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Samantha Friedman on the D.C. Design House | Home Front

The living room in the D.C. Design House (John McDonnell/The Washington Post).
Apr 09, 2015

Samantha Friedman is an interior designer based in Bethesda and principle of Samantha Friedman Interior Designs. She is also a featured designer in the 2015 D.C. Design House.

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.

Hi everyone. Samantha Friedman has done a very cool den at the 2015 DC Design House that opens this weekend. Read my story here and see photos of her room. Samantha is an interior designer based in Bethesda and can answer questions about just about anything to do with decorating and design and about the show house. So let's chat.

Hi.  I'm excited to be here. 

Samantha Friedman, at this year's DC Design House, it seemed like there was a big theme with textured wallpapers. Did the designers all come together and inspire each other to do this, or was it just happenstance that so many designers used felt, wood, and fabric wallpaper?

The wallpapers in the house are amazing this year.  It was actually  happenstance, however, the Design coordinators for the house do an amazing job trying to keep everything coordinated and select the designers accordingly.  

I've always been interested in the process of showhouses and how you secure such fabulous furnishings and accessories. Who did you turn to for your room? What about the other designers?

Every designer uses different resources for their spaces.  Some use items that they own, some use client purchases, but most borrow items or get donations to fill their spaces.  I was lucky enough to have many wonderful showrooms at the DC Design Center donate items: Hines, American Eye, Stark and Holland and Sherry to name a few.  I know that other vendors lent many items to the house in other spaces such as Kohler and Potrana Frau. 

Other vendors, such as Global Views (they have accessories all over the house) sell their products at a deep discount.  They provided my two floating consoles.  The true grit of the house work is provided by our contractors and Benjamin Moore though.  They donated a LOT of amazing paint to the house and we got to sample some of their newer products that we don’t always get to use.   

What's your favorite room to design? What are new trends in that space?

I think that designing Family Rooms are really fun.  They have the most furniture and are the most personal spaces.  You can play around with color, texture and space which is what I love the most!

Besides your own, do you like in this year's DC Design House?

That's pretty tough.  This is my third Design House that I have participated in, and I think that it is the most stunning one yet.  Everyone did an amazing job.  There are elements of almost every room that I will use in my own designs going forward.  That being said, I think that the Living Room is stunning, as is the Master Bedroom - that was an enormous space to work with.

We've saved things over the years from each of our 3 children. We call them time capsules, but they are several plastic containers with everything from first shoes and special t-shirts, to newspapers from they birthday and childhood books. My fear (more of an amusement) would be seeing that they don't want any of it. What can i do to make any of it more of an "art" piece that can fill their lives?

I think that is a wonderful approach to keeping mementos and memories for your children. I actually have three of these time capsules for my family - I call them the archival boxes and they sit in the attic. My advice is this. Since you are keeping this to one box per person you are certainly not going to overwhelm your children with stuff. You are doing the right thing and no need to try and turn this stuff into an art piece.

I always see something I want to buy at the Design House. Are the furniture and accessories in each room for sale? Also, I always wonder how you acquire all the great items. What's the process? thanks

Most of the items in the house are for sale - each room will have a list.  Every purchase made benefits Children's National Health System, so please buy!!!!

My master bedroom is currently painted a maroon color, with Powell Buff HC-35 on the trim. I'd love to repaint a light blue color, but I don't want to repaint the trim (heavy, dentil molding crown). Can you suggest a couple of blues that would work? We get lots of sunlight as there are 3 large south facing windows.

First.  I love that you painted your trim a color - very bold!  If you are looking to go a little darker, Benjamin Moore's Mystic Lake CSP-745 if beautiful.  So is the Slate Blue 1648.  For lighter, try Brittany Blue 1634 or Yarmouth Blue HC-150.  All of these look lovely with the Powell Buff.  

Why are all the rooms so devoid of lively color? The whole house is one big gray/beige/taupe snooze! Only a couple of bright throw pillows, but most of the color is wan and boring. Is this a trend??

I actually think that this year's house is very colorful compared to previous years.  The Designers are trying to cater to all taste levels while still staying true to themselves, so generally, a more neutral palate will please more people than a really bright, colorful space.  We also want all of the spaces to flow nicely, so a neutral color works it's way around the house.  However, to answer your trend question, I can't speak for everyone, but a lot of my clients do want more neutral colors with pops in pillows and chairs and accessories.  It makes it easier to change things over time.

