Home & Style

Look Inside My Home: A Centreville House With a George Washington Portrait and a Hawaii-Inspired Deck

"My design philosophy is to mix and blend the things you love."

Look Inside My Home: A Centreville House With a George Washington Portrait and a Hawaii-Inspired Deck
The home's entryway. All photographs by Michelle Whitener and Keli Rudge.

Michelle Whitener moved nine times over the course of 20 years, so she was thrilled to settle in her current Centreville home three-and-a-half years ago, where she’s close to family, walking trails, and good schools. She lives with her husband Joe, their children Joseph, 12, and Madeleine, 1, and their Australian Shepherd-Korean Jindo mix Buddy.

The family room, with the portrait of George Washington and the vintage coffee table.
The Civl War-era cabinet.

Whitener, who owns the lifestyle and design brand MW Designs, focused on creating a collected feel in her home by combining old and new furniture, as well as traditional and modern aesthetics. “My design philosophy is to mix and blend the things you love that make your home a reflection of you,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what is on-trend, just that you love it and it reflects your personality.”

The living room.

During the pandemic, Whitener and her husband decided to DIY their basement into a media room-meets-library. After a few trips to Ikea and Lowe’s (and some late nights), the duo now spends Friday family movie nights in the room, which has a built-in bookcase and a faux wall that hides electronics.

But their favorite spot is outside—the back deck. The duo lived in Hawaii for a few years and pays homage to their former home via the outdoor space’s tiki torches, fire pit, and string lights.

The view of the family room from the kitchen.
The dining room.

Who lives there: Michelle Whitener, her husband Joe, their two children Joseph and Madeline, and their Australian Shepherd-Korean Jindo mix Buddy
Approximate square-footage: 4,600 square feet
Number of bedrooms: Five
Number of bathrooms: Three-and-a-half

Whitener DIY’d the wallpaper in the mudroom.
The main bedroom.
Whitener’s daughter’s room.

Favorite piece of furniture: The black, Civil War-era cabinet in Whitener’s living room, which was a gift from her parents and stands over nine feet tall.
Favorite home interior store: Restoration Hardware, One Kings Lane, Home Goods, Wayfair, Facebook Marketplace, The Old Lucketts Store, and Chairish.
Favorite DIY: Installing the cheerful wallpaper in the mudroom.

The media room, which Whitener and her husband DIY’d via trips to Lowe’s and Ikea.

The Hawaii-inspired back deck (and Buddy, the dog).

Splurge: The 1960s vintage redwood coffee table in the family room. “We found this unique piece in California and purchased it from the original owners,” says Whitener. “It’s a great conversation starter when hosting guests.”
Steal: The portrait of George Washington that hangs over the family room’s mantel—Whitener scored it on Facebook Marketplace.
Design advice: “With everything going on in the world today, it’s essential to enjoy the space you live in and to surround yourself with all the things that bring happiness and joy to your life,” says Whitener. “I love creating a place to retreat to for my family after a busy day.”

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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.