Rachel & Tiernan’s Textured Townhouse

published Jan 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Name: Rachel and Tiernan Mennen
Location: Bloomingdale; Washington, DC
Size: 2,700 square feet (including English basement)
Years lived in: 2 years; Owned

Rachel, an interior designer, and Tiernan, an attorney, moved from Brooklyn to DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood about two years ago. Though it’s in the heart of the District, it maintains a sort of outpost-y spirit, which appealed to the couple, reminding them of Brooklyn.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

The house had been gutted and fixed up right before they bought it and, in the process, stripped of much of its old architectural character. One of the measures of just how well Rachel and Tiernan have done decorating it, then, is that you don’t get that feeling at all. The mix of furniture — antique case goods across from slick Saarinen across from that gorgeous Chesterfield — give the rooms a feeling of age and depth. Other pieces — pillows from a market in Istanbul, a brown trout Tiernan caught when he was 17 — give them a story.

A story to be continued, in fact, because Rachel has yet to lend her touch to much of the second floor (save for the hallway, pictured), which means, if the Mennens are up for it, we’ll have to check back in with them down the road.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A contrast of elements. Worldly, offbeat, and refined. Mixing the high and low.

Inspiration: Extensive travel and global exposure — particularly our more recent trips to India, Istanbul and rural Arizona. Flea markets, industrial antiques, and the natural environment are all sources of great inspiration.

Favorite Element: The morning light that completely saturates our home, particularly our bedroom.

Biggest Challenge: Most of the original architectural detail was removed when the house was renovated and prior to us purchasing. We both love the charm and broken down splendor of old homes, but since much of those qualities were no longer present we had to bring back some of the worn-in comfort through furniture, textiles, and lighting.

What Friends Say: People seem to love the openness and feeling of comfort.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our Persian cat has a tremendous amount of long white hair that seems to cling to everything and everyone who visits.

Proudest DIY: Redesigning the back patio to create an intimate urban space.

Biggest Indulgence: Our custom Chesterfield sofa, straight from England, was probably the biggest splurge yet. We figure it will be with us for a very long time to come.

Best Advice: There are no rules in design. Live with pieces that you love and that bring happiness into your home.

Dream Sources: BDDW, Blackman Cruz and Obsolete in LA, Nakashima Studio, Lindsay Adelman, third world artisan markets.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Resources of Note:


  • Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath
  • Farrow & Ball Railings


  • Door – I designed the door and my brother Aaron Poritz had it made for us at his mill in Managua, Nicaragua.
  • Rug under door – A rug dealer in Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Coat rack – GoodWood
  • Tall walnut table – Custom Samuel Moyer Furniture
  • Clock over table – George Nelson


  • Wall color – Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath
  • Ivory chairs – Ballard Designs
  • Rug – Vintage Chinese Art Deco
  • Sofa – Custom Chesterfields 1780
  • Mirror over sofa – Vintage Early 1900s American from GoodWood
  • Colorful tray(s) on table – Kaleido Trays from DWR
  • Vase on table – Ferm Living
  • Chair in front of window – Aaron Poritz Furniture
  • Rug under chair in front of window – Vintage Moroccan from Eliko
  • Hide on back of chair – Angora sheep hide from outdoor market in Ankara, Turkey
  • Pillows on chair – Vintage from an Artisan market in Istanbul
  • Artwork over chair – Drawing of my father by Mira Cantor
  • Ottomans in front of TV – Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams


  • Wall color – Farrow & Ball Railings
  • Table – Vintage Saarinen from Ebay
  • Chairs – Vintage Knoll Tulip Chairs from Upstate New York Estate Sale
  • Rug – Hide dealer in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Chandelier – Ebay
  • Pheasant – Organic Modernism
  • Bar – Antique bar, inherited
  • Terrarium on bar – Found Antiques in Ithaca, New York
  • Prints over bar – Vintage French 1970s posters
  • Sideboard – Antique, inherited
  • Brown trout – Caught by Tiernan at age 17 in Lake Erie


  • Wall color – Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath
  • Rug – Brimfield Antique Show
  • Bar stools – Organic Modernism
  • Pendants – School House Electric
    Bison – Trading Post in Sedona, Arizona


  • Rug – Outdoor market in Old Sana’a, Yemen
  • Barrister bookcase – Antique, inherited
  • Artwork on bookcase – Vintage Polish theater poster
  • Peacock – Massachusetts Estate Sale
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Thanks, Rachel and Tiernan!

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