Design & Home

Look Inside My Home: An H Street One-Bedroom with a Chalkboard Wall

"From our bar cart to our bookshelves, our home is lived in above all else."

When Heather Bien, a copywriter and digital content director from Richmond, and her now-husband, Adam Shapiro, a government employee, were moving in together, it required a bit of compromise. Heather loved the walkability of her Dupont Circle neighborhood, while Adam loved his easy work commute from Hill East.

The middle ground? The H Street apartment in which they now live, which provides easy walkability for Heather and a 20-minute commute for Adam.

Though the cozy apartment required a bit of strategy to furnish (it’s only 614 square-feet, and two of the walls in the bedroom are all-windows), Heather was able to pull it off with a mix of vintage, Craigslist, Ikea, and Etsy finds. Above all else, Heather wants her home to be a space that’s actually lived in, not a staged Instagram. “And, yes, that means books in the bookcase and liquor on the bar cart,” she says.

Who lives there: Heather Bien, her husband Adam Shapiro, and their cat Hampden
Approximate square footage: 614 square feet
Number of bedrooms: One
Number of bathrooms: One
Favorite piece of furniture: The 1970s Mastercraft brass coffee table with a Greek key motif. Heather snagged it in a $40 Craigslist steal from a woman who was cleaning out her parents’ antiques, but she’s seen the same kind of table listed elsewhere for $4,000. “It’s a glamorous statement piece that adds a little bit of unexpected Hollywood Regency to our space,” she says. “It’s massive, but I’m hanging on to this for life!”
Favorite home interior store: Of course, she loves local favorite Miss Pixie’s, but she’s also a big fan of vintage stores in general. “I love spending an afternoon strolling through antique stores searching for another mid-century piece to lust after (that won’t fit in our apartment) or a quirky print to work into our gallery wall.”
Favorite DIY: Heather’s not really a DIY person, she says (although she did spray-paint the kitchen chairs), preferring the thrill of the hunt to a craft project. She put a lot of work into the living room gallery wall, though, making sure to incorporate things that represent the two as a couple, such as old photos or nods to Texas and Virginia.
Splurge: Heather knew she wanted a lingerie chest for the bedroom, not only because she loves the style, but also because they were working with minimal space. She found a vintage 1970s one from an Etsy seller in Chicago, and even though it wasn’t a steal, she says it was worth it for its old-school quality.
Steal: Their home is an affordable mix of Ikea and antiques, but Heather’s favorites are the ones from her grandmother. The bamboo-style Windsor chairs are courtesy of her (currently spray-painted a dark gray), as is the centuries-old steamer chest that sits at the foot of the couple’s bed. “[It’s] been with me since my first apartment out of college,” says Heather, “and while it’s taken a beating over those years, I love that it looks like it’s lived.”
Design advice: “Design your space to live in it! From our bar cart to our bookshelves, our home is lived in above all else. While I love looking at a well-styled bookshelf vignette on Instagram, I believe that you can achieve great style using pieces as they were meant to function.”

Have a house you’d like to be featured in a Look Inside My Home post? Post a picture of your space on Instagram and tag it with #WashMagHome.

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Assistant Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and freelanced for PoPVille and DCist. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.