Design Central

September 10, 2014

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 ( 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.


For questions or inquiries:
Alla Rogers and Dena Verrill,
principals at Dena Verrill Interiors – [gallery ids="101772,141171,141179,141175,141181" nav="thumbs"]

The Auction Block


Tiffany & Co. Lucida Platinum and Diamond Solitaire Ring

Auction Date: September 19

Estimate: $25,000 – $35,000

Love is in the air at Weschler’s with a selection of nearly twenty diamond engagement rings, from their fall Capital Collections Estate Auction. The standout is a Tiffany & Co. Lucida platinum and diamond solitaire ring, set with an internally flawless, E-color, diamond weighing 1.63 carats. The auction will also feature an important selection of 20th century American works of art cultivated from prominent Washington, DC collections.

Sotheby’s New York

Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Colored Stone and Diamond ‘Oiseau de Paradis’ Brooch, Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., France, circa 1963

Auction Date: September 23

Estimate: $150/250,000

From an ‘Oiseau de Paradis’ brooch by Schlumberger boasting fantastical colored stone plumage, to an Art Deco inspired pair of David Webb diamond earrings framed by swirling enamelwork, the Important Jewels sale this September deftly guides collectors from day to night. Modern classics are mixed among exquisite period jewels including a rare Belle Époque garland design bracelet by Cartier. The sale also offers a superb array of top quality colored gemstones and diamonds, many of which are set in signed mountings.

Potomack Company

Magnificent String of Opal Beads with Diamond and Sapphire Clasp

Auction Date: October 18

Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000

This resplendent necklace consists of 29 graduated gemstone orbs in a rainbow of hues with a larger oval opal, sapphire and diamond clasp. Opal was considered good luck in the Middle Ages and is celebrated today as the October birthstone.

Doyle New York

Rose Gold, Platinum, Mystery-Set Ruby and Diamond Leaf Clip-Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels

Auction Date: October 21

Estimate: $150,000 – $250,000

Part of Doyle New York’s Important Jewelry Auction. 18 carat brooch, composed of three overlapping leaves mystery-set with 316 square, rectangular and fancy-shaped rubies, centering fine ribbon-like veins and topped by two stylized leaves set with 20 tapered baguette and baguette diamonds.


9.69 Carat Diamond Ring with Diamond Accents

Auction Date: November 3

Estimate: $75,000 – $95,000

This pear shape diamond set in a platinum ring with triangular-cut diamond accents will be sold in Freeman’s Fine Jewelry & Watches auction on November 3.



July 16, Fine Jewels Auction

Enamel and Diamond Bracelet, Verger Fréres, ca. 1920

Estimate: $34,280 – $51,420

Final Selling Price: $127,693


July 02, Post-War & Contemporary Art (London)

Lucio Fontana (Italian, 1899 – 1968)

Concetto Spaziale, 1952

oil on canvas

Estimate: $400,000 – $565,000

Final Selling Price: $1,241,847


September 03, Out of the Ordinary auction (London, South Kensington)

Mark Stoddart

‘Hippo’ Dining Table, 2002

Estimate: $8,285 – $11,599

Final Selling Price: $28,805

Design Central

Displaying art is an opportunity to express your individuality through the beauty and inspiration art brings into your home. You choose a particular piece of art because it gives you pleasure and reflects who you are. It does not need to meet anyone else’s standard of “an important work” or have high monetary value. What matters is that it gives you pleasure and enhances the quality of your life.

Unlike anything else, art allows intimacy with an object. Although the piece may be static, your experience of it is not. Your perception shifts depending on the light at different times of day and season and on your mood. In turn, the art work influences your emotions and state of mind. To fully reap the benefits of surrounding yourself with art, you want to display your pieces in ways that enrich the viewer’s experience and enhances the environment (surroundings).

Displaying art is an art unto itself. In fact, museums and galleries employ design specialists to ensure that the display of their art enhances the work itself. These specialists have four basic concerns: lighting, background, framing, and hanging. The principles of display design apply equally to the home environment. By understanding these principles, you can speak with confidence with your own designers or create harmonious displays of your own.


Art needs proper lighting to be appreciated. If possible, hiring a lighting designer is an excellent investment. Good lighting enlivens art, allowing the richness of colors, contours, textures, and other details of the work to attract the eye and awaken interest.
Commonly used design solutions are track lighting and small recessed fixtures. The distance of the light fixture from the wall on which the art is displayed should be approximately one third of the ceiling height. The lamps should “wash” the wall, avoiding the creation of concentrated hot spots of light or shadows on the art work.


