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Look Inside My Home: A Renovated Bloomingdale Apartment With Tons of Natural Light

"I approached the renovation like acupuncture."

Look Inside My Home: A Renovated Bloomingdale Apartment With Tons of Natural Light
All photographs by David Polk.

David Polk is an architect, artist, and an adjunct design professor at Marymount University and George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. So it makes sense that he has a beautiful home.

The 33-year-old bought his Bloomingdale apartment in May. Originally, Polk was hesitant about buying the spot during the pandemic. But the apartment, located in a 1911 building, was in “such bad shape that I could actually afford it,” he says. It also didn’t hurt that there were 13 windows throughout the 680-square-foot space. “Who can resist a well-lit gem with potential?”

A before-and-after of the living room.
A before-and-after of the kitchen.
A before-and-after of the hallway.

When Polk began planning the renovation (which he did mostly by himself), he knew he wanted to streamline and clean up the space, making it more current and efficient while still honoring its original integrity. “I approached the renovation much more like acupuncture,” he says. “I wanted to maintain the 1911 charm, but I also wanted to strategically intervene in specific areas to modernize its function and feel. I wanted to do more with less.”

The result is a clean, monochromatic home with clever, space-saving additions (think floating shelves as bedside tables, a bar tucked into the wall, and a bench that doubles as storage), as well as plenty of spots from which Polk can work and teach from home. And while Polk was able to save money in some areas—for instance, by installing Ikea cabinetry—he also added an elevated feel with touches like high-end hardware and a heated bathroom floor.

A before-and-after of the bathroom.
A before-and-after of the bathtub and shower.
A before-and-after of the main bedroom.
A before-and-after of the main bedroom.

And, yes, Polk had to live in the small apartment while he was renovating it—which, during a pandemic, meant no escaping to coffee shops or the office. But it was all worth it in the end, he says. “It’s mine—flaws, quirks, and all,” he says. “I appreciate this little piece of the universe I call my respite and my home. And the natural light helps a ton.”

Who lives there: David Polk, 33
Neighborhood: Bloomingdale
Approximate square footage: 680 square-feet
Number of bedrooms: Two
Number of bathrooms: One
Favorite piece of furniture: “The floating wooden bench that serves as a mini-library, display, and flexible seating for entertaining.”


Favorite home interior store: Goodwood, Miss Pixie’s, Community Forklift, Craigslist, and Schoolhouse Electric.
Splurge: Cafe and Bosch smart appliances, and the handmade cement tiles from Zia tile. “They sat in my online shopping cart for a while,” says Polk. “They eventually just gave me a discount.”
Steal: Polk had been eyeballing the CB2 brass and wire mesh credenza (now in the living room) for months. It was $1,200, but he found one on Craigslist in like-new condition for under $400. “It was only a matter of hours from the time it posted to the time it was in my apartment,” he says.
Design advice: “The best part of a DIY is that you can do it yourself, make it your own, make it custom, make it bespoke,” says Polk. “The worst part of a DIY is that you have to do it yourself. Sometimes, it’s best to hire a professional.”

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.