By Jennifer Shapira
The result of Kacy Paide’s work is often evident in tears of happiness and in grateful hugs. Paide, an organizing expert at The Inspired Office, helps clients tackle the insurmountable. But once they learn to take control of an aspect of their life, that realization is thrilling and reciprocal.
“I worked with a woman a couple years ago who won a couple of hours of my time at an auction. I walked in, and it was a really, really big project in a small apartment. Paper everywhere, kind of like a hoarder situation,” Paide recalls, “and I said: ‘OK. With the two hours we have, where do you want to use me?’ And she said: ‘With the paper in my dining room.’”
Taking baby steps, Paide devised a system that the woman could use for collecting bills and action projects; “I think I left her with five color-coded file folders. And she hugged me. She had tears in her eyes and she said: ‘I have hope for the first time in my life.’ And that was my happiest moment as an organizer because it wasn’t about the room looking different, it was that she took the first step and she saw the great change that could happen in her life from just a tiny change that we made in those two hours.”
Paide specializes in taking control of cluttered home offices, but she’s also tamed a nature-loving woman’s unruly collection of animal pelts in Pittsburgh and restored order to an electrical engineer’s unsightly Northern Virginia desktop/office thanks to a desperate call from his company’s HR department. And while those jobs may be extreme organizing, on a day-to-day basis Paide works with new clients and checks up on others, sometimes via Skype in far-flung states (California, Idaho) and countries (United Kingdom, Finland).
“There’s so much variety in what I do. I meet so many different people,” says Paide. “I always like to say: disorganization does not discriminate. All socio-economic classes—male, female; young people, old people—you name it. It’s like a great equalizer.”
Closer to home, Paide recently helped with Tecla Murphy’s before and after home office renovation in Arlington. Murphy’s previous space had been a hodgepodge of furniture: two mismatched desks, utilitarian but underutilized filing cabinets and an outdated desk chair. Not unlike most situations Paide regularly walks into, bulging folders, papers and office supplies were strewn across all surfaces. She methodically set about trashing, recycling and filing, taking care to note what would make the transition from old office to new.
Paide credits Murphy with the wise decision to involve her before the carpenter started the renovation so she could purge as much as possible before the streamlined space was built out. She helped account for a tailored and accurate number of clever niches, from out-in-the-open mail slots to hidden cabinet space. On the opposite wall sits one very long, uninterrupted multi-use desk, which doubles as a dedicated spot for children to do their homework.
Murphy set about transforming more than just her workspace; she was eager to increase her total body wellness. So, at the suggestion of her physical therapist, she added a temporary platform desk from Vienna-based Stand Steady to her desktop to encourage her to sit less while she was in the office working.
“After [the home office] was totally built out and beautiful, I went back and we did another session where we put everything back together again,” says Paide.
A trained eye helps when carving out niches in the home to make room for order, but so does creativity.
Professional organizer Melanie Patt-Corner’s dining room also functions as her home’s library, making it the perfect backdrop for book club. From what she has seen throughout working in many homes, dining rooms are often underused. It’s no exaggeration to say she can count on one hand the number of times she’s been ask to organize a dining room. So she took that idea and applied it to her own home in Cabin John, Maryland.
Though she doesn’t fully employ the Dewey Decimal System, she admits her shelves are modeled on it. All fiction is alphabetical by author. And there’s a section on gardening; one on poetry; another on pre-Raphaelite art history, her favorite subject.
“I’m constantly reorganizing them and getting rid of old books,” she says. If a book “doesn’t pass muster for the dining room,” it gets shelved in her husband’s study.
Experts agree, creative uses of space is not rocket science; it’s about maximizing how you live in your home.
Professional organizer Janice Rasmussen recently made over a boy’s bedroom into a home office. After the son left for college, his desk was rehabbed with new drawer pulls, the room got a paint job and new lighting fixtures. His twin bed was sold on Craigslist and replaced with a daybed. The newly organized bookshelves and closet are shared between mother and son, but day-to-day, the space is wholly hers.
