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This interior design startup was founded by two Washington natives. By Michelle Thomas
Havenly founders and Potomac natives Emily Motayed, left, and Lee Mayer.

When it comes to decorating woes, Potomac natives Lee Mayer and Emily Motayed have been there. Shortly after the sisters each moved into a new home—for Mayer, a house in Denver; for Motayed, a New York apartment—Mayer was lamenting that interior designers just weren’t interested in working with her. Her budget wasn’t big enough. They all charged huge fees, or expected her to shell out loads of cash for the goods to fulfill their decor plans. And, just like that, Havenly was born. “We realized there was an opening in the market for a business that made the process of decorating a lot easier,” says Mayer. The sisters launched the Web-based start-up in October, and the biz now counts five full-time employees. 

Here’s how it works: First, you take a quick online survey detailing your style preferences. Based on that, you’re assigned to the Havenly designer best suited to your taste. You chat with them for a bit by phone to get on the same page about the project, then they dream up two custom design concepts for your space. After a round of feedback and revisions, you end up with a final room rendering, along with a list of products and prices (though the company has partnerships with selected stores, designers are free to source from anywhere). Want to buy what they suggest? Havenly will coordinate the entire buying process for you—all for a flat fee of $185. 

Ready to see some of Havenly’s work in action? We snagged a handful of renderings from past projects. Check ’em out below.

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Posted at 03:21 PM/ET, 05/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Our Changing City focuses on the District from 2000 to 2010. By Mary Clare Glover

The Urban Institute launched a cool online interactive feature Wednesday called Our Changing City. The study takes a close look at demographic changes by ward. There’s a wealth of information to wade through—from population shifts by race and age to snapshots of Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant, which the authors say have seen some of the most dramatic change.

The study dovetails nicely with this article that ran in yesterday’s New York Times, which examines skyrocketing rents through the lens of a 54-year-old woman struggling to afford her apartment in Columbia Heights.

Real estate and numbers nerds take note: this is the first of several chapters in the study. In the months ahead, they’ll drill down on housing, crime, and education.

Posted at 11:07 AM/ET, 12/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
We’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest lately, but at least we have something good to show for it. By Kathleen Bridges
Elle Decor via Pinterest user mrs. french*.

If, like us, you've got a waist-high stack of dog-eared magazines next to your nightstand and an overflowing manila folder of design ideas you're saving "just in case," you've probably discovered the saving grace that is Pinterest. (And if you haven't, click here--though now that even Bo Obama has a Pinterest presence, we're guessing that's unlikely.)

It happens over our morning coffee, between phone calls, on the commute home from work, before bed. Though we try to avoid it, the urge to scour our favorite blogs and click that oh-so-enticing "Pin it!" button is just too tempting to ignore. And though our obsession with Pinterest is borderline intervention-worthy, we've never felt so up to speed on design trends, must-have products, and clever entertaining ideas.

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Posted at 11:15 AM/ET, 04/10/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
We’re all for wallpaper, but who’s got the money to cover every surface? These stick-on alternatives do the same job for a fraction of the cost and time. By Sarah Zlotnick

Personalized Growth Chart
New baby on the way? This adorable—and removable—growth chart is the perfect addition to any nursery. Fully customizeable in both color and name, the six-foot graphic comes equipped with a white vinyl strip for recording dates and heights.
$89.99 at

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Posted at 09:22 AM/ET, 04/08/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
Welcome to Design Scout, a new weekly roundup of our favorite home-design trends. On the docket this week: fashion-inspired illustrations perfect for label-loving shoppers. By Sarah Zlotnick

Looks Good to Me
Our crush on Caroline, a Brooklyn-based textile designer, was almost instantaneous thanks to the adorable mix of fashion know-how and watercolor designs featured on her blog. Head to her print shop to purchase ink-and-watercolor creations of dancing girls, fancy feet, and long-lashed redheads—and prints of friends so hip they inspired a Design*Sponge post.
$35 including shipping.

