Though Bethesda, Maryland, may still be considered a suburb of Washington DC, this bustling retail destination just over the DC border has its own Metro stop on the Red Line and boasts an eclectic collection of upscale stores offering a varied selection of home furnishings and unique accessories.
1. Bella Italia is a must-stop for colorful, hand-painted Italian ceramics. Find one-of-a-kind pieces in a wide variety of patterns representing several different artists, as well as linens and whimsical Venetian marionettes. Among the many imported food items are varieties of balsamic vinegar ranging from the good to the sublime. 4844 Bethesda Avenue; www.bellaitaliaonline.com
2. The Blue House is a cheerful store jam-packed with jewelry, gifts and home items such as glasses and pillows representing the 50 states by Cat Studio; kitchen gadgets, including brightly painted salt shakers and pepper mills by Katiedid Studio; aprons; cookbooks; area rugs and furniture by Maine Crossings and Tradewinds. More gift shop than furniture store, it’s a good place to find unique home accessories. 7770 Woodmont Avenue; www.thebluehousebethesda.com
3. Design Within Reach emphasizes modern design; its name derives from its mission of granting public access to iconic designers once accessible mainly through the trade. Statement pieces by Mies van der Rohe, Eames and Saarinen are available in custom finishes, leathers and fabrics. The store showcases lines by a number of other designers as well. 4828 St. Elmo Avenue and 3307 Cady’s Alley, NW, Washington, DC; www.dwr.com
4. Random Harvest started as a consignment shop and its owner’s proclivity for vintage can still be seen in the elegant mix of used and new furnishings from around the world. The store’s ever-changing inventory includes everything from an antique Chinese apothecary table to an 1810 cherry chest to a 1930s sofa re-covered in white muslin. 7766 Woodmont Avenue; www.randomharvesthome.com
5. Tone on Tone is a dreamy oasis in pale creams and grays, specializing in painted Swedish antiques from the 1760s to the 1930s. Among the many unique pieces are a Gustavian clock and a decorative Swedish Empire cabinet. The store carries Continental and French antiques as well as accessories. 7920 Woodmont Avenue; www.tone-on-tone.com
6. Urban Country on Bethesda Row carries furniture from classic to contemporary made by a broad spectrum of companies including eco-friendly Architrave, Vanguard and Lee Industries. A member of the Sustainable Furniture Council, this stylish store offers an eco-conscious design service, unique accessories and gifts. The former location at 7801 Woodmont Avenue is a clearance center for new furniture priced 40 percent to 70 percent off. 7117 Arlington Road; www.urban-country.com
7. Vivi specializes in modern dining, offering tables, ceramics and tabletop items such as creative Chilewich woven vinyl placemats and modern dinnerware by Mud and Teroforma. Don’t miss the sculptural ceramics by designer Eva Zeisel. 7254 Woodmont Avenue; www.vivionline.com
8. The Waygoose represents artisans from all 50 states. Playful metal wine holders by Rich Kolb, wooden bowls by Robert Frey, handcrafted sand-timers, YoYo quilts and “Fire and Light” recycled glassware are just a few of the store’s many fine crafts. 4848 Bethesda Avenue; www.thewaygoose.com
U Street Corridor
Northwest DC’s trendy U Street corridor, once home to clubs featuring the likes of Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole, is now sprinkled with shops displaying cutting-edge design and vintage funk with an urban sensibility. The U Street Metro stop on the Green Line is in the heart of the shopping district, right across from landmark eatery Ben’s Chili Bowl. From here, walk straight ahead along U Street or turn left and hit the many shops on 14th Street.