Wall Color. Although museums and galleries often use shades of white as display backgrounds, at home you need not feel so confined. Just as the art you select reveals what you consider beautiful and meaningful, the color you choose to complement it and your other furnishings is a personal expression. Black, white, and neutral shades of beige or grey have an architectural neutrality that work particularly well with black and white art and photography. Color photography and paintings or posters can be supported by warm neutral terra cottas and sandy shades, celadon, full saturation greens, and even red or black.


Simply stated, the frame contains, focuses, and enhances the art. A frame should not overwhelm the art itself. A commercial framer with an experienced eye is an ally worth cultivating. Friends may provide references and, since most shops have samples of their work on display, you can judge for yourself as well. Such a framer can provide you with a selection of mats, framing styles, and molding and advise you on any special requirements for the particular piece. For example, a valuable photograph or work on paper should be framed with only archival materials and museum glass to provide protection from ultraviolet light, prevent fading, and eliminate glare.

If you are framing expensive art, you will not want to spare expense in framing. A frame provides protection for the work as well as enhancement of its visual affect. For less expensive art, ready-made framing may suffice. Reasonably priced frames and mats are available in standard sizes.

Hanging Art

Ideally, you hang art so the center of the picture is fifty-seven inches above the floor. The fifty-seven inch standard represents the average human’s eye height and is regularly used as a standard in galleries and museums. By using this method you create a harmony among all the pictures in your home as they will hang in relationship to one another from their centers, not their sides, and you will also avoid the single greatest error, that of hanging art too high.

Other considerations for hanging art:

• Hang the correct scale of artwork on a wall so that it is seen but does not appear stuffed into the space. Art needs to “breathe.” For example, don’t hang a large painting on a narrow hall wall.

• Allow six to eight inches of space between pieces horizontally. You may take advantage of a vertical wall and double or triple hang art on it with a few inches of space in between. The art pieces should be of the same relative strength in color saturation and composition, yet not overpower one another. Create harmony among the works by ensuring that the subjects, colors, and sizes relate to one another.

• To make your environment beautifully personal as well as aesthetically interesting, show various art forms together in the same space: painting, sculpture, photography, crafts, textiles.

Above all, remember to relax and enjoy your art, one piece or ten, whatever style or medium, let it inspire and teach you.
(202) 333-3551

Through Fire, the U.S. Emerged

August 22, 2014

We are always tourists in our own cities. Everywhere we walk, bike, run, stop and go, every park bench we sit on a summer’s noontime, history beckons us. Often, we’ve stopped and peered through the black fence, watched and stared at the pristine white of the White House. Turn around and you see in Lafayette Square Andrew Jackson waving astride his horse, and around the corner, the U.S. Treasury building, stolid Alexander Hamilton in a starring sculpture role.

Two hundred years ago on a dark night of a hot August 24, the White House, then known as the President’s House, was on fire, as were pretty much all of the federal buildings of Washington. What was then an uncompleted, but nonetheless sumptuous U.S. Capitol housing the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court was torched by a relatively small force of around 800 troops and sailors of His Majesty’s armed forces. Americans who had stayed behind were weeping. The residents of Tudor Place and Dumbarton House in upper Georgetown could see the flames clearly throughout the night and then the smoke the following morning. The U.S. Navy Yard, with ships, war materiel, ammunitions and canisters were also set to flame, this time by Americans trying to prevent the invading British from gaining control of weaponry.

President James Madison had already left the city, lest he be captured, but his wife Dolley, the indomitable hostess with the mostest of her day, was, according to the stories, busy saving the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington from the rapa- cious British. This was without question the lowest point for the fledgling U.S. republic during the course of the War of 1812. The very survival of the nation appeared to be at stake. United States negotiators in the Belgian city of Ghent, who were looking for a peaceful settlement, appeared about to receive onerous terms from their British counterparts.

