How did you transition from law to design?
I don’t know that the switch was so thoughtful. In my spare time, I flipped houses. I restored several apartments in Kalorama Triangle, and my work was published on the cover of Metropolitan Home magazine [now defunct]. I started getting phone calls asking for design services, so it was my career that found me.
Has your D.C. upbringing influenced your aesthetic?
This is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. And I am a lover of historic anything. Half the materials in this building are reclaimed.
What made you choose Shaw for the store?
I’d like to say I had the forethought to end up in this hub of commerce that is evolving around me, but I bought this building in 2008 when things were different. The alley and [adjoining] carriage house were what intrigued me. It has a European sensibility and there’s nothing else like it in Washington. I could have logically landed in Georgetown, but then again, I don’t generally follow the expected course.
What was the renovation like?
Deliberate and painful. This building was originally derelict. I worked with Glass Construction, and they understood I wanted to honor the texture and fabric of the building. You probably wouldn’t notice, but every single inch of this building has my DNA in it.
It almost feels more residential than retail.
That was purposeful. I wanted a space that felt welcoming. When I’m here, I greet people at the door and tell them to meander as if you’re strolling through someone’s house. What better way to display wares for your kitchen than in a kitchen?
Who is the typical Darryl Carter client?
They tend to be aesthetes. They tend to have an appreciation for craft. Art. History. They’re thinking. People I work with really tend to have serious regard for the essence of what a house feels like, and not just in the way of gratuitous embellishment. They have a tendency to get engaged because we’re making a house. We’re not just decorating it, we’re making it.
Do you have a design pet peeve?
I don’t understand why people go buy new things made to look old. Just buy something old! If you can get the actual thing, why buy something fake made to look real?