Design Central

Summer in Georgetown. The trees and flowers are in full bloom. Earlier this spring, the annual House Tour allowed us a glimpse behind the closed gates and doors of Washington's oldest neighborhood. Founded in 1751, Georgetown lives on as a charming historic village that is thriving and attracting a new generation of Washington urban dwellers. As Georgetown resident, councilman and recent mayoral candidate Jack Evans says, "This is the golden age of Georgetown." If you are reorganizing your household or moving, the ideas and suggestions below may help you. Downsizing is a subject that we all encounter throughout our lives. It is closely linked to change. A change of job may lead to a change of address, sometimes even a change of climate. A change of family structure -- blending families, maturing children, retirement, the loss of a spouse -- may all lead to a change in the square footage we occupy. There are so many factors that can trigger the need to downsize and reorganize. Regardless of the reason, as it relates to living space, change offers us an opportunity to refresh or reset the organization of our lives and also to examine our relationship to the things we hold on to along the way. It offers a chance to take inventory of our lives and to decide what holds the greatest meaning for us with respect to memory, personal history, beauty and value. Our willingness to meet changes in a positive way will allow for transitions that keep us current with the realities and routines of our lives. Furthermore, it will allow for outward expressions of our own personal style and our need for beauty and order in our surroundings. Practical questions to consider when downsizing (especially if you are moving): How long will it take? Your move is imminent, your lead-time is a year or less, your lead-time is three-to-five years. Spend a little time devising a strategy before acting. Have a recipe for success. What should remain and what should go? Choose one room at a time and look at the objects in it. Rate them according to how much you have used, cherished and enjoyed them in the past year or so. How much space will I actually have for the things I choose to keep? Is it wishful thinking? Do I love it? Do I use it? Can I live without it? Can it fit and/or be repurposed in my new space? Identify those things and sell, consign, donate or give the rest away to friends, family or charity. REMEMBER: Sort not by the space you are in, but by the space into which you are moving. If you get stuck, you can get more information on the internet or hire a professional space arranger. The National Association of Professional Organizers (napo.net) is a nonprofit association with more than 3,300 members throughout the world. Create a place that actually represents how you live now. Consider the following criteria: size, condition, value, comfort and aesthetics. Size: Will the size and proportion of your furniture overcrowd your new space? Edit by removing, consigning, selling or donating furniture that is taking up valuable living space. Establish its value, and if collectible, make sure it finds the most appropriate sales venue, be it consignment, auction or direct sale. Condition: If a piece of furniture is broken, damaged, worn out or threadbare and you decide to keep it, have it cleaned, repaired, refinished or reupholstered. Otherwise, you will always be reminded of its shortcoming Value: If the things you own have intrinsic value -- such as antique furniture, art, objets d’art, carpets or collections of any sort – make sure that you have appraisal information in your important documents files. While you live with your valuables, keep them in top condition. The information on file will save future generations from opportunistic buyers or, worst-case scenario, having valuables end up in a garage or yard sale. Comfort: Those chairs in the living room and that sofa in the guest room are beautiful and my grandmother gave them to me. However, they are very uncomfortable. Your justification may be that you rarely sit in the living room or only occasionally have guests. In every instance, ask yourself if you have the luxury of displaying furniture that you avoid using because it is uncomfortable. Everything in your living space should have a useful and aesthetic purpose attached to it. Aesthetics: Each of us decides for ourselves what we consider beautiful. If a framed poster is more beautiful to you than a dark, brooding oil painting with no value other than that it came from a family member, get the painting out of your space. If you inherited three sets of china and you rarely set a formal table, choose the one that is most pleasing to you. Sell, consign or give away the rest. Unless you have the luxury of unlimited storage space, not choosing sends you down the path of boxing things you like but will rarely (or never) use. Lastly, we suggest to our readers that good professional help is always available and well worth the expense when measured against the successful results. In the age of the internet, there are endless resources and much shared knowledge at hand. We spoke with Georgetowners Fran and Ankie Barnes about their experience in downsizing and changing their home and lifestyle. Q. What advice would you offer someone who is downsizing? A. Start early and be very organized as to where all your belongings will go. If you know measurements ahead of time, there won't be unnecessary surprises on moving day. Downsizing makes one really analyze how many things one owns and how many things one can comfortably live without. Q. Did you have any professional help or advice? A. I had some design help from my husband's architectural office Barnes Vanze Architects. We also hired the services of Orchestrated Moves. We had many books to sort through, and we used Book Bliss Online. Resources: OrchestratedMoves.com BookBlissOnline.com BarnesVanze.com For questions or inquiries: Alla Rogers and Dena Verrill, principals at Dena Verrill Interiors – DenaVerrillInteriors.com [gallery ids="101772,141171,141179,141175,141181" nav="thumbs"]

Lots of Variety at Washington Winter Show

Like other antiques shows (many of which have deemphasized the word “antiques”), the Washington Winter Show is no longer dominated by brown furniture and folk and fine art.

