Joe Ireland, co-head of D.C.-based J.D. Ireland Interior Architecture & Design, talked interior design and 14th Street shopping. | Home Front

Jun 20, 2013

Joe Ireland is co-head of D.C.-based J.D. Ireland Interior Architecture & Design. Critics have described their work as "elegant and comfortable," "soothing," "fresh," "hip," "clean" and "a blend of contemporary with traditional." Along with creative partner Julie Weber, the duo has been described as "innovative thinkers concerned with form and function" who "take care to weave the client's taste in seamlessly with their own keen eye." Ireland will take questions on design destination 14th Street, and offer interior design advice.

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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We are lucky to have Joe Ireland of J. D. Ireland Interior Architecture and Design with us today. He'll  chat about shopping on 14th Street NW, the subject of my article today on Destination Design, as well as lots of other topics. Joe Ireland and Julie Weber, also a principal owner of the firm, are both native Washingtonians. The firm has done a lot of very exciting work and Joe is a wonderful source of ideas.

Hello, Jura!  We are excited to be here today to answer your readers' questions!

The exterior paint on my brick home is peeling and flaking, which is leading to some interior water damage. I obviously need my home painted! The problem arises in that it is a duplex, that I own one side of. The other side is rented and the owner refuses to paint his flaking/peeling paint. We decided to paint our side but are wondering about color choices. The entire building is currently a brown/beige color with brown shutters. Would it look weird if we painted our side a different color, maybe a cool gray? Or, should we try to match the same ugly color it is now so there's some continuity?

I love continuity, but there is no way you'll be able to achieve that 100%.  If you don't mind the natural brick color, you could have the old paint removed and bring it back to just the original brick.  That way it ties in to your neighbors house!

How do I know an antique piece is of value? What if it falls apart on me?

It is best to work with an appraiser such as Doyle or Sotheby's to give you an accurate appraisal.  The other way to look at it is if you love the piece, then it really doesn't matter what you paid for it :)  

Hi. We are preparing to paint our home (exterior and interior) and would like to hire a color consultant. Do you have any recommendations or any suggestions on where to start our search? On the same note, we would like to paint the exterior a warm gray with black shutters and a red door. Any color suggestions?

The best way to pick paint colors and the right consultant/designer is to interview them and select the designer that fits the look you are going for, and gels with your personality.  For the exterior paint on the house, try Benjamin Moore's "Gray Horse".  

Hi Jura -- I wrote in 3 weeks ago (biggest fan since 2005) about the problem results I had in painting after I thought I'd followed all the good advice here. I am starting to get used to the BM Bunny Gray in the living room and can definitely work with it -- but my DH has agreed that we should repaint the attic-turned-master-suite and get rid of the BM Faded Denim. I don't want to make the same mistake again, so would you please suggest a mid-tone blue-gray, calm and soothing and not childlike, for a master suite. The long, rectangular room has 2 south-facing windows and 1 north-facing window. I am hoping for a color like a chambray shirt, or a pair of jeans -- a neutral blue. Thank you so much!

Try using Benjamin Moore's "Sterling".

Do you shop on 14th to help support local businesses?

Of course!  There is a great variety of product on one street.  Also, the Design Center will be reopening at 14th and K, which will make it even better!

I am thinking of restoring my 1950's white Tracy metal kitchen cabinets in my small galley kitchen. I love them, but they do need to be repainted. Is there someone in the DC area who could tell me if they are worth restoring and who could do so? I've seen this done at a decorator show house a few years ago in Virginia and they were super. I think an auto paint company did them. Also, can I install pullout shelves to make items more accessible? Many thanks and do enjoy these conversations. Foggy Bottom resident

If you love the look, then it is worth looking into the cost of taking them into an autobody shop to correct any damage, and make them feel new.  Then, you can compare that cost with the cost of having these remade by a cabinet company.  It comes down to a question of love and budget :)

Where do you go for vintage things?

Two of my favorite stores are Miss Pixies and Good Wood.  It seems that everytime I'm in one of these shops, I always end up leaving with something!  Another great place for vintage rugs is Timothy Paul Rugs & Carpets.

Joe - Thanks for being on the chat. Can you share with us some of your favorite white trim colors? Thanks.

Two that we love, both by Benjamin Moore, are "White Dove", and "Simply White".

What do you think of the Design Center moving downtown?

I think it's great!  It reinforces 14th Street as the city's design district.

