A Hint of Bohemian Austin in Historic Virginia

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Jennifer Elsner and her family moved into this townhouse in Richmond, VA just over a year ago from Austin, TX. It’s fair to say that these two cities are different in many ways, but especially in terms of architecture and interior design. How does one take the best from Austin and merge it with the best of Richmond? Jennifer says, “Having moved from Austin, where horizontality and the line between inside-outside space is blurred, we’ve brought along our Barbara Bestor ‘Bohemian Modern’ vibe. However, we’re sensitive to the architecture and history of a place. Being in Richmond, VA now, there’s a conservatism (and verticality) that we’ve incorporated.”

After a five-month gut renovation, Jennifer and her husband David have created a space that is the best of both worlds. The newly renovated space reflects the open-plan approach they loved in Austin, allowing for ample light to pour in and great air flow. At the same time, it still maintains the grandeur of a historic home, with its sweeping ceilings, charming pocket doors and copious (if not functioning) fireplaces. David loves the way the house lights up at sunset, “We’re at the top of a hill so we get a lot of sun — for a long time.” Jennifer loves their tiny powder room downstairs, “clad with Scalamandre’s classic zebra wallpaper in red. It’s a jewel box.”

Jennifer is a creative director and artist and David is the Chair of the Department of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University. They love spending time in their new home, either hosting parties (celebrating anything from Passover to the Earl of Sandwich’s birthday) or relaxing in their pajamas on a lazy Sunday. Most importantly, Jennifer, David and their son, Sam, created a home that balances what they loved about Austin with the character of their new city of Richmond. —Shannon

Photography by Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative.

  1. margo says:

    just love this space, the vibe, and the carefully selected parts – well done.

  2. Ines Rocio says:

    Beautiful renovation, love the graphic details, the splashes of color, and the relaxing felling of the overall space.
    It’s a place to call home!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Sonia says:

    Where is the kitchen table from? It’s stunning!

  4. Leslie says:

    One of the main reasons I fell in love with and stayed in Richmond was the amazing old architecture! Those windows facing a brick wall were a familiar fixture in all of my college era apartments. I love how the owners put their own spin on things (especially that hammock).

  5. Brooke says:

    This space is really beautiful. Is there any info on the 3 large pieces of art in the kitchen? I love the use of the shelf and art in the kitchen instead of upper cabinets. Thanks!

  6. isabel says:

    so much to enjoy. if possible, could you offer the source for your son’s bedspread? Many thanks.

  7. susan says:

    i hate to be negative, but…”pops of color” three times in one article? i’ve long thought that it’s’ time to retire this tired phrase that is so overused in the design world. otherwise, lovely photos/nice home tour.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      Sorry about that- we’ll make sure we catch that in the future.


  8. Cheryl G says:

    i Love everything about this home and all the pops of color! I could live there!

  9. Brooke (all), thanks for your sweet words. In answer to your question about the art: The pink poster is a type specimen promotion from The Netherlands-based foundry Underware; The TYPE poster is by Jim Sheridan of Hatch Show Prints; and the wee bit of the blue poster was collected at a type conference in Brasil. The table is Reclaimed Russian Oak Plank from Restoration Hardware. Cheers!

  10. Isabel! The duvet and red + white pillowcases are Dwell Studio; the fox sheet set is Serena & Lily.

  11. Denise says:

    WOW! Design around the hammock and light fixture – genius! I’ve never loved a living room this much. Perfection!

  12. Jacinda says:

    Understated yet stimulating… I love it. I am in the market for a sectional and am fancying yours… Is it Joybird? Thanks in advance.

  13. Jacinda, The couch is from Room & Board. Their Reece Collection. Thanks for all the love, y’all.

  14. indiasworld says:

    i love this tour/renovation. AND the use of color to warm up the white walls. and the kitchen. love that table, chairs, and the stainless steel fridge. awesome.

  15. Heidie says:

    I love this slightly bohemian style, thanks for the inspiration. Love your blog by the way. xoxo Heidie

  16. Caroline says:

    just lovely…

  17. Siobhán says:

    One of the most beautiful spaces I have seen in a long time – so inspiring!

  18. Lara says:

    I love this home! The kitchen’s dark base cabinets, open single shelf is such a great way to keep it feeling grand and open. What are the kitchen base cabinets made of? And what black color? Also, the floors throughout the home have such a nice calm color tone (not orangey) Any chance you know the floor finish technique?