“It was really just depersonalizing the child aspect of it and making it more adult-oriented,” says Rasmussen, “which is why [along with painting and changing fixtures] we used artwork that was important to her. The room could function in a whole new way and when her son comes back home, he still sleeps in his bedroom.”
Rasmussen is also currently working on a niche carved from a previously underutilized family room closet. That pocket of space is being turned into a home office zone for the family, with a zebrawood melamine countertop and shelving from the Container Store’s elfa line. The family had removed the closet doors, and bookshelves held the children’s toys, but now the space has a new purpose and requires an uncluttered and more adult look and feel.
Be Kind to Your Future Self
From her experience, Paide cautions, most people don’t sort through the “nitty-gritty” before a renovation, and they end up cluttering the new space with items that should have been trashed or recycled.
Do the heavy lifting first and the weight will be off your shoulders. You’ll be more likely to appreciate and keep up with the newly ordered space.
The same goes for tackling any project, no matter how large or small. It might seem like common sense: experts say if you have five minutes, start something that you can finish in five minutes. If you have 30 minutes, stay focused for that time on a particular task. It doesn’t matter what the task is. What matters is what will make the most difference to you.
Professional organizer C. Lee Cawley, of Simplify You, Inc., helps clients take to that concept with an oft-quoted mantra: Be kind to your future self. “It’s the idea of: What’s in it for me?”
That is, in a moment of exhaustion, it might seem like a hassle to hang your keys on their designated hook, she says. “But in the morning, when you don’t have to spend time looking for them, you’ll thank yourself.”
Whether you have one minute or five, an hour or an afternoon, local professionals offer their tips to help you get organized. Consider their suggestions, try them out, get inspired—but remember that staying on task for a block of time is the key to accomplishment.
If you have five minutes:
Look around the space you are sitting in. What is the biggest eyesore? What is causing the most stress? Ask yourself what you can add or eliminate now to make it more functional or beautiful. –Kacy Paide
When I give talks, I always take a roll of empty paper towel roll with me and I say look through the roll, anything you see through that roll you can do in five minutes. It helps them focus on one tiny little area, so they don’t get overwhelmed. –Melanie Patt-Corner
Take charge of one shelf in your refrigerator. Take everything out and wash the shelf. Only put back the things that haven’t expired or aren’t moldy or ruined. Sometimes people get carried away and they’ll do a second shelf. –Melanie Patt-Corner
If you have 15 minutes:
Ask yourself what would give you the most immediate relief right now? This can be as small as a pencil cup or corner of the countertop. Zero in on clearing that space by tossing, trashing or moving things to other parts of the home or office that don’t belong. –Kacy Paide
If you have 30 minutes:
Empty out a junk drawer and organize it. Use little boxes or plastic trays to contain small objects, and throw out all the little twist ties, old used-up pens and pencils and dead rubber bands. –Melanie Patt-Corner
Walk through your whole house with a laundry basket and fill it with items you don’t want anymore. Then bag them up and immediately put them in your car to donate. A lot of people have no trouble gathering up bags of things to donate. But then they leave them in the living room or basement for six months, which defeats the purpose. You want to get those bags of donations out of your house within 24 hours, or you will lose momentum and they will become part of the ongoing clutter. –Melanie Patt-Corner
If you have an hour:
Clean out your coat closet. Take everything out, and only put back what you wore this winter. Hang a pocket organizer on the inside of the closet door to organize mittens, gloves and small objects. Put baskets or bins or a small shelf on the closet floor to hold boots and shoes. Separate the shoes by owner, with a different basket or shelf for each person. –Melanie Patt-Corner
If you have an afternoon:
Toss. Toss. Toss. Challenge yourself to eliminate anything in your home or office that is useless, broken or ugly. Start with the low hanging fruit. Determine where the highest concentration of trash or donations are lurking and start there. –Kacy Paide
If you have a weekend:
Do a whole clothes closet. Take everything out of the closet, put all the clothes on the bed and only hang up things you have worn in the past one or two years and that still fit you. Put everything else in bags and donate them. It’s OK to keep a fancy dress or outfit that you only wear now and then as long as it still fits you. Don’t forget to go through all of your purses and shoes and larger totes as well. Don’t keep something just because you spent a lot of money on it; if you’ve never used it, will never use it or hate it, get rid of it. I organize clothes by season, and then within the season, by type of clothing and then by color. –Melanie Patt-Corner
Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 22nd, 2014
By Allison Michelli
Whether stepping out for a night on the town or enjoying with burgers and fries, adult milkshakes are the ideal way to turn up while also satisfying your sweet tooth.
