Home & Style

Look Inside My Home: A 120-Year-Old Richmond Airbnb With a Marie Antoinette Portrait

The Bridgerton books are deployed as decor, too.

All photographs courtesy of Valerie Darden.

Interior designer Valerie Darden recently bought a 120-year-old rowhome in Richmond, redesigned it, and now rents it as an Airbnb.

Darden, 39, who lives in Stafford with her husband and two sons, decided to purchase the home because it’s convenient to the highway, but doesn’t compromise on charm. “The neighborhood is a trip back in time,” she says of Church Hill, with its historic homes and proximity to museums, parks, and cafes. Darden was also drawn to the place’s high ceilings and moldings.


Darden’s usual style is a mix of modern and vintage (her home in Stafford leans more traditional, she says), but she knew she wanted to have a little bit of fun with this property. She added her own eclectic touch by covering the beige walls with white paint and using art from local galleries and antique shops to cover imperfections on the walls. Mid-century modern lighting mixes with vintage tables, which are covered with coffee table books and copies of the Bridgerton series. In the entryway, guests are greeted by large-scale wallpaper featuring Greek busts. “The wallpaper was a last minute decision, but so far one of my favorite[s],” she says.

For one of the guest rooms, Darden opted for a deep blue color, complete with a gallery wall on one side and a painting of her favorite historical figure Marie Antoinette on the other. (This room’s quirkiness has quickly made it the favorite among guests, says Darden.)

“The result has been exactly what I wanted,” says Darden. “It is cozy, fun, and it makes guests want to come back.”


Who owns it: Interior designer Valerie Darden
Approximate square-footage: 1,780 square-feet
Number of bedrooms: Three
Number of bathrooms: Two
Why an Airbnb: “One of my closest friends is a realtor in the area [and] has several Airbnb properties. She has loved her experience and has brought in some extra income. She convinced me to join the party.”
The vibe: “Since Airbnb is an experience, I wanted to make the home eclectic and fun. The decor inside is meant to be interesting, yet cozy. [For instance], in the family room, I paired whimsical art with a velvet orange sofa. My goal was to make the property special. I wanted guests to remember their experience.”
Favorite piece of furniture: The Urban Outfitters orange sofa and the vintage dining table Darden sourced on Etsy.
Favorite DIY: “Most of the art I purchased off of Etsy or antique shops. However, I repainted over several canvases to create some ‘modern art.’ My artwork is not the best, but it adds to the character.”
Splurge: The Greek bust wallpaper in the entryway.
Steal: The wood and marble table in the family room, which Darden snagged on Facebook Marketplace.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.