Good morning, I have been updating my 45 year old townhouse; for this year's project I will replace matte green "vintage" honeycomb tile in the foyer and into the adjacent powder room. Are the faux wood porcelan tiles here to stay or a fad? I have medium dark hardwood through out the main floor, this is meeting the current tile at the dining room and hall leading to the living room. I appreciate ideas for this project, thank you.

It's always hard to say what is a fad and what isn't, but personally, I love the faux wood tiles.  They are wide planks, and some of them are so great, you would never really know they aren't wood.  Just be careful when trying to match up to your other wood floors.  You want them to coordinate without being too "match".

What's the best part about being in the DC Design House?

There are so many great things about being in the house.  This is my third time.  First, raising money for the Hospital is a wonderful bonus.  My children have been to Children's National for various reasons, and I always feel great bringing them there knowing that I helped raise money and awareness for it.  I also love working with so many talented designers and contractors and seeing what everyone is doing.  As a designer, you so rarely get to see other people's work and see them in action.  It's fun to be a part of our design community.

We have a Living room about 15x14 with french doors to the family room and double wide to the foyer. Planning to get rid of my husband's bachelor furniture (1980s) and want to start fresh from a clean slate. Looking to be traditional and more of a sitting area to entertain or overflow from the family room. Just having a hard time starting for types of seating and traffic flow. Help?

Rooms with two entrances are always tough.  If you don't use one of the entrances very often, then don't really worry about putting furniture too close to a door.  As long as there is access, I don't worry too much about closing a space off.  In terms of where to start, I always like to start with an area rug.  It really sets the tone of the space and dictates the formality and color of what goes on top of it.  That is actually how my Design House room came together.  We just started layering on top of it.  If you are nervous about the furniture layout, always start with a few of the larger pieces and work that way.  It is easier to add than to subtract.

I love the beautifully curated spaces at the DC Design House and would love to do the same thing in my home. I'm not sure how to start or how to select a designer. And then I'm not sure of the cost. Can you help?

The Design House is a great place to meet designers and learn more about how we all work.  We all work and charge a little differently, so you can speak with everyone and see how they work.  You can also get a sense of their style as most designers will have a sample of their portfolio at the house for you to view.

Hello! I just moved to a new condo and I'm really, really terrible at using space effectively. Everywhere I've lived, even if I've lived there for years, looks like I just moved in. I don't have the budget to bring on an interior designer for a full overhaul, but I would like to work with someone on an hourly basis, or in a limited capacity, to help me with the layout/design, and maybe suggest a few good paint colors. I've contacted some local designers in DC and hit lots of dead ends. Do you know if any services like this exist in the area, or online? I would really like to make my new home more livable and welcoming! Thank you!

I'm sorry that you are hitting a dead end on this.  It's tough when you don't have a very large project.  I know that there are some online companies that can help you via the Internet, but I don't know their names.  We can also probably assist you for a few hours worth of consultation.  It makes such a difference when your house feels like your own warm and welcoming space.  Call me:)

Hi Samantha - We are thinking of painting our daughter's (4 years) room Benjamin Moore Luscious - we had initially thought we do the entire room that color but it is way too much purple. I think we have decided to do maybe one or two walls that color. I was thinking keeping the rest of the palette a grey. Any recommendations on the grey? We are thinking of doing the trim White Dove from BM. Thanks.

Something that is fun to do when you are using such a bold color is to actually do picture frame panels on one wall with molding panels boxing in the color.  You can hang art inside of them.  The trim color is fine - I love White Dove.  We use it all the time.  Benjamin Moore's Silver Chain 1472 looks nice with the Luscious.

I understand that the house itself will be sold after the show. How much of the decoration in the show house will stay for the future owner? Will all of that expensive wallpaper be removed?

The house, I believe, is still owned by the builder, so it is up to them as to whose wallpaper stays or goes.  As a designer, we all hope that they let ours stay, but you never know.  If the house isn't sold by the end of the show, all the furniture goes back to where it came from (unless it was purchased during the show).

My parents gave me a little Kindel table that is a reproduction of a Winterthur kettle stand. It is about 30 years old and in near-perfect condition. I called a Kindel dealer and it sells new for $2500. I'd like to sell it, but don't know the best way to do so. I imagine there is a decorator in DC with a client who would love this item. Any suggestions how to find a buyer?

