Washington’s 14th Street Corridor has undergone several transformations since its inception: A music hub in the 1920s, it morphed into “Auto Row” in the 1950s. It has since experienced a resurgence of hip. Along with boutiques, bistros and coffeehouses, the historic area boasts a bustling home furnishings scene, which offers urban, cutting-edge design as well as classic, contemporary comfort. The big news is that many tenants of the Washington Design Center—who lost their leases when the building in Southwest DC was sold in 2012—are moving en masse to the Franklin Court Building on 14th and L Streets in spring 2014. Here’s a rundown of where to shop in the neighborhood.
Washington Design Center
As of early October 2013, 21 showrooms had signed leases in the building that will officially become Washington’s new Design Center. According to Ann Lambeth of J. Lambeth & Co., a member of the steering committee representing the tenants, they have yet to determine what kind of access consumers will have to the showrooms, many of which have previously been trade-only. She expects the first tenants to move in by spring 2014 with full occupancy by the fall.
The following showrooms will open new locations in the Center on the second, third and fourth floors: AmericanEye; ARC-COM Fabrics, Inc.; Century Furniture; Cowtan & Tout; Doris Leslie Blau; Duralee Fabrics; Fabricut at J. Lambeth; Galleria Carpets & Rugs; Hines & Co.; Holland & Sherry; Holly Hunt; J. Lambeth & Co.; Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils; Michael-Cleary, LLC; Osborne & Little, Inc.; Pindler & Pindler, Inc.; Robert Allen; Romo; Scalamandré; Schumacher and Stark. Niermann Weeks will be represented by J. Lambeth and Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman furniture will be sold through Hines. 1099 L Street, NW.
Expect to find the unexpected at GoodWood. Opened in 1994, the shop specializes in 19th-century American furnishings, with fun surprises to be found among the wooden bookcases, farm tables and leather chesterfields. Owner Anna Kahoe, a pioneer of the area, has recently added accessories and clothing to keep pace with the increasing flow of foot traffic. Accessories interspersed among the larger wares include paper masks, cast-iron dog doorstops and a wheeled metal cocoa butter tub. 1428 U Street, NW; goodwooddc.com
Lori Graham Home
DC designer Lori Graham pulled together the best of three worlds to create her store. With a mix of eclectic, contemporary furnishings from Graham’s own furniture line, LG Place; Mid-Century Modern pieces from Michael Johnson’s Sixteen Fifty Nine (he joined Graham’s team after his own store was shuttered); and art from the Contemporary Wing gallery, the overall look is warm and urban. Graham describes it as “Soho Boho”—with touches of Hollywood glam as illustrated by chests from Los Angeles-based Shine by S.H.O. and Ochre chandeliers. Don’t miss the organic tactile tabletop pieces by Little Wood Design. 1412 14th Street, NW; lorigrahamhome.com
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
In 2007, this source for contemporary yet classic furnishings opened a signature store on 14th Street. The sleek, open space, with its stone walls and circa-1920s carved masonry ceiling, is an apt reflection of the furnishings within. Styles vary from the sumptuous “Claudette” velvet chesterfield sofa to “Broadway” aluminum and wood tables. The new fall line features a modern palette of tone-on-tone grays set against a variety of textures with gold accents. The company manufactures pieces for Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware; its furnishings are also sold at Bloomingdales. 1526 14th Street, NW; mgbwhome.com
Christopher Reiter’s lifestyle store integrates all things artistic and sculptural—from the striking Kenneth Cobonpue woven seating areas in the front to the equally sculptural Vivienne Westwood and 3.1 Phillip Lim fashions in the back. The home furnishings thematically tie into the eclectic clothing lines; all create an “urban sensibility,” says senior consultant Dale Smith-Campbell. You’ll want to touch the textural Ango “My Chrysalis” lamps—fluffy silk cocoons perched on stainless- steel bases—and do a double-take at the Hive “Little People” screen, a whimsical creation of wood, fiber and wire. Muléh moved to a slightly smaller space in June, just a few doors down from its former location. 1821 14th Street, NW; muleh.com
Room & Board
The 33-year-old Minneapolis-based chain opened its four-story DC locale three and a half years ago at the corner of 14th and T Streets. The store specializes in contemporary furnishings with a “Mid-Century inspiration,” according to in-house designer David Brigman. Furniture for every room is organized by floor; the tour culminates in a rooftop area showcasing outdoor furniture and great views. Most pieces are American-made; juxtaposed with upholstered and leather sofas are finds like an Eames plywood lounge chair. Area rugs, accessories and custom window treatments are part of the mix. There’s also an in-house design service. 1840 14th Street, NW; roomandboard.com
Though Timothy Paul Carpets + Textiles suffered damage in a September fire, it turns out the timing of the disaster was fortuitous: Owners Timothy and Mia Worrell had planned to combine the store with its sister, Timothy Paul Bedding + Home, on the site of the latter shop in a few months anyway. By and large, the carefully curated selection of upscale, hand-knotted carpets is still available. Look for antique and new rugs in updated editions—on-trend, faded antiques, modern earth tones, vivid brights and tribal patterns. If you can’t decide, house calls are available. At press time, the owners can be reached at Bedding + Home, which specializes in custom design for the boudoir with an array of duvets, linens and shams in several lines of fabrics, including the contemporary Knoll, traditional Yoma and hand-blocked Michaelian & Kohlberg. An assortment of unique throw pillows changes weekly. 1529A 14th Street, NW; timothypaulcarpets.com
Offering contemporary furnishings from more than 75 vendors—all made to appeal to the city dweller—this stylish store lives up to its name. Most pieces can do double duty: Consoles become dining tables and upholstered dining chairs work as occasional chairs. We particularly like the Four Hands “Owen” dining table, made to look rustic with recycled wood, yet sleek enough to fit a city kitchen. While you won’t find overstuffed pieces here, you may like the clever “Big Alice” chair from Design 9 with its stylized wings and extra-high back. Downstairs are the bedroom sets, many with hidden storage areas under the mattresses. 1401 14th Street; urban-essentials.com
Whether you live in a studio or a spacious brownstone, expect to find something to fit your space at Vastu. The shop, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, features its own line of modern, upholstered furniture in custom sizes, designed to fit in “challenging spaces,” according to co-owner Matthew Mercier. You’ll also find Knoll, Herman Miller and Flos lighting. In-house designers can help with everything from a sofa to rugs to draperies, and the work of local artists is displayed on the walls. The look here is “comfortable, warm modern, without being cold or harsh,” Mercier explains. Bestsellers are the Vastu brand Ramses sectional and a Knoll swivel chair. 1829 14th Street, NW; vastudc.com
Karen Watkins is a Bethesda, Maryland, freelance writer.