Working From Home: Designing a Space You Can Live With

What do you do if you don’t have the square footage to dedicate to a single-purpose room — or to a single person? 

Branca Shares Memories at Tudor Place

Designer Alessandra Branca spoke about her friend, the late Elizabeth Powell, and her own design philosophy at the May 24 Landmark Luncheon at the historic estate in Georgetown.

Light It Up With Tangerine

Living room feeling a little drab? Try brightening things up with this fabulous summer color. Any room can pop with brightly colored accents. Check out these hot tangerine items below for ideas on how to add a little color into your life. [gallery ids="100932,129797,129789,129783,129813,129776,129817,129823,129830,129805" nav="thumbs"]

Pillar & Post Wins Window Contest

When voting closed at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the British-themed antiques and home-décor shop was declared the winner, with 558 votes on the Georgetown BID’s Facebook page.

Gift Guide: His, Hers, and Ours

One of the most glorious messes in the world,” Andy Rooney once said, “is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” Andy Rooney, or course, said it better than we can. It’s time for holiday magic to begin! So get to shopping and making memories with your friends and family with this “His, Hers and Ours” gift guide. Tea sets from Ching Ching Cha A tea set serves more than its basic function as a method of brewing and serving tea; it is also a beautiful accent to your home décor. A beautiful tea set can tie a room together, make it feel more inviting and add a touch of personal style. At Ching Ching Cha, it’s easy to find a set that will match anyone’s personal style, from earthy to delicate, making it a great place to find a gift. Prices vary chingchingcha.com Bicycle Wine Rack Oopsmark, a company based in Montreal that makes “tools for urban living,” has plenty of innovative and cool products such as USB necklaces and bracelets that convert into smart phone stands. Our favorite Oopsmark invention, however, is the Bicycle Wine Rack, which makes it easy to navigate D.C. streets and arrive at all those holiday parties with your gift for the host unscathed. This is a great gift for any wine lover in your life. $29 Oopsmark.ca Vintage Monte Carlo Poker Set Admit it. It’s pretty cool to know how to play poker. And it’s even cooler to whip out your own personal set of chips, especially if it’s this vintage-inspired dark-wood boxed set. This is the perfect gift for a hubby with a weekly poker night or for a woman with a rambunctious streak. You can thank Lady Luck for all the “thank yous” you get for this present. On sale for $89 RestorationHardware.com Michael Kors Silver Bracelet Watch with Glitz A stylish watch is always a classy gift for a man, but that doesn’t mean that this sleek watch isn’t a perfect gift for the ladies, too. The same watch that looks classic and handsome on a man makes a chunky, funky fashion statement on the wrist of any woman. $195 MichaelKors.com Concord Nickel Badger 3 Piece Shaving Kit Bring all of the charm, quality and nostalgia of an old-fashioned barber shop into your home with this shaving. Crafted for a perfectly smooth shave, this is the perfect gift for any man in your life, from father to husband. $180 GTTobacco.com Molcajete and Pestle Whip up some guacamole in an authentic-style molcajete from Rosa Mexicano Kitchen. This is a great gift for anyone who loves this delicious dip, but it’s also a great gift to keep for yourself! Use it to make some great guac for all your parties this holiday season. $40 RosaMexicano.com Warhol: Headlines Notecards The Andy Warhol print notecards lend a taste of the iconic to everyday life. With 12 notecards and envelopes featuring details of Daily News, you can send out some not-so-ordinary thank you cards to everyone on your list this holiday season. Available at the National Gallery of Art. $10.95 shop.nga.gov Burberry Cashmere Touchscreen Fingertip Gloves It’s not very classy (or convenient) to fumble around with a pair of gloves while trying to answer a text message on a windy winter day . And while cutoff gloves save you from the aforementioned scenario, they leave your fingertips out in the cold. Burberry has come up with a solution: Touchscreen Fingertip Gloves. These soft, knit cashmere gloves have textured thumb and pointer fingertips which are registered by touchscreen technology. No more fumbling and blustering! Keep it classy, ladies and gents. $215 Us.Burberry.com [gallery ids="100414,113387,113438,113430,113397,113422,113414,113407" nav="thumbs"]

Four Seasons Hosts 3rd Annual ‘Light Up The Season’

The annual community fundraising event benefiting Children’s National Hospital will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Four Seasons Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Georgetown.

