Anna Matthews on interior design | Home Front

Anna Matthews.
Mar 05, 2015

Anna Matthews opened her own interior design firm in D.C. in 2014, after stints with Amy Zantzinger Interior Design and Erica Burns Interiors. She lives on Capitol Hill and has lived in New York City, where she attended Parsons New School for interior design.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Now that you're probably snowbound for the day, why not look around the house and figure out some questions you need answered about how to fix a decorating problem. Anna Matthews is here today from her lovely Capitol Hill rowhouse that we featured last week. Here is the article. Anna has a great list of sources and wonderful thoughts about paint colors fabrics and wallpapers. So let's get chatting.

my refrgerator (20 years old now) is bisque. I had to replace the stove and dishwasher a few years ago, and they are bisque, as well. We have a stainless sink. What color refrigerator should I get? I want to get a French door refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom, but don't know whether to get stainless or stick with it the bisque (and much harder to find).

This is a good question as I think many people struggle to choose the right color when replacing appliances. Bisque is a color that is probably going to be less and less available. I think you should definitely go with stainless. And since you have a stainless sink it will look fine. I actually think stainless is sort of a neutral that goes with all.

Good morning everyone! I'm so excited to help answer your design questions. Thanks for having me!

my condo's tiny, windowless gallery kitchen is all black granite counter and backsplash; white cabinets and appliances. There's one wall that is crying out for a pop of color--any suggestions to brighten things up please? (but not that bordeaux color of the year!)

Instead of painting the extra wall a color, I would suggest displaying art that brings some color into the space. A series of three framed prints hanging vertically will bring in color while drawing the eye up which will make your small kitchen feel slightly taller. Buddy Editions is a great website that has a fabulous selection of limited edition prints in a really reasonable price range.  Good luck!

A half wall separates my kitchen and step down family room. Is it a good idea to remove it or carve out shelving to store books for an updated look?

Removing the half wall would do wonders to open the space and create a more open feel between your kitchen and family room. I would suggest doing that instead of putting in bookshelves. 

We recently moved into a new home and are in need of some artwork for the walls. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on mass produced works, I'd rather spend a bit more and get original pieces. I'm not familiar with the D.C. art scene. Are there any areas where there are several galleries located near each other so my husband and I can go look at several artists? Or, are there any local art shows that we could go to? As well, we'd consider buying older pieces and would like to know if there are any good art auction houses? Thank you.

This is a question that I'm looking forward to throwing out to my chatters. Please share your favorite sources for art and places to browse. There are galleries around Dupont Circle and 14th St. NW that will be fun to stroll around as soon as this horrible weather moves out. Check with the Corcoran about student art sales. Auction houses here include Sloans & Kenyon, Potomack Auction House and Weschler's and you can pick up great things. The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria has lots of artists in one place.

What fabric did you upholster your Ballard dining chairs in? What are your recommendations for choosing low-maintenance fabric for dining chairs? Any particular materials to avoid?

I upholstered my Ballard dining chairs in their Twill Chocolate fabric. It has been a great, low maintenance fabric that is perfect for our casual lifestyle. 

For clients who are looking for a durable dining chair fabric I always suggest a cotton blend or even a leather. Leather can be really beautiful and there are a number of great faux leather options that are available in a range of colors. Avoid any fabrics that are delicate, like silk, unless you live in a house full of very careful adults. 

I love the idea of art for the pop of color. You could also consider going to craft shows seeking out local artists you like online or browsing etsy if you're the type of person who enjoys that. It's great to support artists themselves.

Yes. Good ideas. Thanks.

In Spring I remove my winter weight duvet with its plain white cotton cover and usually use a lightweight white down blanket. I am tired of this plain but clean look. How can I freshen up my bed for spring/summer ?

I have a tendency to switch out throw pillows and bedding in my home from season to season. So I understand your being ready for something new! Right now, I can't get enough of the bedding from Biscuit Home in Houston, Texas. They offer a range of original, colorful patterns that would be great to brighten up your bed. Their new Bloomsbury pattern is on my radar in a big way and makes a really modern floral statement. For a more tailored duvet cover I'd suggest their border collection. And don't be afraid to mix and match patterns!

Good morning! I live in a Boston brownstone with the living floor having a great deal of light, a large red brick wall, and red oak floors with a warm yellow appearance. The last time I painted the other walls on that floor, I used a warm yellow- butterscotch type color and the high ceilings are the same paint, at 1/4 strength. There is much crown molding and trim, painted white. I want go in a different direction. I want a more modern feel. Any thoughts?

I would recommend painting your walls, ceiling and molding a soft white. This will make the space feel much more modern and bright while allowing your brick statement wall to do it's job and be the statement! Benjamin Moore Dove White or Benjamin Moore Decorator's White are great options that are warm whites.

Hi Anna, I loved the article and am now a fan of your blog. I wonder if you might share the source for lamps shown on the European sideboard in the dining area? Thank you!

Thank you for the compliments! The lamps on our buffet in our dining area are by Robert Abbey. 

Once it gets warmer, head to Eastern Market! Lots of local artists, pieces in all styles and prices, plus its just a great place to walk around and spend a weekend morning

Yes. That is a great place to browse.  Especially when this awful weather has blown out of town...

I plan to sell my traditional style townhouse in 2 years. Creamy yellow has been popular color for awhile, but as I am repainting to freshen rooms, what colors do you suggest for my house which does have good natural light? Thanks!

