If there's one thing that can make me really fall in love with a city, it's a really great shopping district packed with furniture and antique shops, cafés and wine bars, and smiling, happy people on the hunt for something wonderful and unique. In the Washington D.C. area, one of the primary places for such finds is Georgetown -- Wisconsin Ave. to be precise.
Past & Presence
Georgetown is often referred to as D.C’s “Design District” and its easy to see why -- furnishings and antiques shops, art galleries and interior design studios enrich the neighborhood at every turn and are further enhanced by the living history of Georgetown itself. The neighborhood is getting some stiff competition these days from the growing design presence of the 14th Street Corridor but, for me, Georgetown is a place all its own and one I will always turn to when visiting the D.C. area.
Wisconsin Ave. in particular is a furnishings lover's dream and particularly rich with antiques hailing from around the world, new goods crafted by local artists, garden furniture and accessories, painting and photography and a nice showing of Mid-century Modern furniture and accessories to balance out the abundance of pieces from even earlier eras.
Start your day with brunch at Cafe Bonaparte, a charming European café, and take a well-deserved coffee break at the bustling Patisserie Poupon, both on Wisconsin Ave. as well. You'll be in good company -- on a recent visit with friends, we held the door for a woman exiting one of the shops listed below, only to find it was none other than Hillary Clinton.
Shops not to miss when you pay a visit to Georgetown:
There’s a tagline here that’s so charming and so very perfect for the shop: Absolutely Original Objects for Home, Friends and You. The amazing thing about this two-level store is it really does manage to make you feel at home with vignettes throughout the space beckoning you to take home their products as well as entertaining and decorative ideas. With sister locations in Naples, Fla., and Bridgehampton, N.Y., A Mano is filled with amazing pieces including handpainted dinnerware made in Italy especially for the store, tabletop items from Chilewich and Match, William Yeoward glassware, and a truly amazing array of napkin rings.
The French Apartment
A peaceful palette of white, ivory and natural tones awaits in this shop that takes its name very seriously, transporting visitors to another place and time. Here you’ll find 19th Century European furniture, vintage dress forms, faux fur throws (shown above, back at home in NYC); Chanel-stamped pillows in burlap and natural linen; and reclaimed doors whose windows have been transformed with antique mirrors. This is a place that honors the past not only by reusing and repurposing it but by arranging it seamlessly alongside items from modern-day designers and manufacturers.
Oliver Dunn, Moss & Co., & Catherine Roberts Antiques
In my family, you’re born with an innate appreciation for antiques and a pressing desire to “find” your furnishings and accessories in extraordinary places. This combination of connected shops provides so much opportunity for salvaging the past and creating a beautiful, intriguing present that one can easily get lost in thoughts and emerge from the shop having no idea how much time has passed. Living in harmony in the many rooms and not-to-be-missed backyard are natural linen furniture with nailhead trim and amazing Mercury glass accessories (a personal favorite), elizabethW perfumes and assorted bird cages, lighting to suit any room and decorative style, and, on the day of my last visit, antique French bottle drying racks that would make clever alternatives to standard shoe racks.