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Interior designer Joanna Carden puts $2 flowers to good use. By Hillary Kelly
Photos by Joy Bythrow

When local interiors guru and Instagram wunderkid Joanna Carden slipped us some images of her simple, elegant, bountiful Thanksgiving table, we knew we had to share them. Carden graciously agreed to also provide some tips for styling a Thanksgiving table without losing your mind (or maxing out your credit card). After all, while it's important to give your guests a beautiful experience and make their day special, this is a day to be thankful—not to push yourself to carve an entire turkey out of butter or buy up every candle on the Eastern seaboard.

So here are Carden's best ideas for a chic, low-stress table that your guests will love.

Washingtonian: What do you think is the most important first step when designing a tablescape for an event like Thanksgiving?

Joanna Carden: For me, it's choosing a color scheme; whether I want to go neutral, colorful, or just warm tones. I went neutral this time, but wanted to add in some deep reds to give it a little more "holiday" feeling—that's where the pomegranates came in. Plus, who doesn't love the gorgeous texture of a halved pomegranate?

Ripe red pomegranates add a burst of color that's more unexpected than the usual orange.
Craft store feathers are cheap and add a little drama when tucked into a napkin.

Washingtonian: Do you design differently for a big group versus an intimate dinner?

Carden: Not usually! I'll actually be styling a much larger table for ALL of my family on Thanksgiving, and will use all of the same elements. For the longer table, I'll be using a lot of candles to create a more "full" feel. I love using lots of tapers, votives, and pillars, and they end up being an inexpensive element (I tend to buy them in bulk to save a little money).

Washingtonian: What special touches do you think a table absolutely needs?

Carden: I definitely think name cards, candles, and a little ribbon around a napkin are the easiest and most important things to make any table extra special. If you just stick with those few things, you can make any table a beautiful table.

Thrifted brass candlestick holders of varying height provide some old-world visual interest.
Slicing open the pomegranates reveals a whole new texture.

Washingtonian: What takes a tablescape from so-so to so pretty?

When I was styling this table, the real difference came when I added the eucalyptus and brass candlestick holders. Greenery is so simple, but brings a lot of beauty to a table. Then I thrifted some brass candlestick holders in different shapes and sizes. Those two elements really brought the table together.

Washingtonian: Is there anything new you've tried lately and really loved (or really hated)?

Adding little accents like sprigs of rosemary, thyme, or feathers has basically become my new favorite hobby. It's simple, inexpensive, and gives your tablescape a healthy dose of personality. I'm also especially focused on contrast right now. I initially didn't have any contrasting colors in this tablescape and it seemed washed out as a result. When I added the placemats, feathers, and name cards, it provided just the visual variation I was looking for.

Intimate, cozy, and pretty.

Washingtonian: How about a bit of practical advice for people who don't want to spend a fortune on linens/calligraphy/flowers?

I have a very small budget, so I always want to design a table that is affordable and anyone can pull together using things they already have in their house. For this table, I bought $2 eucalyptus per bunch from my local Trader Joes (you can also forage in your backyard for pretty greenery!) napkins from IKEA, namecards from one of my favorite Etsy shops that were very affordable (you can easily make your own!), thrifted candlestick holders, thrifted coupe champagne glasses, my mom's china and silverware, feathers for a few dollars from my local craft store—I think you get the picture! I also love using the short cocktail glasses that I already have as votive holders. Always check local thrift stores for pretty dishes, silverware, glassware, linens, candlestick holders, and more. There are so many special treasures to be found out there, you just have to keep an eye out!


Posted at 04:20 PM/ET, 11/24/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
You need to see the lobby. By Hillary Kelly

On your way out of town you've surely driven past the Hecht Building on New York Ave., even if you didn't know it. It's the giant, run-down, warehouse-sized place on the right, the one with the glass-block exterior, located in Ivy City, which The Washington Post has billed "the next cool D.C. neighborhood you never heard of." If you haven't gone by in the past several months, these photos are going to totally blow your mind.

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Posted at 05:42 PM/ET, 11/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Save yourself from going crazy on the day of. By Hillary Kelly
Photo via iStock.

We're less than one week away from the Big Meal, and in all probability some of you have succeeded in inviting over your parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, and closest friends--but you don't have a single clue what you'll be making, how you'll be making it, and whether or not anyone will notice that your bathroom sink is covered in toothpaste.

The fact is, magazine editors and stylists spend weeks (months, even) planning and setting up the elaborate spreads you see in your favorite glossies. Products are sourced from far and wide, twenty-year veteran food editors cook perfectly trussed birds, and a professional photographer spends hours lighting a scene to get that one perfect (so-called "effortless") shot of a Thanksgiving spread. But nobody needs to do all that to create a yummy, pretty table that will leave your loved ones appreciative for the invite and the shared time.