1. FANFARE eatery, Spiked Shakes
Add a shot of Kahlua, Frangelico or Bailey's Irish Cream to any regular milkshake on their menu for $4.00 more. Coming soon to their menu will be “Specialty Adult Milkshakes” like Hot Fudge Bourbon and Salted Caramel.
/ Photo courtesy of FANFARE eatery.
2. Joe's Amazing Burgers, Bourbon Caramel Adult Milkshake
A strong blend of Jack Daniel's whiskey, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. $10/ Photo by Jill Laroussi.
3. Ray's to the Third, Shake and Bake
Vanilla ice cream blended with caramel and chocolate sauce and a shot of Jim Beam bourbon. Don't forget the bacon on top! $10.
/ Photo by Cristian Cguilar.
4. The Counter, Salted Caramel Adult Milkshake
The best of both worlds: salty and sweet. Vanilla ice cream blended with Stoli Vanil, Baileys caramel and pretzels. $9.
/ Photo courtesy of The Counter.
Still feeling thirsty? Three more places for adult shakes.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 20575 E. Hampton Plaza, Ashburn.
Ted’s Bulletin, 11948 Market Street, Reston.
Vivefy Burger and Lounge, 314 William Street, Fredericksburg.
By Carten Cordell
ISIS claims execution of journalist James Foley
(The Washington Post)
Virginia prepares for possibility of gay marriage
Drunk, naked motorcyclist hits 2 cars in Arlington
Silver Line Service gets Mixed Reviews from commuters
Rip Sullivan Wins Special Election for Virginia Delegate
By Carten Cordell
Aides testify that McDonnell was ‘Mr. Honest’
(The Washington Post)
NORAD running aircraft exercises in D.C., Virginia and Maryland Tuesday morning
(The Washington Post)
Manziel lifts finger, but not the Browns, in loss to Redskins
Report: Loudoun County‘s income growth drives D.C.-area’s economy
Special election in Fairfax and Arlington to settle Virginia delegate’s seat
One Woman’s fight from Northern Virginia against Iran’s oppressive policies.
By Kira Zalan • Photography By Andrea Castanon
Fariba Davoodi Mohajer serves gojeh sabz (green cherry plums from Iran) and apricots before taking a seat in her Oakton apartment. Small Persian rugs accent floors covered with American-bought furniture. Black and white family photos cover one wall; a print of a popular painting hangs on another. “I had to leave almost everything behind,” she says, explaining the mix of old and new. After brief pleasantries, Davoodi leans forward on the brick-red upholstered chair and brings up what she really wants to talk about: a recent speech by Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Just days earlier, the 75-year-old cleric criticized gender equality at an Iranian university. Davoodi’s recounting of the event, like her energy, is calm but urgent.
Davoodi, 50, has called the Metro-D.C. area home since 2007, when she came to visit her oldest daughter Hanieh, a writer now living in Reston. In Iran, Davoodi was a journalist and a leading women’s rights activist—roles for which she’d been repeatedly harassed and detained by government authorities. Weeks after she arrived in the U.S., the mother of three learned that she was sentenced in absentia by an Iranian court for violating national security laws for organizing a protest. Faced with the prospect of arrest—and a failing marriage—she stayed.
Davoodi received a green card based on extraordinary ability for her achievements and her circumstances—one of several quota-based categories under the U.S. immigration system. Two years ago, she moved from Arlington to Oakton. Her modest two-bedroom, first-floor condo a fraction of the spacious multi-level house she shared with her husband in Tehran, a city of 7 million.
