Personalizing your home with designer Michele Evans| Home Front

Michele Evans
Sep 21, 2017

Michele Evans is a designer based in Georgetown whose work reflects an American classic style. She specializes in interiors that are modern and edited to showcase the softness of fabric, the texture of materials and architecture. In her Georgetown home that she just styled for herself as a new empty nester, she uses pale pink walls and lots of unexpected details to style a place uniquely her own. It was featured on the 2017 Georgetown House Tour. Her house is profiled in this week’s Washington Post Magazine Fall Home and Design issue.

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 10 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.

Michele Evans is a designer based in Georgetown. In this Sunday's Washington Post Magazine story, which you can read now right here, we have the saga  of her latest house, designed especially for herself as a new empty nester in Georgetown. Michele's work reflects an American classic style. She specializes in interiors that are modern and edited to showcase the softness of fabric, the texture of materials and the architecture. She's an expert in doing small spaces and in finding storage. So let's chat.

Today's Post Point Code is HF9591

Michele will be right with us.

Good Morning I am so happy to be here this morning and look forward to your questions.

Hi Jura: It's been 20 years since we redid the master bath in our 1940s-era home. Could you offer some advice on tile design and vanity choices? I'd like it to be neutral, in keeping with the era of the house, but not too staid or stodgy. I'm leaning toward subway tile, maybe a bit oversized, with dark gray grout and a gray porcelain tile floor. The shower floor could be a type of mosaic. I like Carrera marble for the vanity, and I'm not sure about wall color. What advice do you have for a classic look that isn't boring? Thank you!

Hi. In a 1940s house, I would stick to more traditional choices. And lots of white. I like the idea of the oversized subway tile. Dark gray grout would hide stains but it will give a sort of dark look. Carrera marble is a classic elegant choice. You can add more vibrant accessories to your bathroom to make it look fresh and new, such as interesting sconces and bright colored towels. 

 

I have read so many different opinions on ceiling paint. I've decided I'm too much of a coward to ever use a different color, but my ceilings do need to be painted and I've kind of decided on Glidden's White on White. NOW I see that some people say "Use glossy!" it adds some glow to a room, others say "Flat!", it won't distract. My walls are mostly a pale creamy yellow. What say you? I love these home chats. Thank you.

Flat is best. It will bounce light off of it better and make the room feel larger.

Can you use pink paint in any room of the house?

I am a big fan of pink and just did my Master Bedroom and bath in a 30 percent strength . The trick is to get it the correct hue for your room and to look at it many times during the day so that you can see how it reacts all day.

Do you have any tips on installing an Ikea kitchen?

Yes when you are doing an Ikea kitchen hire their people for the installation they have experience and in the long run you will save money . Kitchen installations come down to inches and you don't want to make a costly mistake here.

You've lived in Georgetown a long time. What are some of your favorite shops for home furnishings, both new, vintage and antique?

Although I live in Georgetown most of my finds are from travels and from reaching outside of my comfort zone.  I do love and support all the local shops with my biggest love being Marston Luce which is where I purchased the bust of Helena twenty years ago and she still sits on the front table.

I have a spare bedroom that I would like to brighten up with some yellow paint because it only has one window that is shaded by a tree. Any suggestions on a shade that would be sunny but not neon?

Yellow is one of the hardest colors to get correct and the most stunning when done right.  My go to answer about yellow except for a front door is to keep it the color of a stick of butter, no darker.

I need a fresh look for my front door. I have a brick house and white trim. Any ideas?

I feel like this is the new "Happy Place" for everyone and you can have a fun time picking brights or doing the softest pastels.  I am right in the middle of picking a Marine blue for my door this week.  Go Bold and if you hate it you can repaint in a day

What do you think is the best floor choice for a small beach cottage with lots of bare feet and sand tracked in?

I have two options I love. First a Marine high sheen  paint in white, or love the new long tiles that they are making in the faux bois stamped ceramic .The tiles are  easy to install and can be done in a day if the surface is prepped first.

What is a good affordable alternative to sisal? I am sick of it.

A painted floor is terrific or today they make so many over dyed area rugs and you can find them at every price point -from designers to catalogues.

Where did you buy the two gorgeous mirrors pictured in your pink bathroom?

Annapolis lighting has a great selection and good price points.  They are located in Rockville.

For the person who asked the question about beach house flooring: we use daily a luxury vinyl that looks like weathered wood (light grayish) in our house in the Outer Banks and LOVE it. Looks good and easy to keep clean, stands up to dogs, kids, sand. And in an area of high winds, will not be susceptible to cracking as some tile might. If your house is built on piers as many beach houses are, it will sway slightly in high winds and tiles aren't the best for large-scale use.

