Sanchez: Streamlining With Style

January 17, 2014

“When I was a little girl, my girlfriends and I would play Barbies. They would dress them up and I would make Barbie furniture and Barbie houses,” said interior designer Victoria Sanchez.

So began a design career, which was on exhibit at the 2012 D.C. Design House.

Sanchez grew up around D.C. and has always lived here. She graduated from Marymount University in 1984. She has been designing for 30 years and has had her own business for 12. When she’s finished her designing career, she says, “I would like to be a college professor and teach interior design.”

“I’ve always been observant and had the gene and disposition to identify the basic principles of design,” Sanchez said. “My grandmother would take me antiquing. She would try and teach me how to point something out.”

She also said that her father helped her fine-tune her skills. “My father bought a lot of real estate. We would go to open houses, and I would say that this house would be better if they moved the wall, or they need a bigger kitchen.” Sanchez explained that these experiences helped her grow as a designer. “It’s my gift,” she said with a laugh.

What a gift it is. Her Teenager’s Getaway room in the D.C. Design House showed off her talent to a tee. The room is filled with bright colors, unique fabrics and intriguing furniture. Sanchez said her inspiration for this room came from her two teenage children and from Missoni patterns. “I saw the fabrics, and the light bulb hit me. I worked the design and it snowballed and grew, and I got very excited about it.”

She found items at antique shops, on eBay and at retail stores. “That was part of my inspiration, working outside the box, pushing myself, trying something new,” Sanchez said. “I put myself in a position like a client would. I bought some retail pieces, some used pieces and I put it all together and came up with a high-end, really fashionable room. I feel that more people are interested in reusing things. That they are interested in pieces that have a little bit of history. All new isn’t necessarily so fabulous anymore.”

In general, Sanchez gets her inspiration from her daily life. “Inspiration is really everywhere that I go every day. It’s all around us all the time. But until there is really a need for it — it doesn’t click or register.”

She also gets inspiration from other designers and from fabric and furniture manufacturers. “They work to identify the trends,” she said. “Then, when I’m exposed to the trends, I’m inspired to experiment with them and incorporate those trends into my design and my work.” She is also moved by classic design elements and architecture found in classical art. She said she believes that if a design has the basic elements then it will remain both timeless and spot-on.

When asked about the Washington style, Sanchez says that she sees a changing trend. “The traditional, federal, stereotypical designs seem very passé. All generations seem to be more interested in streamlining their interiors. There is a nod to the classic designs but not as heavy as in the past. Less is more seems to be the trend.”

For Sanchez, the best part of designing “is that I can fulfill my designer fantasies in other people’s homes. I love always being able to try new things all the time.” Sanchez also says that helping the client is a great part of the job. “My job, as a designer, is to take my clients’ wishes and turn them into their reality. I have the skills and resources, which is why they come to me. At the end of the day, I make people’s homes beautiful for them.” ? [gallery ids="100876,127386" nav="thumbs"]

Tougher Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in D.C.

August 16, 2012

Does the name Desaleen James sound familiar? It should: James was in a Dec. 29, 2011 car crash in Silver Spring, md., that killed two of her friends. The driver was drunk; the car was speeding more than 90 miles-per-hour. James caught the whole thing on tape. She was interviewed by a local TV news station and wanted to show the video tape to others, especially teens, so that they might think twice before drinking and driving.

Heart-wrenching stories like this happen all of the time. Driving while under the influence is nothing new. In an effort to reduce the incidents of drunk driving, a new act has been enacted in Washington, D.C. The Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012, effective Aug. 1, has caused major changes to the penalties and fines for DUIs. The act also focuses on better training for breath-testing programs for police officers.

Some of the key changes include an increase in maximum jail time and fine increases. For example, the maximum penalty for a first time offender was 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. With this new act the maximum jail time has doubled to 180 days and the fine is now up to $1,000.

The mandatory minimum jail time for repeat offenders or first time offenders with a blood alcohol content level of .20 percent or higher, jumped from five days to 10 days. If an offender has a .25 percent BAC or more will be sentenced to 10 to 15 days in jail. The act also created a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 days in jail for offenders with a .30 percent or higher.

For commercial vehicle operators, the blood alcohol limit is .04 percent. If this is broken there will be a five day mandatory minimum jail penalty and any other additional penalties they receive.

The Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act also enforces stricter punishments for those who drink and drive with minors in the car. With a minor in the car, a minimum five-day jail sentence is ordered for every child in a required child-restraint seat and 10 days if they are not.

Along with higher penalty minimums and fines, new breath-testing equipment has been purchased to crack down on drunk driving. Breath-testing, suspended last year after a number of convictions were found to be based on inaccurate readings, is being reinstated. Part of the act establishes breath-testing programs and a certification program for officers who use the equipment.

The Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act was created to help cut down the number of DUIs and alcohol-related accidents in (and around) D.C.

Metrorail Begins Rush Plus, Make Changes to SmarTrip Cards

August 10, 2012

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority began its enhanced rush hour service, “Rush Plus,” June 18. The new arrangement — with six additional trains per hour (three in each direction) on the Orange Line during rush hours – sets out to ease “Orange Crush,” when peak trains on the Orange Line between Courthouse and Rosslyn carry more passengers per car than anywhere else on the system, Metro says. “For 33,500 Blue and Yellow Line customers in Virginia, Rush Plus will result in an increase in the share of Yellow Line trains, meaning more direct and faster access to downtown via the Yellow Line bridge.”

Metro explains: “Rush Plus is an expansion of rush hour service that will result in additional trains between Mt. Vernon Square and Greenbelt, and between Vienna and Court House, as well as new transfer-free travel opportunities between stations on several lines. Rush Plus is designed to ease crowding, improve the commuting experience for Metrorail riders on the Orange, Blue, Green and Yellow lines, and prepare for the future Silver Line.”

