Lori Graham poses in her home.
Built-in cabinetry provides attractive storage in the dining room.
Visitors enter the living room, where bay windows provide a focal point.
Graham's dogs, Camus and MiltonFriedman, perch on a vintage chair.
Greek key chairs, photography by Barbara Probst and an antique rug enliven the sitting room.
Rich fabrics and deep colors embellish the sitting room, where light pours in through bay windows.
From the dining room, the sitting room is visible through an exposed-brick archway.

City Chic

Lori Graham outfits her 1890s DC row house with an unexpected mix of furniture and finishes

Lori Graham’s 14th Street shop, Lori Graham Home, perfectly exemplifies the designer’s chic, eclectic sensibility. A trip to her home, therefore, comes as no surprise. It exudes the same hip, glamorous vibe, created by the deft juxtaposition of dynamic art, vintage finds and strong, warm colors. The two-bedroom row house was a recent purchase for Graham. After completing several major row-house projects close to downtown DC’s 14th Street Corridor, she had become a fan of the area’s surrounding residential streets. Newly single, she was looking for a fresh start for herself and her beloved Papillons, Camus and MiltonFriedman, when the bottom two floors of a late Victorian-era row house on Corcoran Street became available. Graham was thrilled—especially when she went inside. “I was attracted by the architecture,” she says. “I loved the fireplace, the open floor plan, the high ceilings and the exposed brick in the back.” 

The first floor, with its 11-and-a-half-foot ceilings, encompasses living and dining rooms, a powder room behind the stairs, a small but functional kitchen—already updated when Graham moved in—and a breakfast nook that she converted into a sitting room. Bay windows at both the front and back of the house bring in light, and oak floors were conveniently stained dark (one of Graham’s signatures) before she moved into the house. 

The lower level, which the designer describes as an English, or above-ground, basement, boasts plenty of light, with full-height windows and nine-foot ceilings. It houses a home office-cum-guest room and a master bedroom and bath. The lower level opens out to both front and back gardens.

Graham set to work first figuring out how to create more storage space. “I needed places for books, objects and serving ware,” she says. In the living room, she flanked the etched-stone fireplace with open shelving on one side and a built-in, ceiling-height mirror on the other that makes the room feel larger. In the dining room,  there were niches on either side of a blank wall (on the other side of which is the neighbors’ fireplace). “They cried out for built-ins,” says the designer, who particularly needed storage space in the dining room that would accommodate overflow from the small kitchen. 

To create the sophisticated, glam look she wanted, Graham decorated the house with reupholstered vintage furniture and pieces selected from her showroom. In the dining room, for example, the table came from her shop, while “the chairs are pieces I’ve had forever,” she says. Above the dining room table, a new chandelier by CL Sterling & Son conveys the look of an earlier era with its use of mercury glass. 

In the living room, with its soft gray palette, mid-century sofas share space with a glass-topped coffee table from the showroom; a high-backed chair by the window—a popular perch for the dogs—is a vintage piece that’s been reupholstered in Italian velvet by C&C Milano. An unusual beaded chandelier from Shine by S.H.O., a home furnishings line carried by Lori Graham Home, creates a focal point above a console table by the bay window.

The living and dining rooms are more formal, but “the house becomes more casual as you move back through it,” says Graham. The sitting room, painted a dark Benjamin Moore gray, boasts an antique red rug from Timothy Paul Carpet + Home, a sofa from Graham’s showroom, an eye-catching ram’s head coffee table and Greek key chairs. The sitting and dining rooms share a wall of exposed brick that warms both spaces.

New decorative wall moldings lend visual interest, while custom draperies—navy velvet in the living room and white denim by Powell & Bonnell trimmed with a lively Ikat pattern in the sitting room—accent the big bay windows and high ceilings. 

For Graham, her choice of art was very important. She turned to colleague and curator Mike Johnson for some pieces, selecting a mix of vintage Japanese lithographs, art photography and personal photographs for a collage of art in the living room. Above the mantel, an abstract canvas by Robert Mellor introduces a vivid shot of color to the room, while in the sitting room, photographs by Barbara Probst are striking against the dark-hued wall. On an easel behind the sofa, an oil painting by Teo González adds a punch of color. 

Downstairs, Graham enjoyed creating a thoroughly “girly” bedroom, complete with floor-to-ceiling pink draperies and soft, feminine bedding. “It was fun because I got to do it by myself,” she says.

Graham is a DC-area resident who has lived in the capital for a long time. “I used to be a lawyer before I made the switch to interior design,” she says. This year marks her tenth anniversary as a designer, and her second since the opening of her showroom, only a block and a half away.  Now, her new home heralds another beginning. “It’s a great location,” she says. “It’s the perfect size and the perfect fit.”  

Photographer Abby Greenawalt is based in Washington, DC.

INTERIOR DESIGN: Lori Graham, Lori Graham Design, Washington, DC.