Just blocks from the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, a vibrant weekend retreat blends memories old and new.
Come inside a designer’s modern home that stands up to kids and pets.
Since launching her design business in 2004, Liz Levin has renovated her own new digs—a Federal-style townhouse in Washington D.C.—with her husband Jesse, with whom she welcomed the arrival of their daughter, Julia. Levin has also built a reputation for modern, livable designs with a sophistication that doesn’t fade when kids and pets join the picture. Her company, Liz Levin Interiors, now scores repeat business from satisfied customers as their families expand and move. “I’ve grown up with my clients,” she says.
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We were curious about what their sofas looked like, but what we found equally revealing is how they look on them—curled, flopped, perched, posed.
“Our sofa is a high-traffic area, for sure. My husband and I eat dinner here almost every night, so I knew the fabric had to be durable and resilient. After five years this dark brown Ultrasuede has seen lots of red wine, dog paws, baby drool, and a bouncing meatball or two, but it still looks new. I love that you can clean it with a damp paper towel. The contrasting white welt emphasizes the lines of the sofa and dresses it up. The single cushion seat is deep, so when you remove the back cushions, it’s practically a twin bed, which comes in handy when we have guests in our small town house.”
-Liz Levin, Interior Designer
Designer Liz Levin on troubleshooting elementary and tween decor
When Bethesda designer Liz Levin had her first daughter, Julia, now 4, she fell into what she calls “design panic.”
“Suddenly, all I saw were sharp corners, toxic finishes and poor investments,” she said. “Safety became number one, and figuring out how to best spend money on my growing kid became number two.”
Levin, who now has a second daughter, 13-month-old Naomi, made some adjustments. In 2009 she launched a second design and online retail business called Nesting that sells family- and pet-friendly furnishings. She befriended indoor-outdoor fabrics, fiber-sealed her carpet and upholstery and resisted buying anything that wasn’t machine-washable.
Demilune Tables Bring On Full Elegance
Shaped like a half-moon, these pieces strike a refined, fitting pose in slim entryway, bedroom or living room areas.
As graceful as their name implies, demilune tables have long held high status among their console counterparts. In French, “demilune” means “half-moon,” a picturesque description of these tables’ semicircular shape. They blend an elegant, feminine form with space-saving functionality — because their flat rear sides sit flush against the wall, they fit in where a round table might not, and their curves make more efficient use of square footage than a rectangular or oval style would.
Take a look at the smart, savvy ways in which demilunes enhance these interiors.
They Know Design
Whether your taste is contemporary or traditional, here are 43 interior designers who can make any room beautiful?
To come up with a list of good interior designers, we turned to people who know design.
We asked designers themselves to tell us whose work they admire among their peers. We surveyed industry experts and reviews lists of award winners in local interior-design competitions. We also pored over magazines looking for beautiful projects.
The result is this list—43 interior designers who received the most recommendations. A handful of these firms have national repuations Big names such as Thomas Pheasant, José Solis Betancourt, David Mitchell, and Mona Hajj appear often in the pages of national magazines. Although others on this list may be less known, our sources say they’re all talented.
Liz’s Palette Pointers
1. Determine your style. “Do you want the room to be modern or traditional, calming or energizing?” Liz asks. The answers
will steer you toward inspiration pieces—a graphic rug, for example—that can set the tone for how colors will mingle.”
2. Categorize colors as light, medium, or dark. “Your palette should have some in each category,” Liz says. “A fail-safe option is to keep large items, such as a sofa, in the medium range and then punch things up with light and dark accents.”
3. Choose paint colors last. “Paint should tie everything together, not be the thing that defines the room,” Liz says. “I usually like walls to be the softest element so they don’t scream at you—plus that’s the safest way to not make a mistake.”
A Break from Tradition
Liz Levin imparts a fresh, modern look in a traditional dining room.
When designer Liz Levin was tapped to decorate a Reston couple’s newly built Colonial-style home, her task in the dining room was to create a space that was “young and modern, yet still of the architecture.” The homeowners wanted uncluttered surfaces, with no extraneous furnishings. However, with the room’s large size Levin feared it would look too spare.
