The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters

by Garrett Fleming

Without a doubt, environmental lawyer Paulo and his partner Josh, an entrepreneur, are one motivated couple. Starting up companies, working for the White House — it’s all in a day’s work for this happy pair. Their demanding work schedules keep them busy around the clock and have proven to be a major factor in many of their biggest decisions. Picking a place to live together was no exception. While Paulo spends his days at the office, Josh works from home. So when they kicked off their Washington, D.C. home hunt, a bright and spacious layout was at the top of their list of must-haves. A close second? Living near friends. That way, when they had a sliver of free time, they didn’t waste any of it commuting to the fun.

Throughout their search, most of the homes they toured simply didn’t cut it. Dark and vintage, or tiny and new, none had both the space and character that the pair desired. That is until they stumbled upon this converted, 1920s-era, Studebaker car dealership. Carefully updated in 2013 and 2014, the units were originally designed to be condos, so space was not at a minimum. Neither were giant windows or original details. Convinced it was perfect for them, the couple pulled the trigger and moved into the top-floor unit.

Immediately after signing the lease, Paulo and Josh began methodically planning out their home’s design. Their strategizing went so well, in fact, everything was in place only a week after getting the keys! Global influences, vintage finds, and a touch of glamor mingle throughout the apartment’s 715 square feet of space. Josh says he owes it all to Paulo’s love of decorating. Paulo took the reins while carefully keeping in mind Josh’s request that their first home together “… feature souvenirs, photos, and books that [would remind them] of fond memories and adventures.”

As you’ll see, Paulo has not only achieved that goal, but he has also created a space conducive to making new memories. His purposeful design choices when it comes to the home’s flow facilitate both entertaining friends as well as nights in, cuddling with his partner. “We are most thankful to have a cozy place to come home to,” he says. “Whenever we have a hard day at work or come back from a long trip, we light some candles, turn on some music or a movie, make dinner or get takeout, and snuggle together on the couch.” If that doesn’t sound like living the dream, I am not sure what is. Click through to see just how Paulo and Josh’s very different styles have come together in one cohesive, eclectic home. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Josh Hurd

