DC House Tour: Grace’s Warm Urban Loft

DC House Tour: Grace’s Warm Urban Loft

Maxwell Ryan
Apr 21, 2008

This is from our DC finalist, Colleen. Comment away!

Name: Grace A.
Location: Adams Morgan, Washington DC
Size: about 1000sq ft
Lived in: 2
Rent/Own: Own


Even before I learned I was a finalist in this competition, I knew that ATDC had to feature Grace's loft as a house tour. The wide open space, the vibrant colors, and the mix of minimalist furniture with rustic accents all help make Grace's apartment a warm and inviting home. When she first toured the property, Grace knew it was exactly the urban environment she hoped to find during her house hunt. Living just blocks from 18th St. and Columbia Road in Adams Morgan, Grace can walk to all her favorite restaurants, stores and watering holes, and she's counting the days until the new Harris Teeter opens up across the street!...


Though Grace wanted all the convenience of living in the city, she also wanted a home where she could entertain family and friends. The floor-plan of her loft is the perfect compromise; though the apartment is not large, it feels open and spacious throughout. Once she took possession, one look at the cold white walls sent Grace running to Benjamin Moore to buy paint to warm up the space. By choosing colors from elements she already owned and loved (the ceramics, the bedding), and using those colors to define her spaces, Grace created a homey feeling of separate rooms in her open loft.

Thanks Grace for opening your home to AT on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and for the delicious baked brie you whipped up during the interview- we may have to drop in to ask some follow-up questions…


My style is ever-evolving. I have a house full of wonderful furniture in storage, but when I bought this loft, I realized very little of it would work in this modern urban space. I have worked hard in this space to incorporate rustic southwestern and Latin elements with modern accents like the stainless steel and glass.


In this loft, I was truly inspired by the architecture of the structure itself. The building is a reclaimed warehouse, and the developer worked hard to incorporate elements like the exposed pipes and ductwork to maintain that feeling. I used glass and stainless steel to create a feeling of openness, and the reflective surfaces help to bounce light around the space.


My favorite elements are the high ceilings and the floor to ceiling wall of windows. So far I've resisted getting any window coverings, but when the Harris Teeter opens across the street, I might have to revisit that question.


The biggest challenges I faced in the space all related to the fact that it is new construction. There have been lots of start-up problems that I didn't expect (like the day my under-mounted fell out- turns out the wrong adhesive was used to secure it), and I spent a lot of time in the first few months here just trying to deal with the quirks. I will say the builder and the management company have been very responsive and supportive, but the number of small fixes necessary did surprise me.

What Friends Say:

My favorite comment was "your house is so fabulous!" Most friends love the modern feel mixed in with my more traditional Latin elements. I think the best evidence that friends are comfortable here is the fact that no one ever refuses an invitation to dinner…

Proudest DIY:

I am most proud of the office nook. I spent months looking for the perfect shelves before stumbling upon them in Ikea. Using the piano to close off that corner allows me to hide the file cabinet and assorted computer gear from view. I'm still looking for the perfect accessories to display on the top shelf, but otherwise I'm delighted with my office nook.

Biggest Indulgence: My biggest indulgence is definitely the four Philippe Starck bar stools. To me, they were a worthwhile investment because everyone congregates in that area when I'm entertaining, but they are certainly an indulgence!


Don't settle if you aren't happy. Whether you are buying new construction or a fixer-upper, get a thorough inspection so you know what to expect. Buying a place can get overwhelming, and it becomes all too easy to let the little details slip away. Be specific and be vocal until you get the quality products and service you deserve.

Dream Resource:

For furniture, Design Within Reach and Room and Board are my favorites. I also love browsing through the Lighting District when I'm visiting the New York; I always find great ideas just peering in the windows.



Design Within Reach

* Hudson stools at kitchen bar

* Alto credenza on the gallery wall

Random Harvest

* Orb and Square lamps on the credenza

* Glass coffee table in the living room

Room and Board

* Copenhagen bed and nightstands

* Miss K lamps on nightstands

IKEA - Mossby shelves in the office

Storehouse – loveseats in the living room

Target – Hudson desk in the office

The wine bar in the kitchen came from the Leesburg Outlets. The ceramics were collected when traveling through Italy, Mexico, and Spain. The art is mainly from Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The dining room table and chairs were discovered in a little shop in New Mexico; delivery took months, but the set was well worth the wait. The piano is a legacy from Grace's childhood- she rescued it when her parents downsized and hopes to find time to play again in the near future.

- Colleen

(Thanks, Colleen!)

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