“Look Inside My Home” is our series where we peek into the homes of Washington residents. Want to showcase your home? Email [email protected].
Jenna McLaughlin (30) and her fiance, Adrian Hamins-Puertolas (30), bought their 16th Street Heights townhouse in November 2021, where they live with their two domestic shorthair cats, Oso and Abe. The couple got lucky amid the super-competitive market at the time—even though they toured around 20 homes, this home was the first they made an offer on.
While they had to go in with an aggressive offer, it was worth it, said McLaughin, who is a cybersecurity correspondent for NPR. The 2,000-square-foot home, which has four bedrooms and three baths, is right next to Rock Creek Park and within walking distance of Columbia Heights’ bars and restaurants. And the duo loved its historical touch. “The beautiful architectural details, many of them original from 1919—such as casement windows and the cornice in the dining room—made us fall in love.” said McLaughlin. “I was excited to capture the energy of the house’s 100 years and incorporate our style into it.”
Here, we talk to McLaughlin about filling her home with abstract art, Scandinavian teak furniture, and estate sale and Facebook Marketplace finds:
What was your inspiration for the home’s aesthetic?
“Since this is an older house, and because of supply chain challenges with ordering new furniture, I knew I wanted to get as much furniture as possible that was vintage and handmade. I wanted it to be warm, bright, colorful and beautiful, but at the same time cozy, comfortable and accessible. I’m big into the eclectic look, while Adrian likes modern, clean lines, so we make a lot of compromises and share joint visions that result in a truly unique look.
“Adrian and I are surrounded by art and artists and creativity in our families and throughout our lives, so we’re drawn to unique, original art, often textured and abstract in nature—whether it’s weavings and wall hangings or paintings with thick orbs— on paint. We have a lot of our family members’ original art, from my father’s beautiful watercolor dotted whale shark in our kitchen to Adrian’s grandmother’s tapestries and his mother’s incredible painted cardboard masterpieces. Other pieces we get from estate sales, and we like to bring things home from our travels.
“I wanted to complement those bright colors and unique textures with clean, simple lines and beautiful craftsmanship, which is where our love of teak, Scandinavian furniture comes in.
What is the biggest treat you bought for your home?
“Our chamber and board bench. We love handmade, vintage wood furniture, but vintage linens and upholstery are another matter, and we wanted a big, cozy couch that we’d have for decades to come. It was a great choice, especially the large angular chaise that our cats are big fans of.
What’s the best deal you’ve gotten on an item for your home?
“We managed to get our beautiful wooden credenza and a second large loft—both teak and made in Denmark—for $200 and $250, respectively. We were lucky because they are very heavy, and the people selling them on Facebook Marketplace just wanted to get rid of them. The only way we managed to snag them was because of our extremely generous family and friends who helped us jump at the chance, lift them both up and fit them in the car.
What renovations have you done to the house?
“Fortunately, our house didn’t need a ton of immediate renovations, which is what drew us to it. The kitchen has recently been redone and central air conditioning has been installed. But one thing we really wanted to do was make better use of the space taken up by our very large radiators. We created a beautiful handmade radiator cover for our entryway using wood and rattan boards. My dad designed it and cut the wood, and I helped paint it.
Have you done any DIYs around the house that you’re particularly proud of?
“The radiator covers, and we’re also proud to have replaced the light fixtures in the entryway and the living room, because they were very old and troublesome. (All credit to my dad!) And one of the fixtures was also salvaged for under $100.
What is your favorite part of the house?
“I absolutely love the living room and dining room. When we first saw the house, the dining room’s deep navy blue really made a statement. Our living room is extremely cozy—it took us a long time to choose the cozy orange rug from Etsy and find the two original Eames chairs, both found at estate sales and Facebook. I am also in love with the coffee table, a Noguchi glass piece.
“But our bedroom is also wonderful. We found the perfect vintage dresser, and got a teak nightstand to match the one we inherited from grandparents. We found a super cool Art Deco Lane chest that we keep at the foot of the bed for odds and ends. And above our bed is a special painting my uncle did that hung above my grandparents’ bed. So much of our home is beautiful, but also deeply personal.
What is your favorite item in your home?
“The dining room booth. It has a hidden bar cart compartment, a built-in glass cabinet with a light, doors that slide over the central drawers, and plenty of room for decorative glassware, vases and trinkets. We display books that belonged to each of our grandparents on the shelves, and we can store so many of our nice serving dishes inside.
“Though I have to say, we also have a sewing table made in Norway in our living room that I adore. We found it buried in the basement of a former diplomat’s house in Washington. We met a vintage collector who said he had never seen anything like it.
What is your favorite thing to do in your house?
“Curl up on the couch with a good book and a hot cup of coffee. From our couch, you can see through the glass doors that separate the dining room from my office, essentially a sunroom. The southern light from the back of the house is beautiful, and our fiddle leaf plants love it too.
Who would be your top three dream guests for a dinner party at your house?
“Mia Hamm, Abe Lincoln and JRR Tolkein, together or separately, would be pretty cool. Not sure either of them care much about the house itself, but I hope they’ll be comfortable enough in our house to have a few drinks and share some insights from their fascinating lives.”