Before and After: Transforming Jessica’s Courthouse Apartment

My client, Jessica, is a kind, well-traveled, funny, intelligent military trainer and self-proclaimed blogoholic living in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington. Along her travels she has seen (and collected) a lot! So her need was to find a way to display all of her beautiful things.

After searching through several blogs, Jessica landed on mine because we share similar styles – funky patterns, a little tribal, and very eclectic and fresh. Not to mention that we bonded over our similar pasts – both living in Tanzania!


We started slow on this project. Jessica’s room used to have a college-dorm-meets-granny’s-attic kind of style to it: dark beige walls, the finest of small plastic dressers and builder-grade carpet speckled with stains of tenants past. Some may say that it looked alright. The only thing was, Jessica was not one of those people!

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So she called on me, and we did a little cosmetic surgery.



The first step to any room makeover is to remove the furniture and repaint the walls. We wanted a bright, crisp white to really open up the space and create an elegant, contrasting background to her atmosphere. The paint alone added a tremendous sense of newness to the room.

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We used her existing bed, headboard and bedding, and changed up the floor plan a bit so that the bed would be the focal point of the room when you walk in. Angling the bed in the corner is a great idea for design interest. Functionally it keeps a large, open area of floor space while still allowing you to exit the bed on either side.

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(William Yeung Photography)

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(William Yeung Photography)

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(William Yeung Photography)

The swag lamp hanging over the bed is from World Market, on super discount, along with the knobs on the IKEA dresser.

We pulled in some Billy bookcases that Jessica found used on Craigslist, and that is where we displayed all of her memories.

The rug is from West Elm. Its dark, tribal pattern really adds the perfect foundation to the room and complements the simplistic airiness of the rest of the space.

We hung her art, styled those Billies, filled baskets with the not-so-pretty items and added light. I believe those lamps on the dresser are from the Nate Berkus collection at Target.

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(William Yeung Photography)


Now Jessica is sleeping in a much brighter, more relaxing space. We can call her new style “freshi sophistication.” (“Freshi” was one of my favorite Swahili words in TZ:) Sorry, granny, but you just had to go!

For more real-life examples of apartment living and apartment styling, check out my website at Thank you again as always, Apartment Showcase!

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Teri Clar

Teri Clar

Teri is a interior designer, entrepreneur, and a writer in Washington DC area.

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