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Where? The Cherrydale neighborhood in North Arlington
Size? 700 square feet
Type? One bedroom
When did you move in? Memorial Day weekend
Why North Arlington? “I had been renting a house with a couple of girls in the same area, and I fell in love with all the cute shops. I love going to the Lee Height shops—my favorites are Arrowine, a wine store; Randolph’s bakery; and Cassatts, a New Zealand-style cafe. When it came time to live on my own, I knew I couldn’t leave the neighborhood. It feels like home.”
Inspiration? “My fiancé’s sister lives in Manhattan, and I adore visiting her chic apartment—she has a great couch. Like her, I wanted to find a couch that set the tone for the space.
“I found the perfect one in Room and Board, a great catalog. I’ve referred to it so much for inspiration that it’s frayed and water-damaged!”
Biggest decorating challenge? “I love my open floor plan, but it makes creating intimate spaces difficult. To solve it, I bought a sectional couch in an L-shape and used it to separate my living area from my desk. It gives the apartment structure.”
Favorite part of the apartment? “I love my balcony! My first purchases were two comfortable outdoor chairs and some big bulb lights. My boyfriend and I sit out there for cocktails and play Scrabble on warm nights. But perhaps my favorite part: It’s where my boyfriend (now fiancé) proposed!”
Least favorite? “I’m not crazy about the storage space. I’ve had to come up with interesting ways of storing extras. I’m an avid cook, and I have a lot of great bowls, platters, and kitchen gadgets. I didn’t have space for all of them, so I decided to use them as decorative pieces by displaying them on an open rack.”
Proudest DIY achievement? “I work in Northwest DC, and I love to go shopping during lunch. One day, I was in a paper store and a wall of pretty paper caught my eye. I bought a sheet (for $16), took it home, and switched it out with an old poster. People are so surprised when I tell them my artwork is really just paper! It was an easy way to update my style without breaking the bank.”
What’s next? “My next project will be figuring out how to fit my fiancé’s stuff in our limited closet space. I think I’ll buy large boxes that I can place behind the couch and probably give him my front closet. I also want to work on getting the perfect coffee table.”
Advice? “Spend where it matters. I knew that I wanted to invest in a couch, but wasn’t willing to invest in expensive bedroom furniture. If you mix and match expensive, quality items with more affordable ones, you end up having a space that looks great at any budget. It’s similar to my wardrobe style—I’ll buy expensive designer jeans and pair them with a $5 shirt from Old Navy. People are floored when I tell them my six-foot family room mirror was only $100. It probably wouldn’t look as good if it wasn’t paired with a fabulous couch.
“Also, lighting can make or break a room. I replaced the horrible chandelier that came with the apartment and it made a huge difference. I used small bucket lights for uplighting in areas that I wanted to show off, and I got an oversized lamp that hooks over the couch. Lighting is inexpensive and can make an instant difference.”
Open House is looking for more apartments and homes to feature—send pictures of your place to MFleury at Washingtonian dot com.