Living / Insights

Transitioning from Traditional to Modern

Owner of fashion and furniture store Muléh, explains the transition from traditional to modern home design.

September 05, 2012

Lounge in luxury with Muléh’s Cabaret sofa.

Christopher Reiter

Christopher Reiter, owner of fashion and furniture store Muléh, explains the transition from traditional to modern interior design.

“It’s a simple process. Integrating organic materials in a rich palette of neutral tones can bring a refined and modern component to any mix. It’s an elegant look, and one anyone can appreciate regardless of his or her preferred style.”


Top Trainer Talks Bride Fit Regimen

Sports Club/LA-Washington trainer on making a fitness commitment before your wedding day.

May 07, 2012

The Sports Club/LA-Washington’s Anna Wielkoszewski discusses making a fitness commitment.

How do you help brides-tobe achieve their goals?

I have developed a unique training program that helps each bride lose weight and tone without having to plan out what to do on her own. Most bridal training programs challenge a bride for only a few hours a week, and a bride is left to figure out what cardio or strength training to do, or how to improve her nutritional habits. Bride Fit is a comprehensive program that allows women to enjoy being engaged. 1170 22nd St. NW; 202-974-6600


Interior Designer on Decorating a Dream Office

Ambi Design Studio owner reveals how to create a true power office.

May 07, 2012

Shanon Munn, owner of Ambi Design Studio, whose work is featured at the Washington Design Center’s 2012 DreamHome exhibit, reveals how to create a true power office.

How do you create a power office look?

A seating group is a must for casual pull-ups. This is even more important than a small conference table. I recently added a leather recliner to an office for a lawyer who works long hours so that he can read his briefs in comfort. And don’t forget to add some life to your office with green plants or flowers. 703-597-8401


Bringing Producing & PR Experience to Real Estate

A producer-turned-realtor reveals the unique art of selling to the most powerful people in the country.

April 30, 2012

Evermay, sold by Washington Fine Properties last year for $22 million

Washington Fine Properties' Tricia Messerschmitt (202-330-2275) may be a power broker at the top of her game, but she didn't start off her career selling homes. A former producer for CNN and director of public relations for the Four Seasons here in DC, Messerschmitt comes armed with extensive communications and public relations experience, bringing a high level of efficiency and discretion to her work on Washington's realty scene.

What trends are you seeing in local sales, and what neighborhoods are hot sells right now?
TRICIA MESSERSCHMITT: What we're seeing a lot of now is empty nesters selling their big homes in the suburbs and downsizing to new condominiums in downtown Washington. And it's not one specific neighborhood; the entire city seems to be energized, from Friendship Heights to Logan Circle to Mount Vernon/Penn Quarter and Capitol Hill. Our biggest challenge is that there are not enough good homes for sale to meet the demand.

When working with Washington power players who are looking to buy a home, what tips do you offer?
TM: We establish their parameters: What is the lifestyle they're looking for, urban hip or country club? Are there children, and where will they go to school? How close to work can you afford to be? Once we have a sense of the desired lifestyle, we can start the process and introduce new clients to an array of choices.

Where do you see the 2012 Washington real estate market headed?
TM: We are optimistic about the current and future markets. We have seen a normalization of the pace of the market since the wild ups and downs of the past decade. There is not likely to be a repeat of either of those extremes anytime soon. Washington is one of only a small handful of cities where prices are stable. DC residents are generally bullish on the economy; there is good optimism here. And since we know that 85 percent of our buyers already live or own property here, we have every reason to feel positive about the future.


Wedding Decor Inspired by Cherry Blossoms

An exquisite springtime wedding venue heralds the start of a new season, in full bloom.