Yet only a few months later, the climax to the whole war brought different results than one might expect. In the end, the war was a draw, not a victory, although it gave off the flavor of triumph. For the United States, still united, the Treaty of Ghent ended a war that had begun as an outraged and almost foolish declaration against the Mother Country over impressments of American sailors and commerce and trade. But the ending felt triumphant. In the aftermath of the burning of Washington, which we commemorate if not celebrate this month, came the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. It was resisted bravely and witnessed by an American named Francis Scott Key, who was inspired to write a poem which would eventually become our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” It was followed by an American victory at Plattsburgh and the prospect of better hopes. Even as the ink was drying on the treaty, U.S. General Andrew Jackson pulled off a scorching, impressive and devastat- ing victory over British regulars at the Battle of New Orleans, which gave us another hugely popular song by Johnny Horton but also restored American pride and confidence.

In terms of popular culture and national memory, the War of 1812 remains a peculiar, selective historic event, remembered differently by its participants: Canada, Great Britain, the United States, as well as various Native American tribes. For Canadians, who fought off (with the English and Indian tribes) what can only be called an inept and foolhardy invasion by the Americans, it is a rare and celebrated point of military pride. For the British, the war was something of a sideshow compared to the long and difficult war with Napoleon’s France, and was fought in the manner of teaching the breakaway cousins a lesson. For the United States, it became a transforming experience, full of drama and trauma. It was a war bitterly fought in the political arena, with a congress and country, equally divided for and against—westerners and southerners were for it, northerners, especially New Englanders, were against it.

You can practically smell the smoke and brimstone fire and hear the cannonades if you read the recent “Through the Perilous Fight” by Steve Vogel, a veteran Washington journalist on military matters. (He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Washington Post reporters writing on Afghanistan). The book is a dramatic and evocative telling of six critical weeks of the War of 1812, beginning with events leading up to and surrounding the British invasion and burning of the capitol. There is also “The Burning of Washington, The British Invasion of 1814” (The Naval Institute Press, 1998) by Anthony Pitch, a veteran historian who has also given Smithsonian tours and walks on the subject.

Vogel’s book reminds us of two things: that war and history are always about people, and that however confusing, the issues of this war, which sprawled into Canada, the Great Lakes area, and was fought along and on familiar native rivers, villages, country sides, hills and forests and cities, proved to have far-reaching consequences. Vogel paints graphic pictures of the fighting and destruction, as well as portraits of the characters of its principal protagonists. On the English side are the three commanders, Admiral Alexander Cochran, who harbored an intense hatred against America, the flamboyant and mercurial rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn and the beloved and stoutly brave Irish-born Major General Robert Ross. Among the Americans, we see the Madisons, Mr. and Mrs. in action or inaction; James Monroe, then Secretary of State, in the middle of various military actions; Commander Joshua Barney, arguably the ablest and bravest of American military leaders on the scene; Brigadier General William Winder, who seems often clueless; and Paul Jennings, the young Madison family’s slave and retainer who helped rescue the Washington portrait and witnessed the burning of the White House.

Finally, and most full bodied, there is Georgetowner Francis Scott Key, whose presence touches on so many of the young country’s concerns but who became entirely unforgettable with his penning of a poem that became our national song. He was a father of 11 children, a devoted church goer, (at St. John’s in Georgetown, where he resided on M Street), a husband, a slave owner sympathetic to the plight of slaves, but a legalistic defender of the institution. His brother-in-law and great friend was Chief Justice Roger Taney who authored the Dred Scott Case. He is buried with his wife at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Md., where you can see the Confederate flag flying over the graves of Confederate soldiers. Key was asked to act as a negotiator for the release of an American prisoner and ended up having dinner with the two British admirals and General Ross, who was, a short while later, killed in a battle leading up to the siege of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombardment, a hellish, non-stop affair, and “by dawn’s early light,” saw our flag was still there.

The poem became a song, became an anthem, became history, the song we sing at each and every sporting event. Can you imagine Francis Scott Key at Woodstock in 1969? But his song was there, played in singular fashion by revolutionary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Washington in flames inflames us still. In some way it’s part of the dust of sidewalks and guided tours and the way we see history. After the war, America changed. It stopped being the creation of the founding fathers with Virginia presidents, and became something else and more, the Republic going westward democratically, making itself large and permanent. Ahead loomed the last challenge to its local validity, the Civil War, the last war to be fought on American soil. All that was burned was rebuilt and the country and city rose out of the ashes to become itself.

