David McCombs rents a one-bedroom, one-bath, 627-square-foot apartment by Meridian Hill Park. The 28-year-old social media manager moved into the building a year-and-a-half ago, and he’s filled the space with a mixture of midcentury-modern pieces, art, and special mementos.
Here, we speak with McCombs about the importance of natural light, buying your first expensive couch, and creating a space that feels like home.
What made you decide to move into this apartment?
“The apartment building was originally a Howard University dorm. Although I went to American University, I frequently visited this building when it was a dorm because my best friend lived here during her sophomore year. When I toured the building, I was astounded by how much it had changed, yet I still felt an unshakeable feeling of nostalgia.
“Aside from my personal history with the building, the possibility of getting tons of light in this top-floor unit with eastern exposure compelled me to sign the lease without touring the actual space. Natural light always makes me feel better, and given the state of the world, it was vital for me to be in a space that made me feel good no matter what was occurring beyond the confines of my home. My unit also overlooks a French chateau-style co-op building, which ties in nicely with my home’s decorative pieces. The building’s proximity to the bars and restaurants on 14th Street didn’t hurt, either.”
What was your inspiration for the home’s aesthetic?
“It’s a mixture of French Art Deco, midcentury-modern, and pieces that bring me joy or remind me of loved ones. My Lenox pieces are from the collection that my parents received for their wedding, my midcentury-modern pieces remind me of my grandparents’ living room, the hydrangeas that I buy weekly remind me of my late grandfather’s garden, and my champagne bar always makes me smile because it reminds me of the vacations I took with my best friends during an especially bad burnout in my mid-twenties.
“When I wake up in my bedroom, I am instantly reminded of some of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies via the artwork and some of my favorite people via the books on display. I cherish the photos I have with my friends and family, but I prefer having pieces in my home that remind me of them and specific moments that we’ve shared.”
What’s the biggest splurge you’ve purchased for your home?
“My couch! I went to Crate & Barrel with one of my best friends a few months ago because we were finally ready to buy sofas that didn’t require assembly, and needed emotional support for the sticker shock. I planned on buying something that cost less, but I knew I had to have it when I realized that the color would go perfectly with the orange pieces already in my living room area.”
What was the best deal you’ve received on an item for your home?
“One fateful night, I found a marble Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams console table in my building’s trash room. Fueled by two, maybe three glasses of champagne, I decided it was a good idea to drag it up to my apartment. I am forever grateful to whomever decided to throw it out because it helps bridge the left and right sides of my living room area.”
Did you do any DIYs in the house that you’re particularly proud of?
“After baking banana bread, failing numerous TikTok challenges, and growing a beard during the pandemic, I decided to spray-paint the mirror in my bedroom from pink to blue. Although it was a small DIY, I am proud of it because it reminds me of how far I’ve come since then.”
What’s your favorite part of the house?
“That it feels like my own. Since going to college, I haven’t lived anywhere for more than a year, so it’s nice to finally be in a space where I feel truly at home.
“From a design standpoint, my favorite thing about the space are the windowsills. Their depth adds an extra dimension, allowing me to display decorative pieces that make up for the lack of wall space for artwork. The windowsill in my bedroom is especially deep. When it rains or thunderstorms, I replace whatever is on it with a comfortable blanket and watch the storm (one of my favorite things to do with my grandfather growing up).”
What’s your favorite item in your home?
“A pink Murano centerpiece that I found at Mom ‘n’ Pop on Georgia Avenue. I placed it on the windowsill in my bedroom so it’s the first thing I see in the morning, and the way it captures and reflects the light is breathtaking. I am big on buying locally from sustainable sources and have gotten so lucky with pieces from places like Mom ‘n’ Pop, Miss Pixie’s, and vendors at Eastern Market.”
What’s your favorite thing to do in your home?
“Cook and entertain. I frequently invite friends over for dinner parties and dessert-and-champagne nights. Having my dining area and kitchen close together makes hosting so much easier, because I can do my thing in the kitchen and hear whatever or whomever my friends are talking about.”
Who would your top three dream guests be for a dinner party at your home?
“Naomi Campbell, Josephine Baker, and Grace Jones. I admire people who live their lives authentically and on their own terms.”