A couple of years ago, you all wrote an article about a designer who did a beautiful house on the Chesapeake Bay. Maybe the house was owned by the designer's sister? It was very Nantuckety -- lots of white and blue and big windows. Would it be possible to post a link to that article? I think about it all the time and really regret not cutting it out at the time! Thanks so much.

Are you by any chance referring to this article about a house in Bethany last summer? Here is the link - there is lots of blue and white!

Hi Joe- I live in a mid-century Modern home, with a combination of period and contemporary pieces. However, I am struggling to find a handsome jewelry armoire that blends in. Any thoughts on resources other than a custom piece? Thanks

This is a tough one for me to answer, not having seen the rest of the pieces and architecture.  Every project we do at JD Ireland is specific to the individual home.  I wish I could be of more help!

Hi Joe: Are you a flea market shopper? Wondering what markets you like to go to. Also are there any good fabric sources in DC?

Unfortunately, I don't end up having much time to do flea markets.  But, stores like Miss Pixies curate pieces that you might find at a good flea market.  For fabric, we strictly use vendors at the Design Center :)

What websites do you recommend for mid century pieces?  This company carries amazing, one-of-a-kind, vintage furniture and accessories!  is another great resource for mid-century pieces.

Do you know of a good auto body painter who would also spray a piece of furniture - someone in the Washington area. Thanks.

Personally, I would take it to Maaco.  They are a large company and should be able to deliver this without mistakes.  We have a lot of pieces lacquered at Avery Studios in Alexandria.  We have not used an auto body shop before, so it is worth checking some out on the internet first.

I love my front porch but it looks very plain right now. Some of my neighbors have decorated theirs as though they were indoor rooms. What are some tips for making my porch more homey.

Room & Board carries wonderful outdoor pieces with upholstery that will fit in small spaces.  You could always add outdoor drapery, also called portieres, to soften the corners of the space, making it feel more homey.  Also, greenery is always a good thing to add.

I'm looking to repaint my LR from the blah color it is now. The couch is a dark, almost pewter color. Accent chairs are neutral. The area rug is predominately a burnt orange with accents of beige, brown, dusky blue. There are some other orange and dark blue accents in the room. The room gets a decent amount of light. I was thinking of going light blue for the walls. Do you think this would be a good choice?

Yes, as long as the blue leans more towards gray to keep it sophisticated.

I need to buy a new sofa and am wondering what is a classic and timeless shape that I should look for. I don't want something that looks dated in a few years. Thanks.

Mitchell Gold is a great source for classic pieces with a twist!

I heard a rumor that West Elm might move to 14th Street. Anyone know anything?

I don't know the answer to this question, but it would be great if they do!

Joe: Do you plan to do any designer show houses? Do you think show houses are still good ways for designers to promote their work?

We don't have any show houses on our current docket.  Perhaps there will be one in the future.  I do think it is a good way to experience a "moment" in each designer's room to see if they would be a good fit for you.

What are your favorite places in DC in terms of architecture?

Keeping the topic to 14th Street, I love the buildings that have been adapted to be used as restaurants, stores, and living.  I am also excited to see all of the new buildings on 14th Street to be completed, as I feel that they are all working towards a goal to integrate the historic buildings and the new. 

The brick is pale apricot tan..What is the best color to paint the wood trim and shutters? We had white, then brown, then rosy rust..Nada to all of them. Thanks for your help.

Not having seen the specific color of the brick, I would lean towards a dark warm gray for the shutters.  Not having seen where trim is applied, maybe consider going with a tan or something that blends in with the brick, but is still crisp.

What are some of your favorite books about interior design?

I really like Mark Hampton's book "Mark Hampton on Decorating" also the new Nate Berkus book "The Things that Matter." Books by Bunny Williams, Barbara Barry and the "Domino: The Book of Decorating" are all great as well.

Do you think the extra cost for Farrow & Ball paints is worth it? What other paint companies do you recommend?

Benjamin Moore is our go-to paint company.  Farrow & Ball has exquisite paint, that we use for very specific applications.

We'd like some art in up in our family room but don't want to rush into just any piece. Still, it's hard to wait for just the right piece when you're looking at a blank wall. I saw some pretty tin ceiling tiles at a local antiques shop. Do you think several of these grouped could work? Other ideas for unusual vintage wall art?

You are on the right track with something sculptural.  You can go to Muleh on 14th Street.  They have interesting pieces with organic shapes and won't be something that everyone would have.  I also feel that the ceiling tiles used as art has come and gone :(

What are your favorite restaurants and bars there?