Dumbarton House: A History

August 20, 2014

Dumbarton House, located at 2715 Q St., NW, gets its name from landowner Ninian Beall. He named the surrounding land after “Rock of Dumbarton,” a prominent geological feature near Glasgow in his native Scotland in 1703, 48 years before the town of Georgetown was chartered by the Maryland Legislature.

Since Beall was granted the property, it was bought and sold by various owners until a Philadelphia merchant named Samuel Jackson built a large two-story brick home on the property in 1799. Just before the nation’s capital moved from Philadelphia to D.C., Jackson mortgaged the estate.

Five years later, the U.S. acquired the mortgage and sold the land with the brick home at public auction. It was purchased by Joseph Nourse, the first Register of the U.S. Treasury, for $8,581.67 as a home for his family. In 1813, Nourse sold the property to Charles Carroll, cousin of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, who renamed it Bellevue after his former plantation near Hagerstown, Md. On Aug. 24, 1814, after living on the estate for just a year, Carroll was asked by President James Madison to escort first lady Dolley Madison out of the White House to safety as British troops advanced on Washington. Carroll fled with the first lady, along with the wife of the Secretary of the Navy, Eleanor Jones, to Bellevue before meeting the president in Virginia.

In 1815, Carroll vacated his Georgetown home and left it to be occupied by a succession of tenants for decades. Thirteen years before the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America bought the property in 1928, the historic home was moved 100 feet north. It was originally located in the middle of today’s Q Street, but with the construction of the Dumbarton Bridge, continuing Q Street from downtown to Georgetown, it was moved out of the way in 1915 to its present site in order to avoid demolition.

Alterations were made to the property during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by various owners. In order to return the home to the simplicity and style of its original design, the NSCDA spent several years executing restoration projects, beginning in 1931, under the direction of architect Horace Peaslee and renowned architectural historian and museum director Fiske Kimball. Restorations included removing the Georgian quoins and balustrades and expanding the window openings to their original size and altering the roofline. The mantels in the home were not originals and were subsequently replaced by ones reflecting the popular style of the Federal period. Historical and architectural research continues to this day to ensure the highest degree of accuracy in restoring Dumbarton House back to its original Federal character.

In 1932, the property was renamed back to the familiar Dumbarton House and was declared a Federal-period historic house and museum by the NSCDA, which then opened it to the public.

When Dolley Fled to Georgetown… and Beyond

August 7, 2014

The British were coming. Again. On the night of Aug. 24, 1814 — 200 years ago — the Battle of Bladensburg was a rout by British invaders against American soldiers and local militia. First lady Dolley Madison had overseen a victory dinner preparation at the President’s Mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue, expecting about 40 guests, and all was ready for the table. No one arrived but the British.

News came to the popular and politically savvy first lady of the catastrophe for the Americans: their capital city was in direct peril from Gen. Robert Ross and his troops. A carriage arrived at the White House from the owner of Bellevue in Georgetown — later known as Dumbarton House. Charles Carroll was the cousin of signer of the Declaration of Independence Charles Carroll of Carrollton and a close friend of President James Madison and James Monroe. He was also a cousin of Archbishop John Carroll, founder of Georgetown College, the only higher school of learning in the capital in 1814. He convinced Dolley to leave.

You see, as in our time to a lesser extent, everyone knows everyone in Washington — and many were related by family and marriage. With protestors nearby cursing “Mr. Madison’s War,” the carriage pulled away from the White House toward the west and up to the hillside home in Georgetown. Dolley had saved items from the James Hoban-designed building — including the famous portrait of President George Washington.

The White House would soon be set alight by disciplined troops — veterans of the Napoleonic Wars and a few of whom disagreed with what they would do. Still amazing to consider: British soldiers walked through the empty White House, enjoyed the wine and prepared food before setting the fire. They gathered furniture in center spots, broke the windows and threw oil-soaked, rag-wrapped poles through them — and let it roar. Take nothing but leave it a smoldering heap.

Scorch marks remain on the restored building, now so magnificent and such a symbol of power. During a 2012 visit, President Barack Obama said to British Prime Minister David Cameron of foreign troops at the White House in 1814: “They made quite an impression . . . They really lit up the place.” In the fear and confusion of that night 200 years ago, nothing so jocular assured America’s future greatness. Dolley with other families arrived at Dumbarton House, which had been owned by Register of the Treasury Joseph Nourse, whose son married the daughter of Anthony Morris, a lifelong friend of Dolley.

