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Victoria Sanchez on the 2016 D.C. Design House | Home Front

Victoria Sanchez
Sep 29, 2016

Victoria Sanchez began her career nearly 30 years ago, specializing in residential design in the District area. In 2013, Sanchez opened Victoria at Home in Old Town Alexandria, where she stocks furnishings and decor that define the casual elegance for which she is known.

In this year’s D.C. Design House, opening Oct. 1, she created a quiet and calming master bedroom suite. She has participated in numerous local show houses. She’s here to answer your questions on show houses or your own interior design dilemmas.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than ten years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Good morning. Victoria Sanchez, who has a design business and retail shop in Alexandria called Victoria at Home, decorated the beautiful pale blue bedroom in the 2016 DC Design House. Here is a link to the story about the DC Design House which includes a 3D tour. Victoria is here today to chat about paint colors, fabrics, furniture and show house rooms. Let's get going.

Thank you for having me today! I'm looking forward to seeing what design dilemmas readers have!

What's the best part of being involved in a showhouse?

There are many best parts of participating in a show house. First off, it's for such a great cause -- Children's National Health System. From a designer's point of view, it is fun to have the freedom to create a design for ourselves and not have any client restrictions! And the camaraderie is terrific too. It's like a reunion of sorts.  

The top half/two thirds of our front door is glass, which is fantastic for letting in light, but also makes me feel a little bit on display. Is there a way to frost the glass portion? I'd like to avoid contact paper if at all possible. Thanks!

What about  little sheer drapery?  With or without a pattern is fine, but it will offer light, privacy and be softer than frosting windows. If you choose to frost your window you can do it yourself.  Hardware stores sell frost in a can. Good luck!

Where can I buy the chandelier in the show house bedroom?

You can buy the chandelier from the DC Design House!  Most of the items that are in the house are for sale and can be purchased throughout the month of October and the best part is that 20% of all sales go directly to Children's national health system!

I need to replace the cushions for my patio furniture set and I was wondering how I could get cushions made. The cushions are all custom sizes and depths so the replacement cushions I've seen online won't work at all. And even though this is a crate and barrel set it is old enough that they don't have the cushions anymore. I hate to get a new set because the the furniture is in great shape and is in a covered screened in porch and could last quite a while still.

I know exactly what you are going through because I was faced with the same thing this summer!  We ended up doing a bit of of combination because we found some online through Frontage and then I had to have some additional ones made through my upholsterer.  


I recently moved into a row house, which I do not own (yay rental property). My bedroom upstairs has an old-fashioned fireplace set in marble. Because of the chimney, it juts out into the room about three feet. The real problem is, from just above the fireplace all the way to the ceiling, the previous owners added a huge mirror. It's just a giant, square mirror from about four feet off the floor to the ceiling. Is there a way for me to modify it in some way that will not cause permanent damage, but also break up that space?

What about layering another piece on top of it?  A piece of art or even another mirror could look great and you could hang it right above the mirror in the ceiling.  No damage done!

We're remodeling our kitchen with white cabinets and white/grey countertops. I was thinking of a pop of color for the backsplash (green maybe) but a designer suggested white backsplash tile too for a clean look and advised adding pops of color with paint and dishtowels. Your thoughts on a mostly white kitchen? Timeless or boring?

I am a big proponent of classic finishes, particularly in space such as a kitchen or bath where you are making a big investment and want to be sure not to be trendy. I agree add pops of color in your accessories, window treatments, art, etc

How many sofas are too many in any one house? I didn't take the time to count how many are in the design house but I think some of the rooms could have been put to better use, maybe a home office, a pool table, or something other than another place to sit.

A show house is bit different than a house where people live.  Logistically speaking, a pool table could be difficult to put in a temporary setting since it must be put together on site, new felt, leveling, etc. Expensive proposition. The design advisers also guide us as to what they want the rooms to be used for. But how many sofas are too many? I think every room in the house should have comfortable seating whether it's a sofa, pair of chairs or just one. Nothing worse than uncomfortable upholstery!

I think white is too boring but I want something restful.

The master bedroom I have just completed for the DC Design House is done in ivory and pale blues. I believe that a bedroom should be really calm and restful. I don't want to decorate with "hot" colors like oranges, reds and whites. White can be lovely but be sure to add some warmth so it doesn't look sterile.

What is your favorite source for rugs? There are great choices online but returning a rug can be prohibitively expensive.

Shopping online can be a nightmare!  Not only is it a hassle for returns, but there really is no way you can determine the real colors and quality!  I always tear my clients away from online purchasing. For area rugs, I shop locally at J&J Rugs, which is across the street from my shop in Alexandria -- super convenient. I can run over and make decisions on the spot, and they even will bring rugs to you for approval.  For broadloom, Stark Carpet is my go to.

Hello! How do I determine which type of coffee table to buy for my living room? Glass, wood, mirrored?

Good question! I usually look at the other materials and finishes that are in the room. If there is already a mirrored chest, for example, than I would steer away from using a second piece of furniture in a mirror finish. Glass tables are always a nice choice, but not if you aren't going to use coasters or if you don't want to see fingerprints! Wooden tables are usually more traditional and can be timeless too.

How would the outdoor canopy bed on the upper terrace survive a Washington D.C. thunderstorm? I often wonder about these outdoor rooms that are often shown with throw pillows, upholstered furniture, rugs, curtains, etc. Are these really practical or even possible?