Graniteware: Marbled, Mottled or Plain

In the American collective memories of early TV westerns, dusty cowboys gathered around the chuck-wagon fire pouring cups of java from a rusty old graniteware coffeepot. Graniteware, also known as enamelware, existed long before cowboys and covered wagons and has been widely used for utilitarian purposes in homes throughout the world. Fusing powdered glass to metal through the process of firing has been around for centuries. It was used to produce decorative pieces throughout Europe and Asia. Although the process was popular in several European countries, in the 18th century, two German brothers adapted the process from the purely decorative, beginning a new era for enameled kitchenware. After paying a European maker $5,000 to observe the process and learn the technique, the Niedringhaus brothers applied for a patent and started the business of coating the inside of cast-iron pots to stop the metallic taste from leaching through to the food. Over the next several decades, the demand for enameled ironware grew throughout Europe, and coated kitchenware was very attractive to many a European cook. By the mid-1800s, the brothers decided to win over American cooks as well with this new process and they opened a factory in St. Louis. Still, even though it was easier to handle and to clean, early enamelware was plain and utilitarian, a long way from the colorful, mass-produced utensils of the late 1800s and early 1900s. By the 1860s, two big U.S. companies were making enameled housewares, creating a surge in creative competition. Along with the Niedringhaus brothers came Lalance and Grosjean, a French company that set up a factory in New York. In a quest to maintain a market edge, the Niedringhaus brothers took the science of enameling a step further and developed what became known as graniteware. While the enamel was still wet, they applied a thin piece of paper with an oxidized pattern on it. Once the piece dried, the paper fell away, leaving a design with the appearance of granite — hence, graniteware. The name and the cookware caught on and thus began the great graniteware boom in America, which lasted beyond the turn of the century. Success brought growth and the brothers built a new factory on 3,500 acres in what would become Granite City, Illinois. Speckled, swirled, mottled and solid, graniteware came in a variety of colors: red, blue, purple, brown, green, pink, gray and white. As the years passed, each period had its own style and color. One of the most popular patterns, even with today’s collectors, was called “end of the day.” Whatever colors were left over at the end of the day were mixed together to make a very unusual and unique color. Although graniteware was lighter weight than cast iron, there were some problems with it. It tended to crack and then rust all the way through. There were also suspicions that some formulas leaked toxins into food. In the 1890s, agate nickel-steel ware ads claimed a “chemist’s certificate,” proving that it was free of any toxins. Also known as agateware or speckleware, mottled pieces of every color became available at low cost and were a huge success. Today, graniteware is still popular with collectors. Most collectors hunt for graniteware pots and pans manufactured before 1900. Older pieces are of heavier weight, constructed with seams and possibly riveted. Much of the ware was first issued with cast-iron handles during the 19th century, and wooden handles were used at the turn of the century through 1910. Despite the heavy production of graniteware, many of the pieces were not marked, so those with marks of the original manufactures are sought after. Collecting vintage graniteware is very appealing and people use the pieces in creative, new ways to decorate their homes. Some collect a particular color or pattern. Designers are on the lookout for older pieces to add a touch of color to a room. Prices continue to rise and are affected by color and condition. Colors that tend to be popular with collectors include cobalt blue, red-and-white swirls, green and brown. Pieces with unusual designs are also popular. Purple, brown and green swirl pieces seem to command higher prices. Buyers should be aware that reproduction pieces are made today in all colors. Although the advent of aluminum in the 1930s crimped the popularity of graniteware and thus its manufacture, it was definitely not as much fun to use. Georgetown resident Michelle Galler specializes in American primitives and folk art. Her shop is in Rare Finds in Washington, Virginia. Reach her at antiques.and.whimsies@gmail.com](mailto:antiques.and.whimsies@gmail.com).

Staff Picks: Decor Gift Guide

Each a unique blend of modern style and classic charm, these unique decor items, favorites of The Georgetowner staff, are sure to bring smiles...