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Favorite Shops for Home Furnishings
Where do architects buy furniture, accessories, rugs, lighting, kitchen fixtures, and custom cabinetry? Here are 35 local craftsmen and stores that architects recommend. By Mary Clare Glover, Gretchen Cook, Lynne Shallcross
M2L Collection in Georgetown sells reproductions of modern classics by such design icons as Le Corbusier, Josef Hoffmann, Eileen Gray, and Marcel Breuer. Photograph courtesy of M2L.
Comments () | Published March 1, 2008

We asked the area’s best architects—they’re listed starting on page 152—to share some of their favorite places to find home furnishings and decor.

Here are 35 shops and showrooms that designers say they often turn to for furniture, rugs, accessories, original art, custom cabinetry, and more.

Architects also frequent places that aren’t open to the public—such as some showrooms of the Washington Design Center—which are not included on this list. If you are working with an interior designer or architect who has access to to-the-trade-only showrooms, you may want to accompany them to these architect favorites: Alliance Lighting in Columbia and the Donghia, Galleria Carpets & Rugs, and Stark Carpet and Furniture showrooms in the Washington Design Center in Southwest DC.

Many architects also say they find good values at national furniture chains, including Crate & Barrel, Ethan Allen, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Ikea.

Many area architects head to Timothy Paul in DC for beautiful handmade rugs. The shop also carries a small selection of furniture and lamps. Photograph courtesy of Timothy Paul.

Contemporary and Midcentury Modern Furniture

Contemporaria, 3303 Cady’s Alley, Georgetown; 202-338-0193; The 4,000-square-foot showroom—designed to resemble a skateboard park—is an edgy backdrop for high-end furnishings by the best Italian designers such as Cappellini, MDF, and Molteni. Prices reflect the top quality in pieces like the $16,000 Minotti sofa, but sample sales can offer some good buys. The sleek kitchen pieces by Italian cabinetmaker Elmar Cucine start at $15,000 and run as high as $60,000. The shop also exhibits original art and photography by new artists.

Design Within Reach, 3307 Cady’s Alley, Georgetown, 202-339-9480; 1838 Columbia Rd., NW, 202-265-5640; 4828 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, 301-215-7200; This megastore covers all the modernist bases with more than 1,000 products, from vintage classics by Herman Miller and Knoll to new creations by Cassina, Vitra, and Kartell. It can be a one-stop shop for a contemporary home makeover, with lighting and a huge range of accessories, but DWR also now carries a few nonhousehold items like the Strida folding bike. DWR cut shipping charges last year, and delivery is fast.

Furniture From Scandinavia by Annette Rachlin, by appointment only; 202-244-7876; Annette Rachlin’s showroom is her home. She started her business ten years ago “to blow the Colonial dust away from this city,” she says, and she travels to Copenhagen several times a year to pick out her Danish-imported, classic contemporary furniture.

Knoll, 1150 18th St., NW; 202-973-0400; Knoll is the first word in modern office furniture, but its designs by such greats as Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Gehry, Maya Lin, and Eero Saarinen are home-friendly, too. Designers also love Knoll’s fabrics for windows, walls, and upholstery. The downtown showroom is small and sparsely stocked, but the staff is efficient in helping customers through the vast catalog, and makes ordering and shipping a breeze.

Tone on Tone in Bethesda sells Scandinavian antiques that are anything but musty. Swedish grandfather clocks are a specialty, and it sells garden accents too. Photograph courtesy of Loi Thai/Tone on Tone.

M2L Collection, 3334 Cady’s Alley, Georgetown; 202-298-8010; The new showroom in Cady’s Alley is a big improvement over its former tiny Design Center digs, and it shows off its licensed reproductions of modern classics to their best advantage. In addition to furniture by design gurus Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Josef Hoffmann, and Alvar Aalto, M2L offers unique architectural doors by Movi and bathroom and kitchen systems.

Sixteen Fifty Nine, 1659 Wisconsin Ave., Georgetown; 202-333-1480; Mike Johnson’s two-level Georgetown showroom specializes in classic midcentury modern vintage furniture, lighting, and art. Most of the late ’40s to early ’70s items are American-made; Johnson’s finds come from all over the country—including from the Georgetown flea market.

West Elm, 1020 G St., NW, 202-347-8929; Tysons Corner Center, 571-633-0227; Great values on everything from bedroom and living-room sets to accessories, bedding, and tableware are what West Elm is all about. The look is contemporary and targets young nesters, but the wares are simple and refined enough to work in any setting. The retail chain is a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, and that shows in both quality and design. 

Traditional Furniture and Antiques

Baker, 3330 M St., Georgetown; 202-342-7080; In its 22,000-square-foot showroom, Baker’s furniture and accessories range from traditional reproductions to cutting-edge contemporary. Check out fresh classics by local interior designer Thomas Pheasant.

Brass Knob Architectural Antiques, 2311 18th St., Adams Morgan, 202-332-3370; Brass Knob Back Doors Warehouse, 57 N St., NW, 202-265-0587; This storehouse of architectural antiques is a great source for restored lighting, radiators, mantels, stained glass, and decorative items for home and garden. Hunters of treasures and bargains love poking through the piles for items to complete a historic restoration or complement a contemporary decor. The Back Doors Warehouse, in DC’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, stocks larger architectural antiques like bathtubs and doors in bigger quantities.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 03/01/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles