Case Study: Fine Furniture + Art

In Harmony: Traditional elegance meets industrial chic in a Shirlington, Virginia, condo

When the owner of a condo in Shirlington walked into Tchoupitoulas Furnishings in Old Town Alexandria, she took a look around and hired the shop’s owner, designer Alexandria Davenport, on the spot. Davenport—whose store’s motto is “tradition with a twist”—specializes in “balancing fun new finishes with Grandma’s sideboard,” the designer says. The condo featured industrial elements such as exposed concrete and ductwork, and the homeowner, who has a traditional sensibility, needed help melding the two aesthetics.

“I was given carte blanche,” Davenport recalls. “And I got to start from scratch with the furnishings—the only thing my client kept was a wine service.” Davenport honed in on a look that she terms “elegant but with a touch of modern.” She sourced furniture through her shop, starting in the living room with a customized sofa and tufted chairs by Theodore Alexander. Pieces blending wood and metal connect to the industrial elements in the room.

For example, a desk by Niermann Weeks, which doubles as a dining table when the owner has company, is made of wood with a curved metal base, while a modern metal coffee table by Amanda Nisbet for Niermann Weeks is finished in gold. And Davenport juxtaposed a traditional sideboard with an abstract canvas by Gretchen Fuss.

In a corner of the living area, the Pike Occasional Table by Niermann Weeks sounds a distinctive note with its playful pairing of a jagged design and a sumptuous, gold-leaf finish. “I try to create fun mixes,” Davenport says. “I take timeless pieces and add a little whimsy.”

Interior Design: Alexandria Davenport, Tchoupitoulas Furnishings, Alexandria, Virginia. 

Alexandria Davenport’s Trade Secrets:

  • When choosing furnishings, I try to find a balance between function and fun. In this project, I combined an elegant sideboard, which is a timeless piece, with a fun coffee table that may not end up being timeless. The main thing is to love the pieces you have.
  • Finishes on furniture are important and can really impact a room’s design. For instance, nail-head trim can dress up upholstered furniture the way a pair of earrings dresses up an outfit.
  • Your artwork should be a reflection of what you love. I figure out the type of artwork a client responds to and use that to help me choose their furniture.
  • Using a range of elements and materials in one space can make it work when you are blending looks.