Melissa & Andrew’s Paprika Perch

published Feb 12, 2014
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(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Name: Melissa and Andrew
Location: Kalorama; Washington, DC
Size: 620 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

Melissa, an account supervisor at an ad agency, and her boyfriend, Andrew, a speechwriter for a member of Congress, moved into this Kalorama apartment two years ago. It appeared last week as a House Call; this week we’ve got the full tour.

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(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

This is Melissa and Andrew’s first place together, and they moved in with furniture and styles that didn’t blend super well. So they’ve approached the decorating process with a simple attitude toward shedding “his” and “hers” pieces: “We sketched out our vision for the space and only kept what worked, regardless of who brought it,” says Melissa.

Notable new additions include the paprika sofa, which has pride of place in the living room, and their bar cart, a purchase inspired by the recent Apartment Therapy post on How To Use the $50 IKEA RÅSKOG Cart in Every Room of the House.

“The thing I love the most about our apartment is that it has grown with us,” Melissa noted in her House Call. “We didn’t have all the perfect pieces on day one — nor could we have afforded to. But little by little, we’ve created a space that reflects both our personalities.”

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Functional. We don’t have a ton of space, so some of our candle holders serve as bookends, an extra dining stool is home to our magazines, etc.

Inspiration: These days it’s restaurants. You can’t walk down the street in DC without passing a new one. It’s always interesting to see new building/structural materials, furniture, décor, and tableware. It helps that we like to eat at said new restaurants.

Favorite Element: Probably our hanging bedside lamps. The only wall that fits our bed leaves little room for sizable nightstands on either side. To avoid crowding the precious book/cell phone/glass-of-water space, we DIY-ed lamps that could hang from the ceiling.

Biggest Challenge: Getting rid of some “his” and some “hers” stuff. This is our first place together, so naturally we both moved in with furniture and decor that didn’t quite mix. Rather than letting each person pick their favorite pieces, we sketched out our vision for the space and only kept what worked, regardless of who brought it.

What Friends Say: “Your place is so clean!” Of course it is; we cleaned up just for you.

Biggest Embarrassment: Long story, abbreviated: We bought our sofa without measuring the space. Moved in and immediately outlined the specs on the floor in painters tape (it fit!). Our sofa took 5+ months to arrive (yeah). Leaving a furniture crime scene in our living room.

Proudest DIY: Our desk! The only room we had for a desk space was a nook between a window and the fireplace. The main issue was not having room for the depth of an average desk. so we decided to build one to fit the space we did have. Finding wood was the hardest part. We sawed it to size, stained it and attached legs we’d ordered online. Our headboard ranks a close second.

Biggest Indulgence: Our paprika sofa. Not because it was a big-ticket item — but because we bought it only after making sure we could both lay down at the same time.

Dream Sources: We both struggle with buying art when so many of our friends and family are talented photographers, designers and artists. Our dream home will be filled with their work, and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and Room & Board everything.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Resources of Note:


  • Mirror over long table – HomeGoods
  • Long table – Ikea (Stockholm)
  • White ram head – Target (Nate Berkus)
  • Longboard – gift
  • Flower pillow – Target
  • Green shelf – CB2
  • Shelf beside it holding stack of books – Amazon
  • Rug – Urban Outfitters
  • Coffee table – CB2
  • Sofa – Desi Living Innovations (out of business)
  • Pillows on sofa – & and ombre from Target, B&W pillows from Ikea
  • Desk – made the top, legs are from
  • Lamp on desk – Target (base is Nate Berkus, shade is Threshold)
  • Desk chair – Office “yard sale” ($5 bucks!)
  • Bar cart – Ikea RÅSKOG cart
  • Artwork over bar cart – Providence poster, triptych by Melissa’s dad


  • Tall steel rack – Target
  • Vase for tulips – Anthropologie


  • Bed – Frame is Ikea but we took the back off and made our own headboard (fabric from G Street Fabrics in Rockville, MD)
  • Bedding – Anthropologie
  • Bedside tables – Left is Ikea, right is an old chest
  • Light fixtures – Cord is from World Market, shades are from Target desk lamps
  • Eagle over bed – Andrew’s grandmother’s house
  • Red clock – Target
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Thanks, Melissa and Andrew!

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