14th and U Streets have become an incredible destination for furniture shopping. Below, I've reviewed stores along 14th and U Streets and created a guide for your weekend shopping. I may have missed a few spots along the way, but this listing should keep you plenty occupied.
It's for you if: Your decorating preferences run toward bold color, patterns, and textures
Timothy Paul Carpets and Textiles, 1404 14th Street, NW & Timothy Paul Bedding and Home, 1529, 14th Street, NW
New this past spring is the Timothy Paul Bedding and Home store between P and Q Streets on 14th. The owner's love for textiles is still the underpinning of the store's inventory, but you will also find some accent furniture, table wares, lighting, and paintings, among other small treasures.
The store's decor is decidedly near-eastern in feel; you will see plenty of filigree lanterns, intricately inlaid wooden tables, and Asian textiles. The most plentiful textile is a style of Uzbek tapestry known as Suzani. These are cotton or silk fabrics hand embroidered with floral and organic geometric patterns. You may have seen these designs knocked off at Anthropologie. Some examples of Suzanis from my own collection are included here. Buyers must understand that these are hand-made pieces of art, some of them semi antiques; it will brace you for the prices that range up to around the $1000 mark.
Bedding is the highlight of the store. At least a third of the store's space is dedicated to luxury linens and accent pillows. For the most part, colors are soft and the patterns range from demure to bold. If you are willing to invest in your bedding, Timothy Paul linens will make your bed the jewel of your household furniture. If you want a less expensive household accent, take a look at the toss pillows. For around $100, you can score a gorgeous silk mini bolster or an ikat print pillow.
Don't skip the little gems at Timothy Paul. There are plenty of accent tables and surprisingly comfortable metal mesh chairs great for casual living spaces. I fell in love with some paintings of Shenandoah landscapes priced at a very reasonable $100. You can also find special small-scale touches for your home such as pewter-stemmed wine glasses for $70 each.
It's for you if: You like the Asian aesthetic and/or the art and heirloom quality of antiques speaks to you.
I do like Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Though I've never purchased anything there, the displays of elegant neutral upholstered chairs and couches accented with splashes of colors of the moment, have drawn me in several times. Yet I can't escape the feeling that this is the Banana Republic of furniture — not too expensive, but not cheap either and elegant without being terribly original.
There are some stars among the standard fare, such as the $900 curved bar cabinet pictured at right. Mitchell Gold is also a good spot to pick up some standard decorating accessories such as vases and mirrors. If you are have trepidations about bringing your living room together without the help of a designer, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has some fail-safe combinations of upholstered items and wood accent furniture in styles that will remain fresh for some time to come.
It's for you if: You want your home to look nice and pulled together, but you're not one to rock the boat.
Many of the wares are seasonal. Now is a great time to buy painted wrought-iron patio furniture. You will also see plenty of offbeat accent items. The way furniture is displayed causes you to reconsider grandma's lamps as fun and funky rather than gigantic and outdated. Just window shopping at Miss Pixie's will give you plenty of ideas for displaying your yard sale finds. Who knew a phrenology head model could fit so well into the center of one's décor?
It's for you if: You who love the Shabby Chic aesthetic, but don't want to overpay for it at Rachel Ashwell's store in Cady's Alley.
Ruff & Ready, 1908 14th Street
On a non-furniture related note, Ruff has lost its mascot cat. If you see a lone all-black feline in the area, check it against the descriptions on signs along 14th Street.
It's for you if: You think that combing thrift stores is as good as or better than the experience of bringing home new furniture and housewares.
Some of the furniture might remind you of Baker with its dark wood trim and elegantly plain fabric. Other items resemble more of a higher quality West Elm look. If you like the modernist furniture of the mid 20th century, Vastu is your source for the Knoll reproductions of the Wassily Chair and the Barcelona Chair.
It's for you if: You've ever expressed your design preferences with the descriptors "modernist" or "clean lines." Vastu is also god for those who crave a living space in various soothing shades of neutral colors.
Muléh, 1831 14th Street, NW next to Vastu
Muléh features high-fashion contemporary furniture in striking geometric designs. Many pieces incorporate the textures of natural materials such as a chair woven from coconut fibers, stools topped with rattan poles, and an abaca coffee table. If environmentally sustainable manufacturing is important to you, these natural materials are great as is the reclaimed teak used in some of Muléh's furniture. The large scale of the furniture, woven textures, and higher prices just aren't for me, so there's only so much description I can summon up.
It's for you if: You want nothing short of bold for your home. You like one-stop shopping for designer clothes and furniture.
It's for you if: You like the idea of Reincarnations, but you want something more reserved for your own home.
