Hello Friends, it’s me, the Traveling Designer. I’m back and this time I am in the nation’s capital.
Washington, D.C., home to cherry trees, the White House and some of my favorite interior designers including Mary Douglas Drysdale, Thomas Pheasant (see his gorgeous work above) and Barry Dixon (here’s his handsome work below).
I lived in D.C. in the summer of 1992 while interning on Capitol Hill for my congressman and I fell in love with this city. I recently went back for a few days and spent most of my time in the Dupont Circle area, so I thought I’d tell you about some of my favorite stops.
I am honored to have been invited to participate in the Richmond, VA Symphony Orchestra Showhouse that is open from September 10-October 11, 2010. One of my design idols, the talented Mary Douglas Drysdale (her lovely design work shown above) is also participating in the Richmond event. So when heading up to see my showhouse space for the first time, Mary invited me to be her guest for the weekend in D.C., which is only a short drive from Richmond. Never one to turn down a trip to a fabulous city, I jumped on the chance to get reacquainted with one of my favorite places.
Mary both lives and works in the charming Dupont Circle area of D.C. It is actually one of the hippest parts of Washington and home to quirky retail establishments and trendy restaurants and bars. Often called “cosmopolitan,” Dupont Circle is a favorite of visitors of all ages and interests. Once a neighborhood that paired the old money of the city with the nouveau riche, Dupont Circle morphed into the hot spot for creative types like artists as well as intellectuals and young professionals. There are restaurants, museums and boutiques that reside in the historic brownstones, which were previously home to some of the most prominent families of the capital city.
Between the airport and Dupont Circle, the landmarks are lovely, including the Lincoln Memorial and the palatial but charming homes on Embassy Row.
Exposure to these historic political residences isn’t the only culture in the area.
The neighborhood around Dupont Circle is also home to The Phillips Collection. One of Washington’s most noteworthy museums, it has paintings in its collection by Renoir, Degas and Cezanne, to name a few. It also has a stunning collection by one of my favorite contemporary artists, Mark Rothko. The Rothko room exhibits four of the famous artist’s gorgeous works.
And not far from these cultural spots is the Four Seasons Hotel and its delicious restaurant, Bourbon Steak.
This is where I had the pleasure of dining with Mary and the talented Barry Dixon on my recent visit.
The food was delicious and beautifully presented, but it was the conversation that was most delectable. What an unbelievable amount of design talent at one table. Both Mary and Barry are design idols of mine, so I loved soaking in both of their perspectives on design trends, where the industry is headed and more. These two gifted designers are quite progressive in their thinking, I might add, and you can find them carrying on conversations on Facebook and other social media outlets.
Although food and wine are both high on my list of travel activities, shopping is always a priority too. Dupont Circle is home to some quaint shops and one that is quite interesting is Tabletop DC.
Apartment Therapy even reviewed this fun and funky retail stop full of notable modern brands like Jonathan Adler and Dwell Studio. If it’s major retail chains you are looking for, the Dupont Circle area has those too, including Ann Taylor Loft, Brooks Brothers and Pink.
A great place for afternoon tea (and breakfast actually) is Teaism, the adorable yet quirky tea house on “R” Street. I had a yummy chai, but they also offer a wide selection of all sorts of teas and healthy foods if you’re feeling peckish. And if coffee is more your speed, Starbucks is right next door.
If you happen to be in Dupont Circle on a Sunday morning, you can follow a breakfast at Teaism or Starbucks with a visit to the famous Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market. You can pick up some fresh fare for dinner while you’re there. The Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market is open year-round, rain or shine, and has been called one of the best Farmers’ markets in the nation by the Wall Street Journal.
When they are in season (like on my last visit), the farmers’ market is a great place to pick up some fresh Washington cherries.
Not the cooking type? You can skip the market and have dinner instead at one of the many great Dupont Circle restaurants. La Tomate is a casual Italian restaurant right in the heart of Dupont Circle at the corner of Connecticut and “R” street. Their menu is full of fresh meats and fish paired with sides of homemade pasta.
Restaurant Nora, a favorite of President and Mrs. Obama as well as environmentalists and other politicians, is just a few blocks away on “R” street and is proud to be America’s first Certified Organic Restaurant.
This popular local eatery was constructed in the 19th century as a grocery store, but is now artfully decorated with a collection of museum quality Mennonite and Amish crib quilts. Nora serves new-American organic cuisine with 95-percent of everything served being grown by certified organic growers.
For the health conscious, Nora isn’t the only attraction of the Dupont Circle area. There are gorgeous parks, bike trails and walking paths nearby and you can even take a walk to the circle itself if you like. It’s complete with benches, a fountain and even some grass if you want to take a barefoot stroll.
So check out this fun and hip Washington, D.C. neighborhood. I think you’ll be glad you did. But if you are driving in the area, be careful not to get caught on the circle like Sydney Ellen Wade from one of my all-time favorite films!
I’ll be back soon, but until then…Happy Travels!
In case you missed them:
Read the entire Traveling Designer series, from New York to Las Vegas…and beyond
Fresh recipes from the governor’s mansion
Pantone’s spring 2011 color report