Once a run-down, seedy part of town, the 14th Street Corridor, between Logan Circle and U Street in Northwest, has become D.C.'s new Design District.
Within the past five years, several upscale furnishing and design stores have opened on the thoroughfare, complementing the housing renaissance taking place in the U Street Corridor. These stores offer bold and modern designs and cater to the area's hip, cosmopolitan crowd.
Stores like Room & Board, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and Muleh, with New York locations and Upper East Side clientele, are attracting customers from Rockville to Richmond.
|Miss Pixie's: misspixies.com|
|Room & Board: roomandboard.com|
|Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams: mgbwhome.com|
|Timothy Paul: timothypaulbedding.com|
|Showroom 1412: showroom1412.com|
|Home Rule: homerule.com|
Jason Claire, co-owner of the Vastu, a home furnishing and design store on 14th Street, said he welcomes the new buzz and business generated by having so many design stores within walking distance. He's not, however, quite sold on calling it the Design District.
"Washington, D.C. is funny," Claire said. "You walk a few blocks in any direction and the name of the neighborhood changes. We are not large enough a city to have as many names for neighborhoods as we do."
Vastu arrived nearly 10 years ago, before the area became chic. It offers customizable modern furnishings and specializes in Midcentury Modern design, including iconic brands like Eames and Knoll.
Muleh, which carries an eclectic assortment of high fashion and furniture, opened in 1999 as the area was going through its first "revival."
"For many years following the riots protesting the assassination of MLK, 14th Street was mired in hookers and heroin. We sensed a changing undercurrent, which, after a brief pause following the real estate bubble, is now again in full swing. Count the cranes," said Muleh owner Christopher Reiter.
Muleh markets itself as a lifestyle, not just a furniture, store. "Muleh's lifestyle concept is rooted in the belief that the creative process inherent in fashioning a look and structuring a room follow a similar ethos," Reiter said. "Fit and proportion, scale and form, color and finish, feel and texture, ensemble and architecture all become interchangeable paradigms within Muleh's borders."
Vastu and Muleh represent the locally owned boutique brands. Room & Board and Mitchell Gold are two chain retailers that serve as anchor stores in the Design District. The Minneapolis-based Room & Board opened in 2010, on the corner of 14th and T, in what used to be the historic Taylor Motors Building.
"Room & Board was drawn both to the neighborhood and to this very special building," said Lisa Scroggins, manager of the Room & Board's downtown showroom. "We were drawn to 14th Street because we wanted to be a part of its creative community and culturally rich history. We've loved being a part of this close-knit community's growth."
There also is Miss Pixie's Furnishings and Whatnot, a pink-colored resale shop. Pixie Windsor opened Miss Pixie's in Adams Morgan in 1997 before relocating to 14th Street in 2005. Miss Pixie is more of garage sale, chic-meets-vintage-type furniture. She carries everything from used golf balls to antique chairs.
"We go to auction twice a week and sell through things quickly," Windsor said. "I got here when the rent was still cheap."