1. Bang & Olufsen carries innovative audio/visual systems. 1604 14th Street, NW, and 7243 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland; www.bang-olufsen.com
2. The Garden District’s indoor location is up the street from the outdoor location (1801 14th Street) and holds assorted houseplants, orchids, potting soil, seeds, tools and pottery. Check out the back wall for rows of colorful Scheurich pots. 1520 14th Street; www.gardendistrict-dc.com
3. Goodwood carries 19th-century American furniture and decorative accessories with a hipster attitude. The roomy store has a well-priced collection of hardwood tables, statuary, frames and fun accessories like a giant electric clock salvaged from an apartment lobby. 1428 U Street; www.goodwooddc.com
4. Greater Goods is a green, upscale hardware store featuring eco-friendly goods like compost bins, bi-fold wallets made from recycled billboards, cleaning supplies, paper products and solar lanterns. 1626 U Street; www.greatergoods.com
5. At Home Rule it’s clear the heart of the home is in the kitchen. Nothing in this store specializing in kitchen gadgets and cookware is boring: Little solar plastic flowers bob their heads just for the joy of it; neon-colored Bodum toasters and coffee presses light up the room. The store carries top names such as Le Creuset, Cuisinart and Zyliss; the fun stuff is made by KAI—bright yellow bread knives and cheese graters shaped like mice. 1807 14th Street, NW; www.homerule.com
6. Try Hunted House for vintage furniture from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. 18301/2 14th Street; www.huntedhousedc.com.
7. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has comfortable, well-designed furnishings for every room in the house. Probably best known for the casual chic items seen in Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, collections range from the streamlined, modern “Logan” to the 18th-century “Prince Albert” with everything in between, from mid-century modern to Art Deco. This location is one of the company’s 11 U.S. signature stores. 1526 14th Street; www.mgandbw.com
8. At artsy Muléh the organic forms of designer Kenneth Cobonpue are standouts. Notable is the sculptural “Croissant” collection of tables and chairs made from hand-sculpted steel covered with abaca rope. Don’t miss the collection of Ango lamps. The “Chrysalis Sky” floor lamp sports a shade comprised of white silk cocoons. This store is like an art gallery where you get to play with the art. Or wear it. The clothing collection is in the back. 1831 14th Street; www.muleh.com
9. Miss Pixie’s is a fun stop for used furniture and accessories. The eclectic finds can range from “vintage” Ikea chairs in molded gray plastic and bright orange metal to a pair of leather armchairs. 1626 14th Street; www.misspixies.com
10. RCKNDY is a chic shop offering modern, condo-scaled furnishings by Blu Dot, Gus Modern and American Leather, as well as Alessi housewares. Among the standouts is the collection of framed vintage art, including matchbooks and old textile cards from a Paris mill. 1515 U Street; www.rckndy.com
11. Timothy Paul Bedding + Home is known for its elegant imported textiles, throw pillows and mix-and-match luxury bed linens by names like Sferra and Lulu DK Matouk. 1529-A 14th Street; www.timothypaulbedding.com. One block south is Timothy Paul Carpets + Textiles, home to hand-woven wool rugs from modern to vintage, tribal and antique, plus furnishings and lighting from Powell and Bonnell and Objet Insolite. 1404 14th Street; www.timothypaulcarpets.com
12. Urban Essentials carries modern furnishings made to fit into small spaces. Find tailored, compact sofas, chairs, extendable tables and accessories. Stylish space savers include an etched glass extension table by Bontempi Casa and a platform bed with a mattress that flips up to reveal storage space underneath. 1330 U Street; www.furnituredc.com
13. Vastu has an eco-friendly bent, showcasing contemporary furnishings by Steven Anthony, Knoll and David Edward, along with EcoSmart fireplaces. Vastu has an in-house design center, and can customize furnishings for individual spaces and color schemes. 1829 14th Street; www.vastudc.com
The Washington Design Center
The Washington Design Center is home to the widest selection of high-end home furnishings in the area. Architects and interior designers rely on its 50-plus showrooms, where they can find a variety of furniture, fabric, wall coverings, carpets and flooring, lighting, tile, cabinetry and more.
Consumers are welcome to browse products by such designer mainstays as Baker, Odegard, Farrow & Ball, Scalamandré, Brunschwig & Fils, Donghia, Henredon, Century, Holly Hunt, Stark and Niermann Weeks, all under one roof.
