An Artist’s 600-Square-Foot D.C. Home Is Full of Minimal Art and Enviable Organizing Ideas
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Name: Mariana Cotlear
Location: Dupont Circle — Washington, DC
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months, renting
“Pick a limited color palette and stick to it!” says Mariana, whose DC home is a perfect expression of this mantra. With bright whites, natural wood textures, and pops of emerald green, the space is airy and calm. Curiosities are found throughout, like whimsical prints and treasures from Mariana’s travels. “I try to think about the way different spaces make me feel, and bring that back with me into my apartment.” She decorates with elements that remind her of family, friends, and all the adventures they have had together.
Mariana is a marketing and brand strategist, as well as a skilled furniture refinisher and artist of Modernist wall decor. From IKEA hacks to reclaimed Craigslist finds, everything in Mariana’s apartment has her elegant and minimalist aesthetic. Her proudest DIY is the shoe and accessory closet in her bedroom, made with custom fiberboard doors. Refinishing furniture has actually inspired Mariana to use wood as a canvas, and her handcrafted artwork can also be seen throughout the home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Scavenged Modern Zen
Inspiration: Travel is a huge inspiration for me. I try to think about the way different spaces make me feel, and bring that back with me into my apartment. I want my home to feel the way I want my heart to feel: happy, harmonious, calm, whimsical and adventurous!
Favorite Element: For my 30th birthday, some friends and I spent a weekend in a renovated barn in upstate New York, just cooking, romping around in the woods, doing yoga. I asked each person to bring a poem that was meaningful to them and we all read our poems by candlelight. Then each person painted a few lines from their poem onto a canvas that I took back with me. Every time I look at that painting and think of that weekend it makes me feel full of love!
Biggest Challenge: The dang wall between my kitchen and living room. It makes it super challenging to hang with friends while cooking, which is my absolute favorite thing to do.
What Friends Say: I asked one of my best friends, and she said: “It’s like walking through the garden, gallery and library of Mariana’s soul, which gives you a feeling of, you know, pure joy. Every object has a story and a special place in her life and home.” I mean, I have awesome friends.
Biggest Embarrassment: Well, my neighbors might find it a little embarrassing that my painting “workshop” consists of a dropcloth in our alley where I do all of my DIY wood and painting work. It’ll do (occasionally with an extension cord out the window) in a pinch!
Proudest DIY: My shoe/accessory closet! I wanted to put an end to smushed up footwear and tangled, forgotten necklaces. I used an Ikea PAX frame but then had to make custom doors for the left section, which involved cutting router holes into medium density fiberboard. My brother helped me build it. We also made the handles for it out of wooden dowels so it would match the whole aesthetic.
Biggest Indulgence: I know this question is usually about what the fanciest/ most expensive item is, but really the biggest indulgences have been all the trips I’ve taken to the middle of nowhere to pick up random pieces of furniture, which have often involved slightly more than annoyed Uber drivers and/or incredibly gracious friends and family.
Best Advice: Pick a limited color palette and stick to it!
Dream Sources: Dream, really? I want to take a cargo plane to Havana and fill it up with Cuban paintings and Art Deco signage. I want to go hang out with Berbers in Morocco and hear the legends of their vintage rugs. I want a nice old lady to bequeath me her mint condition Paul McCobb bed set. I want to go back in time and rescue all the heirloom silver my grandmother sold during hard times.
PAINT & COLORS
Entryway Behr – Fresh Herbs
Mirror with wood accents – Neighborhood trash from Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Reclaimed Poplar Table — Custom made by Stephen Muscarella
White Mirror (x3) — IKEA Nissedal
Triangle Art — Aleksandra Zee
Plant Hanger Fruit Basket — Ace Hardware
Original Bed Frame — IKEA Tarva
Mid-Century 3 piece bedroom set by Ward Furniture Co — Craigslist
Closet — Hacked Ikea Pax frame
Dancing Buddha Figure — Junk in Williamsburg
Print: “The Swim” by Suzie Q — Society6
Boy & his dog lamp — Snagged from the previous tenant of one of my Brooklyn apartments (now-famous food blogger Molly Yeh!)
Side Table — IKEA Frosta
Jute rugs — Rugs USA
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