“My inspiration came from purchasing and decorating my own condo on Capitol Hill,” says Lisa Cannon, who launched Condo Cool in 2004, a business that offers affordable interior design. “It took a lot of work and research to find furniture and lighting that fit into an unusual modern space.” As soon as Cannon realized there was a niche market for accessible interior design, she took design courses at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. She also worked for a year at RH Studio in Georgetown, the modern sibling of local furniture chain Random Harvest.
Condo Cool targets those who don’t have the budget to hire an expensive interior designer. For $100 an hour, Cannon rearranges furniture and helps customers choose paint colors and dramatic lighting. Whereas most designers purchase items for their clients and charge fees for each, Cannon’s clients make the purchases on their own based on her suggestions.
Most of her clients are young professionals or empty nesters who have recently downsized. “People usually aren’t happy when there is too much clutter. They have a tough time editing their furniture and accessories. They want multi-use pieces, such as a storage cube that can double as an ottoman. Many people know what they like but have trouble pulling it all together.”
Cannon suggests checking out magazines like Metropolitan Home, Elle Decor, or Blueprint for decorating ideas. While she says stores like Crate & Barrel have quality mid-range home goods, she suggests shopping for unique pieces at independent stores like Go Mama Go on 14th Street in Northwest or the flea markets in Eastern Market.