As part of Rush Plus, “21 Metrorail stations will see an increase in train service,” Metro says. “During each rush-hour period, 18 new Orange Line trains — three per hour in each direction — will operate between Vienna and Largo Town Center. Every third existing Blue Line train (three trains per hour in each direction) will now operate between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt via the Yellow Line bridge. These trains will be identified as Yellow Line trains. As a result, customers at Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn Street and stations from L’Enfant Plaza to Greenbelt will have new transfer-free trip options between certain stations.”

Metro is also making some changes to its SmarTrip cards. These changes include vending locations for SmarTrip Cards in all stations, the option to automatically reload the card and a raise in price for those riders who use the paper fare card. Some changes will be in place by July 1. Another round of changes will be implemented by September and even more changes are planned for 2013 and 2014.

Currently, bus riders using the SmarTrip card save 20 cents per ride and 50 cents of rail transfers. Beginning July 1, Metrorail will start charging $1 more per trip for those who use paper fare cards.

Washington Monument May Remain Closed Through 2014

The damage to the Washington Monument caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the D.C. area in August 2011 is still not fully repaired. The monument has been closed to the public since the earthquake. Initially, it was thought that the repairs would be completed by 2013. Damage is more severe than originally thought, said the National Park Service which oversees the monument which honors founding father and the first U.S. president, George Washington. The repairs may take until 2014 to be complete. “The Washington Monument will remain closed to the public during repairs,” the NPS added.

During the earthquake the monument was cracked and pieces of the structure were loosened, especially near the top. The loose chunks of marble and granite were removed after the earthquake to prevent the material from falling. The removed pieces were saved and engineers will the pieces back into the monument. Some loose chunks of the material was taken out after the earthquake to prevent it from falling. The removed pieces were saved and engineers will put the pieces back into the monument. No stones need to be replaced, but about 50 patches will be added, according to the NPS.

This project is estimated to cost $15 million. The scaffolding will help brace stone slabs that are currently resting on cracked supports near the top of the monument. It will also allow for the temporary removal of part of the plaza surrounding the plaza. Scaffolding will be located in both the interior and exterior of the monument to make the repairs easier. The plaza pieces that are removed will be saved and put back into place after the repairs are complete. Other renovations will also be in place. Metal brackets will be added to help better fasten some slabs near the top of the monument to make them more secure in case of another earthquake. Repairs are scheduled to begin this fall.

Most Washingtonians will agree that the Washington Monument is a must-see while in D.C. Although the monument’s closure has been a disappointment to many tourists, visits along the National Mall have not declined.

Construction of the 555-foot obelisk was completed in 1884. At that time, the monument claimed the title of world’s tallest structure until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was erected.

Capitol Hill Hotel

The Capitol Hill Hotel, formerly Capitol
Hill Suites, located at 201 C Street, SE,
has recently renovated its look from a residential
style to a more contemporary one.

Slava Lutikova, director of sales and marketing
at the hotel, explained the renovations.

“We were purchased by Hersha Hospitality
last April.,” she said. “They made a decision that
the hotel needs a little bit of repositioning and
with that came renovation of all public spaces.”
But, she is quick to add, “It wasn’t because we
needed renovation, it’s because we really wanted
to create a whole new atmosphere for our guests.”

The 3.5-million-dollar renovation includes
three new meeting areas with built-in AV equipment
and teleconferencing/videoconferencing
accessibility, a rare commodity in hotels. The
newly updated front lobby and breakfast area encompass
guests in an atmosphere of relaxation.
There is also a new public lounge, connected to
the lobby, which adds an additional 650 square
feet of space for guests. The lounge (pictured
above) is complete with its own “congressional
library,” an area where guests can read one of
many books from the library or enjoy the morning
paper. It can also be rented out for business
meetings and social events.

The new look, which local artists helped create,
includes modern pieces and new twists on
classic pieces of history. The Cherry Blossominspired
carpet and wallpaper combined with
the different art pieces inspired by the nation’s
historic past come together beautifully to create a
contemporary style that remains connected to the
rich history of the nation.

“All of the elements of the design tell a story
of the history of the hotel and of the neighborhood,
while transitioning us to a more contemporary
look. We are changing our name because
we are changing the look of the hotel so much, so
drastically. Our new name reflects our new identity
better,” Lutikova said.

The Capitol Hill Hotel is now renovating
each guest room to match the contemporary style
throughout the rest of the hotel. This final phase
is expected to be complete in early 2013.

These renovations don’t mean a change in
clientele or service. “Our guests can still expect
the same quality service as before. Just because
we are a little bit different or have a new style
doesn’t mean we are moving away from any type
of customer. We position ourselves as a very inclusive
hotel as far as our audience goes. Businessmen
and families alike can enjoy our services,”
Lutikova says. ? [gallery ids="100856,126809" nav="thumbs"]

Mitt Romney Coming to Georgetown

June 29, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be showing in Georgetown June 27 for an exclusive fundraising dinner party hosted by Bob and Suzy Pence.

Unlike Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Romney does not appear to scoff at “Georgetown cocktail parties.”

The invitation-only dinner will cost $50,000 per person and will be held in the Pences’ penthouse at 3030 K St., N.W. That is the address for the condominiums of Washington Harbour, where Nancy Pelosi also lives. The dinner is one of three fundraising events for Romney taking place this month in or near D.C.

On June 25, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), both potential vice-presidental running mates with Romney, will be at a reception geared toward young professionals. The reception will be held on a rooftop in downtown Washington. Tickets begin at $100 per person.

Ann Romney will headline a dinner fundraiser being hosted by former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich and his wife, Kendel. The fundraiser will take place near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and tickets will begin at $1,000 with dinner costing $15,000 per person