The Center’s home furnishings showrooms, located on floors one to seven, are primarily open “to the trade.” This means that consumers can only purchase items in these showrooms when accompanied by a designer, who can guide them through the selection process and help them avoid making costly mistakes.
If you are not working with a design professional, the Design Center offers a Consumer Buying Service, which schedules a complimentary one-hour consultation for you. The service taps experienced design professionals who can advise you on your selections as well as help you purchase merchandise.
Consumers are welcome to make purchases in the showrooms on the Concourse level, which include Clive Christian and Wood-Mode, both top-of-the-line options for luxury kitchen cabinetry and products; Foundation, a flooring resource; and Poliform by Sagart Studio, which creates high-end, custom interiors using fine Italian furniture and cabinetry by Italian manufacturer Poliform.
The Design Center hosts numerous events throughout the year, many open to the public. Design Houses every spring and fall show off the work of local professionals, who transform eight rooms on the Concourse level using the wealth of home furnishings and resources found in the Center’s showrooms. Consumer Days feature special programs to educate and inspire the public about residential interior design. Sample Sales, also open to the public, offer discounts of up to 75 percent off furniture, rugs, lighting, art, accessories and more.
The Washington Design Center is located at 300 D Street, SW, Washington, DC, above the Federal Center SW Metro stop. For more information, visit www.dcdesigncenter.com.
Cady’s Alley is located in the heart of Georgetown, on the south side of M Street between 33rd and 34th Streets, NW. The shopping enclave was developed in 2003 by DC-based EastBanc, which commissioned local architects to design modern, lofty showrooms within the block’s turn-of-the-century industrial buildings. More than a dozen showrooms have storefronts on M Street; others are fronted along the quaint, pedestrian-friendly alley on the south side of the buildings. They are all open to the public. For more information, visit www.cadysalley.com.
KITCHEN & BATH
If you are contemplating a kitchen renovation and gravitate toward clean-lined, European styles, you will find equal measures of inspiration and eye candy in several showrooms, including those of German manufacturers Bulthaup (www.bulthaup.com) and Poggenpohl (www.poggenpohl.com) and Italian manufacturers Boffi Studio (www.boffi.com) and Pedini DC (www.pediniusa.com). Boffi and Pedini also feature sleek, modern bathroom collections.
For one-of-a-kind bathroom makeovers, Ann Sacks (www.ann sacks.com) and Waterworks (www.waterworks.com) boast innovative tile and stone designs as well as bath fixtures and accessories that create a spa feeling at home.
Furniture options range from elegant and traditional to modern:
1. Baker Furniture features a wide array of traditional and transitional furnishings and accessories in its 23,000-square-foot showroom. www.kohlerinteriors.com
2. BoConcept, a Danish company, offers sleek, modern furniture, accessories and lighting at an affordable price point. www.boconcept.us
3. Contemporaria doubles as a full-service design firm owned by architect Deborah Kalkstein, and a showroom with a well-edited selection of modern furniture, lighting and accessories on display. www.contemporaria.com
4. JANUS et Cie, which unveiled its open and airy showroom in 2008, offers eye-catching collections of outdoor furnishings and chic home accessories. www.janusetcie.com
5. M2L features a wide selection of modern furniture by manufacturers such as Alias, Cassina and Artifort. www.m2lcollection.com
6. Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers is known for its high-quality wood furnishings in a range of styles that are designed and handcrafted to stand the test of time. www.thosmoser.com
FRAMING & ACCESSORIES
1. Yves Delorme stocks luxurious European linens along with accessories and some furniture as well. www.yvesdelorme.com
2. L’Eclat de Verre is a French framing company that incorporates beautiful paper from around the world in its projects. www.eclatdeverre.com
Illuminations is favored among designers and architects for its wide range of lighting options as well as for the expertise of its staff. www.illuminc.com