Urban Spaces: A Snazzy Row House in the Nation’s Capital
Monday, August 15, 2011
For the past five months, Paul Shaw, an internal consultant for a government agency in the nation’s capital, has called a cozy row house home. Situated in Trinidad, a gentrified section of Northeastern Washington, DC, is his completely renovated two bedroom, two bathroom abode where African masks, chocolate browns and vibrant artwork pepper a sun-drenched open layout.
Shaw, a native of St. Louis, MO and frequent entertainer, took me on a tour of his welcoming 1400 square foot digs, which includes a Club Monaco inspired friendship wall, a skylit bathroom – and an upscale kitchen that serves as the soul of the home.
PAUL SHAW: I like that my neighborhood is in DC proper and is convenient to any place within the district. Also, the fact that most of the homes look similar on the outside, but inside many are rehabbed and changed to the tastes of the inhabitants. I also like the fact that it has a residential feel with yelling school kids and people walking their dogs.
UU: How would you best describe your decorating style?
PS: I’ve never really set out to have a style or a theme for my place. I guess I’d describe it as organic, based upon the fact that my décor simply contains those things that are appealing and significant to me. Through my travels and such, I just see things that I like and make me smile and I try to make them fit in my space somehow. I will admit that my tastes may lean a little more ethnic or African just based on my experience as a black man but I don’t intentionally set out for such.
UU: What’s one thing you dislike about your space? Or maybe something you wish it had that it doesn’t.
PS: I wish I had more wall space and floor space. Wall space because, as I mentioned, when I see different pieces of art or pictures that I really like, I buy them with no idea of how I’ll be able to exhibit them. I have a painting in my living room now that I bought nearly six years before I ever got around to finding a good spot for it to hang. I also have pieces from Indonesia and another from a classmate from Botswana that I don’t have any space for at the moment. I’d like more floor space as well, just so I could entertain more.
UU: What made you choose such a bold color for your eating area?
PS: Actually a friend of mine, Antonio Coke, a designer in Chicago talked me into using deep brown and orange for my den in my condo in Chicago. I thought it was going to be rather jarring at first but it turned out to be one of my favorite spaces. I decided to stick with those colors for my current place and thought that since the kitchen is one of the liveliest areas of the home, I wanted to have a bright color that reflected that characteristic.
PS: The two paintings in my eating area of African tribesmen standing near a tree in the grassland. I bought these matching pieces in a market in Cape Town and they were some of my first pieces that I knew were truly unique and that no one in the world would have. Plus, they were pretty cheap for something original.
UU: You host quite often. Where do your guests like to convene the most?
PS: When I have folks over, they definitely are all anchored to the long island that runs the length of my kitchen. It’s one of my favorite spaces in the house because it allows guests to be engaged with whomever is cooking or the like. There was a time when it frustrated me that at each gathering everyone was in the kitchen and not in the living area but I’ve grown to embrace it.
UU: Picture it: Your place is on fire. You’ve only got time to grab one thing. What would it be?
PS: Hmm, how morbid. Probably my external hard drive because it has most of my pictures saved on it. Most of the other things can be replaced, but the memories not so easily. Maybe it’s just a Cancer thing, but I can be rather sentimental in that regard.