The best way to sell it is to contact a local consignment company.  There are a few in the area that deal with better "designer" items.  I would also guess that some of the antiques dealers in Georgetown would look at it.  I also know that a bunch of designers look on Ebay for furniture like this.  I hope that helps.

I was recently at a dinner party at a large open floor plan home. The home is lovely, the food was good, the conversation flowed, but during the entire dinner I and others guests near me had a straight-on view of the post-cooktastrophe kitchen--the crusty pots and pans, the dirty kitchen towels, the something that spattered on the floor-- you get the picture. I don't have an open floor plan, so what the kitchen looks like while eating isn't something I used to think about, but more and more I'm in an open space as a guest and the view is similar. How do you make an open plan work in terms of cleanup or am I just fussy? I know they're super popular but I'm thinking I like my formal set up.

Sounds like an unfortunate kitchen design.  In open floor plans, it's at least nice to have a counter of some form that can hide the mess behind it.  I have a few clients that are adding doors and walls for this very reason.  The open floor plans can be nice sometimes, but they are challenging with views and layouts.  When you have a young family, they are ideal, but as they grow up, people seem to want their spaces back.  At least, that is what I am finding.

Parents get sentimental about first shoes. Kids don't remember them. You should keep those for yourself.

Yes that is true. Here is a funny use for them. My mom saved our first shoes and always hung them on our Christmas tree - they were kept with the ornaments. I have my son's tiniest little sneakers and hang them on our tree!

How do you feel about Sherwin Williams "Eco Green" #6739 for a small north-west facing master bedroom? Our furniture is white and our headboard is dark gray upholstery.

 I admire your bold use of color!For me, the color seems a bit neon.  I tend to go for shades of paint rather than tints - more black and than white.  With the gray and white, your color might not be very soothing for a bedroom.  Maybe look at Benjamin Moore Gumdrop 564?  Still has the depth and color but might blend better with the white and gray.

Good morning! We rent an apartment and our bathroom has zero ventilation. We open the window when we can and run a dehumidifier after showers and periodically through the day, but it still smells musty/feels damp. Is there anything I can do? We've even tried running the dehumidifier all day, which helps a bit, but kills our power bill!

The truth is that you need a venting fan, but as you rent, you might not be able to put one in.  Depending on how long you live there, it might be worth looking into.  They aren't very expensive - it is mainly the labor to install it.

What brand of paint do you recommend? Is Farrow & Ball worth the extra price?

I love Farrow and Ball paint, and I also really like that they have a limited number of colors, which makes it so easy to use for clients that get overwhelmed by the large fan decks that paint companies provide.  I think that for certain colors and rooms, yes, they are absolutely worth the price.  However we tend to use Benjamin Moore the most out of any paint brand followed by Sherwin Williams.  Most of the time it depends on the colors we are looking for.  Some companies are better than others with certain colors.  Benjamin Moore recently came out with "Color Stories" which is meant to compete with the Farrow and Ball family.  We use those colors A LOT.

Remember the bronzed baby shoes that became bookends (or dust catchers!) I do treasure my great grandmother's baby shoes... complete with little hooks and eyes.

Yes. I think the bronze baby shoe trend is over. I'm sure many of them are entombed in plastic tubs in attics and basements across the land!

Hi, Samantha, We just bought a central stair, brick colonial built in 1941 in Michigan Park, DC. Its in great shape with existing wood trim around windows and doors. Do you have any suggestions of resources for design and decor ideas for our style home? I'm really interested in how others have modified this floor plan (living room on left, dining room on right, kitchen in the back.) Thanks!

The home sounds lovely.  You might want to check out 14th street.  There are tons of new showrooms (and the Design Center) there that would have furniture and ideas for you.  There are so many different style up and down the street, you could find tons of options.

Thanks so much for chatting about the DC Design House, Samantha. Here is a link that you can vote for your favorite room everybody. The house opens April 12 for a month long run. Check it out. See you next week when I'll have Susan Hable, cofounder of Hable Construction on the chat.


Today's post point code: HF1251

Thanks so much for having me.  This was fun!  I hope people visit the house this year.  It is AMAZING!!!!

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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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Samantha Friedman
Samantha Friedman is an interior designer based in Bethesda. She is a featured designer in the 2015 DC Design House.
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