“It is small, but it is mine,” Davoodi says with pride and a Farsi accent. She often pauses to search for the right word in English. At home, she relies on her 27-year-old son, Ali, to translate. The recent University at Buffalo graduate lives with Davoodi and is looking for his first job. Both he and his 23-year-old sister Atieh, who studies biology at Northern Virginia Community College, joined Davoodi in the U.S. in 2009.
Armed with a pink MacBook covered in Disney princess stickers, Davoodi doesn’t look like a fugitive or a warrior. But for years she’s been waging a battle against laws she says are unfair to Iranian women: unequal rights in marriage and inheritance; unpunished honor killings; polygamy and child marriage.
By day, Davoodi works on human rights projects at a Washington organization that she requests not be published; she’s worried it might put Iranian counterparts in danger. By night, she devours everything out of and about Iran, writes commentary and chats on Facebook with her 4,600 followers—those willing to make their virtual connection to Davoodi public. “This is my life,” she says, reflecting on how much time she spends online.
She doesn’t follow local or U.S. news, but reveres America for its freedom and progressive approach to gender roles: “The base of democracy building is democratic behavior. Democratic behavior is not only in parliament or Congress, it is between normal people in the street, in daily life.”
Sometimes she posts on Facebook a photograph of a woman riding a bicycle around town or a man walking down the street with a baby carrier attached to his chest. Davoodi uses images of such typical American activities to challenge conservative views and laws in Iran.
Facebook users in Iran pepper her with cultural questions: Do American women get harassed on the street because of revealing clothing? Are gays really allowed to marry? Can Muslims really practice their religion in America? Some inquiries are friendlier than others—a few accuse her of misrepresenting the truth, most are grateful for the personal insight. She answers every question, often missing a night of sleep.
At times she plays therapist to desperate women and men. “Most people talk about life; their problems with life,” like anywhere, says Davoodi. But in Iran, that often means an individual at odds with what’s culturally or politically allowed.
Halil, a 29-year-old teacher and writer, chats with Davoodi over Facebook about being harassed by security police for his writing, which was determined to be subversive. He wants to leave Iran so he can write whatever he wants.
A 19-year-old mother named Minou, who’s been struggling with her family’s religious beliefs for the past two years, decided to stop wearing the chador, a conservative shawl that covers the face, neck and shoulders. Her angry father broke her computer. When Minou managed to sneak onto her uncle’s laptop, she told Davoodi that she was considering suicide. “The Internet was her only connection to the outside world,” says Davoodi, who can relate to the young woman’s isolation.
Davoodi was deeply religious at a young age, even as her parents disapproved of the zeal. At 15 years old, she chose to wear the hijab—a Muslim head covering that symbolizes piety and modesty. This was right after the 1979 revolution that overthrew a pro-western government that had banned religious veils and scarves in 1936. It would be a year before the new Islamic government would require all women to wear hijabs.
Years before Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran taking some 60 Americans hostage, the country had been priming for change. Davoodi hung out with older students, intellectuals, at libraries, where they criticized the ruling Pahlavi government for being corrupt, blaming the country’s poverty on the leadership. People wanted justice and freedom for all.
A few years after the revolution, Davoodi married and started a family. She earned a master’s degree in political science and, as did many Iranians, became increasingly disillusioned with where the country was headed. Morality police were arresting women for being immodestly dressed in public. Schools were segregated by gender. And family laws that protected women’s rights in marriage, divorce and custody were rolled backed. This is not what revolution supporters like Davoodi had in mind.
40 Days in a Secret Prison
Davoodi became an activist, criticizing the government’s misogynist policies and human rights abuses in newspapers and universities, calling for reform. When, in February 2001, authorities came to her home to arrest her, Davoodi resisted and was beaten severely. She recalls being in agonizing pain and watching men in plain clothes ransack her family’s house. Hours later, they carted away a truck full of books, CDs, articles, family photographs and other “incriminating evidence.” They also took Davoodi.
Blindfolded, she had her hands tied and her head forced down between her knees. She insists she was driven around in circles. “They don’t want anyone to know where the prisons are located, they wanted to confuse my sense of direction.” Iran’s secret prisons are off the books and reserved for political activists the regime considers “troublemakers,” Davoodi explains. They are thought to be located within residential areas or on military bases, away from official prison facilities.