The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The dining space is nestled between the kitchen and living areas and is the first thing the couple sees when they walk out of their bedroom each morning. Paulo and Josh took these vintage tulip chairs of off a co-worker's hands. On weekends, they often sit in them with coffee, pastries and the news in hand. These two driven men can't relax for too long. Post-breakfast time, they're often found at their laptops, getting some work done around the CB2 table.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
Paulo (left) is an environmental lawyer and will soon be working for the White House on environmental sustainability issues and climate change. Josh (right) is an entrepreneur and business owner who "...has worked as an environmental nonprofit and strategy consultant and has a background in public policy."
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The apartment is only 715 square feet, but large windows and high ceilings give the illusion of an abundance of space. Paulo took the lead when it came to decorating their home. While it's come a long way, he still hopes to install window treatments to show off the giant beauties.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
Paulo's loves "traditional, modern, mid-century, and global" design. Josh was A-okay with their home reflecting those styles, as long as there were family memories peppered throughout the space. This rug is the perfect example of that. In the 1920s, his grandfather bought it from an Iranian diplomat. Next to it sits a pair of oriental chairs from Miss Pixie's antique shop, a Christmas present from Paulo’s mom.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The mirror is vintage, the table was picked up at Joss & Main, and the print is by Garance Doré. Sandblasting the original brick wall revealed "... years of paint and tar from fires in the Civil Rights era."
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The Room & Board sofa was a lucky Craigslist find, and the living room's writing desk is from Pier 1. Pillows from West Elm and CB2 add pops of color throughout the space.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
"This bookcase was Josh’s grandfather’s high school shop project. It fit perfectly next to the island and contrasted well with its modern look and the sandblasted post," Paulo explains.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The apartment's open floor plan is ideal for entertaining. "For parties, we use the island for trays of appetizers and fill the sink with ice and use it as a cooler for champagne and wine bottles," the couple says. The bar chairs are from Crate & Barrel.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
"The Bertazzoni range with dual burners is probably the nicest thing we will ever cook on. We wanted to keep the look of the kitchen clean, so we organize most of the things we need to keep handy in the upper cabinets," Josh and Paulo share.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
Josh was on the Woodsman team at Dartmouth. In the entryway, his team jacket resides on a mannequin Paulo uses to test out outfits for work. A shade similar to Valspar "Limestone" dresses the walls.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The couple's bedroom is designed to be a "...light and peaceful..." retreat from their busy days at work. To achieve this look, they have intentionally kept accessories to a minimum and left the walls bare. The bedding is by Room & Board, the pillows are from IKEA and the nightstand is by West Elm.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
This bedside decor is another example of how Josh's request that their home feature personal touches has come to life. A photo from his graduation and antiques from his grandfather sit on this IKEA dresser amongst decorations from Paulo's favorite designer, Darryl Carter.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
Avid outdoorsman and entrepreneur Josh often works from home, so it was imperative that his bedroom workspace be comfortable. With a view of downtown D.C., Georgetown University, and even Virginia, I'd say the couple has chosen the perfect spot for him to set up shop.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The windowsill next to Josh's desk is decorated with drawing figures from modern art museum The Phillips Collection. The pair loves both strolling through the galleries and attending the museum's fabulous musical events.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
Luckily for these two, the home's bathroom resembles that of a luxury hotel. "When I have a long day, I turn on only the shower light, turn up a portable speaker with soothing lounge music and pretend I’m on vacation," Paulo says.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
The bathroom tray is by West Elm, and the marble accessory is from CB2. By paring down the room to only the essentials, it's kept clean and tidy. Flowers and candles are an exception. They're a welcoming touch for when guests (and Design*Sponge) visit the pair.
The Eclectic Home of Two Washington, D.C. Go-Getters, Design*Sponge
Josh & Paulo's one-bedroom home is situated on the top floor of an old car dealership.

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  • Does DS no longer have a copy editor? You’ve referred to one of the guys as both “Josh” and “John” throughout the article and captions.

      • Is there any reason why you don’t want people to know the correct info about this building? I live there and its disingenuous for a site like yours to perpetual misinfo.

        >>>A fact checker would be nice too. This building was not renovated in 2008. At that time, it was still a homeless shelter. The renovations were completed in 2015 and the homeless were moved out as the 14th street neighborhood became gentrified.

          • Design Sponge is pretty good at remembering that design is not just for hedge fund managers, straight people, white people, Americans, people without kids or pets, and other privileged groups.

            When a neighborhood is gentrified, previous residents move (or are moved) away. D*S actually helps in this regard. If people live in smaller spaces, it helps. If everyone like Paolo and Josh needed 1,500 square feet instead of 750, then twice as many neighborhoods would have to turn over.

            Wanna do something about inequality in home design? Humble Design in Detroit is a robust, vibrant hub of cool home improvement. Check ’em out:


            It would’nt hurt to send them a check, too.

  • Finding the right home is a hard thing. The home is the sanctuary for every family. But actually, what makes the house a home is the memories build in there. I loved the picture next to the bed, the clean vision of the house and its specious look. It just gives that feeling of clean, tidy and cozy place. Just loved it!

  • I cannot help but fall in love with how well the exposed brick works with the modern touches that these two have in their home! I always feel this need to have a consistent flow in the design of my home, but then I see how well these two have paired a rustic backdrop with clean lines and it works beautifully. Oh, and don’t let me get started on that bathroom….dreamy!


  • This is lovely. Love the mix of styles and the elegant furniture juxtaposed with the exposed, industrial-looking walls. May I ask the material of the kitchen countertops?

  • I love the term “go-getter”. It gives a sense of cool energy. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling pretty go-getter-ish myself these days. What a great space in a great city. Thanks for sharing.

  • People are oddly critical. This home is beautiful and if the sentiment is easy to understand, people need to let it go.

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