Her solution was wallpaper. “I suggested it to eat up the space,” she explains. “But it needed to be large-scale and impactful. An updated take.” Cole & Son’s Art Deco Vintage Glamour collection gave her what she was looking for in a pattern called Fig. “I loved the color, ” she recalls. “That was the jumping-off point.”
30 Ideas for a Livable Living Room
“My secret weapon is a round coffee table with a shelf below. The rounded edges are safer for little noggins.”
-Liz Levin, Designer
Pet-Proof and Pretty
From custom puppy gates to faux-suede couches, here’s how to make both pets and people happy.
Nancy Juda’s white leather sofa wore the marks of canine invasion: drool spots and paw prints. At Andrea Evers’s house, the proof was in the magenta tassel chewed to tatters by her mutt, Lucy.
Both women have been forced to face the reality of sharing their homes with four-legged housemates. But now their pads have become largely pet-proof thanks to interior designer Liz Levin, who specializes in crafting stylish spaces that cater to people and pets.
“People are acknowledging that, yes, their dog sleeps in the bed and lives on the couch,” Levin says, “but they still want their homes to look pulled together, not like a dog pound.”
Folks who cuddle with pets on the furniture struggle with keeping upholstery stainfree. Levin likes Sensuede, stain-resistant faux suede; Nano-Tex, a treatment that makes fabrics relatively invincible; and carpeting made from a blend of wool and nylon.
You saw it live on NBC4 – now catch the uncut version of Liz Levin in Washington Full Circle’s “Living Large” Episode.
The birth of her first child led to the delivery of a mad, mod line.
For DC interior decorator Liz Levin, creating a stunning home was
child’s play—until she had a kid of her own. Unwilling to sacrifice style
for functionality, she developed a fab furniture line for the whole family
that dares juice boxes to spill. lizlevinnesting.com.
What’s your MO? We’ve taken the best tricks of the trade for creating
a chic sofa or chair that can also survive all the joy and chaos of having
a family. What’s your favorite material? Tere’s a really cool vinyl. It’s
called Smooth Operator, and it’s got an ostrich-style print on it. What’s
your hottest piece? Te Empire Strikes Back chair—everybody loves
that chair. Putting a pop of color on that really gets people excited.
It all started when Liz Levin’s daughter was learning to stand on her own. As the D.C. designer watched her toddler, Julia, seek support from the living room furniture — a vintage coffee table made of glass and chrome next to a pair of antique armchairs upholstered in an expensive cream cotton — she realized things needed to change.
“Looking around at everything — the metal table, the white chairs, the Chinese garden statue at the fireplace — . . . it was like a disaster waiting to happen,” says Levin, 33, who started her design business in 2004. “I realized everything was going to have to stand up to a new and different level of use.”
After a search for family-friendly furniture and fabrics that were sturdy and stylish proved more difficult than she’d anticipated, something clicked: If a seasoned designer had a hard time finding the right resources, she wondered, how could busy parents or anyone not in the design business find what they needed? “Designers know the tricks of the trade, but there was no resource that pulled together everything needed to live with style and with kids and pets.”
Don’t want to pay a lot for an interior designer — but still want professional help? There’s an interesting alternative.
My husband and I had been living in our house in DC’s Columbia Heights two weeks when interior designer Celeste Davis arrived for a two-hour consultation. We were already desperate for help.
Before we moved, Eric and I had offered almost all of our furniture on Craigslist for free to anyone who would pick it up. The ad went live at 8:50 am on a Tuesday. By 9:30 that morning, everything was claimed — even our stained sofa and an Ikea armoire that had seen better days.
We were excited to cast off our old stuff and start from scratch. But our clean slate quickly started to seem overwhelming. We had bare white walls, no furniture, and lots of decisions to be made on furnishings, paint, window treatments, rugs, art, and more.