I would suggest really light, neutral colors that work with a range of tastes. Benjamin Moore Classic Grey and Revere Pewter are two classic colors that are great for walls. Benjamin Moore Dove White is a classic bright white for trim throughout the home. 

Will there be a Post Points code today?

Yes! Here it is - Code HF1061

And remember March is Double Points Month  - you will automatically earn double points for participating in the live chat. Yippee! Just enter the code as usual and points will double.

The Torpedo Factory is a great space for artists to make and sell their work. You'd have a good time checking it out.

Yes. I thought so too.

How can you use curtains without making the room look a bit dated? I need some curtains for energy saving, but love the clean look of a curtain-free window.

Curtains can elevate any space. For a fresh and modern look, skip the cornice and keep it simple with white panels. Installing them about 3-5 inches below the bottom of molding or the ceiling will add height and impact without being imposing.

Lots of unique art galleries are located near Washington DC in Rappahannock County, VA. Haley Fine Art, R.H. Ballard, Geneva Welch Gallery, River District Arts, Middle Street Gallery, Kevin H. Adams Gallery, and they have a big art festival every November called the Artists of Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour. Large population of artists live there too with open studios. Just some ideas that might be worth exploring. Pretty area.

Love this idea. Thank you.

Front door opens into the large living room. Best way to create some kind of a foyer with a mirror and small table? a coat tree? A small bench?

You are on the right track! While I would avoid a coat tree (they tend to look more messy than organized) I would definitely suggest a console table with a mirror above and two lamps if you have the space. That will create an intentional entry space without imposing on the living area.

Our kitchen has oak cabinets, Giallo Ornamental counters, and white and stainless appliances. What color and type of flooring would you recommend? Currently have white sheet vinyl that is past its prime. Floors in the adjoining rooms are all oak (60+ years old). I'm also considering painting a different color; currently the walls and ceiling are off white. It's not a teeny kitchen -- it's big enough for a small table and chairs -- but is not huge, either.

Sounds like you are ready for an update! I would suggest painting your oak cabinets a warm grey to work best with your existing counter tops. Farrow & Ball Pavillion Grey is beautiful. For floors, I would suggest bringing in some pattern. Mirth Studio out of Charleston, SC has an array of 12" x 12" floor tiles  in a number of patterns and colors. It would be a really special surprise element in your kitchen. Their UG-Concentric or UG-Pearl patterns are two great options to consider. 

I need to update my entire house, carpets, walls, window coverings, the works. I have a general idea of what I like, but get overwhelmed with thinking about all of it. We will probably sell this house sometime within the next 5 to 10 years, so I want to choose things that would be broadly appealing. Where do you start when you have to do it all? Think carpets/floors first, and work from there, or walls first, or what?

This is where the help of a designer can do wonders! It's best to create an overall plan and go step by step from there. Repainting your walls and updating your carpet will immediately freshen up your space and create your base. Then the layers - the window treatments, furniture, art - can come after. Good luck!

Design schools like MICA in Baltimore and Corcoran School of Art and Design now part of GW here in DC have student sales/shows during the year and you can really find such a wonderful assortment of painting, photos and sculpture.


I want to update my large wall behind my sofa in the family room. Right now I have a 3 foot by 4 foot framed print in the space. I am tired of it and want to update this focal point in my two story family room. What so you suggest? Thanks, Bonnie

This is a great opportunity to bring in a new, large piece of art or a series of prints. If you are interested in a single piece then I would recommend looking at the Hidell Brooks Gallery in Charlotte, NC or Gregg Irby Fine Art in Atlanta, GA. Both galleries have a range of large scale art and are wonderful to work with even from afar! Alternatively, I'd suggest 4 rows of 3 framed prints as a series above your sofa. Good luck!

We have Persian rugs and runners throughout our house. I would love to lighten things up by switching out one or two for natural fibers like seagrass, sisal or jute. Can these looks be combined? And if so, which natural rug fiber would integrate the best? Our floor plan is fairly open, so it is challenging.

Absolutely! A large sisal or jute rug layered under a smaller Persian rug can create a more modern look while unifying an open space. 

Hi Anna. Wondering where you found the basket for firewood? Also, I live in a Capitol Hill row house and have been thinking cut-to-fit seagrass or sisal in a couple pieces to deal with irregular shape of open floor plan (I have a fireplace on the diagonal in the middle of the living/dining room). Suggestion on source? Thank you!

The basket for our firewood is from Pottery Barn. Having a single sisal rug cut to fit the particular sizes/shapes of Capitol Hill row houses is a great idea and really unifies an open floor plan. Fowler Carpet is a great installer/supplier for this.

What are your favorite sources of design inspiration?

I am inspired by just about everything I see but I love looking on Pinterest (watch out, you can get sucked in!) and in coffee table books of designers I admire for inspiration. A few favorite: The Big Book of Chic by Miles Redd, The Welcoming House by Jane Schwab and Cindy Smith and Tom Scheerer Decorates by Tom Scheerer. 

Thanks everyone! I so enjoyed answering your questions! Be sure to follow along with my design adventure over on my blog:

Stay warm on this snowy DC day!

Thanks Anna for sharing more of your great sources and giving us advice on other decorating dilemmas. Now, it's off to shovel. Thanks for joining us.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Anna Matthews
Anna Matthews opened her own interior design firm in D.C. in 2014, after stints with Amy Zantzinger Interior Design and Erica Burns Interiors. She has lived and worked in New York City, where she attended Parsons New School for interior design.
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