The couches are from Gus Modern, and the floor stock includes a range of styles from love seat to sectional with prices under $2000 in most cases. The other furniture brand stocked at RCKNDY is Blu Dot, maker of angular solid color furnishings.
The lamps are a highlight of RCKNDY's offerings. Prices are more than fair, with the floral print turqouise shade at left sale-priced below $60. Another inexpensive and punchy home accent option are the Judy Ross throw pillows featuring high contrast graphics in floral and geometric patters.
High-impact but low cost decorating options at RCKNDY include clocks and wall art. Check out the mirrors with brocade designs screened onto the glass and the pictured clock with a paint-by-numbers floral pattern.
It's for you if: You enjoy both the Brocade Home and West Elm catalogs and/or you want to upgrade your Crate & Barrel bed linens, but you aren't quite ready for the full Timothy Paul investment.
Everything at Good Wood is incredibly high quality. The finishes are either pleasingly worn or near-perfect. Construction is always solid wood and hardware includes crystal knobs and brass key holes. It's not uncommon to find marble-topped sideboards and chests here either. The look of the furniture ranges from rustic to elegant. At Good Wood you'll see the styles from historic periods that inspire new furniture designs at stores such as Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Prices for furniture range from the high hundreds to several thousand dollars. At Good Wood you're getting a beautiful antique for prices similar to the inexpensively manufactured knock-offs Ethan Allen sells. However, savvy antique enthusiasts can easily find better deals.
It's for you if: You like mixing old with new, you like the warmth of real wood, you believe in recycling whenever possible and/or American craft appeals to you.
This is a good store for sweet touches. There are hand-painted wooden signs, one featuring the quotation "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez," and another to mark a powder room entrance. You will also find plenty of chandeliers and lamps. The chandeliers include the crystal-adorned metal designs you've seen in Brocade and Anthropologie, and lamps are mostly small types that are good for accent tables or the bedside.
For your walls, you will find tapestries and romantic prints. There is also a painted four-panel screen that has been in inventory for a while. Will someone out there give it a good home before I'm tempted to snatch it up? Furniture does not seem to sell well at this store, but there are some lovely painted cabinets, chests, and table display pieces, many of which are for sale.
Rumor has it that Magnolia will be relocating the Capitol Hill soon. Take advantage of the store while its in our neighborhood and keep your fingers crossed for a good moving sale.
If you believe that fragrance is as much a part of interior decorating as furniture, this brilliantly frilly store is a great place for you to stop in. Scent connoisseurs will appreciate Seda France candles, lovely potpourri, and a variety of soaps.
It's for you if: Your style could be described as girly, frilly, or romantic.
And Beige is a good destination for those seeking mirrors and art. Mirror selections include sunbursts, convex porthole styles, and a Chippendale style mirror with an inlaid frame. Interesting but subtle decorative objects include gorgeous natural materials such as horn trays and driftwood stacking boxes. And Beige fights furniture shopping fatigue with goodies you won't see anywhere else in the 14th and U corridor.
You need not go whole-hog with the neutral palette; you could easily mix and match And Beige's offerings with those from other stores. I think that good style pairings would include furniture from Good Wood or Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
It's for you if: You crave livable elegance, and you have no pets or small children at home.
Not Quite Ready to Make That $2000 Couch Investment?
There are some great places along 14th Street to pick up inexpensive home accents. Try Go Mamma Go (1809 14th Street) for table linens, garlands, paper lamps, and beautiful sushi sets. Home Rule (1807 14th Street, NW) has great colorful curtain panels at prices just a smidge above Linens N Things or Bed Bath and Beyond. You can also pick up a funky wall clock, a nice bathmat, or simple but elegant glassware. It's amazing how much plants can perk up small living spaces. Visit the new Garden District (corner of 14th and Church Streets, NW) location for gorgeous houseplants from carnivorous pitcher plants to orchids and even cacti.
Sales and Values
Reincarnations is selling its floor samples at reduced prices.
Dragonfly will be having a sidewalk sale August 2nd and 3rd.
Mitchell Gold is current having its summer sale.
Miss Pixie's Furniture and Whatnot always has fantastic prices.
Find great buys any weekend at Ruff & Ready.
Urban Essentials is having a sale on dining sets and floor samples.
RCKNDY is having a 20% off sale, and some clearance items are discounted even more.
Just skip it
There's more old clothing and electronics than furniture here, and the store reeks of mildew. Seriously, all I can think about while in L&N is Dateline specials about black mold.
Capital Carpet & Furniture
This store has two storefronts, one on either side of the post office. Skip both unless your tastes veer toward tacky designs in synthetic fabrics. If you're shopping for an inexpensive new piece or two, you are much better off going to the Columbia Heights Target.