I can answer that! Quintece Hill-Mattauszek of Studio Q Designs in Alexandria was the designer of that roof terrace. On two occasions when I visited the space, it was actually raining! All the fabrics are indoor/outdoor as are the pillows. The fabrics are made to dry out fast. 

How many pillows do you think is too many to have on your bed?

A topic of frequent debates between couples! It really depends on whether or not the person making the bed wants to take them on and off every day. However, I always have a pair of pillows, a pair of shams and at least one decorative pillow front and center, or a pair of 22 inch pillows with a lumbar pillow in front of that. Take a look at the picture of my master bedroom from the DC Design House: 

I am trying to find a piece of artwork for above the sofa in my living room. However I'm not sure what the best size would be. Is there a correct size for a piece of art in relation to my sofa. Thank you?

Good question! I don't think there is an exact formula for this. It all boils down to the scale in your particular room. I think working with one large piece of art over a sofa is the easiest route to take. Creating a grouping on the wall can certainly be fun to work on, but may require a bit more time and patience as you collect and display. Remember not to hang your art too high!

What is your favorite room - beside yours!

Tough question. I am always blown away with what other designers do in show houses because everyone's vision is so different. I never would have started off with the coral walls in the family room that Kelley Proxmire chose, but I love the vibrancy with the blue sofa. The plain white walls that Pam Harvey has are perfect for all the black and emerald green. Josh Hildreth has a super dark and cozy library (below) that I know could sit and have a cocktail in. 

Speaking of bedroom colors, we painted our walls with one sky blue wall and the others in creamy yellow. That was 20 years ago. We will probably downsize in a few years and would like to update the look. Any suggestions? The bedroom has high walls, about 15 feet. So repainting is a major job.

I am not a big proponent of painting accent walls. I prefer to paint all walls the same color. If you want to add a second cool, try painting the ceiling. I love adding wallpaper or paint to a ceiling and it's a perfect place to do so as you look up and see something pretty. Try ivory walls with pale blue on the ceiling as I did in the show house.

Need to replace the fluorescent fixture in my kitchen. It lights the prep area, sink and stove and area of about 6'x9'. Don't want to spend more than $750 and I am thinking of a track lighting with 5 to 6 fixtures. Recessed lighting will cost too much?

Recessed lighting can be difficult, particularly if you have plaster ceilings, but it's also so clean looking. I have used track lighting for just that reason. It can be attractive too. I keep the track lights as small as possible and direct them to the areas needed for perfect task lighting. It should be within your budget.

You have a home design shop in Old Town Alexandria. What other home shops are nearby if I want to come on a day trip there?

We are located in a area where there are several home shops within couple of blocks. Random Harvest is always a good spot to stop in and Calico Corners is just next to them. We have a couple of rug shops across from us; J&J rugs always has a ton of inventory. At the end of our block, there is another furniture shop, Tradition De France, with lovely inventory. And a very cool shop is called The Hour,  which is all bar ware -- very fun!

Hello. When placing my carpet for my living room, should the ends of the rug be under the furniture or in front of it?

When selecting a rug for any room, go big. A room size rug will make the room look bigger and more finished, and absorb sound. All of the furniture should sit on the rug. If budget is a constraint, then how about a sea grass or sisal room size rug and then later layer a second decorative rug on top.

What is the best way to add color into a room? Pillows, a rug, artwork?

We love pillows at my shop Victoria at Home. It's the quickest and easiest way to add color. We stock hundreds of pillows and we work with our customers to select the best ones for their space. Immediate and usually less expensive gratification.

I have a 1930s-era art deco dresser and armoire that is perfect for the look I want but all of the art deco wood head and foot boards I've seen seem too dark and heavy for the look I'm going for, which is straight out of a glamorous 1930s Hollywood movie. Any suggestions?

Why not create an art deco inspired, upholstered headboard. The fabric can dictate the mood you are going for and it can certainly be glamorous. I just completed a lobby in an art deco apartment building in D.C. and we didn't want it to be overkill so we used fabrics and frames that speak to that time period but aren't too heavy. Have fun with it!

Do you have local upholsterers you can recommend?

We use several different workrooms based on the kind of job, price points and time frame so it's difficult to make a recommendation. But all of our work rooms are local.

My bookshelves are boring! What is the best way to dress them up?

Best way to dress up your book shelves is to come into the store with plenty of pictures. We have a ton of accessories and are happy to help you go through shelf by shelf and make recommendations. Believe me, we do this all the time.

I am thinking about twin beds for my small guest room but am wondering about arranging them differently than the typical side by side with a table between. What do you think of each flush against perpendicular walls with a table and lamp occupying the corner between the two? Any other space saving suggestions?

I have to say, I prefer symmetry when it comes to a guest room. There is something welcoming and calming in simplicity. Trying to change things up too much can actually have the opposite effect for your guest room, and it won't look put together.  

Wow!  My fingers have been flying but thank you so much for all your wonderful questions!  Come visit us in Old Town or at the DC Design House!

Great chat. Check out the rooms in the DC Design House yourself, it's open starting this weekend through the month of October. Hours can be found here. And also read about the five cool bars designers set up in the show house. See you next week when professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal joins the chat to talk about family organizing and other topics.

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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Victoria Sanchez
Victoria Sanchez owns Victoria at Home in Old Town Alexandria, where she stocks furnishings and decor that define the casual elegance for which she is known.
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