Janelle’s High Impact Oasis

updated Jun 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Janelle
Location: Southwest Waterfront — Washington, DC
Size: 600 square feet — studio
Years lived in: 11 months — owned

Since Janelle’s studio was one of the finalists in this year’s Room For Color contest, I was expecting the vibrancy and the brave use of saturated hues. What I didn’t expect was that the same lively palette that wowed us in October was also capable of eliciting a soothing sense of calm. Stepping into Janelle’s home, which happens to have one killer view of DC’s South Western side and the wall of windows to appreciate it, I was immediately struck by its welcoming coziness, as well as Janelle’s genius use of space.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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Janelle’s before picture (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Although Janelle has technically only lived in her home for just under a year, she and the light-filled studio have a much longer history. Finding and falling in love with the condo was part one. That alone involved taking multiple trips to the building, seeking the opinions of close friends and family, and taking extensive tours of the surrounding neighborhood. However, the hard part came after signing the contract. Janelle explains that she decided to take the ownership leap in September 2008, “a few weeks before Lehman Bros filed for bankruptcy and the downward spiral of the financial industry. Who owned my building? Lehman Bros! I had to wait nearly 15 months (bankruptcy filing, identifying and securing a new investor, transfer of building title/ownership, etc) ” before moving in!

Lucky for her, the condo was worth the wait, and once it was finally officially hers, Janelle was intent on turning the white, wall-to-wall carpeted box into a vibrant home that reflected her life. And after meeting Janelle, even if it was just one afternoon, I can assure you that the home does indeed reflect its owner. However, that was not always the case. Janelle explained that when she first moved in, she had virtually no furniture save a lone side table and an air mattress borrowed from a friend. With 2 months before her mother’s first visit to her new place, Janelle enlisted the help of her friend, Blair Riggs, who just so happens to be senior designer at Victor Shargai & Associates. With Blair’s help and a heavy dose of DIY spirit, Janelle’s vision began to take shape. The starting point was a candle from Anthropologie that had the strong color palette and the creative vibe that Janelle wanted for her whole home. Once she translated that into a plan for her condo, she and Blair went about finding furniture. They drew from Lee Industries to Ikea and everywhere in between, snagging some of the best deals from Overstock.

Aside from the obvious color factor, Janelle’s home has some other knock out details, the first of which is the wall of windows and the shadows created by the changing light’s interactions with the building’s 1950s architecture. During my visit, the shadows became more pronounced, completely changing the look and feel of the home from minute to minute. The patterns chosen by Janelle for her home reflect the geometric and modern shapes cast by the shadows. The other notable feature, not to be forgotten, is Janelle’s impeccably organized closet. Everything, everything, has a place — and a perfectly tidy place at that. And that fact gives a little more insight into the duality of calm and vibrancy radiating throughout Janelle’s home. The color choices are loud, the patterns are strong, but they are balanced by an impressive amount of order found throughout. Visiting made me reconsider many of my previous opinions about what it takes to live life in technicolor.

Be sure to check out the full House Tour gallery for a few before pictures taken prior to the condo’s rainbow bath. And in case you missed Janelle’s entry in the Room For Color Contest, check it out :Janelle’s “Viva La Femme” Room. The photos show a completely different side of Janelle’s home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Bright and fun, modern with a feminine flare.

Inspiration: My life is full of faith and love from family and friends. I have surrounded myself with gifts from loved ones, photos, and keepsakes from my travels, including the magnets displayed on my fridge that I’ve collected from nearly every city I’ve visited.

Favorite Element: The view through my wall to wall windows. I love looking out the window to catch an amazing sunset or sitting on the balcony in the morning with a cup of hot tea. I have a wonderful view of the Washington Monument, especially on the 4th of July. It’s a constant reminder that I reside in our Nation’s Capital!

Biggest Challenge: The space is incredibly open, which I love, yet still a fairly small space so I have to make every inch work. One of my running friends, Blair Riggs, is a designer who helped me maximize space through an excellent furniture layout. Blair also encouraged my desire to use multiple colors throughout the space because each color helps define the different areas in my studio.

What Friends Say: They love the colors, not necessarily for themselves, but they say it’s very “me.” Vibrant, happy, and warm. One friend aptly put it, “Hanging out in Janelle’s [condo] is like getting hugged by a rainbow.” Ha ha ha. Would you agree?

Biggest Embarrassment: The generic, plastic vertical blinds issued with each condo. I took them down very quickly and decided not to put up new window treatments because I’d rather bask in the sunshine. Thanks goodness I can sleep through anything!

Proudest DIY: I painted the condo myself with a handful of my dear friends. It was incredibly time intensive, as you can see all the corners, strips of wall, and bright paint colors that could potentially show every flaw. There are a few mistakes. Let’s see if you can spot ’em.