March 26, 2012

For world-renowned Washington event planner Sandi Hoffman, any wedding is an undertaking. But handling the wedding of her own daughter meant knocking it out of the park. “We worked on this for 18 months,” says Hoffman of last April’s nuptials of her daughter, Jamie Berkelhammer, and her son-in-law, Austin. “We went through at least four designs until we landed on this one.” Every detail of the wedding, held at The Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, was a feast for the eyes, including the transformation of a wide foyer outside the ballroom area into this floral fantasyland, complete with 14,000 stems of silk cherry blossoms hanging from the ceiling and a blush-pink carpet. “I had never used a fake flower before this,” explains Hoffman, who along with fellow designer Mark Chaikowski and her design director, Myron Wolman, created a stunning atmosphere of elegance and style, mixed with the bride’s penchant for shabby chic, lace, and soft vintage romance. “It took us three days to load in,” says Wolman. “We re-covered all the flooring, from the bottom of the lobby stairs through the entire event space.” But it was the cherry blossoms, shipped from a vendor in China, that most conveyed the exquisiteness of the evening. “We made a mock-up of what they would look like in my kitchen,” says Hoffman. “We covered the hanging pot rack to see how they would fall from above, in order to get the right look.” For cohesiveness and full-on dreamlike grandeur, the walls on the left and right of the ceremony space were covered in real moss, another over-the-top touch. “You almost felt like you were in a beautiful greenhouse.” Three hundred guests marveled at the sight of the perfect posh Washington wedding, lush with romance and complete with the blossoms that define our fair city each spring. Sandi Hoffman Special Events. The Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.



On Stage: Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys

Entertainer Wayne Brady brings two musical icons to life with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops.

March 12, 2012

Soul man: Sam Cooke, one of Brady’s muses

Call Wayne Brady merely an entertainer, or categorize him solely as a comedian, and he will correct you, full stop. “I’m a singer, first and foremost,” says Brady, whose critically acclaimed album and Grammy nomination, as well as his smooth soul baritone, lend credence to this statement. However, if you require further proof, we suggest you see Brady during his stopover at The Kennedy Center Concert Hall in March, when he takes the stage for Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys, with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops playing backup. “I’m doing a tribute to the music that I grew up loving and grew up being a fan of; the music that made me want to sing,” says Brady of the show, which highlights the music of the incomparable Sammy Davis Jr. and legendary vocalist Sam Cooke.

“I open with Sammy and close with Sam,” says Brady, who performs this special production only a few times a year at various theaters across the country. “In between I have stories about the songs, how they came about, how they touched me personally. I consider myself a bit of an amateur historian when it comes to these guys, which is why I enjoy this show with such intensity.” For Brady songs like Davis’s “Mr. Bojangles” (“You have to do it with the same spirit that Sammy does it—I give it the respect due”) and “She’s a Woman (W-O-M-A-N)” (“This is where I throw in a touch of improvisation with the audience”) couldn’t be left off the list. Cooke’s portion of the show features hits such as “A Change Is Gonna Come” (“I was nominated for a Grammy for my version”) and “Chain Gang” (“When I was a child, I heard that song, and I knew I wanted to sound like him and follow in his path”).

Brady is currently hard at work on his next album, out in June, a souldriven R&B collection that he dubs “real” music. Despite his gigs as an improvisational comedy whiz and a television host, Brady’s path to the top of the charts is clearly marked in his mind, and he is fearless about listing singer as the headline of his personal catalog. “Sammy had a famous quote: ‘Yes, I can,’ and I really believe in that. My own variation, whenever I contemplate life or my career, is ‘Why not?’ I think Sammy put that in my ear from the time I was a little kid—and it stuck.” Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys runs from March 29 to 31 at The Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW, 202- 467-4600


By Kate Bennett


Liquefying The Hirshhorn

For artist Doug Aitken, the Hirshhorn Museum itself is the canvas on which he has created his masterpiece.