Design Without Borders – East Meets West at the NSO Show House
Design inspired by the Orient has been en vogue for so long that it’s hard to call it a trend—it’s been fully embraced and absorbed into the way we plan our spaces. Clean lines, natural motifs (think lotuses, dahlias, willows, hummingbirds), exotic materials such as bamboo or teak, low seating, and subtle lighting— we see these elements in many shelter styles from traditional to contemporary. As proud sponsors of the National Symphony Orchestra’s 2008 Designer Show House titled Beyond Dragons: An East-West Fusion of Interior Design, we were delighted to see many new designers in the mix and a diverse medley of cultures (Indian, Indonesian, Korean, Filipino) represented, sometimes all in the same vignette. The complete show house, presented at the Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase in late October, was surprisingly harmonious and brimming with ideas.
Georgetown ‘started’ home showcases mix of hand-me-downs, modern splurges
When Liz Levin moved into a Georgetown town house three years ago, the interior designer turned the ‘in-between’ home into a study in mixing modern and classic styles.
Oh, the dilemmas of decorating a starter house. You know the one. It’s that house that falls in between your Ikea-clad apartment and your future, raise-a family-and-retire-off-into-the-sunset-one-day house.
“It’s our first house independent of apartment living, not our permanent dream house destination,” interior designer Liz Levin said of her own Georgetown ‘starter’ town house. “I wanted to make it look pulled-together and nice, but also not overly invest in things that wouldn’t necessarily translate to the next house.
Designers Merge East and West to Benefit Orchestra
The Women’s Committee for the National Symphony Orchestra is holding its annual design event this week. “Beyond Dragons: An East-West Fusion of Interior Design” features Asian-inspired spaces and room vignettes created by many of the area’s top young designers.
The five-day event, which runs through Sunday at the Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase (7931 Connecticut Ave. in Maryland), also includes cultural presentations, boutique shopping and seminars on entertaining and decorating.
Proceeds will benefit the NSO’s education programs.
Spring Into Green
A dose of color evokes the season
Never underestimate the power of color. That’s the mantra Washington, DC-based designer Liz Levin kept tucked away in her arsenal of design weapons for this Arlington, Virginia, project. “The formal living room is the nucleus of this home,” she explains, “so I wanted it to be bright and unique but not too trendy.” The results is an eclectic, comfortably modern room brimming with practicality as well as personality.
“I wanted to keep the bigger pieces quiet and neutral, which would allow the accessories to pop,” says Levin. She chose an ivory and black herringbone tuxedo-style sofa and balanced the angular piece by including a dark art deco-styled console with an undulating front facade.
From conception to perfection: 10 steps to decorate like a pro.
Do you have a décor dilemma? Need help sizing up a new space? Take interior designer Liz Levin’s step-by-step advice to being your own best decorator.
1. Style File.
Start a style file of things you’re drawn to. In this family room, the client adored a floral patterned fabric. We (Levin and her clients) used it as an inspirational guide to set the tone and build our color scheme. The palette springs from this one fabric and pulls in natural tones from the wood floor and companion fabrics.
2. Form & Function.
What will you do in this space? The design needs to complement the room’s function. Our family room had to be a jack-of-all-trades. We needed a lounge, workspace, kid-friendly surfaces, sparkle for entertaining and cleverly disguised toy storage.
Happy Endings: DC designers weigh in on how to set the stage for your own award-winning performance
A clean space offers sanctuary without having to be too sparse. “To make it sexy, open and serene, get rid of all the stuff,” advises designer Liz Levin (www.lizlevininteriors.com). Books are fine—intelligence is a definiteturn-on—but the paper bag remains from your latest hunt for haute couture, files from the office and half-empty Starbucks? Not so seductive….
Liz Levin helps young hipsters update their digs.
Buying your first home, starting a family or moving out of that group house into a trendy loft apartment can cause twenty- and thirtysomethings to reevaluate their style (read: finally get rid of dorm-room leftovers). Designer Liz Levin, 30, hopes that these young Washingtonians will seek out her expertise when searching for a little decor advice.