When her blindfold was removed, Davoodi says she was standing in a windowless cell that felt like a grave. The space was as tall as she was, just over five feet, and three feet wide. Several blankets, one covered in dried vomit, would serve as a make-shift bed on the stone floor. The single light bulb burning overhead day and night would add to her disorientation.
From that moment, Davoodi would be addressed as “Number 65.” Sixty-five received the following instructions: “Never call the guard. If you need anything, including the bathroom, stick this piece of red paper through the slot at the bottom of the metal cell door. A guard should come and see what you want within one to two hours.”
Davoodi says she begged for a doctor to no avail. “My ribs hurt badly and I felt as though my kidneys were about to explode.” On the twelfth day of Davoodi’s detention, the guards finally brought a doctor into the interrogation room.
The only time Davoodi left her cell was for interrogation, which she believes took place at night. Davoodi was seated on a small bench or a school desk, facing a corner of the room, with a spotlight on her face. The interrogators, always two or three men, sat at a desk behind her. “You are a spy, a criminal. You’re helping U.S. government,” they shouted at her back. When she asked for an attorney, they mocked her: “You think you are in the U.S.?” When they did look for answers, the questions were ideological: “Do you believe in the supreme leadership of Khamenei? What about the religious doctrine underpinning the Islamic Republic?”
When such questions didn’t shake Davoodi they’d move on to her family. They promised to arrest her son and torture her husband. They accused her then 9-year-old daughter of being promiscuous. They told Davoodi that her mother was terribly ill and would likely die while she served 10 to 15 years in prison. Hours later, when they figured she was exhausted, they’d soften their tone. “If you want freedom, you have to agree to go on television and admit your guilt.”
Meeting for a recent interview at a Dupont Circle Starbucks, Davoodi recounts the details of her time in the secret prison unceremoniously. Did she ever consider falsely confessing to being a spy or to conspiring against the regime so she could go home? “Never,” she says, writing the word on a napkin, underlining it twice.
Prompted for more details, she describes the tactics she says were designed to drive her mad:walking her up and down a hallway on cold nights, wrapped in a blanket, always blindfolded. The guard that guided her by a piece of short rope would chant for what felt like hours, “We can help you.” Other times they’d seat her in the interrogation room alone and play the recorded phrase, “Woe to the forgotten captive,” over and over. Worse, she was sometimes placed in a room where she could hear screams of other prisoners being tortured. Based on the voices, she figured she was the only woman there.
One time, a guard led her to an underground basement and asked her if she wanted to be raped. What happened then? “I didn’t respond,” she says without elaborating.
In Iran, the Personal is Political
During the long days in her cell, between interrogations, Davoodi had time to draw parallels between her life at home and in prison. In her house, she was required to stay in the kitchen when her husband’s friends visited, sometimes three hours at a time. Davoodi would call her husband’s name to come get the tea she’d prepared. Bringing it out would be inappropriate to her husband because it would allow the male visitors to lay eyes on her.
This was a custom typical in conservative households, she says. In 2011, a conservative cleric reportedly declared open kitchens un-Islamic for this very reason.
The way Davoodi sees it, the current marginalization of women in Iran is “deeply cultural.” Her husband, who she describes as “traditional,” eventually took the kitchen rule a step further, explaining that his friends should not even hear her voice and in the future, she should not call his name but instead knock on the kitchen door to let him know the tea was ready. In prison, when Davoodi was told that she should never call for the guard, she wasn’t surprised. “I realized that what the guards and my husband wanted was to silence me. It was important to them that I didn’t even hear my own voice.”
Davoodi’s marriage was deteriorating. “We just didn’t get along,” she says, dismissing any suggestion of a connection to her political activism or her evolution from a teenage bride to a famed human rights activist.
In June 2006, hundreds of women took to the streets of Tehran, demanding equal rights. Davoodi, along with other organizers, was arrested and released on bail. The same summer, the women launched the One Million Signatures Campaign, going door to door collecting signatures for a petition asking the parliament to reform discriminatory laws. The following year, Human Rights First, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, described the campaign as “the most powerful pro-reform movement in Iran today.”