So if you still haven't even glanced at a cooking mag for inspiration and you certainly haven't customized your own cocktail napkins, this guide will help you get--and stay--on track for a beautiful, stress-free (or low-stress, at least) Thanksgiving.

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Posted at 12:27 PM/ET, 11/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Dan Chung.

The tiniest, most utilitarian spot just might be the most visited room in your house. Think about it: Every dinner-party guest and child’s playmate will inevitably go to the powder room. But it’s precisely because of the small scale that this space offers a prime opportunity to showcase your style. A high-impact wallpaper, dramatic paint job, or intricate floor is much easier and cheaper to achieve than in a larger room. So, like the three powder rooms here, don’t be afraid to go bold.

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Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 11/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
No more arguing with your spouse while perilously setting up a seven-foot tree. By Hillary Kelly
Photo via Shutterstock.

The convenience economy strikes again!

A new service called DC Tree Delivery will (you guessed it) bring a tree to your living room this holiday season, set it up, and even come back to retrieve it after the Christmas cheer has subsided. And this isn't some half-baked idea--the company promises to "even vacuum up the needles!"

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Posted at 10:56 AM/ET, 11/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph of rowhouses by Blaine Harrington III/Alamy

Neither exactly British nor strictly a basement, the English-basement apartment has long been the first rung on the DC young-professional rental ladder—and a kind of shared experience for Washington strivers.

According to George Washington University architectural historian Richard Longstreth, fashionable houses built around Dupont Circle in the early 20th century included a servants’ floor at ground level. Besides providing light and ventilation to the kitchen, laundry, and other functional rooms, this new style—inspired by urban mansions in Europe—elevated the formal residential rooms, giving them a new grandeur. The lower floor came to be known as an English basement, and a 1913 Washington Star article cited a vogue for it among “people of means who come to Washington for the winter season” with an eye to frequent entertainment.

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 11/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph via iStock.

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Posted at 02:20 PM/ET, 11/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
New shops, new spaces, and even more kombucha. By Hillary Kelly
Photograph courtesy of Edens.

Today, Union Market launched a closely-revolving satellite, expanding further into the neighborhood and taking over even more of our lazy Sundays with Lab 1270, a mixed-use "retail, experience, and work space."

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Posted at 05:36 PM/ET, 11/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
None of these are a lame bottle of wine. By Hillary Kelly

Let’s face it. The elaborately wrapped, intricately planned, oh-so-perfect little hostess gifts that you read about in glossy decor mags and then plan on imitating are never going to happen. You won’t find time to scout for acorns to tie onto beribboned packages, and you won’t remember to order custom monogrammed cocktail napkins 6 weeks in advance of the holidays. Instead, you’ll find yourself running into Whole Foods 30 minutes before you’re due at Thanksgiving dinner to grab a bunch of orange carnations or an eight dollar bottle of wine.

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Posted at 04:58 PM/ET, 11/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
JBG's Wardman Tower condos in Woodley Park are really gorgeous. And really expensive. By Marisa M. Kashino
A view of the living and dining areas. The building's amenities include a 2,000-square-foot gym with a yoga studio, rooftop terraces with monument views, and a library. Renderings courtesy of the JBG Companies.

When the JBG Companies announced last year that it would renovate Woodley Park's historic Wardman Tower into luxury condos, the projected price range for the 32 units was $2 million to $8 million. Hard to believe, but that estimate was apparently conservative. The prolific Washington developer, in partnership with NASH, a US subsidiary of Japanese builder Sekisui House, opened sales today, and according to McWilliams Ballard, the condos are listed for $3 million to $9 million. The current record-holder for most expensive condo ever sold in the Washington-metro area is a penthouse at the Parc Somerset in Chevy Chase, which went for $8.65 million.

Can Wardman Tower beat it? We think there's strong evidence that it can. First of all, there's its location. The building, nestled next to the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, is steps from the Woodley Park metro and mere minutes from the heart of downtown DC. In other words, it's close to the walkable dining, cultural institutions, and shopping for which many wealthy empty-nesters in burbs like Potomac and McLean are eager to trade their mansions. The tower is also loaded with history—no fewer than three US Presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, and Herbert Hoover— have lived there, and the remodel was designed by prominent New York architecture firm, Deborah Berke Partners. But the best argument might be the renderings, which you can ogle below.

The units, ranging from two- to four-bedrooms and 2,200 to 4,600 square feet, are slated for completion next year, but potential buyers can tour a finished model now.

An exterior shot of the penthouse.
Every unit will have six-inch, oak plank flooring, done in a herringbone pattern in the living room and gallery (shown).
Kitchen finishes include polished quartz counters, marble backsplashes, and chrome fixtures.
The building’s front entrance.

Posted at 02:16 PM/ET, 11/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()