Thank you. That is a great suggestion.

Two years ago, I bought an 1850s Second Empire townhouse in Old Town. It was updated but the dining room is tan grasscloth, old and faded in spots, with putty brown trim. I am neither a grasscloth nor a brown person but have lived with it due to other priorities. The room is so dark, yet gets a lot of natural light. I want to lighten and brighten it - bright white trim (there is a built-in bookcase on one wall so there's a lot of trim) and color. Considering chinoiserie wallpaper in pinks, aquas, and blues. What about the rest of the walls? How about fuchsia or raspberry? Would that be too much? BTW hot pink is my signature color and the adjoining room is aqua, so I want good flow. Aqua here, too? Thank you!

Choose a paper that has both fuchsia and aqua to link it to your adjoining rooms. I would test both colors on the trim to see what works best with the paper and the light in the room. 

I see a lot of rooms now have no curtains at all. How do you determine whether this more modern look will work in your living room?

The first thing to consider is whether you want privacy in that area.  If no one can easily look into the room, going without curtains is a good option as it will allow the maximum amount of light into the room.  In the old days, a room was not considered finished until it had curtains. These days people seem to like a cleaner, simpler line and that lets accent pieces shine in the room.

What are some good resources for white dinnerware that's affordable, dishwasher and microwave safe, but has just a little bit of personality? I'm coming up empty on Wayfair and Hayneedle.

Crate and Barrel has a lot of good options for simple white dinnerware in many shapes and patterns. World Market is another good resource for inexpensive dishes with personality. This is an easy way to stock up for parties as it makes buying multiples affordable.

How did you find those heron prints in your library? They are amazing and what gave you the idea to buy two of them and use them in that small room?

Sometimes a small room is an opportunity to make a big statement. I found the prints in the catalog Grandin Road and the minute I saw them I knew they would pack the punch I was looking for there. Trust your gut and go for it when you see something that speaks to you.  And its great when you can try something out and always send it back as shipping is often free these days.

Macy's Hotel brand porcelain has great lines and is very durable.

Yes. That is a good suggestion. Thanks.

What excites you about art for your design projects? What are certain rules you follow in choosing art? Should art fit seamlessly into room color, fabrics and flooring? Thank you, Martha Spak

Hi Martha- I love your work! You more than anyone knows that you go with your instinct and let the natural colors of your setting guide you in determining your color palette. I always remember you telling me that blue makes everyone happy and I often integrate some shade of blue into my projects.

Hi Michele! I am a big fan of your work! I have always used two colors as the basis for my home decorations. I find it more striking and also easier to find things to mix and match. To celebrate my new nonbinary partner I am thinking of being adventurous and going with three or maybe even more colors in my upcoming bedroom redo! Can you point me in the right direction with a good starting point? I fear being overwhelmed and ending up with stuff that just doesn't match but would love to give it a try! Thanks!

I think you have good instincts and especially in a bedroom you want to it to be your oasis. I would stay with two colors and add other color with pillows and accessories to give it another dimension.

Thanks so much Michele for being with us today. And here's another link to the story about Michele's own Georgetown home which is full of ideas and sources. Next week we will be discussing design with Josh Hildreth, one of the designers in this year's DC Design House in Potomac that will be opening on September 30. You can see a sneak peak of the house on my instagram feed @jurakoncius. See you next week.

I am terrible at picking out window coverings. Currently we have sheers topped with swags in our 1980 Colonial style house. The tails of the swags are elongated and come down almost to the level of the lower sill. I like that rather than floor-length drapes, partly because of our dogs, mainly because our living room is smallish and I don't want a lot of overpowering fabric. But I've had these since 1984 and definitely could stand to update. I do want some filtered light during the day, but would prefer more privacy at night. So - roller blinds under some sort of top treatment? I'm at a loss.

An option for your space might be wood shutters. There are many sizes to choose from and offer total privacy or light as needed. This would update your room but not overpower the space. Good luck!

Thank you everyone for joining us today and a thank you to the Washington Post for giving all of us the opportunity to help and give our thoughts on design today.  It was my pleasure and I hope we had some fun as well. Best Regards. Michele

Thank you everyone for joining me this morning and thanks to the Washington Post for giving us all the opportunity to exchange ideas on design, color and decorating. It has been my pleasure to be with you. Best regards, Michele

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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Michele Evans
Michele Evans is a Georgetown designer.
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