But eight years since, little had changed in Iran, Davoodi laments at her Oakton home. Women still don’t have equal inheritance rights. A mother only has custody of her children during the first seven years of their lives and then the rights go to the father, Davoodi says. It’s legal for girls to marry at 13 and boys at 15, but today a court can grant permission to allow a girl to be married at 10 years old. “We are having a campaign to raise the age for girls,” Davoodi says.
There’s another law that’s particularly personal to Davoodi: Only the husband can file for divorce. A few months after her bail, and just before a trip to Ireland, Davoodi had a decisive conversation with her husband. “He promised we’d get divorced when I returned,” she says. “But I didn’t believe him.”
Davoodi is scant on details of her marriage, but she shutters at a Google image of her husband and turns away. She’s publicly commented on the prevalence of domestic violence against women in Iran but leaves intimate details of her home life vague.
Making Tough Choices
In Ireland, alone on a beach, Davoodi had the overwhelming urge to remove her hijab in public for the first time in 30 years. Once a symbol of her faith, it had now become to her a symbol of oppression. It took hours to overcome the fear of secret police snapping a picture and discrediting her on Iranian state television. Her husband would find out, too. There, 3,000 miles from home, she summoned the courage and tugged the scarf off her head, letting it fly into the waves. She cried for hours. “For a moment, I felt that there was no greater pleasure in the world than the feeling of the wind in my hair.”
In 2007, Davoodi traveled to the United States to accept a prize from Human Rights First and took the opportunity to visit her firstborn. Thirty-one year old Hanieh, a poet with a French literature degree, had moved to Washington a few years earlier with her husband, an Iranian dissident who was held in the same secret prison as Davoodi in 2001.
Here, Davoodi would make another tough choice. She wasn’t going back. She wanted freedom so badly—from her husband, from her government, from all the rules—that she was willing to leave everything behind. She utilized the same channels that allowed her son-in-law to stay in the country. She was recognized by prominent think tanks as a human rights expert and granted a green card.
The difficulty of starting over in a new country with a new language was mixed with moments of pure joy. There was the first time she rode a bicycle, which women in Iran do only in segregated parks. “I felt so liberated.” She shed her drab, conservative clothing, preferring red color palettes. Her first bike was dark pink, and she rode it nine miles to work every day when she lived in Arlington.
“I’ve never felt as a stranger here,” she says of her adopted home. She adds that Iranians—the people, not the government—are open and accepting like Americans. “The people and the government are not one and the same.”
Despite the criticism she’s known for, Davoodi talks about her home with nostalgia. “I’d love to go back. But I’d go to prison for a long time.” There’s the sentence the court handed down for her role in the 2006 protests. Moreover, Davoodi’s husband, who has remarried, still hasn’t granted her a divorce.
Until the laws are changed, she’d need his permission to leave the country.
In her Oakton home, Davoodi logs on to her MacBook and once again checks the Farsi websites for developments.
Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 18th, 2014
A continuation of new and almost opened restaurants in NoVA.
By Ariel Yong
Europa Restaurant is owned by Humberto Fuentes and is expected to open in Herndon by mid-September. Fuentes currently owns El Manantial in Reston but says he will close it once construction has finished for Europa. His new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant will focus on French cuisine and have a similar menu to the one at El Manantial’s. / 790 Station St., Herndon
Kobe House in Eden Center opened last month. This family business serves pho Kobe and will add Kobe steak to the menu in the future. / 6763 Wilson Boulevard, Store 6a, Falls Church
Natalie’s is a Vietnamese sandwich shop that is set to open in Fairfax in mid-October. In addition to the banh-mi-inspired sandwiches, it will also serve crepes and beignets. / 10407 Main St., Fairfax
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 15th, 2014
By Ariel Yong
It feels like summer is almost over (where is the humidity?!). But don’t worry, there’s still ice cream to be eaten. Here are some ice cream lovers spotted on the street, taken over two days in Arlington and Alexandria.
Send us your ice cream photos @NoVADining.