February 27, 2012

The Hirshhorn’s new “liquid architecture,” by Doug Aitken

It was little more than two years ago when Doug Aitken, an innovative artist with experience in film and video, sculpture, photography, and installation, arrived at the Hirshhorn Museum to discuss a potential project. “We actually had talked about doing a different process with him,” says deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher. “When Doug stepped out of the taxi, he said, ‘I have to do a film for this building.’” Shortly thereafter, they scratched the original idea and started brainstorming something bigger—much bigger.

Using 11 high-definition projectors mounted around the exterior of the building, Aitken will transform the Hirshhorn into the star of Independence Avenue with the debut of Song 1, a one-of-a-kind 360° projection that the artist defines as “liquid architecture.”

“The idea is to basically use the building itself, making it vanish, disappear into cinematic space, and for the film to work with the architecture of the building,” Brougher says. Constantly evolving and rotating, the exhibit cannot be viewed from just one stationary point, forcing visitors to circumnavigate the building. “Architecture is thought of as frozen music,” says Brougher. “The building acting as a cinema screen is releasing, in a way, a kind of musical element that will come out of this. Doug is really inventing a whole new kind of vocabulary for the film.”

Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the timing is wonderfully convenient: The festival regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall each year, a boon to the very nature of the exhibit, which will join the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection. “People on the street can experience contemporary art without even having to enter the building,” says Brougher. Song 1 runs from March 22 to May 13. Aitken will be giving a lecture on opening night at the Hirshhorn; admission is free and first come, first served. Independence Avenue at Seventh Street Southwest, 202-633-1000.

—kara manos


Ballet on Display at The Phillips Collection

Inspired by the masterpiece Dancers at the Barre, a Phillips Collection exhibit showcases the beauty of ballet through the eyes of Edgar Degas.

December 08, 2011


Dancers In Rose by Edgar Degas

Throughout his career, Edgar Degas was drawn to ballet—to the dancers, the positions, the music, and the relentless pursuit of grace and skill. So enthralled was the artist that he produced more than 1,500 works on the subject, culminating in a masterwork: a beautiful blue-and-orange oil painting of two ballerinas entitled Dancers at the Barre, a permanent part of The Phillips Collection. Influenced by the compelling picture, as well as by Degas’s well-documented obsession with the dance form, the Phillips unveiled "Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint," which has proved immensely popular. The exhibit is centered around the iconic work and encompasses 30 related pieces of art, from bronze sculptures to freehand sketches and stunning oils and pastels—as demonstrated here with Dancers in Rose.

Degas experimented with portraying the dancers’ poses, repeating and refining them over and over again and often exploring them across several works. For example, the position of the dancers, with their arms raised, in Dancers in Rose is a familiar study of Degas’s, who loved to visually intertwine the physique of a ballet dancer and the concept of balance and poise. The group of costumed dancers, captured from just offstage, is lush with color and synchronicity, drawn from the perspective of an artist deeply enamored with one of the most sublime forms of creative expression. As a whole, Point and Counterpoint is a definitive homage to one of the most celebrated Impressionist painters in history. "Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint" runs through January 8, 2012; tickets are $12. The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW


Making the Cut

In a city as much in the spotlight as Washington, more men are turning toward cosmetic surgery to fight father time.

October 26, 2011

  Dr. Haaki’s advice: Stay true to yourself.

From the tight-faced women of The Real Housewives of Orange County to the enhanced bosoms of the Jersey Shore gals, women undergoing plastic surgery is more socially rampant than ever. But what about men? While a handful of DC women, such as Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, are happy to discuss the various nips and tucks that keep them looking fresh, most men tend to be mute on the topic. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t undergoing procedures all the same.

Dr. Ayman Hakki, the founder and CEO of Luxxery, a plastic-surgery office in Maryland (3010 Crain Hwy., Ste. 400, Waldorf, 301-843- 9769) with a walk-in Botox boutique in Georgetown (2141 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202- 333-9294), notes he has seen a recent increase in men seeking consultation for cosmetic surgery. “Men go for things that make you look different without making you look too different,” Hakki explains. The two most common procedures: eye lifts, and liposuction on their love handles.