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Posted at 07:55 AM/ET, 03/15/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between Georgian and Federal? Want to know if your house is shingle-style or stick?, run by local architect Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Studio, explains the history and identifying characteristics of the 12 most popular architectural styles found in the Washington area. You can see pictures of Italianate mansions in Georgetown, American bungalows in Cleveland Park, Art Decos in Silver Spring, and Tudors in Wesley Heights.

Although anyone considering a renovation would certainly have to do more in-depth research, this site offers useful information about the challenges of remodeling and preserving certain styles. Wentworth talks about seamlessly remodeling the kitchen and family room of a center-hall Colonial, renovating a 1920’s Tudor, and adding a second story to a single-story Folk Victorian without losing the home’s classic look.

Posted at 12:10 PM/ET, 06/17/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Welcome to Open House's latest weekly feature! Every Friday, we'll give you a roundup of all real estate-related news and buzz-worthy gossip for the capital region. By Alejandro Salinas

The District’s first Target store in Columbia Heights had its soft opening on Tuesday. “Renaissance,” “revival," and “revitalization”—all buzz words of the week. [Columbia Heights News] We were at the store’s VIP opening event.

Speaking of revitalization, Major Adrian Fenty announced the move of the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s headquarters from Union Station to Anacostia as the first step in an ambitious development plan for “emerging neighborhoods.” [DCMUD]

Turns out the DC real estate market is “hot” for foreign investors. If only we were all getting paid in Euros. [WBJ]

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Posted at 09:17 AM/ET, 03/07/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
A Web site gives house-hunters a peek at the pitfalls of potential neighborhoods—and lets you tattle on careless dog owners, crying babies, funky-smelling kitchens, and more. By Lynne Shallcross

Finding the right apartment, condo, or house is difficult enough. But what if you’ve found the perfect place—and on the other side of the fence (or wall), you have less-than-perfect neighbors?

Launched last summer, helps house-hunters check out the neighbors before moving so much as a sofa.  Start by entering your Zip code or street address to get a map of your neighborhood. Little red houses pop up on the map where someone’s logged a complaint with the site; green houses appear where neighbors have posted nice things. Empathize with someone’s rotten neighbor? You can rate their post with one to five stars. Click on the “Interesting Neighbors” tab to read the stories drawing the most comments.

Among the moans and groans from our area this week were neighbors who let trash fall off their balcony in Alexandria. In Kensington, a poster complained about dogs that bark 24 hours a day. One resident near McPherson Square in DC complained about a neighbor who blares country music and dresses like a cowboy—even though he’s from Connecticut.

On the other hand, one Alexandria resident said he lives among neighbors who are friendly and look out for each other. Another  in Chevy Chase called his block “quite simply, the best.”

Posted at 06:43 AM/ET, 01/25/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()

When it comes to real-estate listings, multiple listings service Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS) is king. But only agents can access its data directly.

Owned by MRIS, is the next-best option. It covers 22,000 square miles in five states, including DC, Maryland, and Virginia. One caveat: It doesn’t list street addresses, so you have to go to a broker for detailed information.

Brokerage site ZipRealty includes neighborhood data such as average household income and crime statistics. Real-estate search engine Trulia lets you sign up to get an e-mail alert if a specific address in its database goes on the market.

All three sites also let you search by house characteristics—such as number of bedrooms and baths, style, size, and price—and register your preferences so you’ll hear when any home that meets them becomes available.

Redfin lets buyers research neighborhoods, find houses for sale, and negotiate offers, all online.

Looking to rent? Check out Hotpads, which superimposes rental listings on interactive maps and includes photos as well as information on amenities and lease terms.

If you’re more interested in real-estate snooping than listings, check out Zillow or Eppraisal, which offer free home valuations and recent sales data.

This article appears in the December 2007 issue of The Washingtonian.

Posted at 03:01 PM/ET, 01/07/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()

Glenn Kelman thinks Washington is the perfect market for his tech start-up, Redfin. “It’s a city full of rich nerds,” he says. And Internet-savvy “wonks” are exactly what his site thrives on.

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Posted at 09:13 AM/ET, 08/03/2007 | Permalink | Comments ()