A Rock & Roll, DIY-Inspired Apartment for Two Washington, DC Creatives

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There’s an undeniable change in the air in Washington, DC, a city known for its wonks and notorious for its nondescript steakhouses and sleazy political scheming à la “House of Cards.”

For those of us who don’t spend time downtown or on the Hill, the city has become a blossoming artistic hub — a capital that welcomes and fosters creative growth and exploration, whether it takes the form of food, drink, visual art, the written word, or even DIY spaces where experimental collaboration can take place.

Nowhere is this spirit of artistic community more present than in the home of Morgan Hungerford-West and Mitchell West, two artists who have done admirable amounts of work to pave the way for other DC creatives to do their thing. Morgan, a content creator and consultant for several local brands and blogger behind Panda Head, is the founder and director of A Creative DC, an Instagram hashtag-turned-real-life-event-and-workshop-host-and-sponsor that seeks to promote and support any and every type of artistic endeavor and creative entrepreneur in the DMV. By day, Mitchell analyzes political media campaigns for Kantar Media/CMAG; by night, he fulfills all of your (and my) secret rock star dreams as the bassist for DC-based punk bank Loud Boyz.

Their home is an eclectic, unique, and, most of all, fun mélange of art, memories, and conversation-starters — from a blown-up and framed A Creative DC Instagram snap (a token from a street art project), to a cryptic note from a friend dangling beside a creeping plant (“CONGRATULATIONS, DON’T USE THIS TO MURDER EACH OTHER”), to their envy-inspiring record and guitar collection. Though the couple has lived in the apartment for several years now, it wasn’t until recently — when Morgan moved her freelance equipment into a studio space in DC’s Brookland neighborhood — that they were truly able to start making it feel homey. They’ve since dedicated time to filling it with pieces they love and working towards physically turning the space into their dream apartment, including a full kitchen remodel they recently completed to make room for Mitchell’s side home brewing projects (why, yes, they do have a beer draft in their kitchen). If you’re wondering how they have enough hours in the day to do everything they do and still have social lives, don’t worry — I’m currently scratching my head at that one, too. Their apartment is truly a snapshot of their incredible relationships with each other, with their friends, with their families, and with this amazing city. I’ll let Morgan take it from here — Enjoy scrolling through!

 

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I can’t say there’s really been a strategy as much as an evolution: I bring things in off the street; I pick up pieces here and there; things flow out. I’m constantly moving things around and re-arranging (…) Things are placed so specifically, even when they’re not! 

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For years, before I got my studio, we’d move every piece of furniture into the bedroom to host a dinner party for thirty or a movie night or something like that. Now that I’ve got a secondary space for my business we’ve been able to treat our home like, well, a HOME, and we’ve been able to take on bigger projects like redoing the kitchen, and we’ve made some larger, adult-ish purchases like the couch or the rugs. And in terms of style evolution? It’s probably hard to believe but my taste has actually gotten more minimal – I can’t imagine our place wouldn’t want to make a Kinfolk-phile scream in agony but truly there’s way more negative space over there than there used to be. 

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Most every piece has a little story behind it, and the ones that don’t we just love for the visuals. I got the phone for Christmas a couple of years ago for the sole purpose of it becoming a vehicle for the Mr. Yuk sticker.

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The Dupont Metro artwork is by a friend, Bryan Minnich – he’s got a whole series of DC prints that I’m obsessed with. The ocean canvas was a thrift store find that I popped out of its frame and painted on.

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N: What’s the deal with the hanging garland and the note about not killing each other? M: A friend and I used to teach a monthly craft workshop and the garland I made with some ceramics + wood pieces I had hanging around from that – and that note! It was a card sent by our friends Dave and Brittany – they got us some really great knives for our wedding and the sentiment cracked us up.

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My parents and grandparents were DC printers, and when my Dad retired there was an entire warehouse in Anacostia filled with equipment – all of which was amazing looking, and most of which was too heavy/unwieldy to reasonably move over to a less than 800 sq foot apartment in Adams Morgan. The light table was the one exception. 

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Mitchell is great about supporting bands + musicians, local and otherwise, and is always bringing home records from shows or just ordering them new. I, on the other hand, should likely have been born a little earlier: most of our collection is 70s soft rock (with an emphasis on Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, etc and the like). 

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Mitchell’s been in bands since high school, and while he’s played bass in his last few (including his current one, Loud Boyz), he’s great at guitar and is always picking them up + monkeying around with songs. The guitar stands were cheap-o Amazon.com buys – if they weren’t out he wouldn’t get them out of the cases to play, and we keep a small amp in the house for when he needs it. 

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I made a stop motion video about 5 years ago that used the metal door/magnetic letters and we just literally never took them down! We hardly notice them anymore but guests love to play with them – and so does our four year old niece! Worth noting: she’s also a big fan of “the big green couch.”  

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So funnily enough, the entire impetus for the remodel was to integrate Mitchell’s kegerator into the counter! He’s a homebrewer and the keg in the corner of the living room was killing my vibe a little bit. Overall it was so worth it – both time and cost – but it took forever from start to finish. Like 2 years forever. We had every appliance in the living room for 4 months and then plywood counters for probably another year. We DIY’ed the demo but let professionals handle the rest, and worked with our family friends – Kevin + Michelle Schmauder on the final (and our favorite) details: the subway tile and shelving took it from “OK, I guess we’re finished” to “IT IS DONE AND WE LOVE OUR KITCHEN.” 

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I wore that shirt every day for years and couldn’t bear to fully retire it. There are few things more beautiful than a perfectly worn-in black tee, no? 

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N: Tell me about your super minimalist bedroom. M: I went on a cleaning rampage one afternoon and by the end of the night (early morning, really), we’d moved a ton of furniture to the curb, pulled all the art off the walls, stored the patterned blankets we’d had on the bed, and just generally done away with STUFF. What’s not pictured is one wardrobe and a really minimal desk set-up from which Mitchell works from home – I’m telling you, it’s changed my whole brainspace and contributes to way more zen mornings/bedtimes. 

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photos by Morgan Hungerford-West

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