I had lots of fun reporting a story for the March issue of Washingtonian Magazine on small space design, which just came out last week:
And out of the five projects I profiled, one of them really stood out for me—a 14th Street condo designed by the dynamic duo of Jessica Centella and Kiera Kushlan of the DC-based firm Residents Understood.
Because there wasn’t room for more than a couple pictures, I wanted to show you the rest of the images from Alex Wagner’s spectacular space, which looked like this before Jessica and Kiera arrived:
Kinda feels like a prison, doesn’t it? “He had personality and a point of view—he just had no idea how to express it,” Kiera says. “We tried to gently break the news that, ‘the space you’re describing is not reflected in what you have right now.’ ” What Alex thought would require a couple tweaks actually required a full makeover.
The only thing that stayed was the TV console. The biggest revelation was that Alex never really has any sit-down dinners—it’s always more of a pre-dinner cocktail party. So the designers eliminated the dining table and created a bar at the kitchen, which suits him and his guests much better. “Now, I have a cocktail/cappucino launch pad” to the restaurants on 14th Street, he says.
Also important is the art over the sofa, which was commissioned for him from artist Blair Bradshaw. The grid of stars contain colors and numbers that have been meaningful to him throughout his life.
Also meaningful are the places where Alex has lived and visited, including Seattle, Chicago, Vietnam, and of course, DC. Instead of finding typical tourist “money shots” of each locale, the designers sought more unique vantage points. Framed altogether, they make a formerly uninspired little hallway into its own gallery:
Alex’s bedroom, which is visible from the living room, makes a dramatic statement with the bed’s tall, tufted headboard, which Jessica and Kiera found at this really cool mid-century furnishings retailer called Thrive Home Furnishings.
Opposite the bed is a vintage dresser they found from Salvage Modern in Glen Burnie, Md. The sellers painted the front panels black at the designers’ request so it would have the crisp appearance of a man’s suit, just as the headboard does.
“It was great to buy local,” Alex says, adding that he got caught up in the game as he watched the designers transform his tiny den—which had been little more than a storage room—into an efficient office with compact ottomans that fold out into guest beds.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Alex says of the new look. As a lawyer and political consultant, he adds, satisfying him and his peers had been a tall order, but Kiera and Jessica hit a home run. “If you can make me happy, and if you can make my high-maintenance friends happy, then that is a win-win.”