Biggest Indulgence: The Container Store closet organizing shelving system. It cost a small fortune, but was quickly paid off thanks to the first-time homebuyer tax credit. I certainly needed all the storage help I could get as the original closet only had one, short bar and a shallow shelf. I also transitioned my front closet into a linen closet space. The customized organizing units really maximize the small amount of space storage space in condo.

Best Advice: Go big, go bold, but before you commit, be sure to take the time to test drive colors. Prior to fully slathering my walls in paint, Blair Riggs, my dear friend and savvy designer recommended I paint 2×2 foot swatches of paint on the walls and observe the colors throughout the day. I took stock of the colors in the morning, right when I came back from work when the sun brightly shined in the space, then at night when the condo was dimly lit I was generally pleased with the tone and warmth of the colors, except for the purple fire and ice, which came out a little too dark in the evening. The situation was easily fixed by customizing the paint and adding more white in the mix. After another day of testing the new color, I was in business!

Dream Sources: I am tremendously inspired by nature, especially the sky and its brilliant sunsets. In fact, I think my bedroom and living room colors greatly resemble some of the best colors contained in the vivid DC summer sunsets I’ve enjoyed over the years.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Other Inspiration: In addition to the keepsakes I’ve acquired through my travels and the accessories my friends have given me over the years, I’d probably say my other source of inspiration comes from my love of shapes, angles, and geometry (even though I’m not the strongest mathematician). There’s
a unique lattice of honeycomb brick on the balcony that dates back to the building’s origin (which I think
was in 1959) which plays against the many sharp angles and curves within the condo (like the separating
bookshelf, lamps, rug pattern, various tables/coffee/dining/hallway, mirrors, etc).

Resources of Note:


    • Benjamin Moore: Fuchsine (living area)
    • Benjamin Moore: Perennial (kitchen)
    • Benjamin Moore: Pacific Palisades (hallway)
    • Benjamin Moore: Fire and Ice (customized to 25% lighter for bed area)
    • Benjamin Moore: Golden Orchard (bath)


    • Couch and leather swivel chair (Lee Industries)
    • Bookcase/tv shelf (IKEA)
    • Bar/wine rack, expandable coffee table, hallway table (Crate & Barrel)
    • White dining table (Lexington Modern)
    • Colorful dining chairs (Target)

    • Couch pillows (West Elm)
    • Vases on countertop and dresser, which hold my willow branch lights (Pier 1)
    • Framed New Orleans Jazz Fest posters I collected at the festival in 08 and 09
    • Starburst hallway mirror (Overstock)
    • Silver box on coffee table from Buenos Aires Argentina (gifted to me by a family friend when I visited last summer)
    • Crystal candy dish on coffee table (from a friend who is raising her two children in Germany while
    her husband flies blackhawk helicopters in Iraq)
    • Red apple plate (“won” at a silent auction at the Domestic Violence Resource Project fundraiser) and Statuette of Liberty (given to me by a friend who is currently stationed in Naples, Italy as she serves in the Navy)
    • Metal turtle on hallway table (from one of my dearest girlfriends, Chonger, who took the photographs I used in the condo for the color contest!)
    • Collection of vases (trio from an amazing emergency doctor friend who visited Korea; colorful Middle Eastern vase brought back from the middle east by my great amiga who is a human rights religious freedom expert; alabaster vase from my travels to Egypt)
    • Stitching of scene in Vietnam (brought back by top-notch NY litigator who I befriended in law school)
    • Fun, pink flowery and pearly THRO pillows (sent to me from a former law school roomie who is now raising a family in NYC)

    • Tall living room lamp (Lamps Plus)
    • Lamp atop entry table (Crate & Barrel)

    • Green hallway rug (Crate & Barrel)
    • Purple to pink living room rug (Overstock)

    • Bed (Sealy)
    • Vanity and bench (Pier 1)
    • Wooden dresser (Overstock, knobs changed out with mercurial glass knobs from Anthropologie)

    Bedroom Accessories:
    • Bed linens (West Elm)
    • Flirty and feminine candle that inspired my color and style is perched atop my vanity/desk
    • Framed pictures of Hong Kong (where I visited every summer as a child to visit family)
    • Vase on dresser, holding cherry blossom lights (Pier 1)
    • Mini water fountain on dresser (CVS, gift from baby girl Josie’s papa)
    • Flowery porcelain serving set and wooden tray (gift from a college roomie)
    • Framed poster of POTUS (purchased at the Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus Meeting
    during the ’08 Democratic National Convention in Denver)

    • Mirrored lamp on dresser (West Elm)
    • Steel lamp on vanity (Form & Function)

    • Framed papyrus from Egyptian travels
    • Shower curtain (Bed Bath & Beyond)

    Thanks, Janelle!

    Images: <a href="<a%20href=" http: www.mosseclectic.com>Leah Moss (and Janelle as noted in the gallery’s “before pictures”)

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