Living in Philadelphia and widowed, Dolley had been intro- duced to the bachelor James Madison by Morris and Aaron Burr. Later, Dolley would attempt to match her son Payne Todd with the delightful Phoebe Morris — who also knew the family at Tudor Place — to no avail. That hot and stormy August night, Dolley did not know where her husband, the President of the uncertain United States, was.

Carroll and other Georgetowners met with British troops to beseech them not to advance past Rock Creek. The troops’ instructions were always only to damage the small amount of gov- ernment buildings the young republic had — because Americans had vandalized the capital of Canada. Georgetown was safe, as it looked at the flames in Washington City. Looking too were Major George Peter of Tudor Place, head of the Georgetown Artillery, and another under his command, Francis Scott Key, whose family house was on Bridge (M) Street. Already the Key children had been taken to Frederick, Md., and wife Polly stayed behind for her beloved Frank, who would still have another mission to perform in this war. All Washingtonians — and soon enough of all America — were ashamed. Shaken but resolute, Dolley, the Carrolls and oth- ers pushed on to Virginia. She stayed two nights around McLean at Rokeby Farm and Salona near what would become — yes, that’s right — Dolley Madison Boulevard. She saw her husband at Wiley’s Tavern near Great Falls and also stopped at Minor Hill in Arlington. Finally, she and the president were back in Washington after four days and later made the Octagon House at 18th Street and New York Avenue, NW, their temporary home.

It was there that Carroll’s eldest son, Henry Carroll, who served as Henry Clay’s private secretary during peace treaty discussions at Ghent, Belgium, arrived to tell the Madisons and their guests that the War of 1812 was over. Applause erupted, and a nightlong celebration began for all. And quite a few had already met one night or another — as many of us do today — at one of Georgetown’s crown jewels, Dumbarton House. The country and city rose out of the ashes to become itself.

Who Are The Colonial Dames?

August 6, 2014

The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America is an association of 44 corporate societies across the United States. Since its inception in 1891, the society has grown to well over 15,000 members who work to ensure the proper restoration and preservation of historic homes and museums. Currently, the soci- ety headquarters is located at Dumbarton House in Georgetown.

The first project the society undertook was the preservation of the Van Cortlandt House Museum, the oldest home in the Bronx in 1896 by the New York chapter. Since then, the NSCDA has acquired 41 unique properties, including Gunston Hall Plantation in Lorton, Va., as well as 13 museum collections in 38 states and the District. The society also works with 30 other historic proper- ties that continue to receive significant financial and volunteer support from the Colonial Dames.

In November 2000, the society received the prestigious Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in its stewardship of his- toric sites from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition to preserving and restoring historic homes and museums, the NSCDA sponsors several scholarship programs and essay contests for high school and college students interested in patriotic service or pursuing a degree in Native American and American history, political science or education.

For more information on the Colonial Dames click here.

Design Central

A trend over recent years has the indoors moving outside to create inviting spaces on patios, terraces or in the garden itself. Expressed lavishly, an outdoor living room might have an outdoor flat screen television and fully equipped kitchen with grills and refrigeration. A simpler design could feature a furniture grouping for cocktails and dining.

The availability and wide selection of all-weather furniture, fabrics, rugs, screens, trellises and lighting enable Washingtonians to enjoy the outdoors from early spring to late fall. In addition, present-day outdoor furniture and accessories are so attractive they can move inside and complement your indoor pieces.


Your choice of furniture sets the design style for your outdoor space. If the space is visually adjacent to the indoor living area, you will want the two areas to be compatible in style and color. Here are some options to consider:

Teak: Teak furniture continues to be a classic design style for outdoor living. Its golden brown color can be preserved throughout its lifetime with annual coats of outdoor wood oil, or you may allow it to slowly age to a soft gray.

Aluminum: Originally made for kitchen furniture, new tubular designs are stylish and modern. The durability and light weight of aluminum combined with outdoor fabric pillows make this material an easy-care way to go.

