Home & Design

The Biedermeier dining table is surrounded by vintage Parsons chairs upholstered and skirted in Belgian linen.

Modern CB2 nesting tables sit before a sofa by John Boone; the vintage barrel chairs are covered in Romo fabric.

Byron Risdon poses before a vintage Romweber console and bold abstract artwork by Jaime Karf.

The bedroom is anchored by a West Elm bed; Risdon cut down the headboard and recovered the base in a matching skirt.

On a vintage Robsjohn-Gibbings bureau, decorative finds on display include a necklace from a pre-pandemic trip to Bali.

Style and provenance mingle in the artfully conceived main living area.

Full Story

Byron Risdon bedecks his Brookland apartment with a curated mix of vintage finds

Byron Risdon traces his earliest design inspirations not to the shelter magazines his mother brought home, but to publications filled with building schematics. Now, those were something special. “I liked home-planning books,” recalls the designer. “I would recreate, alter or take inspiration from the designs and make my own floor plans.” Decades later, Risdon has put this prowess to good use in the 945-square-foot apartment in DC’s Brookland neighborhood that he calls home.

Risdon admits he didn’t have time to finish decorating his apartment until, after living there for two years, he decided to photograph it for his website. “I’m always last on the list,” he laughs.

He set out to create an environment that is both soothing and crisp. Every inch of the abode serves a specific purpose. Classic furnishings in subtle colors offset bold artwork mixed with wood and metal accents that convey a sense of warmth. “I would say my design aesthetic is tailored and clean, but I like to mix things up,” Risdon says. “I look for objects that will serve the necessary purpose but also things I want to see every day. It’s about how you want a room to feel. If a piece of furniture means something to you, then go with it.”

That ethos guides his approach. Most of his furnishings—from online auction purchases to flea market finds and client cast-offs—are vintage, one-of-a-kind treasures. He acquired the Biedermeier dining table years ago for $200 from Hudson Valley Auctions. The living room console is vintage Romweber, found at Kamelot Auctions in Philadelphia. And he discovered his bedroom dresser, a mid-century T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings piece, on eBay and bought it for $800—a fraction of its current worth.

“I like things that have a story, that have some age to them,” Risdon observes. “I select things I love, and I’m not afraid of mixing styles. This doesn’t mean everything works well together, but it all fits into my aesthetic and life.”

He also likes to burnish a diamond in the rough. When a client passed up an end table—its painted glass top appeared different than expected—the designer saw its potential for his own apartment. So he bought a second one, replaced the tops of both with mirrored glass, then added lower shelves stained just the right shade. “I needed something narrow and long to relate to the depth of my sofa, and these landed in my lap,” he recalls. “The bones were there, but I didn’t like the execution. I thought, ‘I can change these.’”

As Risdon sees it, it’s all about having a plan. “People think a designer can come in with a magic wand and make something out of nothing, or that we have a secret society with access to inexpensive items of really great quality,” he says. “That doesn’t exist. It takes a lot of planning and time.” He urges clients to let their homes evolve rather than rushing the process. “Don’t just jump in,” he advises. “There are some things you need, but take a little time to figure out what you want.”

Case in point: Risdon’s own home, which has come together as his business has grown. The second bedroom initially doubled as a home office and guest quarters, but the designer soon realized he needed a dedicated work area. So he transformed the room into an office, “literally over a weekend,” he says. As business surged again in the spring of 2021, it was time to make another change. “My home office was organized and worked very well, but productivity started to go down because I was working at home all the time,” Risdon reflects. “I needed separation.” He has since moved to an off-site design studio and reimagined his former office solely as a haven for guests.

For Risdon, his home is an expression of his innate sense of style. “I always say I don’t want someone else’s interpretation of how to live,” he avers. “I want something that fits me.”

Interior Design: Byron Risdon, Byron Risdon LLC, Washington, DC. 

RESOURCES

GENERAL
Draperies: pindler.com, kerryjoyce.com. Drapery Fabrication: Essence Interiors.

LIVING AREA
Sofa: johnbooneinc.com. Sofa & Pillow Fabric: pindler.com. Throw on Sofa: blackpepperpaperie.com. Wood-Framed Chairs: Vintage. Wood-Framed Chair Fabric: romo.com. Coffee Tables: cb2.com. Rug: carpetpalace-usa.com. Console Opposite Sofa: Vintage. Art above Console: Jamie Karff through sloansandkenyon.com. Table Lamp: foxmillco.com. White-Framed Abstract: William Radawec through graysauctioneers.com. Floor Lamps: vintage through quinnsauction.com. Side Table Mirror Top: chevychaseglass.com.

DINING AREA
Table: vintage Biedermeier through hudsonvalleyauctioneers.com. Chairs: vintage Parsons through clarkeny.com. Chair Fabric: belgianlinen.com. Mirror: vintage James Mont. Shelf: ikea.com. Light Fixture: capitallightingfixture.com.

OFFICE
Desk Units: cb2.com. Shelving: ikea.com. Cane Chairs: Vintage by Marcel Breuer.

BEDROOM
Bedstead Fabric: pindler.com. Bedstead Fabrication: Essence Interiors. Bedding: frette.com; westelm.com. Art above Bedstead: Jacob Semiatin. Throw on Bed: vintage. Bedside Tables & Lamps: vintage. Gray Wing Chair: fourhands.com. Gray Wing Chair Fabrication: bdesignandall.com. Art above Gray Chair: Dean Dass. Dresser: vintage Robsjohn-Gibbings.

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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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