“Men wanting to fix their ‘tired’ eyes are the biggest portion of new male clients these days,” says Chevy Chase–based plastic surgeon Dr. Wendell Gordon Miles. “The biggest uptick I have noticed is in men moving up in their careers. The thought of interviewing against younger competitors seems to motivate them to come in for consultations.” The men vary in age, but, as Miles notes, they tend to be in their mid-forties and -fifties. Hakki describes two very distinct groups who come into his office: “super jocks” and “executive types.” The former are military men who need to pass very stringent physical requirements to continue moving forward in their careers. “Their neck and waist measurements need to be certain ratios or they can’t fly,” he says. “We’re talking about men who are in great shape but still have love handles.” Alternately, the executive types get eye lifts or facial Botox in an effort to look younger when competing for jobs. “They feel threatened by the young bucks coming up the ranks,” Hakki says.

Still, the surgeons caution that cosmetic surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are lasting effects on both a patient’s appearance and his wallet. Procedures can alter one’s looks for years to come, and most cost between $5,000 and $10,000— and are not covered by health insurance. Before operating, Hakki sits down with his patients to discuss their decision to get surgery, and occasionally, he spots red flags. For instance, he does not operate on men who have unrealistic expectations of how an eye lift may change their lives. “The man who tells me he is doing it because he thinks he is going to be 18 again, or because his wife is leaving and he wants to win her back, those are the men I turn away gently,” he says. But not all men are going under the knife to recapture their youth. For executives or members of Congress who are constantly in the public eye, getting cosmetic surgery can be a simple public relations decision to improve their looks on camera—that is, as long as it is done right. One local public relations maven recounts the story of a client, a powerful executive, who had a botched eye lift— an unfortunate incident she described as unnatural in its complete symmetry. The PR person had to advise on handling the fallout, as the surgery could obviously not be undone. “He wore contacts, so I advised him to wear glasses until it settled in because the lines of the glasses block the eyelids,” she remembers.

Another option is to stick to non-invasive cosmetic procedures, where local physician Dr. Philip Schoenfeld, founder and medical director of Renu Med Spa, has seen a spike in male clients. “These days, men are entirely more comfortable with the concept,” says Schoenfeld, who adds that most come to his office with their wives and speak freely about the procedures. Schoenfeld is also seeing more men opt for laser hair removal, a relatively quick and painless way to change ones appearance— and a treatment that is becoming increasingly common. “Neck, back, and shoulders are the most popular places. That’s like a manicure these days,” says Schoenfeld of the in-and-out ease of the process. “Let’s face it, hairy backs are out.” But, in general, the advice from professionals is to keep it simple. Man or woman, the idea is to be the best version of yourself—not a completely different self altogether.


—ali mcsherry


Vested Interest

The rich history of tradition is woven into the fabric of one Textile Museum exhibition.

October 24, 2011

An 18th-century vest used as a covering at an Islamic holy site in Turkey or Egypt

In the 18th century, vests such as the one pictured above, from The Textile Museum’s Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles exhibition, were considered the holiest of garments. Made of woven silk, the item was constructed from a much larger piece of the fabric, which was presumably sent by a sultan of the Ottoman Empire and used at holy sites in Mecca and Medina, such as the Kaaba. Once the fabric served its purpose, normally after a year’s time, many were cut and sewn into garments and distributed as holy relics, cherished by pilgrims and loyalists. Beautiful pieces such as these are reason enough to appreciate The Textile Museum, and even more so come 2014, when the museum will move to a custom 35,000-square-foot building on the campus of George Washington University. The collaboration, which was announced this summer, represents a victory for visitors, students, scholars, and those who generally love to admire historic, rare, and uniquely displayed textiles—which are some of the most riveting, if not overlooked, works of art in our nation’s capital. 2320 S. St. NW, 202-667-0441


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