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Normally, when interior designer Kiera Kushlan of Residents Understood first connects with a client, she meets with them in person, in their home, to get a sense of their personality and style. But 2020 was not normal times, and when a client who lives in Naples, Florida, bought a historic row house in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, the two linked up in the most 2020 way possible: over Zoom.

For the next three months, they talked palette, furniture, and overall aesthetic—the client was leaning toward layered neutrals—via video chats so that Kushlan could get a sense of the project, which would be a three-bedroom pied-à-terre for visits to Georgetown, where the client’s daughter started school last fall. Because the two couldn’t meet in person (and still haven’t to this day), they shared Pinterest boards of images that gave off the easy, clean vibe they were going for.

The black and white color scheme, for instance, wasn’t just a way to give the home a crisp feel—it was also a way for the client, an avid art collector, to let her pieces get all the attention. “We weren’t going to do a hot pink coffee table or anything like that to add unexpected elements, so our way of adding interest to a neutral palette was with graphic patterns and different textiles,” says Kushlan, referencing the striped living room table and block-print pillows. 

And because the home was meant for short stays, it didn’t have to be as functional as a permanent place. For example, the bar in the second-floor seating area, made with Shelfology shelving, wouldn’t be totally necessary in an everyday space. But in a vacation home? Let’s pour a drink.

Kushlan also didn’t have to consider big holiday gatherings, so she could keep the dining area compact with just five chairs. Similarly the kitchen didn’t need to be designed for major cooking moments, and the makeover there was slight: New hardware, a District Loom rug, and Circa light fixtures finished the modern look. (The marble waterfall island was blissfully already part of the home.)

But there was one practical piece of furniture Kushlan made sure to include in two of the rooms: a desk. They turned out to be great for the visiting parents so they could work remotely, and also for their daughter, who spent part of her spring semester at college staying in the home and attending classes over—what else?—Zoom. 

 The Goods