  19. tumy phung says:

    can you please tell me where you got your colored coat hangers for your entryway?

  20. Karla says:

    What a beautiful home! I really like the lighting and the furniture. I love the historic homes in Richmond and you did a beautiful job renovating it. Welcome to Virginia!

  21. LK says:

    Cute house, but I can’t help wondering what happened to all the great window and interior door trim that seems to be missing.

  22. Shannon says:

    Welcome, Jennifer & David, to this lovely city! May you find it as worthy a place to call “home” as I do. Cheers!

  23. Lara, You ready for this? The cabinets are IKEA, but with premium hardware and an uncommon 1/2′ counter. The high/low balance really works, visually and budget-wise. The floors are a stripped down heart pine with just a little pickling—a neutral stain.

    Tumy, The coat hanger is the Eames classic. We got ours from DWR but often see them in other mid-century modern shops online.

    Again, thanks all for the lovely words of welcome and appreciation.

  24. Karsen says:

    jennifer – your home is stunning. I’d love to know where you purchased the gorgeous dining chairs from. They’re beautiful.

  25. Christina says:

    Lovely home…thanks for sharing! I love your floor to ceiling bookcase. Could you please share the source?

  26. anna says:

    Thanks for sharing your finds Jennifer! I am wondering about those awesome pendant lights – where’d those beauties come from? And I love your kitchen clock too. Great balance and blending of styles.

  27. Karsen, thank you for your sweet words. The chairs are custom painted “Tolix” chairs, from the Etsy Shop, SugarSCOUT. The women who run it are darling and bent over backwards to get me my chairs in time (2 week turnaround!) for Thanksgiving.

    Christina, the book case is custom.

    Anna, I’m presuming you mean the ones in the kitchen (since the plural ‘pendants”) those are restored, vintage farmhouse lights form the fabulous resource, factory 20 dot com. Thanks for noticing the clock, it’s almost vintage itself, from late last century (ha!), a Tibor Kalman/M & Co design.

  28. marie says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Could you tell me what color you used for the white walls. And where did you get the Save our gulf poster. Thanks

  29. marie says:

    Also the really awesome laight fixture in the living room? Love your home really beautiful!!!

  30. Thanks, Marie! That pendant is Brendan Ravenhill. We have a few of his pieces in the house. A major talent, and great guy, based in L.A. The poster was a limited edition we got at a benefit held at the Hotel San Jose in Austin—to raise money for the rebuild NOLA efforts, post-Hurricane Katrina.

  31. Declan says:


    Absolutely love the shots, could you please tell me what style of chair it is in the kitchen or where you got them from?


    1. Jennifer Elsner says:

      Declan, Apologies for the delay in reply. I only just now took a look again and my feature. The chairs are from SugarScout on Etsy. They powder coat Tolix-style chairs in any color. Plus the ladies are professional and a delight.

  32. Adam says:

    Who was the architect?

    1. Jennifer Elsner says:

      Adam, Architecture Firm in Richmond, VA was the architect. Danny and Katie are fantastic people to work with. Their country home in Scottsville is in the latest issue of Dwell. We’re lucky to have gotten their talent before they blow up HUGE.

  33. Stephanie Fox says:

    I would love to know where the kitchen table is from and see more angles of the table. I noticed someone else asked and I didn’t see a response.

    1. Jennifer Elsner says:

      Stephanie, Hi! The table is from Restoration Hardware. It’s eleven and a half feet of solid goodness.

  34. Lauren says:

    Love the hammock. What did you use to secure it to the wall? I would love to put one in my son’s room.

    1. Jennifer Elsner says:

      Lauren, Hey! We love the hammock too. One of the best decisions we made.

      Our house’s style is a typical 1890 Church Hill townhouse. So, just behind the drywall is brick. A contractor had to anchor the hammock in a serious manner. I think cement was involved. I don’t think we ever could’ve done it ourselves.

      Thanks for checking in, and for the kind words.

  35. Jennifer Elsner says:

    Lauren, Hey! We love the hammock too. One of the best decisions we made.

    Our house’s style is a typical 1890 Church Hill townhouse. So, just behind the drywall is brick. A contractor had to anchor the hammock in a serious manner. I think cement was involved. I don’t think we ever could’ve done it ourselves.

    Thanks for checking in, and for the kind words.


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