I love all of them!  I have to put Rice Restaurant at the top of my list, since we worked on the interior!  Some of my other favorites are Matchbox, Le Diplomate, and the new Belgian restaurant, B Too.  There are still a handful of restaurants yet to open, which I am very excited about!

Can you recommend a good furniture repair and restoration company?

Avery Studios in Alexandria does great work!

Do you have any easy suggestions to give my a summer feel?

Change all of your pillows to white, unclutter surfaces, and add some bright plants and flowers!

Hi, that Bethany house was not the one I needed, but it led me to the one I remembered -- Erin Paige Pitts on Gibson Island! Thanks so much!

What do you think about painting the ceiling the same color as the walls in a small room? I've seen this done at show houses.

I think it's awesome!  We do it all the time :)

Do you help with bathroom design? I've always felt its the hardest space in my home to revamp. Any suggestions?

We do lots of bathrooms and Powder Rooms.  This is a hard question to answer because when we are working on a space, we, and the client, need to decide if anything stays before revamping.  That is your springboard for the rest of the finish selections to fall into place.  If you are planning on redoing everything, then the sky is the limit.  I would start with a good design, and then off to the stores to fill in the blanks.  

How do I make a modern home with high ceilings and an open floor plan feel cozy, warm and more "homey?" It's already on the right path, with neutral, yet warm, tones (woodwork, paint, etc.). Any other strategies? Main concern is a huge great room with 2-story ceiling and floor-to-ceiling tiled fireplace surround.

The best way to start is to look at the architecture and add elements that will warm the space up, whether it be traditional millwork or contemporary painted.  When we have worked on a two-story room, we break up the height by installing paneling up to the finished second floor, finished in one color, and paint above the millwork on the walls and ceiling.  You can use the same color for both.

Oh yes! That is a beautiful place on charming Gibson Island. Here is the link.

I would find a mid-century modern cabinet and see if you can add some sort of shelving inside. Then I would get felted trays for your jewelry (Amazon has tons) and put them on the shelves. I would look at office furniture, as you'll want something tall. (My dad has the perfect piece of furniture for you, but unfortunately, I don't think he'll part with it.)

I'm afraid the outside of our house is rather blah and cookie-cutter. Even my five-year-old has said so. The yard is in good shape, but what do to about the house? Our neighbors put a large star on the outside of their house, which adds something. We wouldn't want to copy though! We could paint the door, which is now black. Which color do you suggest? Shutters are white. Any other thoughts?

One option is to paint the brick in a white or light gray color, and then paint the shutters and door in a contrasting dark gray or black.  Without painting the brick, you might consider painting the door in a fun color that pops, like cobalt blue or yellow.

How do you recommend showcasing collectibles, like small porcelain figurines? Or should I get over my addiction to tiny men?

One way to incorporate your collectibles is to create a piece of art in how they are displayed.  A shadow box helps to unify the pieces, or you could have them all mounted within a frame :)

Do you think slipcovered sofas look dated?

Not at all.  It's a great summer look and an easy way to update your space!

I live in a wooded area and have a really nice deck out back of my house. I've always wanted to do some sort of decorative lighting out there--perhaps strings of white lights around the trees or hanging Japanese lanterns. Any resources where I can get some ideas and where I won't spend a ton of money? Thanks much.

I would try World Market or Target. Those lanterns can look magical at night. You can also just hang outdoor Christmas lights.

Thank you everyone for some great questions!  This was a lot of fun, and good luck to each of you with your design projects! Check out 14th Street, if you haven't done so already :)

Thank you to Joe Ireland for chatting with us today. Lots of good tips and sources. Have a great weekend everyone.

I'm filling my schedule with monthly shopping destinations for my column Destination Design. Do you have a favorite to suggest? I have already done the Mosaic District, Georgetown's Book Hill, Old Town Alexandria, Kensington and today 14th Street.

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.

Home Q&A archive
Joe Ireland
Joe Ireland is co-head of D.C.-based J.D. Ireland Interior Architecture & Design. Critics have described their work as "elegant and comfortable," "soothing," "fresh," "hip," "clean" and "a blend of contemporary with traditional." Along with creative partner Julie Weber, the duo has been described as "innovative thinkers concerned with form and function" who "take care to weave the client's taste in seamlessly with their own keen eye."
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