Ice cream details:
A devastating home fire gave two North Arlington artists the chance to bring art into their neighborhood through a backyard studio. –Laura Fox
An art studio now sits upon a terraced hill in the North Arlington backyard of artists Bryan and Julie Jernigan. The art studio, a dream come true, began as a nightmare. A fire erupted around midnight in an upstairs bedroom in the Jernigan home on Dec. 9, 2012. Julie, daughter Peyton, 14, and two cats made it safely out of the house. Bryan was away at a business meeting.
Months later, a contractor repairing the house discovered the retaining wall in their backyard was falling down. The Jernigans viewed the damaged wall as an opportunity to build a freestanding art studio in their backyard. The “his-and-hers” studio incorporates design and functionality.
Bryan, 48, a landscape and abstract painter, and Julie, 49, a jewelry designer and silversmith, moved into the studio in April 2014. Julie had been working in the windowless, dark basement of their home; Bryan worked from an art studio in Crystal City. Both lead very busy lives, which include “day” jobs; Bryan is the associate executive director for administration at the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools in Washington, D.C., and Julie is director of children’s music and professional alto at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church.
The 16- by 20-foot studio, approved by Arlington County zoning officials, is reached from the house by a series of steps. It’s slanted roof and teal blue corrugated steel facade provide a contemporary, clean, sleek look, says Julie. Bryan follows-up saying they wanted the studio to be an expression of who they are artistically. “We are more contemporary. Julie’s jewelry is very cutting-edge. We wanted the studio to have that feeling,” he says. “I’ve seen people jogging down the street and they back-up to get another look at the studio,” says Julie. “It looks like a spaceship at night when the lights are on.”
Inside, the studio features a fuchsia counter that serves as the divider of the space. Behind the counter is a two-compartment sink for cleaning materials. Julie’s side of the studio includes shelves for the extensive array of equipment and supplies required for designing jewelry. The many windows on her side of the studio provide natural light throughout the day. Bryan’s side of the studio has corner windows and a gallery wall for displaying his paintings. “I want people to come in and feel comfortable and see what’s for sale. I also wanted space where I can create the work.” The studio is equipped with air conditioning and heat making it usable year-round.
Julie got interested in jewelry design one Christmas when Bryan’s family suggested a “Crafty Christmas” theme for exchanging gifts. “I had never made anything, ever,” she says. “I pulled the name of Bryan’s sister, Lori, and decided to make her a necklace. I bought some beads and that’s where it started. After we were married I started buying a lot of beads. Bryan said to me, ‘You need to start selling your jewelry or stop buying beads.’
“Once I started stringing necklaces and putting the artistic components together, I was designing necklaces. I started taking classes in designing and silversmithing in Arlington County and at the Corcoran in Washington, D.C.,” Julie explains. Most of Julie’s designs are one-of-a-kind, and she also creates commissioned pieces. “My customers find me from craft shows, word-or-mouth and my website,” she says.
Bryan started painting when he was a child. “My mom would take out the paints if the weather was bad.” He initially painted for himself. “Julie said I should give some of my pieces as gifts, which I did. Gradually, I had people ask me to paint something for them. I’ve been painting steadily since 2005 and selling commercially the last four years,” he says. “I joined some art groups in Northern Virginia and had the opportunity to show my work.” He relies on shows and social media to publicize his paintings. “The Northern Virginia area is not necessarily comfortable with abstract art so I try to bridge the gap between abstract and more traditional landscapes through the use of colors and shapes,” Bryan explains.
Julie and Bryan believe working in the studio will increase their creativity. “We now have an artistic outlet right in our backyard. We don’t have to drive anywhere, we just walk right up the stairs. This has been really good for us. We spend a lot of time together, we are sitting right across from each other; Julie’s doing her work and I’m doing my work and we share a glass of wine,” says Bryan.
“Working with things I love, across from someone I love, it all works well together,” says Julie.
By Elke Thoms
Obama’s approval rating hits 40 percent, his lowest yet
1.2 billion usernames and passwords stolen by Russian hackers
Loudoun Sheriff’s Office restructures, drug cases significantly decline
Arlington residents begin petition to save Thomas Jefferson Park