Outdoor Wicker: Outdoor wicker is woven from synthetic hard fibers to have a textured look similar to natural wicker. Whereas teak furniture may be too heavy and aluminum too casual for indoor use, wicker easily makes this transition. The quality of outdoor wicker varies so check out the anticipated lifetime of the furniture pieces and buy the best quality wicker your pocketbook will allow. It will pay off in the long term. Kati Pope, manager of Janus & Cie on M Street in Georgetown, offers advice on caring for outdoor wicker: “Our handwoven synthetic and combination fibers require minimal maintenance. Simply vacuum loose dirt and apply a mix of dish detergent and lukewarm water with a soft sponge or cloth and allow to air dry. The fibers are colorfast, UV and stain resistant and 100-percent recyclable.”

Outdoor/Indoor Fabrics

Top quality fabrics, resistant to rain and sun fade, will serve you years longer than cheaper brands. Sunbrella has long been the standard for outdoor fabric, offering variety in patterns beyond the solids and stripes of the past.
Perennials, a relatively new brand in outdoor fabric and furnishings, is becoming another popular choice with a selection ranging from faux suedes and velvets to playful, casual patterns. Myra Hines, owner of Hines & Co. showrooms and a resident of Georgetown and New York, says, “Beyond its durability for outdoor use, the Perennials fabric selection has become just as popular for indoors as it is for patios and gardens.”

Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs act to define the space and make it more inviting by adding a splash of color and texture. Rugs reduce noise and slippage and simply feel good underfoot. The durability of an outdoor rug depends on the type of material used and how the rug was made. Ben Tabar, manager at Georgetown Carpet, recommends synthetic fiber rugs such as polypropylene for unprotected outdoor areas. “Any outdoor rug should be made of a material that will allow hosing down,” says Tabar, who also warns that natural woven fabrics, such as sisal, seagrass and coir, show water marks and are not stain resistant. He recommends the natural fiber rugs for indoors and protected areas only.


Don’t underestimate the impact of outdoor lighting to create an intimate and enchanting atmosphere. Lights can be permanently installed on tree branches, screens and trellises in a variety of designs. LED technology allows you to select the hue of light from white to pink, yellow, blue and green that best complements the furnishings.

Privacy Screens and Accessories

Whether used for defining space, shielding your outdoor room from prying eyes or protecting people and furnishings from sunlight, privacy screens are an invaluable accessory. You can choose screens that match other furnishings or that provide a needed contrast of color, material or texture.
Adding live or dried plants arranged in antique or reproduction urns or pots soften the décor. Overhead fans provide a cooling breeze and deter flying insects while adding a stylish accent to the room.

For Questions or Inquiries:
Dena Verrill and Alla Rogers, principals at Dena Verrill Interiors

The Auction Block August 6, 2014

The fall auctions of Asian art are lined up in New York like the panels of a painted screen, beginning Monday, Sept. 15, with Asian Works of Art at Doyle New York and Chinese Art at Bonhams.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Bonhams has a Fine Japanese Works of Art auction and Christie’s has two auctions: Indian and Southeast Asian Art and Fine Chinese Paintings. Sotheby’s also has two that day: Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Goro: Song Ceramics, and Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art.

The sole auction on Wednesday, Sept. 17, is at Sotheby’s: Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings. On Thursday, Sept. 18, Christie’s has an auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art and Sotheby’s has two auctions of Chinese paintings: Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy and Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, formerly in the collection of General and Mrs. Zhu.

The Chinese-owned Gianguan Auctions, at Madison Avenue and E 41st Street, has an auction of Fine Chinese Paintings, Ceramics, Bronzes and Works of Art on Sunday, Sept. 14.

On Friday, Sept. 19, concluding the week of intense contemplation – and competition – the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction wraps up at Christie’s.

Just prior to the New York auctions, on Saturday, Sept. 13, Freeman’s in Philadelphia holds its fall auction of Asian art. Skinner in Boston has an Asian art auction on Wednesday, Sept. 17, with a preview in New York at The Culture Center on Friday, Sept. 12.

Asia Week New York, the even bigger spring series of sales and exhibitions, will take place March 13 to 21, 2015. Total sales at last spring’s event were $200 million, $25 million more than in 2013, due both to the rising interest in Asian art among museums and to the increasing number and wealth of Chinese buyers.

Le Décor for Summer

July 16, 2014

Take your kitchen outside with fun and festive outdoor tools and grilling gadgets. Entertain guests this summer with colorful dishware, useful utensils and fun lighting. Find all of these stores in and around Georgetown and happy grilling. [gallery ids="116179,116145,116151,116168,116174,116163,116157" nav="thumbs"]