they know in the audience and ask more about the evening.
Paint Color: We last painted the interior about 10 years ago, so I don't remember, and it's different all over the house. But I'm a true believer in Benjamin Moore paints, they go on like a dream and my contractors always seem happy when I specify them.
Furniture and accessories: I prefer vintage, probably considered shabby-chic — Miss Pixie's and Goodwood in DC's 14th & U neighborhood, and Paradiso in Baltimore's Hampden. For kitchen and office doodads I just love Home Rule on 14th Street.
Lighting: either Pottery Barn new, or The Brass Knob in DC's Adams Morgan, old.
Window Treatments: Ballard Design or Pottery Barn (or the Restoration Hardware discount sales near Baltimore), and then my sewing machine to fix them up just right — you can make a huge difference in a window treatment with a little customization and adding some weight at the hem and some structure to the header.
Art: Portland, Oregon's Last Thursday in the Alberta Arts District; friends who paint; vintage stores.
(Thanks, Sara and Pete!)
(Images: Rachael Grad)
• Survey: Theatre Props in the Home?